"stupid light"

11:06 a.m. on July 17, 2012 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
1,083 forum posts

An interesting article on what to bring along by Andrew Skurka.

http://andrewskurka.com/2012/stupid-light-not-always-right-or-better/

11:12 a.m. on July 17, 2012 (EDT)
TRAILSPACE STAFF
488 reviewer rep
1,087 forum posts

I did the long trail without a stove, on a raw, vegan diet. I had a small, plastic 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon with a 1 inch handle.  Neither fun nor safe. 

11:34 a.m. on July 17, 2012 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
658 reviewer rep
2,149 forum posts

Man, my respect for Andrew just keeps getting higher. 

What a fantastic article. 

11:50 a.m. on July 17, 2012 (EDT)
1,377 reviewer rep
1,339 forum posts

A wise man.

I can think of a lot of items in my pack that I've been tempted to trim to 'stupid light' just to make it easier. The rain pants he mentions are one, as are gaiters and poles. Now I can use his article to justify carrying those few little extras that bump my pack weight to 40 lbs.

And I'm never going to worry again about whether I should be carrying a tarp instead of my cozy little tent!

12:02 p.m. on July 17, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,347 reviewer rep
1,320 forum posts

Yes, agreed, this is a great article.  These days it seems like the entire emphasis is on "light", often without regard for what will be comfortable or enable enjoyment of our journey.  As he wrote in this article, it should be about choosing "right", not just "light".  If that happens to be heavier, than so be it.  Everything involves a trade-off, and this is no exception.

The one area that Andrew is very clear about, which is actually different than what many of us feel, is the goal of his trips:

"On most trips, my primary objective is to enjoy my hiking experience. Camping, from my perspective, is simply an 8-hour opportunity to recharge before another rewarding day of constant forward progress (CFP)."

For some of us it's not all about "CFP".  "CFP" is what we do when we're at work, in the "rat race".  Whether I'm on a car camping trip, a weekend backpack, or even a multi-week/month thru-hike, I still want to enjoy the whole experience.  Sure, the emphasis may shift depending on the overall goal (e.g. cover a long distance on a thru hike).  But unless I'm running a marathon, I certainly don't want to adopt an approach that requires me to "keep moving, only stop for 8 hours, and even then only as a function to recharge".   How is that "fun"?  How can you "be present" and actually experience your surroundings with that approach?

Anyway, his writing and ideas are interesting, and there's a lot we can glean from them regardless of our approach.  But I do think it's important to keep in mind that his approach is not necessarily our own.

12:07 p.m. on July 17, 2012 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
30 forum posts

This has always been one of my knocks on the "ultralite" thing. That and the fact that I enjoy the "camping" part of my trips just as much as the "hiking" part, so I don't mind shlepping an extra pound or two in order to have a few amenities in camp (sorry, but a hot cup of coffee as I'm shaking off the morning frost at 10,000 feet is one of my favorite things). It doesn't mean I'm carrying a Coleman lantern and three-burner stove into the Rawahs...I still want my equipment to be weight-efficient, I just don't obsess over it.

12:50 p.m. on July 17, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,347 reviewer rep
1,320 forum posts

I guess my approach is similar to @mountainmac.  In theory, UL sounds great.  Trot along on the trail unencumbered by a heavy pack.  What's not to like?  Well, it would mean leaving my camera & taking a tiny P&S with a tiny sensor.  Nope. It would mean sleeping with just a tarp, so the critters can crawl over me.  Nope.  It would mean... well, the list goes on.

In my prep for the JMT trek I have obsessed over the pack weight.  Bottom line was that UL just isn't for me.  I finally just resigned myself to carrying the weight (though I did make things much more "weight-efficient" than before.

As a respected guru recently reminded me, It's all about the goals of your trip.   And the way I interpret that is as follows:  If your goal is to "constantly move", that's one thing.  If it's to really experience & enjoy your surroundings, that's another.  You can pack accordingly.  Neither is "right" "wrong" ... they're just different things.

1:29 p.m. on July 17, 2012 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
658 reviewer rep
2,149 forum posts

bheiser1 said:

The one area that Andrew is very clear about, which is actually different than what many of us feel, is the goal of his trips:

[...]

For some of us it's not all about "CFP".  

 I totally agree. It was nice to see that he mentioned this in the comments section, recognizing the legitimacy of different goals. 

