Frequently Asked Questions Index
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
What exactly is LWgear?
I dreamed up that moniker back in
the late '90s. I was smitten with the play on L and W–Lynne Whelden and LightWeight. My plan was to get embroidered LWgear labels to sew onto each
piece of gear. But then my plans changed. Cost had something to do with it.
But more importantly, I recalled something Ray Jardine had
written in his 1996 edition of "The Pacific Crest Trail Handbook." He wrote,
"Gear emblazoned with bold logos advertises itself. And those who carry it
are marketing it. If the company wants to give us their logo-emblazoned
products and pay us for acting as their walking, camping billboards, then we
might consent. Otherwise, I don't think it's our responsibility to provide
free services, nor to taint the wilderness experiences of the other hikers.
Edward Abbey suggested the benefits of sawing billboards down, but I favor
attacking the problem at its root. Curtailing the demand might be our best
method of affecting the supply. Don't purchase any item of clothing or gear
which has a bold logo that you cannot remove."
Even though Ray's sage advice was ignored by the company that now
manufacturers his gear, I find his argument compelling. Thus the only LWgear
logo you'll see or hear about is in cyberspace. The local company that makes
my stuff for me may attach their own proprietary label to the gear but you
have my permission to cut them off. In fact, please do!
What is the advantage of buying from LWgear?
First and foremost, I personally
inspect every product before it ships. Think of it as quality control
Second, I include a set of printed instructions on how to load a frameless
pack with each pack.
Third, all LWgear is made in the good old US of A. You're supporting
American workers struggling to make ends meet rather than sending your
And finally, if you are perplexed or unhappy with anything
you can always email me. I won't rest until you're satisfied.
Why does the lightweight backpacking video show a tarp
made of Tyvek® while the website features only a nylon tarp?
I didn't find out about silicone coated nylon until
after the video was released. Someone told me Jack Stephensen (of tentmaking
fame) used this material so I contacted him and he sent me a sample. I made
an 8'x10' tarp out of it and the weight was an amazing 12 ounces–eight ounces
lighter than the Tyvek® tarp of the same dimension.
It's all technology-driven. Just as computers get
faster and faster, waterproof fabrics will get lighter and stronger. I intend
to stay on the cutting edge but I can't do it alone. If someone hadn't taken
the time to inform me, I'd still be in the dark about silicone coated nylon.
So please... keep in touch.
Are tarps really better than tents?
I'm hard pressed to think of many advantages tents hold over a tarp. I suppose
if you're doing winter camping and you think the few extra degrees of heat
trapped inside might make a difference, then go with a tent. And again, if
you're on a high altitude expedition where gale force winds and blowing snow
will be a factor the choice is obvious.
Otherwise, everything a tent stands for is excessive. The floor serves to
catch and retain dirt. The enclosed space serves to create and retain moisture.
Keep in mind your body releases as much as a QUART of water during the night.
Without air freely circulating through the shelter, humidity will increase
along with the feeling of clamminess. Condensation on the walls will occur.
Your sleeping bag will get damp along with anything else touching the walls.
In extreme cases, you'll even see pooling of water on the floor.
A tarp uses trees for support. If trees are readily available, you don't
have to carry any poles. In contrast, a tent doesn't allow for alternate
ways of setting up. You pretty much have to use the poles they supply. And
metal poles are heavy, even if they're only "hiking" poles.
Tents insulate you from the world. But wait a minute–why are you in the
woods to begin with? Isn't it to commune with nature? What's wrong with this
Tents are heavy. Even the "lightest" ones can fool you. Think about it–a
tent is not only the cloth material and metal zippers used to make the walls,
floor, ceiling and door and windows but it is the poles, the tent stakes,
the ground cloth, the carrying sack and cords. A tent advertised as 1.5 pounds
can end up weighing 2.5 or 3 pounds when you figure in all the additional
Tarps simply make sense.
I notice that your product weights change from time
to time. Why?
In the case of silicone coated nylon, the material seems to vary from batch
to batch. The first tarp I made came in at 12 ounces. Since then, the material
has been more in the 13 to 14 ounce range. So it depends on the source and
who manufactures the material.
We're always trying to improve our
products. Sometimes that means strengthening a weak area by adding heavier
material. Other times we discover that a lighter material works just as
well. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose.
history behind your hip belts?
The purpose of the hip belt is to transfer some weight from the shoulders
to the hips. Using standard backpacking techniques, this is an absolute
necessity. However, if you follow the principles in my video "Lightweight
Backpacking Secrets Revealed" then your pack won't weigh much more than 20 pounds
fully loaded. You simply do not need a hip belt when dealing with those kinds
of numbers. And since the foam pad conforms to the curves in your back, by
default it transfers some weight to the hip area anyway.
Let me put it another way– if you feel the need for a hip belt, your pack
is too heavy. Now granted, if you haven't backpacked for months or years
and you're out for a weekend your shoulders may hurt a little. But they'll
toughen up with time. Meanwhile, anticipate those problems that may arise
with inactivity and carry less food or less clothes or whatever.
The need for a hip belt is one of the great deceptions foisted on a gullible
public by advertising agencies!
Now, that's the
ideal. Some folks have discovered that their particular body shape didn't lend well to a free-riding pack.
Perhaps the pack rocked back and forth too much. Maybe their
gait was such that the pack bounced up and down. Whatever the reason,
a belt seemed to help steady the load. Other people have found that
making the transition to a beltless pack was just too radical.
Psychologically it just seemed better with a more familiar looking
pack. Whatever the reason, I'd rather have people at least try
lightweight backpacking than to dismiss the idea outright.
I now tell people to buy the hip
belt in combination with the pack. That way you can experiment to your
How can I tell if my DVD is a legal copy?
Wow, I'm impressed that you're
even concerned. I sure am. All DVDs I
produce will have my signature written in black Sharpie right on the
disc. No one signature is quite the same. I started doing this with my
video labels several years ago. I'm not sure whether people thought I
on an ego trip or what. My rationale was to put an original and unique
stamp onto something that unfortunately can be duplicated quite easily.
To duplicate my videos or DVDs is to violate copyright laws.
To attempt to duplicate my signature is forgery.
So if you come across my videos or DVDs through non-typical channels
like eBay and you discover that it's missing my messy signature, please
contact me! Together we can track down the culprits. (This already
happened once on eBay and he was promptly shut down by eBay security.)
Your efforts will be rewarded.