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Preparedness view of ultralight?
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John S.
(jshann) - F
Preparedness community view of ultralight? on 11/02/2007 08:33:29 MDT Print View

Those paranoid guys at ETS are talking about ultralight backpackers ; P

Edited by jshann on 11/02/2007 14:16:58 MDT.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Preparedness view of ultralight? on 11/02/2007 08:42:55 MDT Print View

The seem to share "our crowd's" disdain for Backpacking Mag;-)

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: Preparedness view of ultralight? on 11/02/2007 09:46:18 MDT Print View

I read through the first 5 pages or so of that thread and there are very interesting comments. I have not read the article they refer to in BPM, but it leads me to believe that the article is far from the truth. I have never met anyone here who has told me not to carry water on a mountain trail because it is too heavy, or to never treat my water as the purification tablets are too heavy, or to leave my first aid kit at home and rely on someone else to take care of me. The thread in question seems to have their facts wrong. The UL hiker "they" describe is one who basically just goes hiking in a speedo with nothing but a garbage bag and a granola bar.
Can someone comment on the article in question...You can't blame the forum members, they're just talking about the article that has been printed. Heck, I'd be worried about someone hiking like that aswell.

Edited by Steve_Evans on 11/02/2007 09:48:18 MDT.

Steve .
(pappekak) - F

Locale: Tralfamadore
Re: Preparedness view of ultralight? on 11/02/2007 10:09:56 MDT Print View

Pretty entertaining close-minded comments :)

Glenn Roberts
(garkjr) - F

Locale: Southwestern Ohio
"We" vs. "They" on 11/02/2007 11:00:31 MDT Print View

I haven't read the postings everyone is talking about, but I have noticed a few comments here about what "They" are saying about ultralight. Obviously, "They" may not have the informed views, perspective, experience, etc., that "We" on this forum have.

Kind of reminds me of an old Pogo cartoon strip: "'We' have met the enemy, and 'They' is 'Us.'"

(Since no emoticons are available, think "self-deprecating wink-and-nod.")

Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: Re: Preparedness view of ultralight? on 11/02/2007 11:25:32 MDT Print View

I had no idea we were so hated! ULer's are stupid and mooches is basically what I've gotten from the postings so far, outside of the few people who have stood up and said "UL is a completely different animal and we shouldn't judge them by our standards."
I'm surprised at how much attention the taking a razor instead of a 'proper' knife is getting. I guess they must be used to taking down elk and having to field dress it before they can eat dinner, in which case a razor definitely wouldn't cut it. I can honestly say that there's nothing I do with my knife on the trail that I couldn't do with a razor. I've even just brought a razor on a handful of trips, but alas I'm far too attached to my knife to be without it.
The other point that got me was that we all hike on high-traffic trails so if we do get in trouble we can have someone bail us out. Right...


Edited by aroth87 on 11/02/2007 11:26:20 MDT.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: "We" vs. "They" on 11/02/2007 11:32:33 MDT Print View

Thanks for the link; it's always useful to read what goes on in folks' heads.

Several of the posters seem to have a solid footing on perceived risk versus actual risk, and understand the necessity of a flexible approach to trip planning, but numerous others frankly come across as scardy-cats. The taint they want to paint ultralighters with belongs on the inexperienced.

I didn't see anybody give a proper citation to BP MAg's having recommended the mooch-off-others first aid kit. Dubious.

Glenn Roberts
(garkjr) - F

Locale: Southwestern Ohio
We v. They on 11/02/2007 12:59:54 MDT Print View

Rick: Hope you didn't misunderstand my previous post - just wanted to put a gentle jab in to keep us from taking ourselves too seriously. As someone who regularly backpacks with a 15 - 20 pound load, in a frameless pack, using clothing to extend a sleeping bag rating when temperatures unexpectedly dip, I'm certainly a believer in the UL-is-a-different-animal approach.

Which is why I don't try to force it on anyone else - especially someone who wants to learn to backpack, doesn't want to commit to large expenditures for good, light gear, and is more comfortable with something a little closer to their previous Scout or car-camping experiences.

Now, if only we could get traditionalists to quit disparaging the path we've chosen. Colin Fletcher always had the right perspective: UL is just another part of the spectrum ("Ev- or Rev- olution" I think he called it.) He also saw no walls: he knew that innovation (which had to primarily come from the UL side) would seep into the traditional side, just as surely as nylon tents replaced canvas. (He made a reference to Indy cars vs. family cars - innovative discoveries in racing may well get incorporated into the family car, but you can't expect to run the Queen Family Truckster at 200 mph all day.)

But, he also cautioned us not to get too involved in shining up our own haloes. (We really do miss him, don't we?)

Richard Matthews
(food) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Preparedness view of ultralight? on 11/02/2007 13:25:30 MDT Print View

I imagine that caterpillars think that it is very reckless to fly. The traditional packers and UL are really the same, but at different stages of development. Only a few caterpillars have the opportunity to turn into butterflies rather than bird chow.