3:13 p.m. on July 17, 2012 (EDT)
210 reviewer rep
4,348 forum posts

My hiking gear weighs very little these days compared to things I have carried in the past. All my gear weighs in at about 10 lbs, not counting water and food. Hiking light can be a good way to go. And also if one can cache food along the route before hand, it can also make the hike much nicer.

5:14 p.m. on July 17, 2012 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
30 forum posts

GaryPalmer said:

My hiking gear weighs very little these days compared to things I have carried in the past.

And that's probably a big part of it for we "more mature" hikers, Gary. The stuff we dragged around 25 years ago was ridiculously heavy, only because that's all there was (anyone else have that Optimus stove in its own metal box, kind of a Coleman mini-me? With fuel, it must have weighed 5 pounds). Today's gear puts it all to shame. Now, even with a tent, stove, camera, etc., it seems pretty easy to keep the weight managable, at least when compared to the "old days."

6:58 p.m. on July 17, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
827 reviewer rep
1,325 forum posts

Thanks for the link Alan.

 This topic certainly seems to generate great interest in the internet backpacking circles I frequent. And it’s the same for me too. It’s part of the fun to think about such things of course.

 I was just considering that I can’t really tell much difference in the degree of body wear between hiking all day with 25 pounds or 35 pounds. Maybe it’s only related to the inherent difficulties of gauging how relatively tired you are at the end of two different days but I’ve observed that, for me, it’s not an extreme contrast within that 10 pound point of resolution.   

I wonder how that graph would look going from 35 to 45 and so on. Hmmm, Is pain exponential?

I need to get busy with something and force a deviation from my apparent intent to graph backpacking discomfort

10:51 a.m. on July 19, 2012 (EDT)
33 reviewer rep
80 forum posts

I've been recently thinking about ultralight hiking, and can't seem to justify leaving behind anything that even may be needed. Now, I have taken some amazing ideas from ultralight hiking, but those are minor and secondary to my overall comfort. I too enjoy the camp nearly as much as the hike, so to leave behind something that could keep me warm, dry or full just to feel possibly less tired just doesn't seem right to me. 

But now I do repackage and whittle down as much as I can from reading UL info. Its all about balance.

11:16 a.m. on July 19, 2012 (EDT)
1,377 reviewer rep
1,339 forum posts

I'm always impressed with the new gear coming out every year. I suspect the desire to trim off an ounce here or there, while still maintaining performance, is one of the things that makes me a bit of a gear junkie.

My NeoAir mattress weighs a lot less than my thermarest, my sleeping bag is light and very compressible, my latest tent (2-person) comes in at 5 lbs, the dehydrated foods weigh next-to-nothing, and my paclite shell fits easily into its own inside pocket.

All of them perform as well as or better than their predecessors and I didn't have to go looking for any items just for their lower weight. The lighter choices were already offered as 'standard'.

2:41 p.m. on July 19, 2012 (EDT)
21 reviewer rep
1,285 forum posts

I am new to this forum, but have bped for 50 years.  Logic tells us that the current movement toward light is better has a logical boundary when, better equiped is better.  Colder, wetter country like tall Colorado, BC, the Yukon, Alberta or Alaska even in the summer months can be challenge in in terms of conditions.  The most hypothermic I have ever been by far was on Aug 31 at only 3000 feet, but it was near Chilkoot Pass on the AK/BC border.

The margin for error gets razor sharp a long way from help in places where it can snow any day of the year.

 

10:04 a.m. on July 20, 2012 (EDT)
1,377 reviewer rep
1,339 forum posts

ppine said:

The margin for error gets razor sharp a long way from help in places where it can snow any day of the year.

Agreed. The gear that's 'minimal' in the southern US is very different from what's 'minimal' in other areas. And the Chilkoot is pretty close to the arctic as it is.

I'm taking a group to Yoho National Park this weekend and there's still snow (and ayv risk) at elevation. (I'll post photos) As the guide, my basic kit this time includes things like an ice axe and crampons, and a down sweater.

Even on a mid-summer hike at lower elevations, I always carry a shell, gloves and toque, and a fleece. I could never risk hiking in sandals, and Ialways have chemical toe/hand warmers and survival blankets in my emergency kit. Probably over-kill for Alabama or New Mexico, but absolutely necessary here.

10:27 a.m. on July 20, 2012 (EDT)
2 reviewer rep
699 forum posts

With respect to gear, most people pack their fears instead of packing intelligence in how to use the gear and their surroundings.

