Weighing the Options

June 05 2017

When it comes to backcountry gear, go light…but not too light

If there's a universal mantra of any backcountry adventure—be it hunting, camping, mountaineering, or skiing—it's "ounces become pounds." That is to say, when you start making concessions for a few extra ounces here and there in the gear you carry, soon you're hauling extra pounds. In the backcountry, extra pounds lead to fatigue and exhaustion, which ultimately can compromise a hunt.

This line of thinking was front-of-mind for Jason Hairston when we presented him with the component options or the Ultimate Sheep Rifle. His primary concern is making the rifle as lightweight as possible. However, it also needs to be strong enough to stand up to the demands of the high-country terrain, and it must be able to withstand the varied and unpredictable weather conditions that can befall a sheep hunt.

That give-and-take mindset manifests itself in a couple different ways in the components of the Ultimate Sheep Rifle. For instance, with the stock, a Manners EH8, we went lean and mean. No comb or LOP adjustability. No unnecessary adornments. However, despite its straightforward design, it's a remarkably strong and durable stock that weighs less than a pound and a half.

Then, with the 20-inch Proof Research carbon-wrapped barrel, which tips the scales at a little more than two and a half pounds unchambered, we did not go as light as possible. Rather than opting for the pencil taper of a sporter contour, Hairston chose a Sendero Light contour, which has greater rigidity and will prove to be more durable over time.

While it's certainly important to ensure that your backcountry kit isn’t burdened with unnecessary weight, you can go too light. When you start sacrificing durability for negligible weight savings, those decisions ultimately can be just as fatal as carrying too much weight. The goal is to find the happy medium between the two extremes.