close-up of 500 gram calibration weight

Gear – Digital Scale

Once you decide to lighten your load, the first essential equipment is something you’ll never carry on trail – a good digital scale. There are all sorts of them to choose from, but here are some basic features needed to weigh the various gear and clothing components of your ultralight (let’s hope!) packing list.

I use a scale that measures increments of a tenth of a gram, to a maximum of 500 grams. Ideally, get one that has grams and whatever other units are meaningful to you, such as ounces. Increments of .1 grams yield exceedingly precise measurements. For those who don’t think OBSESSIVE is always spelled in ALL CAPS, just round to the nearest whole gram.

I like grams, because they are smaller units than tenths of ounces, and more satisfying. It feels more significant to trim 87 grams! than 3.1 ounces. Moreover, it’s good practice to play Metric, since almost anywhere you travel outside the USA, that’s the system of measurement. There are 28.35 grams per ounce. With a 500 gram scale, you can measure weights of 0.004 to 17.6 ounces. Depending on how light you travel, that handles almost everything.

Another valuable feature is tare, which is the ability to compensate for the weight of a container you place on the scale to hold things you want to weigh. So if you want to weigh objects that don’t sit easily on the scale’s plate, you can add a suitable container, reset to zero, add the objects, and weigh them. Remember that the maximum capacity of a scale includes the tare.

The count feature is useful. You can weigh a known number of something, and the scale calculates the weight of a single one. Then you can add as many as you want, and the scale will tell you how many you have. It’s a quick, accurate way to measure the quantity of vitamin pills, for example.

Fortunately, there are many inexpensive choices with all of these features. Invest in a good scale. Weigh gear that you have, and compare what you have with what else you discover. You’ll soon be shedding grams and ounces from your kit and be on your way to a newer, lighter you.

Two good sources for digital scales, with wide selection and good service are AMAZON, and independent dealer OLD WILL KNOTT SCALES.

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