10:47 a.m. on July 20, 2012 (EDT)
1,631 reviewer rep
3,962 forum posts

I think there is a tendency for some(notice I said some) out there to take the whole lightweight thing to extremes which results in a lack of regards to personal well being.

I have seen it personally all to many times. 

Here is my thing...

Personal preference is just that. Our ideas of what is necessary, unnecessary, so on, and so forth is subjective to our own uses and personal preferences based on our own experiences/experience level.

I myself am comfortable humping a pack weight of 70lbs(sometimes more) for my late winter, week+ solo trips.

Yes I am comfortable under these types of weights. Could I go lighter? Absolutely. Would I? No. 

I know each individual piece of my kit intricately and I know what each item's limitations are.

I don't push the parameters of what a product does just for the sake of saving a bit of weight. 

Now some may say "you're crazy" for carrying those types of weights and that may very well be true.

At the same time I am comfortable carrying these weights for my ventures into the "great unknown."

I would never suggest that someone carry the types of weights that I do nor would I suggest that the gear I carry would work for everyone.

It works for me and I am very comfortable with my kit. I know what it will do; what its limitations are and I adjust my kit accordingly(ie seasons, trip objectives) which also has a great bearing on my pack weight.

Whether one goes UL, SUL, or is a pack mule is all relative to the individuals personal preference, terrain, and conditions in which they are travelling.

At the same time I always have to keep in mind what works for me may not necessarily work for others in similar conditions. 

Just remember one thing. When going into backcountry Mother Nature could care less who you are or what you carry on your back. 

What one needs, what one doesn't need, what is necessary, and what is unnecessary is nothing more than a matter of personal preference & opinion. It is all about what YOU are comfortable with and what YOU need in order to make your journey an enjoyable one and not one you would like to soon forget.

Ask 10 different people the same question and you are likely to get 10 different responses... None of which are wrong. ;)

12:43 p.m. on July 20, 2012 (EDT)
TOP 25 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
2,702 reviewer rep
1,338 forum posts

I agree with Rick - personal preference, tolerance and belief heavily influence how people respond to the question of whether and how much to go ultralight.  i tried UL for a while but never really gravitated toward it. 

my issues with going light:

1.  it can get expensive.  example:  i have a down sleeping bag for 3 season use (except for really hot summer hikes), from marmot, weighs a little over 3 pounds.  on sale, well under $200.  for about $500, i could save myself maybe a pound and a quarter and get an insanely lightweight down bag (Marmot Plasma).  likewise, the large mystery ranch backpack i use weighs a little less than eight pounds and cost about $500; a comparable full spectra/dyneema McHale critical mass would set me back about $1400 and would weigh about 5 pounds.  i would love that crazy light sleeping bag and that McHale backpack, but i'm perfectly happy with what i have - very functional gear and over $1200 in my pocket.  to me, the cost-benefit just isn't there. 

it can also get expensive because in my experience, some (not all) ultralight gear is more prone to getting damaged, so it needs to be replaced more often.  i have had the shoulder strap and hip belt attachment points and packbag material on lightweight backpacks get worn & torn after a season or two of use, whereas the two heavyweight packs i have are very lightly worn after several years.  even more so with leather boots - one pair will last a decade or more with proper care; trail runners get crushed in 12-18 months.   

2.  it can get uncomfortable.  for me, carrying a pack, walking all day in trail runners can be fine unless the trail is really rocky and jagged.  rugged trail conditions in trail runners make my feet sore.  personally, i prefer boots that offer better foot protection if the trail demands it.   

the same for ultralight sleeping arrangements - most tarps and very light tents that i have experienced are fine for many purposes but struggle with truly stormy weather. 

3.  it can be unsafe.  I thought Skurka's article did a great job explaining the hypothermia risks of omitting foul weather gear or favoring UL insulating layers to the point that it can leave you exposed if the weather turns. 

2:25 p.m. on July 20, 2012 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
658 reviewer rep
2,149 forum posts

Family Guy said:

With respect to gear, most people pack their fears instead of packing intelligence in how to use the gear and their surroundings.

 True.

And many pack their hubris instead of adequate kit. 

3:11 p.m. on July 20, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
827 reviewer rep
1,325 forum posts

gonzan said:

Family Guy said:

With respect to gear, most people pack their fears instead of packing intelligence in how to use the gear and their surroundings.

