Skip to content

The Big Three


Wain Stones, Cleveland Way, Yorkshire Oct 2014

Wain Stones, Clevelend Way, Yorkshire. October, 2014

The Big Three: 3-4-3

The Big Three are simply those items of gear that tend to put most weight and bulk on the back: Shelter, sleeping and pack.

It is very easy to spend a lot of money on these items of gear, it is just as easy to not spend a lot, but modern cheaper gear never seems to have quite the same attraction, nor, in many cases, is as light as what can be achieved by purchasing items made from the latest tried and tested materials.

Perfectly serviceable equipment can be purchased from mainstream manufacturers that while not exhibiting all the latest bells and whistles and is possibly not quite as light as obtainable elsewhere, is still capable of giving long and efficient service. There is also the option of buying second-hand via eBay or similar, purchasing ‘last years model’ or discontinued line, and those end of season or loss leader bargains that encourage to spend far too much time hopping between sales sites on-line.

When it comes to the Big Three, shelter, sleeping and pack, not only is it easy to spend a lot of money, but it is also easy to make expensive mistakes. For this reason I am very careful when it comes to spending hard earned cash on these items. Compared to many I am sure my experience in varieties, purchases and actual usage of a variety of equipment in this stable is very limited, I care not. What I have purchased has invariably been much what I have expected. To be honest, there is little in the way of ‘proper’ equipment available from most manufacturers that is actually poor or bad. Though some items may be inadvisable purchases, perhaps more suited to cycle camping, or even car camping, smaller items of gear do not have as much an impact on the bulk and weight of a load as the Big Three can. For this reason it pays to be selective. I am likely to make very few additions to my gear as regards shelter, sleeping and pack.

Certainly I do feel that I can be guided by the oft repeated maxim- ‘3-4-3’. That is, these three items of gear coming to a collective weight of no more than 3 kilograms. Considering my first pack alone probably weighed this when I first began purchasing camping equipment in the 1970’s, it can be seen that just about any change I make should be some form of improvement. That now, is my aim, any purchase I make should improve on what I have already used or have already, not simply be a one-for-one replacement of worn out or unloved gear.

There are separate aspects of each of these to consider:

Shelter Sleeping Pack
Tent, tarp, bivvy bag Sleeping bag, quilt Pack
Poles, pole extenders for trekking poles Sleeping mat or pad Additions- added pack pockets etc.
Pegs Pillow Alterations –  to zip pulls etc.
Other: guys, linelocks etc. Any additional kit- bag liners, head gear, stuff sacks Pack liners/covers
  Night time clothing  

You may find it of interest to see my progression through these items of gear; what I have used, liked or loathed and what I consider probable good options for future backpacking adventures, in particular, my Long Walk.

West Highland Way, April 2013

Osprey Exos 49 pack on the West Highland Way, April 2013


1 reply »

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: