Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Backpacking Journal - UltraLight Modification

One of my favorite things to do at the end of a long day of backpacking is to write about my experiences. This really helps me remember the feeling of being there when I'm back to my over stimulated "normal life". Rite in the Rain makes many different types of all weather paper products which are perfect for those of us who like to record our journeys along the way. Pictured below is their top spiral bound 3 x 5 inch journal which includes 50 pages of lined waterproof paper sandwiched in between hard plastic covers. Weighing in at 2.0oz, it's a bit on the heavy side for my use because I like to keep it in my shirt pocket, but I don't want to feel it bouncing around.

In my typical fashion, I decided I could make an easy modification to make it much lighter. I started by cutting away at the metal binding...

Next I removed the front and back plastic covers because the protection is unnecessary and only adds weight. I decided that 25 pages (both sides) would be more than enough to record my thoughts and experiences for a couple of weeks, so I made it into 2 journals. Lastly I bound the paper back together using the thin cord that I use on my MYOG stuff sacks.

The finished product, a waterproof journal that now weighs only 0.80oz - less than half of what it started out at. Combine it with my UltraLight Pen to make the perfect backcountry journaling solution. In fact, you can slip both of them in your shirt pocket and forget they're even there. Focusing on these details makes trail life that much more enjoyable, which is what UltraLight Backpacking is all about!


  1. LOL - you hack your gear up as bad as I do. Cutting up a Rite in the Rain pad, sacrilege! Just goes to show that a simple hack like this halved the weight of the item.

    I love the RITR pads and products by the way, but I prefer a pencil as my writing tool because I can easily sharpen it, whereas if the ink runs out... just my personal pref.

    Great pics!

  2. Thanks for the great hacking idea... Took me a long time before I became comfortable vandalizing my gear... But what a difference in weight!

    Other UL journal ideas:
    *Writing on the maps when you've completed an area (obviously if you're not going to need them again :))
    *Parchment/thin handmade paper weighs much less than regular paper and looks all "special"
    *small digital voice recorder if you're not attached to the "writing" aspect of recording your experiences

  3. You consistently set new UL standards...

    Well done, R-

  4. Brian, you're right, I can't leave anything alone. MYOG has a dual meaning for me...Modify or Make Your Own Gear. I even modify my clothing. All in the spirit of improvement!

    Kimberlie, my opinion is that most things are designed for the masses, and ultralight is anything but. Hack away!

    I like you other ideas too. My maps tend not to leave much room unless I write right on the topo. You'll see in an upcoming post. I have journaled in my Blackberry before, which worked well, but long term it is using valuable battery life that may be needed in an emergency.

    R- thank you! :~)>

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  6. Amazing and ultimate tips on backpacking. I love it and looking for more updates.
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