 True.

And many pack their hubris instead of adequate kit. 

 Family Guy and Gonzan,

 

well said by both of you! nice....

Hmmm, I find that I need at least a 50 liter pack to get both my fears and my hubris into the same container!

3:26 p.m. on July 20, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
827 reviewer rep
1,325 forum posts

 

leadbelly,

 

I'm total agreement with the trail runners, I have the exact same attitude: they are just not suitable (despite how much I want them to be) for most of the places I go. Although in some rocky conditions where I have to climb large boulders and/or long slick rock surfaces the trail runners are far superior in traction to any boots or low top hiking shoes I’ve ever owned.

 

 

 

If all goes to plan I’m heading out in a couple of hours to Citico/Slick rock in East TN / NC for a quick overnight (hopefully find Tipi and camp with him tonight), with my lightest pack ever: 23 pounds including food and water. I’ve purchased a Gregory Savant 58 (fit the small so it’s actually 54 liters) to use as an overnight pack and while my Mystery Ranch Trance is off to repair. The new pack weighs 3 pounds four ounces (about a pound less than my Trance) and I’m still in my “experimental tarp phase” right now so that cuts my total shelter down to about 1 pound 10 ounces including ground sheet, stakes and guy line. (don’t own a bivy yet so tonight may get interesting)

That 23 pound includes 1.5 days of food (maybe 2 pounds) and about 5 pounds of water so I guess my base is 16 pounds. That’s a light weight record for me!

3:32 p.m. on July 20, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,347 reviewer rep
1,320 forum posts

There seem to be various definitions for "base weight".  What are you including in that 16lbs?  Pack, everything in it excluding food/water?  clothes you're wearing?  shoes?  trekking poles?  

3:36 p.m. on July 20, 2012 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
658 reviewer rep
2,149 forum posts

Patman said:

Hmmm, I find that I need at least a 50 liter pack to get both my fears and my hubris into the same container!

 Hahaha! Oh, I just busted out laughing from my corner of the design room :) I am sure everyone else is wondering what the heck is so funny, LOL!

3:41 p.m. on July 20, 2012 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
658 reviewer rep
2,149 forum posts

Personally, I count my "Base pack weight" as everything I will be taking on a given trip, aside from food and water. I do not count poles, boots, or worn clothing as pack weight.

If I just count my kit without clothes and other things that vary from trip to trip, but only my true base items, it would be pretty light. I haven't actually weighed everything in quite some time, and am anxious to do so sometime soon.  

4:23 p.m. on July 20, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,347 reviewer rep
1,320 forum posts

OK, by that definition I'm not doing too badly.  Excluding what I'm wearing, my trekking poles, shoes, the camera on a CaptureClip (all things I"m carrying but not in the pack), and excluding food, and water I'm at 25.9 lbs.  That includes almost 2 pounds in charging gear to power my electronics, and it includes almost 2 lbs for a bear canister.

That's a little misleading, because I'll actually be carrying 46.3 lbs overall, including 5 days of food, 2L of water & everything else I mentioned.  And it'll be a lot higher on segments where I'm carrying 8 days of food rather than 5.

But I'll go with the first number :).

4:25 p.m. on July 20, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
827 reviewer rep
1,325 forum posts

Bill,

 

oh I see, no for me that was pack contents only...nothing I'm wearing or my poles. Your third sentence is me....pack and everything in it excluding food and water. And remember this is just an overnight for me...

 

Yeah, I've seen some of Andrew Skurkas spreadsheets and uses a term called "skin-out" weight.

6:17 p.m. on July 20, 2012 (EDT)
21 reviewer rep
1,285 forum posts

I respectfully disagree with Family Guy.  You do not give backpackers enough credit.  A  group like this forum has already demonstrated to me that they are thoughtful about what they bring and how they use it.

BPers as a group though tend to be influenced by advertising.  The ultra-light trend is partly useful and partly a fad.  Five hundred dollar tents, expresso makers, etc.  As an old fart, I am going back to the early dependable and cheap stuff like Kelty external frame packs.  One of the greatest things about backpacking besides being unplugged is the individual expression of style in their equipment and the ways they use it.

