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Ultra Minimalist
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Huzefa Siamwala
Ultra Minimalist on 12/27/2007 23:07:28 MST Print View

Hi all! I don't know whether the term UM already exist but I wanted to distinguish the idea from SUL , UL and others.. I wanted to share this idea that I have been thinking about for some time. I have been hiking for the past one year, mostly day and overnight trips. Since last month I have been doing quite a lot of reading on backpacking gear and technique. I have learnt quite a lot and my ideas on have continually evolved. I have been thinking of the the most basic axiom - the neccessities required to live in the wild, so to carry least amount of gear. UM is about minimizing your need so as to carry the bare minimum. Thats the basic idea of UM.

I intend to continue with 1-3 days hikes for the next few months, until I transfer to some other college in northern states close to himalayas. I intend to utilise this period in building my stamina and preparing for the challenges ahead.

To begin with, I have been looking at various manufacture who make UL packs:FF, Golite, GG, Moonbow Gear, MLD, SMD, Z Packs, UL outfitters, Lynn Wheldon Gear, ULA Equipment. I think if you are living in the wild you need a UL, small but tough, durable pack. That leaves golite Ion, SMD Esssence & ULA Relay. Other are either too large for the purpose or are made of Silnylon which just wont stand abuse. All three are excellent options IMO.

Since I am on a tight budget and my overnight will be in caves and forts, and there is no question of snow and rain here, I don't intend to purchase a shelter and sleeping system at the moment. A foam sleeping sheet and a light woolen shawl should be enough.

Gear List

Gear worn:Merino wool sweater, quick drying/moisture wicking Tshirt, trek pants, shoes, and Cap.

For 1-3 days trip, Gear carried:
Anyone of the three packs mentioned above
Light weight woolen base layer.
Small towel
Foam pad
Puri Tabs (Chlorine dioxide water purifying tablets)
first aid

no stove (eating in villages on the route)
2.5 lbs + 6lbs (1.5L water+ food)

Huzefa UM

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Ultra Minimalist on 12/28/2007 01:52:10 MST Print View

Hi Huzefa

> I don't know whether the term UM already exist but I wanted to distinguish the idea from SUL , UL and others..
Actually, your gear list is very similar to what some Europeans carry when they walk the tracks which have plenty of Refuges along them. Toilet gear, towel and a water bottle: every thing else is provided by the Refuges.
That's what I would call Minimal.

If you want to be 'Ultra-Minimal', you need to read what the Crane brothers took when they RAN across the Himalayas. Basically, nothing apart from a jacket and a water bottle. Bit too hard for me though!

Huzefa Siamwala
Adrian Crane on 12/28/2007 07:15:02 MST Print View

yes, Adrian ran 2,040 miles through the Himalayas in 101 days. I don't know if I will be able to that but thats I kind of level I aim to achieve.

Dan Whalley
(thedanwhalley) - F

Locale: peakdistrict natonial park, UK
Ultra Minimalist on 01/02/2008 11:56:01 MST Print View


I suppose you could call your kit Minimalist/ Ultra Minimalist rather than ultra light or super ultra light which I would say is more towards backpackers who will be carrying more self sufficient kit like shelter, kitchen, sleep system etc

I suppose a true Ultra Minimalist would be someone who lives of the land, someone who practices bush craft!

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Ultra Minimalist on 01/02/2008 13:36:46 MST Print View

Wow! You certainly don't suffer from insecurity. Don't start now. You obviously know your country and the resources it provides as well as the trouble it can throw at you. In other words, your minimalist approach seems safe for what you are doing. Why change?

One thing to maybe consider is whether to carry any of the so-called Ten Essentials. The list varies, search the threads. They boil down to the minimum things needed for safety in case the unexpected happens. Some way to keep warm, hydrated, fed (minimally), located, and so on. The list usually includes fire, flashlight, compass and map, warm-dry clothing, emergency shelter, emergency food, watch, whistle, knife, and first aid kit. The list is fairly comprehensive, and some minimalists carry nothing else. Around here, they are the radical fringe, but when you look at the Ten Essentials, you can see that it is a complete, if limited, gear list. Use your own judgement.

