24 forum posts
I have been a backpacker since grade 8, so around about 34 years, before that a Boy scout. That taught me to always be prepared, probably to the point of being obsessive. I just retired my last piece of kit that I used on my first ever boy scout trip, a plastic coffee mug, which may still find its way back into my pack due to its light weight, durability and memories.
I wear hiking boots, I carry an actual cook set and a bomb proof 25 year old Peak 1 stove, and good rain gear. Regardless of the season, I always have a toque, gloves, gaiters and proper layers. I like to eat, well and with variety, and I ALWAYS cary extra food, a minimum of three days.. I also carry 60 feet of 8.5mm rope, my compass, map and a good knife as well as my Leatherman, a well stocked first aid and a repair kit are also always found in my pack. Not to mention occasionally some luxuries like a small crib board and cards if I am not going solo. Depending on when and where I am going I will also add a small folding saw or my mountaineering axe and crampons.
I have recently learned however that this makes me " stupid", "lack confidence in my abilities", " a foolish waste of energy" and somehow it puts me at an increased risk of injury ?? ( knock on wood, only been injured once when I blew out a knee, which had nothing to do with pack weight or my trusty boots, and I still hiked 3 more days to get out, all hail Ibuprofen)
These are all things I have learned while exposing my self to a couple of forums and watching youtube videos, which I had never really done before.
This trend is naturally called Ultra Light hiking. Carry next to nothing and go as fast as you can.
I am a seasoned backpacker, I started way back when it wasn't even the slightest bit cool to do it. As a result I am very set in my ways and will continue to hike as I always have.....well prepared. I go at a steady pace and stop as often as I feel to enjoy whatever the trail has to offer, mother nature being my God.
What scares me is that new people getting into it read and watch this stuff and follow it. My last hike on the West Coast trail I was floored to see so many people wearing runners. We saw one fellow carrying a huge guitar on his back who had to mooch food off others and who had no rain gear. The trip before that, the rope I always carry saved three hikers who chose not to consult their map before following the Ocean, and who were also short on food, and thankful that we had extra, as we spent three days waiting out a severe storm in a cave.
I just watched one Youtube video of a solo through hiker who was complaining that every time he hikes he gets stress fractures in his feet, and moments later is extolling the virtues of hiking in running shoes, flimsy looking ones at that because they are so light.
Another fellow carries no food that needs to be cooked, using granola bars,peanuts and energy gel. NO COFFEE, ack I can't imagine !!
It is constantly in the news about SAR rescuing unprepared, inexperienced hikers. It is like a new religion that is being put in the kool aid and newbies are drinking it in.
Now I am not saying that you can't have a light pack, and if you are experienced and can deal with the risks if something happens then go for it, leave some of that stuff at home. If you are ok not really enjoying your food for you trip, then great for you. I however won't join you in the same practices. On three occasions I have been forced to extend trips by 2-3 days due to weather or illness. I was warm, comfortable, well fed and entertained. Because I left a proper itinerary with instructions that include a 4 day buffer there was only a bit of worry at home. I can't imagine the misery we would have endured if we went ultra light and lacked the food a gear needed to carry us through the extension. I can't count how many trips that I have been on, well in the hundreds for sure, and all those combined experiences good and bad have contributed to what and why I carry what I do. Which actually only amounts to 55 or so pounds usually, sometimes 70 or more for a long trip.
I think ultra lighters are playing Russian Roulette myself, but they are free to do as they so chose.
What really picks me is that like so many things in society it has become acceptable to be critical of others who are different. My quotes above we taken directly from videos and forums in relation to backpackers who carry so much gear.
If you are an ultra lighter that is fine by me, but please don't be critical of those who carry more. One day you may be very thankful to happen across one of us.
I fully suspect that one day I will be trundling down some trail and all the young folk will be going by with hover packs.
I am a traditional backpacker..... And I am a dying breed.