A fundamental way to get your gear paired down is simple – weigh everything.
Ounces and grams add up. You can get obsessive about it, of course. But when you realize the classic MSR Whipserlite weighs 10 oz (minus the fuel bottle) vs. a sub-3 oz Pocket Rocket canister stove, you quickly get a handle on how ounces add up to pounds (or how grams add up to kilos for those not using Freedom Units.)
As such, a simple scale makes the first tool in pairing down what gear works for you, your system, and the conditions faced on a given trip.
And what scale to get? You can purchase an electronic scale. However, I don’t like them. Besides needing batteries, you often have to futz with buttons and switches to convert from ounces to grams, etc. They usually end up bulky. Not something you can stash in a bin in the gear room easily.
I prefer a simpler scale weighing up to 500 gm / 1 lb. For most of my ultralight backpacking needs, I don’t need a scale that can measure more than that overall. And my scale of choice? The OXO Good Grips scale.
The scale does not use batteries, quickly sets up a tare, stores easily with a clever lid that functions a try to weigh, and costs $15.
There’s not much more to say than it works, works well, and is simple.
Some prefer a digital scale’s aesthetic and perceived accuracy, but for real-world and not marketing purposes or lighterpack bragging rights, I find the ~.125 to .25 oz tolerance accurate enough. If you carry fewer items, the ultimate way of getting to a lighter gear load, is that .25 oz +/- should not have any noticeable effect in aggregate.
For weighing heavier items, and the overall gear load, a simple and inexpensive mechanical fishing scale (similar to the one below) does the trick…and keeps me honest. 🙂
Overall, the mechanical scales work well for our needs, and I feel a bit better with our low-key and simple ethos regarding the outdoors.
Disclosure – We purchased the scales with our funds.