Ryan Faulkner
(ryanf) - F

Locale: Mid atlantic, No. Cal
Re: Re: Preparedness view of ultralight? on 11/02/2007 13:46:51 MDT Print View

thanks you to mark verber for his post on the last page of that forum

I may try and join that forum myself, I read through the entire thread, and have so much to say... these people really have no idea..

to bad for the irresponsible people touted as ultralighterss they give us a bad name

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Professor Verber... on 11/02/2007 14:28:07 MDT Print View

Excellent post on the forum Mark. IMO most of the comments posted by those forum users are due to a lack of education in ULing in general - some of the comments really are ridiculous (ie. the water issue). Reading the posts following Mark's, it seems they are impressed and very much interested in getting first hand knowledge of this style of that doesn't come in the form of an article in BP Mag. Perhaps Mark can continue his teachings until the mob has dispersed. :)

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Preparedness view of ultralight? on 11/02/2007 15:05:26 MDT Print View

I too was annoyed with Backpacker magazine after reading their article which is jointly about hiking the JMT and going ultralight. In the article they suggest as solutions to save weight: not carrying a map/compass and not carrying water if you know there is lots along the trail.

If I've learned anything from going over and over and over my gearlist it's that many an educated mind met in the preparation of the famous Ten Essentials list. Regardless of how well-marked a trail is, getting lost on it is still a very real possibility and not something to be toyed with.

The notion of not carrying water because of it's ready-availability is a bit of a grayer area. Yes water may be easily accessed often along a trail but if you were to get injured and be locked in place, having a safe amount of "carrying water" with you is a good idea.

Now, the thread over at the other forum being discussed in this thread has many, many posts in regards to people thinking that carrying a razor blade instead of a fixed blade is really dangerous. I personally see no validity in that statement whatsoever. I think it's an idea that remains vestigially from days of old.

The users on the forum were tending to unfortunately bash ultralight backpackers through the use of such words as unprepared, under-equipped, whacko, et al. They seem to be fed up with inexperienced backpackers and are for some reason blanket-stereotyping the ultralight crowd under that umbrella description.

Edited by sharalds on 11/02/2007 15:06:28 MDT.

Matt Brodhead
(mattbrodhead) - F

Locale: Michigan
Re: Preparedness view of ultralight? on 11/02/2007 18:03:08 MDT Print View

Bah. They're just living in another paradigm. Half of them are hunters anyway.

Shawn Basil
(Bearpaw) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Preparedness view of ultralight? on 11/02/2007 21:25:29 MDT Print View

"Bah. They're just living in another paradigm. Half of them are hunters anyway."

This strikes me as at least as much of a stereotype as anything the folks at ETS have said. They seem to stereotype Ul'ers as unprepared mooches waiting to be rescued by a cell phone.

To imply that they have no concept of the backcountry because they are hunters is just as big a stereotype. Without resorting to sterotypes, my experience has been that the typical hunter typically knows more about actually living and travelling in the backcountry than backpackers, owing to the fact that backpackers tend to be more suburban while most hunters come from a more rural setting. Add this to the fact that hunters tend to spend more time off-trail and closely observing the natural world around them, and you'll find that they have a valid perspective on the natural world.

Like any stereotype, the idea of the drunk hunter has a small kernal of unfortunate truth, but this is the tiny minority (that manages to make the newspaper). The same could be said with the "UL" hiker who was actually an unprepared, inexperienced dayhiker.

I have some minor issues with a bit of what BPM mentioned in its JMT/UL article, but felt it was a mostly positive step for BP, which typically emphasizes the SUV to get you to the trailhead over actually getting out there.

Edited by Bearpaw on 11/02/2007 21:26:25 MDT.

(beenay25) - F

Locale: Intermountain West
re: on 11/06/2007 14:31:15 MST Print View

It struck me as kind of funny at first that when a few people spoke up for ultra light hikers, even providing examples of ultra light gear lists, these people were completely ignored by the "big dogs" of the thread who were so obsessed with talking about how many times they've gotten Giardia (despite all their heavy filters, apparently), how they themselves would NEVER leave the house without their "essentials", and nitpicking about knives and maps.

Edit: I just read the last couple pages and it turned out to be a fairly intelligent discussion once Mr Verber got involved.

Edited by beenay25 on 11/06/2007 19:47:20 MST.

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
it always strikes me strange on 11/07/2007 10:53:27 MST Print View

It always strikes me strange when two groups can appear to have similar aims yet can be so different in opinions.
If you were to compare road cyclists to mtn. bikers you would find similar differences of opinions right down to whether to shave their legs or not, yet they all ride bikes and share in each others spin off technology. If you "live" in both worlds it can get a little surreal.
warning, anecdote following; While in Bend, Ore. to watch my son compete in a road race I used my mtn. bike to get up the road for a photo op and in the process passed many cyclists on road bikes out there to view the race. After awhile they started to trickle in and my passing them got them twisted and I was now elected to their daily a-list.
One guy came over to give me his piece of mind and as I listened to his rant trying to think of a response; i.e. I passed safely, I gave a friendly wave, etc...I just told him I was Canadian and in Canada it was a great game for mtn. bikers to try and pass their obviously superior road riding cousins "taking coup" on them, in a head to head race we are basically tractors compared to ferraris.
So how can two groups secularize themselves this far? Is it ego, the need to build themselves up by tearing down the other fellow, a left-handed kind of schadenfreude?

