View Full Version : Ultralight but not ultra precise

03-07-2014, 16:24
Something I wrote on this quiet, cold and deserted Friday...

Why I stopped counting ounces with my gear…at least precisely.

http://www.pmags.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/kitchen-scale-300x300.jpg (http://www.pmags.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/kitchen-scale.jpg)

Sorry, I tried copying and pasting again..but the format is messed up.

Link here:

Just Bill
03-07-2014, 17:16
Good thoughts, reminds me a bit of a Ryan Jordan article on the subject a few months back. I think everyone has a little SUL hangover, but going to the extreme was worth ending up where we are today. As you mention, backpacking once mastered is the perfect compliment to so many other pursuits not possible if you didn't put in the effort to lighten up what you need so you could add what you want. Once you've got it- close enough.

As I debate how best to pursue backpacking with my son I see how nearly impossible that would be without light gear and it's all been worth it.

"One of the most important tenants of ultra-light backpacking is to reduce your load by at least 10 pounds. This number is critical as it is roughly the weight of a twelve pack of beer."- Ol' Man Willy

Cheers to beers-

03-07-2014, 20:46
Hi, Mags;

I hit that point on my PNT hike, just after I'd hiked the AT and AZT with a sub-10 pound pack. One morning as the sun burned off the dew, I shrugged off my jacket and stuffed it in my pack, as I was walking! It was at that moment I realized my pack was light enough and I have not tried to lighten it any more, nor have I weighed anything since then.

03-07-2014, 21:22
I agree with you JB. I'm glad the road I took. All the UL techniques and knowledge I've gained has made me a better hiker compared to never having gained this perspective. Well said again JB - the UL hiking knowledge transfers nicely into other outdoor and lifestyle pursuits.

03-07-2014, 21:35
One thing I've realized, even though I'm not so much an anal ULer about every hiking aspect as I once was, is that there's always evolution taking place as a hiker, in UL hiking styles, and in life. I embrace that unknown. I never want to be 100% at the place where I assume I know everything or that I can't take mastery further. Even though I don't stress as much as I used to about kit wt it still is a consideration in my choices. I have much capability to still learn.

The other very important awareness that I never want to forget is that we are all not at the same place on the same road. Some are more advanced than me. I'm more advanced than others. I don't want to get to a place where I start assuming where I'm at is where everyone is also at.

03-07-2014, 21:36
Do the tenants of hiking pay a decent rent? Just wondering.

Wolf - 23000
03-07-2014, 21:41

I think you hit on a couple of points that I've been saying forever. First "as experience is gained, a person gets a better feel for the trade-offs in terms of weight, comfort, functionality." As a hiker who keeps his own pack weight lightweight, I am always aware that someone does not always have the experience to travel lightweight or ultra-lightweight safely. Yes as experience is gained a person should get better feel for the trade-offs. What many people get mixed up is hiking miles does not always amount to having experience. Some hikers let their partner do almost all the work and really clueless when it comes to gear or how it works together some maybe even famous.

Second, you also mention using a different pack when hiking off trail compare to hiking on-trail. I do the same thing too. As I'm sure you know, there is a different between someone hiking on-trail or off-trail. Also there is a different between the time of year someone is hiking such as winter, summer, spring where they are hiking. For someone traveling lightweight, it also involves using different gear and a different amount of skills.

I'm sure you know this as well as me along with any knowledgeable hiker. I know you like to promote some writers. Yet if someone is still carrying two - four times more weight than someone else doing the same trail and at the same time promoting their way as ultra-light or still asking "What do you carry?" would you expect better? And especially if they are going to charge hikers money for their advice and make a living off of hikers?

03-07-2014, 21:56
Great article. Well written and very timely/relevant to my recent gear pondering.

03-07-2014, 23:41
Great article. I hear you, Mags. I found using a digital scale to weigh everything helped me to see how ounces add up to pounds and helped me shave about 10 pounds off my base weight. I've finally got my base weight down to about 14 pounds and that'll be about it for me. Now, I realize pretty much how many $$$ it will take to shave a few ounces here and there and how much comfort I'm willing to forego. There are simply some tradeoffs I'm not willing to make. I want a pack that carries well as I'm usually starting out of town for a 5-day trek with about 15 lbs of food and and 2 pounds of water. Plus, when I hike in arid areas I want to be able to carry up to 5 liters of water. I could go with some of the new, very light packs, but the one I have isn't worn out yet and I can't justify $300+ to save a half pound. I carry a camera that's a little heavy, but am unwilling to sacrifice the quality of the pics I'm taking by using the cell phone I use for writing and posting my journal. I carry a SPOT beacon whenever I'm hiking solo (which is often now) because I'm old and want to summon help if I need it. Finally, I just can't give up my full-length pad because my pack is always so wet from sweat at day's end (even in winter) that it would never serve under my feet.

03-08-2014, 10:42
Do the tenants of hiking pay a decent rent? Just wondering.

Strictly a labor of love. I write for trail groove magazine now, and do some guiding. I think that pays for my craft beer drinking throughout the year...and that is about it. :)

03-08-2014, 10:51
Do the tenants of hiking pay a decent rent? Just wondering.

Strictly a labor of love. I write for trail groove magazine now, and do some guiding. I think that pays for my craft beer drinking throughout the year...and that is about it. :)

Good read! And you're going to have to write some extra to swing the upcoming KBS and Parabola :)