Why people gotta hate on the UL crowd?
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Joseph Williams
(deadogdancing) - F

Locale: SW England
I cares not... on 03/06/2008 00:19:32 MST Print View

In fact the original joke brings up a genuine advantage of lightweight backpacking- if you are overweight, it helps the weekend trips and training runs become much less daunting, as the total weight on your legs remains manageable. I am still at the beginning as regards physical conditioning, and a light pack helps me do stuff anyway- which in turn will help my physical condition.

Be thankful for people hating on you...the lower your cultural status, the more likely you are to be left alone to do your own thing- which if you're in the habit of walking out into the mountains, is maybe what you really want...

...when lightweight backpacking becomes cool, it'll be a burden on the mind far greater than the exhaustion of lugging a 50lb pack.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
UL Crowd... on 03/06/2008 01:12:41 MST Print View

If you walk into a gear store and announce to the staff that you are an Ultra Light Backpacker or even worse, walk in with a scale, then you deserve what you get. Did you really expect them to gather round and ask to see your 3 season gear list? You'd probably get the same reaction if you walked in and announced that you like to carry a 90 pound pack!

To me it's just a personal style thing, nothing more. I don't feel a need to convert anybody!

Brian James
(bjamesd) - F

Locale: South Coast of BC
Re: UL Crowd... on 03/06/2008 10:14:59 MST Print View

Amen Mike.

Lightweight Backpacker is a label like any other. If you label yourself, you're choosing to bring out peoples' preconceptions and prejudices.

Instead of saying "I'm a LWB", say "My pack's too heavy and I'm looking for a jacket that weighs less". They're both true, but only one forces images of a stereotype into the person's mind.

I think that the gear companies have spent so long drilling the "more is safer" mantra into peoples' heads that the inverse ("less is less safe") becomes apparently true as well. More weight, more durability, more features, more cost -- all of these things are equated with security. So by extension, less of those things on your back must mean you are reckless, foolhardy, and uninformed -- right?

Ryan Gardner
(splproductions) - F - M

Locale: Salt Lake City, UT
Mentioning you are UL... on 03/06/2008 11:39:54 MST Print View

I don't go into the store and "announce" my style, I think I end up mentioning it semi-subconsciously because I just really really want to talk gear with someone. (No offense Forum Users, it's just that actual conversation is nice every once in a while). Since I don't know a single other person who is into UL, I end up unloading on my wife who could really care less, but listens. I guess I just have the hope that the store employee is a gear fiend as well and might want to talk about Montbell or Golite products over more mainstream stuff.

Mike Nielsen
(geophagous) - F

Locale: Pacific North West
Talking to the Wall on 03/06/2008 12:13:04 MST Print View

I feel you about having someone to converse with. Sometimes it is nice to shoot the sh$t with someone. When I talk to my wife about things like more than 1 backpack, she just doesn't get why you might want different packs. Told her I want a gatewood cape (poncho to her) for birthday and she says "you already have a poncho". Oh well, she did help me sew my first tarp tent so I guess I should not complain too much.

Andrew Richardson
(arichardson6) - F

Locale: North East
Re: Talking to the Wall on 03/06/2008 12:39:09 MST Print View

When I go to stores I don't mention my lightitude, but when talking to employees and hearing about what they use I often say "That is a bit heavier than what I had in mind."

I had one employee at REI that said I could get an Osprey Atmos 50 pack for one week trip without a problem. Then he proceeded to strip the shelves filling it up showing me. I didn't buy the pack because of the akward curve, but it was awesome he did that.

I'm lucky too cause my girlfriend really likes talking about gear! We always chat gear and our systems and everything. It's great fun for us! We are so excited for the weather to let us go out without having to worry about our safety. We only wish we could afford some cold weather gear! Well...I do, she's not into that!

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
the other place you can be flipped some grief on 03/11/2008 09:05:17 MDT Print View

The other place you can be flipped some grief is a high end bicycle shop.
Cyclists can be notorius weight-weenies, and appear absolutely obese compared to anorexic racers. The same line of reasoning prevails " why do you need a lighter seatpost when what you need is a lighter organic seat?"
A local health club offered free annual body fat percent testing and discontinued it when so many of their members were upset by the result, a 190# cyclist @11% compared to a 145# tennis player @23%, too much judging the book by its cover.
People who work in these shops leave a great chunk of their paycheck acquiring the latest widget and resent people who walk in off the street and by purchase it. If you haven't acquired the local stamp of approval and ride up on a mega-buck bike to a group ride they'll try to hammer you into the pavement. I've caught myself making these same stupid logic conclusions recently when a middle age guy through a leg over the top of the line Colnago. He was complaining about it mentioning he was flying to Italy to pick up the even greater new model and my mind was already writing him off as a jerk. A kind of reverse envy occurs when we chose elitist activities or maybe the correct word is "fringe".
How many of us do a kind of mental math at the grocery store when we see a large person and glance into their shopping cart ready to disapprove their choices.