If you cruise backpacking forums, you will soon find that western backpackers tend to try to take most of the comforts of home. We concentrate on reducing the weight of those comforts as much as technically possible. That becomes a hobby in and of itself. Those who go without certain minimum are considered excentric. The entire culture is seductive. You have avoided it so far. Let me encourage you to keep to your own path.

(cuzzettj) - MLife

Locale: NorCal - South Bay
"Ultra Minimalist" on 01/02/2008 16:13:59 MST Print View

Sounds like you are going to have a lot of fun!

I would suggest just a few things. First, unless massive comfort is optimal get yourself the Jam 2 backpack from GoLite. It is excellent for what little you are carrying and very versitle. This will take your load down and the thing is very tough. I beat the heck out of a Jam for backpacking, hiking to biking in all kinds of weather almost daily for the better part of a year and still use it to this day. If you can line the inside of your pack with the pad when you are very light you will love it. I even stuffed 30 pounds (reluctantly) into it on one trip. It is an amazing pack. The only down side, for some, is the suspension and lack of a rigid frame. I think it is one of the benefits.

I have done the minimalist thing back when I was younger. It is a lot of fun. The other poster was correct. Don't get caught up in the hype of regular backpacking sights. It isn't worth the cost or time. I ended up selling 2/3 of what I purchase initially.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Re: Ultra Minimalist on 01/02/2008 17:40:53 MST Print View

Hi Huzefa,

Your trip ideas sound great and they definitely point out how different trekking can be in different locales. I used to look at the "backpacking" that often happens in Europe, stopping for food and lodging along the way and I'd roll my eyes- that isn't backpacking! My idea of backpacking was defined by carring everything you needed and not relying on others or civilization.

Then I started to think more of minimalism which is part of what I do now- specifically when I'm going SuperUltraLight. There isn't much I carry, really. But back then, I did some trips in survival shelters, learned more about native edible plants, etc. I didn't carry everything I needed- I relied more on nature.

Which gets me back to my Euro trekking idea today- an your style of backpacking. Different locales present different backpacking possibilities. What you have to carry up Denali (Alaska) is quite different from Texas, which is obviously much different than what you have to carry on your treks in India.

Is it "backpacking" to carry a small sack and ride the rails like the hobos of yesteryear? Not according to some definitions. But to me it's all about the adventure so go forth and have a good time!

I wouldn't worry about a new acronym, though- my local environment calls for an "UltraMinimal" gear list that's way different than yours- it's essentially the same as my SUL list. And here, there are no options of purchasing food in the wilderness, so I would have to think of things very differently. Some could survive with a knife and a firestarter- that's minimal! But your trekking style is fantastic all the same.

Please post pictures and stories of your treks on the site- I would LOVE to read them!!!!

Huzefa Siamwala
Re: Re: Re: Ultra Minimalist on 01/03/2008 20:56:58 MST Print View

Thanks all of you for your replies.

Vick - I will seriously reconsider my packing to include ten esssential as I plan to do longer solo trips.

Jason - I have thought about Jam2 for a long time. But when I saw ULA relay I thought- man, this thing is perfect!

Edit: Doug - I just finished 4 day expedition. I will write a post on it soon.

Edited by huzefa on 01/04/2008 01:00:55 MST.

Paul Tree
(Paul_Tree) - F

Locale: Wowwww
cave camping suggestion on 01/18/2008 11:22:23 MST Print View

a Candle is quite cheerful, easy, appropriately low-tech, and saves your batteries. I bring a stub quite often, now that the rest of my pack is light. It's is my main luxury item, and sharable. If it is too windy, you can block the wind with something transparent like a water bottle. A couple lighters.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

the minimum on 01/20/2008 14:33:15 MST Print View

Shelter, water, warmth, food.

A plastic credit card or paper money is the lightest way to get these, but where's the adventure in that?

How much you carry depends on where you are going and how much you like being self sufficient and comfortable.

Even if you are sleeping in caves and forts, a 2 oz plastic sheet will keep you and your spare clothing dry (and light) in a sudden rainstorm on the trail.

A plastic soda bottle for water will keep you from drying out in the sun. A little food will keep you going if you can't make it to the village that evening.

Being able to start a fire might save your life if you need warmth or to attract help.

Prepare for the unexpected and enjoy your travelling.