6:53 p.m. on July 20, 2012 (EDT)
2 reviewer rep
699 forum posts

I think you may actually be agreeing with me. My point is that it isn't about the gear. It is about what is between your ears. Lightweight backpacking is about a mindset. An approach to backpacking and not necessarily about the newest and lightest piece of gear. It is about using items in your pack for multiple uses. About creating a sleep system rather than just taking an expensive sleeping bag. About.....

Experience trumps all.

11:55 a.m. on July 21, 2012 (EDT)
21 reviewer rep
1,285 forum posts

FG,

Nice comeback.  We agree.

12:26 p.m. on July 21, 2012 (EDT)
299 reviewer rep
141 forum posts

I agree with ppine and I have a confection I was and still sometimes influenced by what is hot or must need item I need for bpack.  Now days I wait 30 days before I buy anything and checkout trailspace to read reviews or post to get feedback.  The bottom line is get on the trail and enjoy what is out there.  The gear I need most is hammock, binoculars and camera.  The water has always been a problem with me, and I will not go unless I have 80 ounces of water even if its less than 3 miles, but I hate the weight.   The gear that I'm looking for now and would like some input is sleeping bag, and yes I would like it to be light but handle temps down to 32, I don't mind wearing fleece jacket if needed but mostly taking a nap sometimes.  I love hitting the trail at 5 and going for 3 or 4 hours and taking a small nap on the hammock.  The only other thing I could say I still need more experience for over night hikes.

11:07 a.m. on July 23, 2012 (EDT)
21 reviewer rep
1,285 forum posts

I used to carry an Optimus 80 stove.  I looked at some recently on eBay.  They weigh 16 ozs, but never quit, and work when it is below zero.  The fuel tank is 4 1/2 oz.

Going UL is fine, but please don't make into a crusade or use sarcasm to describe the style of others.  I revel in the technology of the 70s, but I got started in bping in 1960 with a Trapper Nelson, kapok sleepiing bag, cast iron frying pan and military surplus equipment.  There were no waist belts in those days.  One time we made 26 miles in a day on good trail.  Humans have followed trade routes over mountains with the crudest equipment imaginable for thousands of years, way before any ultralight equipment was even contemplated.

I find the title of this thread to be..... perfect.

 

12:01 p.m. on July 23, 2012 (EDT)
1,377 reviewer rep
1,339 forum posts

Oldman Mike said:

The water has always been a problem with me, and I will not go unless I have 80 ounces of water even if its less than 3 miles, but I hate the weight. 

When, oh when, is someone going to come out with dehydrated water?  That would make life so much easier.

6:25 a.m. on July 24, 2012 (EDT)
102 reviewer rep
2,295 forum posts

Family Guy said:

..It is about what is between your ears...

My wife says I must have too much wax in my ears and sh--t for brains, so I guess there is no hope for me.

Ed

6:32 a.m. on July 24, 2012 (EDT)
102 reviewer rep
2,295 forum posts

peter1955 said:

When, oh when, is someone going to come out with dehydrated water?  That would make life so much easier.

Who needs dehydrated water when you can have dehydrated beer?

Ed

11:49 a.m. on July 24, 2012 (EDT)
21 reviewer rep
1,285 forum posts

Whomeworry,

If your wife really treats you like that, run the other way and do not look back.

3:01 p.m. on July 24, 2012 (EDT)
102 reviewer rep
2,295 forum posts

ppine said:

Whomeworry,

If your wife really treats you like that, run the other way and do not look back.

But I know only one way to run.  Speaking of which, I have to get running; I have wax my car and clean my ears.

Ed

1:56 a.m. on August 1, 2012 (EDT)
7 reviewer rep
134 forum posts

Skurka says what most of us already know.  I've made stupid gear choices in both directions.  As a "rookie" have erred on the too much stuff side and as a lightweight elitest on the tool little side.

I've been backpacking 43 years.  My last "rookie" experience was my first solo two week trek along the CDT in 1998 where I was "prepared" for anything with a 75lb pack.  And my first "elitest" experience was at age 13 when I decide I could manage a week in the Sierra with one pair socks, shorts, a t-shirt, and a large trash bag for clothes, and tube tent for shelter.  (i had an incredibly light pack that trip but managed maybe 15 minutes of sleep each night.

I want to believe I am wiser now, but the next big unexpected weather system will burst my bubble.

December 21, 2014
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply

 
More Topics
This forum: Older: Crossing At The Arches Newer: Removing odor from hands in the backcountry
All forums: Older: Petzl Pixa... Newer: gear weight