Edited by pyeyo on 03/11/2008 09:06:54 MDT.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: the other place you can be flipped some grief on 03/11/2008 10:56:50 MDT Print View

Hi Larry,

Your bike shop ovservations cracked me up. There are indeed shops like that, which exist primarily to harvest the wallets of the upper crust. Luckily, real racer rat shops are more tyically quite welcoming of and patient with newbies and provide a good deal of useful information and education. I'm lucky enough to live a short walk from the best such shop in my region. It's the sort of place where you'll see Eric Heiden at the same time as a homeless guy buying an inner tube.

Even so, I've been in there while several rich guys were having a "weigh-off" with the shop's scale, a scene eerily similar to the seniors who gather around the blood pressure machine at the local drug superstore, comparing their numbers.

It's okay though, as those loaded enthusiasts really help keep the shop in business, as well as keeping Craig's List full of their high-end castoffs. As you doubtless know, the price of one loaded custom bicycle would equip any backpacker for life.

James Horner
(jbob19) - F

Locale: Ontario
UL on 03/11/2008 11:53:44 MDT Print View

As to the orginal posters experience I think its just store employees in general. It doesn't matter what your philosophy is store employees want to know more than you (I'm speaking in general of course).

I'm big into archery and the guy at my local archery shop is alittle behind in the times. I know way more about archery gear than he does and that's a bad thing. The first time i went into his shop we almost got into a fight. Now when i go in there I just play dumb. i know when he is BSing and I know I can't rely on him for accurate info. Yet because I play dumb we have a good enough relationship now.

As far as people hating on the UL crowd I think it goes both ways. I have read many many trip reports from UL hikers and almost all of them have a little comment making fun of the people with big packs.

Dondo .
(Dondo) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Bringing your scale into a gear shop on 03/11/2008 19:39:21 MDT Print View

>>f you walk into a gear store and announce to the staff that you are an Ultra Light Backpacker or even worse, walk in with a scale, then you deserve what you get.

It's probably a bad idea to strut into a gear shop with a lighter-than-thou attitude. On the other hand, I never go gear shopping without a scale. It's a lot less hassle than having to return a piece of overweight gear.

Here's how I do it.

Bring in a small, unobtrusive scale carried casually in one hand. Unless they are "in the club" most folks won't even notice what it is. After saying in a friendly manner,"no thanks, I'm just browsing", find your piece of gear and proceed to weigh it. If you choose a larger store such a REI on the weekend, chances are that no one will notice or care what you're doing. The most grief I'm gotten over the years is an occasional look that you'd give to harmless eccentrics. Since I really AM a harmless eccentric, it doesn't bother me.

Bringing your scale into a store can have unexpected benefits. Those "in the club" will instantly recognize you. You never know where members of this fifth column will be hanging out.

Once, while shopping at the Denver REI Flagship store, a clerk approached me with a twinkle in his eye and asked me what I was carrying under my arm. An animated conversation about UL gear and practices ensued. Last time I ran into him, we spent twenty minutes talking about his UL thru-hike of the Colorado Trail.

Coming up: Part Two. How to talk to concerned rangers and other land managers you might meet on the trail. :-D

Edited by Dondo on 03/11/2008 19:41:28 MDT.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Bringing your scale into a gear shop on 03/11/2008 20:18:01 MDT Print View

the oldest gear shop in our town is owned by a couple who are active UL evangelists. There are days then Rod's "pack" could make Ray Jardine's load look like a pack mule's.

Brian James
(bjamesd) - F

Locale: South Coast of BC
Re: UL gear shop on 03/11/2008 20:50:24 MDT Print View

When I first discovered lightweight backpacking a few years ago, I was tempted to open a Lightweight Outdoors shop here in Vancouver.

Canada has *not* discovered the trend, and it's hard to get many of the brands that you Americans know and love. You have to hunt them down, order them from over the border, and sometimes get them directly from the manufacturer or distributor.

