Long-term review: Salter Brecknell Model 311 Scale || An unsung essential

While pouring myself a stiff night cap (f’ing tax prep) and then readying tomorrow morning’s coffee last night, it dawned on me that I should write a long-term review of the unsung device on which I rely so often: the Salter Brecknell 311.

This $28 postal scale has an 11-lb capacity that measures in 0.1-oz increments. (For those who don’t live in the US or the two other Imperial backwaters, Liberia and Myanmar, the 311 has a 5-kilogram capacity and measures in 1-gram or 0.001-kg increments.)

My 311 is at least six years-old, and has been used over 10,000 times. In addition to coffee and (less regularly) alcohol, I use it for weighing:

  • Letters and packages,
  • Gear, particularly when reviewing products and developing gear lists; and,
  • Most of all, food. This year alone, for personal and guided trips I will prepare 1,500+ servings of beans and rice, breakfast granola, and chocolate covered cashews. And I use it regularly for home-cooked meals, too, like when I need two pounds of ground elk for shepherd’s pie.

A reliable scale is an essential possession of a dedicated backpacker, especially those who are considerate of their pack weight. And you might be surprised with how often it gets used for non-backpacking applications, too.

Long-term review

When or if this scale dies, I will most definitely buy it again:

1. With an 11-pound capacity, I can weigh every piece of gear that I own, and most packages.

2. The 0.1-oz increment is sufficiently precise for most things, including the weight of, say, a tent stake or a bag of M&M’s. The next level of precision (0.01-oz increments) is unnecessary for most jobs.

3. Battery life is excellent. I think I’ve only replaced its 9-volt battery once.

4. After weighing powdery foods (e.g. mashed potatoes, Parmsean), it can be easily and thoroughly cleaned by removing the weighing platform (just twist and pull).

5. The reading speed is acceptable. I don’t feel like I’m always waiting on it, and it does not bob between measurements like a digital pendulum.

Room for improvement

I have found only two flaws with the Model 311, neither of which are probably fair:

1. With large items (e.g. a big box), the display can become hidden. A remote display would be more useful. However, that feature would also cost more.

2. Last year I wore through the pliable plastic that covers the ON/TARE button. The functionality is not affected, and at this point I don’t need a visual reminder of where the ON/TARE button is. But this does expose a weak point of the device.

My scale collection: (left to right) for little things, most things, and big things.

Other scales I own

The 311 does not do it all, so I own two other scales as well.

The Etekcity Digital Postal Hook Fishing Scale has a convenient hook and a 110-pound limit. I take it to the trailhead on important solo trips and on guided trips in order to weigh full backpacks, food sacks, and meat bags — these are useful points of reference later. The scale is small and easily portable.

The Smart Weigh SWS100 Elite Series Digital Pocket Scale has a capacity of just 3 oz, but measures in increments of 0.01 oz. It’s very useful for weighing spices or very small items that collectively add up, including side-release buckles, cord locks, and short lengths of guyline.

I’ve owned both scales for a few years, but don’t use them as often. Based on my experience so far, they are both on my recommended list.

Disclosure. I strive to offer field-tested and trustworthy information, insights, and advice. I have no financial affiliations with or interests in any brands or products, and I do not publish sponsored content

This website is supported by affiliate marketing, whereby for referral traffic I receive a small commission from select vendors like Amazon or REI, at no cost to the reader. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Own the 311? What’s been your experience? Own another scale? Which one, and what do you think of it?

Posted in on February 23, 2018


  1. Walter Underwood on February 23, 2018 at 10:52 am

    The OXO 5 kg scale is more expensive ($50), but has a pull-out display. I like ours.


    • Bob S. on February 24, 2018 at 11:39 am

      I have a similar OXO scale only the platform is plastic and it costs $30. The pull-out display is handy but the platform is big enough that I hardly ever have to pull out the display.

  2. Walter Underwood on February 23, 2018 at 10:54 am

    This is the hand/luggage scale I use. The handle-shaped body is convenient for heavier items. This lives in the top pocket of my pack. I weigh packs at the trailhead, then leave the scale in the car. If I accidentally carry it on the trail, it just isn’t that heavy.


    • Andrew Skurka on February 23, 2018 at 10:59 am

      I like the handle on that. That’s the one criticism of the hook scale I have — it’s not really designed to easily hold it with your hand.

  3. Joe on February 23, 2018 at 3:33 pm

    I am a scale junkie as well, Andrew.

    I just use 2, though.

    I have one that goes to 16 oz, like your little one, and another, like yours, that goes to 100 pounds. I skip the middle one.

    The little one for little stuff, and the big ‘un for multiple pounds.

    Pack weight and such.

    I weigh my daily portions of meat as I cook my home meals on the little one, trying to stay around 6 oz, but I weigh lots of other stuff as well.

    Once you get started weighing stuff, it’s hard to stop.

    I guess I’m like most of your readers, often wondering which gun to put in my shoulder pack on a run, depending on perceived threat level. Bears? Bad guys?

    The scales help me choose between the 38 and the 45 too.

    And clothes, and water bottles, and pots, and….like I said, I’m a scale junkie.

  4. Gement on February 23, 2018 at 4:24 pm

    I recommend the Ozeri Pronto kitchen scale, very similar specs, $15. It’s an excellent workhorse scale that I got when I started geeking out about baking, which has then proved just as useful when I started geeking out about hiking.

    It also has the same weakness, as I discovered when I tried to weigh a full-size backpack and had to contort several directions to read the measurement.

  5. Gordon on February 23, 2018 at 9:03 pm

    I’ve been happy with the MyWeigh 7001DX for the mid-range, but thanks for naming the Smart Weigh SWS100, Andrew. I saw it in one of your photos recently, and wondered what it was. But what I’m going to get right away is Walter’s luggage scale!

  6. Dan W. on February 24, 2018 at 2:47 pm

    The OXO’s are pretty but they don’t appear to be naught scales, e.g. they lack precision.

  7. william on May 2, 2018 at 3:21 pm

    Hi Andrew – I came across your blog and really appreciate your posts. I am from Canada and use amazon.ca instead of amazon.com – I would love to support your affiliate advertising, and was wondering if you had considered posting up links for canadian versions of the affiliate links for people like myself?

    • Andrew Skurka on May 2, 2018 at 6:14 pm

      Amazon has it set up now so the links carry over to other domains. So .com links will generate affiliate on .ca. Thanks for asking!

  8. william on May 2, 2018 at 7:06 pm

    Hi Andrew,

    I’m probably missing something, but when I click your amazon.com affiliate link, I am not sure how to then navigate to the amazon.ca portion of the website for purchasing – As a consequence, I usually end up googling the “product name + amazon.ca” and then follow through from there


    I saw the above link, which seemed to suggest you needed separate affiliate accounts in each of amazon’s regions

    Anyways, thanks for the very helpful and informative reviews!

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