Matthew Swierkowski
(Berserker) - F

Locale: Southeast
Some of us traditional guys like you Ul'ers on 11/12/2007 11:32:37 MST Print View

Hey, I just thought I'd jump in and say that not all non-UL backpackers think you guys are "insane" as the one poster put it. I've been hanging around here for over a year cause I like reading about UL hiking, and get a lot of good tips and gear ideas from this site. I myself am a "traditional" backpacker (carry about a 20 lb base load minus food and water in the summer), and I don't do the UL thing by choice (I dabbled in it a little) cause I like some of my "heavy" stuff. I understand the UL mentality though, and just wanted to tell you guys to rock on!

Brian UL

Locale: New England
bushskills v.s. UL technique on 11/12/2007 12:41:53 MST Print View

As was said both sides of the specktrum have some pretty bogus ideas about the other, I have more than once read people talk about hunters and survialist as ignorant amature drunks
and some people likewise view (UL)backpackers as yuppies who rely on SAR teams to bail them out.
I have been really getting into bushcraft latley and I have been an UL-er for almost a decade.
These are related in that they are outdoor skills -but
they come at it in completely different directions.
-Backpacking (Ul or otherwise) is usually about staying on the trails and carrying everything you need to be safe for x amount of days and if you get in trouble be prepared to stay out a few days/nights until rescue or self rescue.
- bushcraft ( some people mistakenly call it survivalism )
is all about living of the land and stresses deep knowledge of the enviroment -botany,mycrology,ect. and bushcraft skills ,like making your shelter not carrying it ( well they might bring parts of it), finding and processing your food -plant and animal.
Some here might be suprised that when I took a coarse with Mors Kochanski that he said his pack weight was like 4-6 bls. and he stressed the idea that the more you know the less you carry.
Of coarse his gear list though UL is far different from any strict "backpacking" one.
My point is really that to someone who approches the wilderness in this light and if its all they know ,
then ya, carrying a razor and not a real knife is foolish- only because thay rely on that tool to make shelter, split wood to get to the dry center, and make feather sticks ect.
all things impossible with a razor
-On the other hand an UL backpacker can only see carrying a fixed blade knife as some kind of social symbol (rambo/criminal/pariniod greenhorn) because in the way they use the wilderness this tool is simply not needed.
They dont build fires or shelters, and a backpacker dosent expect to be living off the land in any way no matter how bad things get. In fact many backpackers are very ignorant about the food and medicines growing all around them!( I know I was- and still am!)
I hope this made sense and didnt sound like I was rambling or taking sides.
Alot of the time my gear list and style is a weird blend of both of these approaches as the longer I backpacked the more curious I got about the enviroment I spent so much time in and the more I wanted to get away from the REI world and into the "traditional" world where I relied not on my credit card but on my skill and understaning of the enviroment.

Edited by MAYNARD76 on 11/12/2007 13:20:40 MST.

Michael Mangold
(mkmangold) - F
Survival and UL on 11/12/2007 17:01:08 MST Print View

I went to that site and wasn't impressed nor offended. I'm pretty proud of the paring down I and my sons have made over the years and have yet to call 911 for help. Here's an ironic thing (has to do with "survival"): as a member of our local Medical Reserve Corp, I was asked to draw up a list of equipment to stock in a "Go Bag." A Go Bag is a lumbar pack a volunteer can grab on the run to bring to an emergency. Well wouldn't ya know, I already had one stocked and that happens to be my lumbar pack for UL backpacking! I take two bags with me when we go camping: a daypack filled with the heavier necessities such as food, sleeping bag, and pad which stays in base camp; and a lumbar pack for day trips. That contains pretty much everything I would need for survival, except a cellphone.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: bushskills v.s. UL technique on 11/12/2007 18:19:40 MST Print View

"Backpacking (Ul or otherwise) is usually about staying on the trails and carrying everything you need to be safe for x amount of days and if you get in trouble be prepared to stay out a few days/nights until rescue or self rescue.
- bushcraft ( some people mistakenly call it survivalism )
is all about living of the land and stresses deep knowledge of the enviroment -botany,mycrology,ect. and bushcraft skills ,like making your shelter not carrying it ( well they might bring parts of it), finding and processing your food -plant and animal.
Some here might be suprised that when I took a coarse with Mors Kochanski that he said his pack weight was like 4-6 bls. and he stressed the idea that the more you know the less you carry."
I would add that there are some of us backpackers(UL, SUL, and otherwise) who do, in fact, spend quite a bit of time off trail, but who either don't want to kill for food and/or rip up the landscape to build shelter and fire, or backpack where it is prohibited in part or totally. Doesn't mean we don't understand our environment, just that we prefer to enjoy it as it is and leave it that way. In most cases, I would venture to say, we could probably figure out how to obtain enough food to survive and stay warm and dry if it became necessary. Just one more niche in the backpacking universe, I guess.