Has anyone else thought of opening the equivalent of ProLiteGear in either online or retail form? Are there such things as ultralight gear brick-and-mortar stores in the USA?

Andrew Richard
(fairweather8588) - F

Locale: The Desert
UL retailers on 03/11/2008 21:08:21 MDT Print View

There arn't any dedicated UL stores here in AZ, however there are a few places that sell WM bags, GoLite clothing and equipment and a few other odds and ends

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: UL on 03/11/2008 21:09:49 MDT Print View

We do need to stop Baging on the non-Ulers.

You may hear a lot from them when off the trail, but when you meet them on the trail, they are the once that are speechless...

Jonathan Ryan
(Jkrew81) - F - M

Locale: White Mtns
Eh! on 03/12/2008 06:25:24 MDT Print View

I will say I was one of those shop guys at the big chain many years ago as well and all I can say is who cares what they think. They will not be making fun of you when you are wizzing by them on the trail with a load smaller than their daypack...

Monty Montana
(TarasBulba) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Why people gotta hate on the UL crowd? on 03/12/2008 12:14:18 MDT Print View

I don't mind. Really. I don't. What it boils down to is that the crowd will make it only four or five miles up the trail to the first (overused) campsite while the entire rest is left for me to enjoy the stillness and solitude that I went there for. And they will have as much fun for them as I for me.

Recently I was in REI just looking around when I was approached by a not buff middle aged woman. She asked for advice on stoves and mentioned that she only occasionally ventured into the woods. I sang the praises of the Jetboil (I have one but seldom use it because of the weight) and off she went to the checkout. Having a no-fuss experience with this stove may be just the gateway leading to becoming more than an occasional backpacker...maybe even becoming UL!

Greg Vaillancourt
(GSV45) - F

Locale: Utah
Re: the other place you can be flipped some grief on 03/12/2008 12:22:01 MDT Print View

When I raced I was sponsored (road bikes anyways) but I did work in some shops like that.

One shop had a crusty mechanic who hated gearheads. Some rich kid came in wanting a titanium bolt set for his bike. It was 500-600 dollars and dropped a few ounces off the bikes weight.

The mechanic told him to consider taking a dump before going riding. He used stronger language.

connie dodson
(ConnieD)

Locale: Montana
"Why people gotta hate on the UL crowd?" on 03/12/2008 15:55:42 MDT Print View

Hey, I'm glad I read this thread.

I'm going to pull out toothbrush bristles, one by one. I will find the optimum number of bristles and write up a review.

I had the delight recently of having store clerks tell me something from my website on lightweight and ultralightbackpacking. It happened at every store.

I think the ultralighters are more than anecdotal. I think we are driving the market.

I even met a nice young man at Ft. Mason International Hostel, San Francisco wearing stuff he found on my dot info website. I said, "Oh my g-d! You're me!"

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
one of the problems with the bike analogy ... on 03/14/2008 17:58:36 MDT Print View

One of the problems with the bike analogy and Greg's story of the mechanic reminded me of this, is we actually have to have these machines bear our weight. Ul backpacking equipment can be fragile but ul bikes will just self destruct underneath you. There was a real recent epidemic of magnesium handlebar stems snapping, not the thing you want at above 1mph. Smarter companies have weight limits on there ul lines, but there will always be a bear balanced on thin tubes somewhere and I think shop people are within rights to chip at buyers. Mechanics get tired of retruing wheels and doing warranty work when some beast is JRA [just riding around, this is what the parent tells you his son was doing when they bring back a trashed bike. I once was evaluating a whipped bike, the parent holding to the JRA line and looked outside to see junior jumping one of test bikes in the parking lot]
There is also a little new convert preaching I've run across from our side of the fence. On the ferry trip uplake to a North Cascades cirque climbing one of our recent converts to UL yammered away about my pack size and estimated weight,how much better life would be if I just logged onto BPL.com, blah, blah, double blah. Anytime we define a strict discipline elitism seems to cross from both sides. Just some thoughts.

Richard Risinger
(rrisinger) - F

Locale: South Texas
Re: Haters on 03/14/2008 19:25:05 MDT Print View

Sorry , but I need to chime in here.. I work in a gear shop, and I can promise you that you will be treated with respect and honesty anytime you come into our place. Personally, I love to talk to people about what they are doing or planning to do, and consider such interaction as an opportunity to learn. I should also say that it's an REI store.