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Thread: Need help reducing gear weight for backpacking

  1. #1

    Default Need help reducing gear weight for backpacking

    I'm trying to reduce the weight of my gear b/c a lot of my fly fishing occurs during multiday backpacking trips in CO. Here's what I've done so far:

    -Replaced neoprene waders with breathable goretex proshell
    -Replaced factory rod tubes with thin aluminum or PCV tubes
    -Ditched the net--not really needed for 12-16" higher alpine lake fish
    -Replaced heavier aluminum fly boxes with plastic ones
    -Lanyard instead of fishing vest

    But I'm stuck on the boots! Anyone have any lighter weight options for me to consider? I've only come-up with the following thoughts:

    (1) Purchase boots that can be used for hiking and wading. I'm honestly not a fan of this option b/c my hiking is usually 5mi+ in a day and I'm not confident dual-use boots will really be that comfortable for longer distances.
    (2) Purchase lightweight wading sandals. I have no experience in this area and have only seen the Simms closed-toe wading sandal. Are these practical for cold water stream and lake wading? I used my open-toe Keen's once but was very frustrated with rocks getting in. Slippery too, but I didn't have felt at the time. I wonder how effective closed toe would be. Are sandals only for warm water uses?

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Parlin, NJ / Staten Island, NY

    Default Re: Need help reducing gear weight for backpacking

    This may sound crazy but try a pair of crocs instead of boots. I hit the beach last fall and somehow left my boots home when I packed my truck. When I got to the beach all I found in my truck was a pair of crocs. They actually worked pretty well in the surf and they weigh next to nothing. I imagine you will lose them if you are wading in muddy/soft bottom.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    South Texas

    Default Re: Need help reducing gear weight for backpacking

    The other problem with option one is that for your boots to fit right, you'll need to buy them big enough to fit over the neoprene feet of your waders. And that means you'll either have to hike in your waders, or in neoprene socks for the boots to fit right, and then switch off to waders once at the lake/stream. I would say if you're going to do that, unless you need to wade hip-deep, just stick with the boots and the neoprene socks.

    You do now have MANY options in boots with a rubber sole that will do just fine both while hiking and in the lakes and rivers. Simms, Patagonia, and even LL Bean have sticky rubber wading boot options out now.

    I think sandals will remain your top weight saving option though. It will be least warm and protective, but there is something just indescribably wonderful about finishing a tough hike up to some isolated water that tests both your legs and lungs, pulling off those hot and heavy boots and wool socks, strapping on the chacos and dunking your feet in that super clear cold water.

    I could see crocs working quite well on the beach, but I think they could be dangerous on jagged or mossy rocks.

    I'd rather hunt fish than bait deer any day.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Central Florida

    Default Re: Need help reducing gear weight for backpacking

    Hi pl4a,

    This is the type of fishing I did back in the 50's. Don't try to use your wading shoes for hiking boots. Sore feet or blisters make it tough to pack out.

    When I was doing this I did not carry any waders. I had a pair of canvas hiking shoes. They would dry quickly if they got wet. Most Alpine streams are pretty small and you should be able to fish then with out wading. Almost the same for Alpine lakes. Most fish are caught close to shore or at the outlet if there is one.

    If you just have to wade then I think hip boots are a good choice. You can get them with boots and that solves both problems of weight and wading shoes. They are also available with socking foot if you find a wading boot that works for you.

    Other ways to save weight is leave the tent home. If you are worried about rain then take a Bivy Sack. A cardboard tube will also work to hold the rod. Just paint it with shellac. If you are careful you can wrap the rod in a nylon cloth. Wrap it tight and hold in place with tape. Carry it next to the frame of your pack.


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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Helena, MT

    Default Re: Need help reducing gear weight for backpacking

    Go buy a pair of lightweight running shoes. Now hear me out. My feet are size 10 1/2 or 11 depending on the manufacturer. This means that I would need size 12 to 13, maybe 14, for wearing over my stocking foot waders. The good news is that when you go to a sporting goods store and look at their sale rack for shoes, the $100 dollar shoes that are on sale for $30 are usually the really large sizes or the really small sizes. I can never find close-out or sale shoes in my size because I have "normal" sized feet. In this instance, that may be a plus.

  6. Default Re: Need help reducing gear weight for backpacking

    Leave your fly reel at home. Cut a 20 to 30 ft section of line and tie the end to your rod but. Fish it without a reel. It works great... I've done it.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Metuchen, N.J.

    Default Re: Need help reducing gear weight for backpacking

    Try this... Get a pair of those neoprene, zip up flats wading shoes & glue felt soles to them.. They should be light enough, crush almost flat, & last for a few trips anyway. Just an idea.......

  8. #8

    Default Re: Need help reducing gear weight for backpacking

    Orvis makes a lighteweight wading boot that's packable. They crush down to about the size of a pair of tennis shoes so they don't take up much space. In warm weather, you could hike in your regular hiking boots and then switch to the wading boots and a pair of neoprene socks when you're ready to fish. And if it's warm enough, you can leave the waders at home.

    You said rod tubes...are you taking more than one rod? If so, drop some weight by only taking one rod.

    What's your food and water situation? Are you packing a camp stove with freeze dried food and a water filter?

    And lastly, leave the bottle of booze at home. That's usually a tough one for me.

  9. Default Re: Need help reducing gear weight for backpacking

    I would suggest aquasocks and the sims watershoes you mentioned. The aquasocks will insulate your feet from the cold for a while and the watershoes will give protection and some traction.


  10. #10

    Default Re: Need help reducing gear weight for backpacking

    Great replies. Confirmed my first thought to avoid hiking in wading boots for any extended trip. I'm now leaning toward the following:

    -Orvis clearwater pack and travel wading shoe. My only concern based on reviews is durability.

    -Some type of neoprene wading shoe with felt added. Perhaps running shoe option here as well with felt added.

    -Simms Keen River Sandal.

    I'm sure I could drop more weight by taking only 1 pole and 1 reel. I've always packed two of each for backup purposes. I've never repaired a rod...probably better if I learn to do that and pack repair materials rather than extra rod and reel. I've never had to use my backup, though I'm sure I'd need it the first time I didn't take one.

    I'll keep you posted on final decision/purchase.


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