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How/When Did you learn about BPL?
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Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
How/When Did you learn about BPL? on 05/04/2008 07:35:52 MDT Print View

While Joe Geib & I were getting to know each other during our first regional BPL hike, the topic came up about how we first learned about BPL. We were both a bit fuzzy about it when and how. It got me curious how this eclectic group here at BPL came together.

When I first learned about Google in 2000(?), I was amazed that I could just type in a few keywords and get links to all sorts of helpful webpages. I must have typed in backpacking, hiking, etc. I quickly found a group of personal webpages by people that were really passionate about backpacking and willing to share their knowledge...and more importantly, their mistakes.

The first one led me to the next, and I came to realize that there was this subculture out there that had evolved away from the traditional backpacking mode. The best pages I came across were Adventure Alan's (a.k.a. Alan Dixon), John O's (the late John O'Mahoney), Michael's, Onestep's, and Joe's Ultralight pages. Sadly, many of those don't seem to have been updated in recent years. However, they turned me onto Jardine and his UL philosophy. Eventually, I started hearing about ultralight cottage equipment companies like GVP, Six Moons, Wanderlust, this place called Bozeman Mountain Works. I'm not sure when exactly I started participating on the forums (BPL stated in 2001, so I'm guessing 2002), but I quickly realized it was a great place to learn more.

So how did you folks arrive at this forum?

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: How/When Did you learn about BPL? on 05/04/2008 09:34:28 MDT Print View

Fall of 2007 -

I was pursuing alcohol stoves and fuels. My first stop was the Zen site, and shortly after found Caldera Cones on the BPL site.

By wandering around the BPL site my eyes were opened to UL everything.

The parts and pieces are great, but it is the humble breadth and depth of volunteered experiences that makes this site so amazing.

Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: How/When Did you learn about BPL? on 05/04/2008 10:20:58 MDT Print View

I found out about lightweight backpacking through some research I was doing when I was first starting to backpack at a little site called "The Lightweight Backpacker." I found a whole bunch of other sites too, like Adventure Alan's, Ultralight Joe, and a handful of others. I had seen references to BPL but never got too involved since, at the time, I wasn't into forums and a lot of the articles required the subscription.

Towards the end of high school and beginning of college I discovered how much more information there was to be found in forums and joined the TLB forums and also, being more financially independent, got a subscription here. I haven't regretted it, and though I'm starting to post less and less across the all the forums I visit, I still make a point to check BPL every time I sit down at a computer.

Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
"How/When Did you learn about BPL?" on 05/04/2008 10:28:58 MDT Print View

Through links on UL manufacture sites like ULA and TiGoat.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: "How/When Did you learn about BPL?" on 05/04/2008 10:45:30 MDT Print View

A few years back when I was in school, I decided I wanted to do some longer hiking trips and it would require lighter gear as I was tired of busting my back and shoulders. I picked up what I thought was the lightest stuff, 5 lb eureka tent, 8 oz canister stove, lightweight axe etc. I ended up meeting a very knowledgable gentlemen at the local outfitters. He would look at fabrics with a microscope, knew the lightest materials and gear weights, a real scientific type of guy. He mentioned that if I was trying to lighten up, I should check out BPL. I browsed by the site but it seemed too much...out of my confort zone. How can I sleep under a tarp? Crazy...anyway, probably about a year went by and I started getting more comfortable with less gear. At this point I was lingering quite a bit on this site - chatting on a weekely basis with the guy from the store (Joseph). Eventually, I took a great interest in most of the threads and finally joined asking tons of questions - all of which have and are still being answered!

Edited by Steve_Evans on 05/04/2008 10:46:36 MDT.

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: How/When Did you learn about BPL on 05/05/2008 10:47:25 MDT Print View

By chance (a fantastic stroke of luck!) I read Jardine's book Beyond Backpacking a few years ago and then began trolling the internet for more information on UL equipment. BPL showed up immediately.

I was kind of annoyed that you had to pay to see the good stuff. The book/membership bundle price wasn't that bad so I purchased it.

I look at BPL every day now (minor complaint...I wish there were more featured content, but perhaps I'll never be satisfied...).

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: RE: How/When Did you learn about BPL on 05/05/2008 11:30:38 MDT Print View

Don't forget, one good Gear Swap deal could easily cover the price of membership and take the sting out of it.

Joe Westing
(pedro87) - F
Re: How/When Did you learn about BPL? on 05/05/2008 15:41:51 MDT Print View

I am also a little fuzzy on how I first found out about BPL. I am pretty sure I first became a regular visitor of the site after I saw Andy Skurka's presentation on C2C route at my local Blue Ridge Mountain Sports in very early 2006. He gave away a subscription to Backpacking Light Magazine, which sparked my curiosity. I was surprised there was a backpacking publication I had not heard of and the occasional articles in Backpacker Magazine about "lightweight" gear had always highly interested me. After visiting the site and reading the in-depth and technical articles I was an immediate convert. Unlike many of the other posters, I had never heard of companies like BMW or MLD before visiting this site. It is a shame that I didn't find out about BPL a year earlier because I bought my first (lightweight by Backpacker standards) gear just the previous summer :(

Edited by pedro87 on 05/05/2008 15:42:34 MDT.

David Palmer
(djpfive) - F

Locale: Arizona
discovering BPL on 05/05/2008 18:56:22 MDT Print View

I ran across it after a backpacking-flyfishing trip in the Frank Church wilderness on a one-way trail a few years ago. I was staggering down the trail hauling my burden of traditional gear, and some folks flew by me, I mean, FLEW, with what looked like little day packs, and their fly rod sections were tied onto the backs of their packs with no protective tubes (!), and they looked like they were propelling themselves forward with those newfangled ski pole-looking things. Couldn't tell if they were floating or walking.

Those guys were soon out of sight, and I figured they were out on a nice day hike, and I'd see them again on their way out. Well I never saw them again, and it dawned on me that night as I lay in my 6lb tent, next to my 6 lb pack, in my 3.5 lb sleeping bag on my 2 lb air pad ... they weren't day hiking, were they ...

I began my research right after I got home.

Paul Foreman
(fish3006) - F
I lurked years ago ... on 05/14/2008 19:20:10 MDT Print View

... then got re-introduced thanks to a post on

Matthew Steingass
(Steingass) - F

Locale: Washington
RE: How/When Did you learn about BPL on 06/30/2009 21:56:21 MDT Print View

I like this thread so I figure I'll post a response even tho the last one was over a year ago.

I discovered BPL around February 2009 through a google search for a titanium whistle because I was interested in the EDC (every day carry) key chain thing. My search came up with a result from and after browsing around seeing base pack weights under 5 pounds and familiar names like Ray Jardine and Chris Townsend I was hooked. I'm glad I stumbled upon this forum when I did because I had just started to buy some backpacking gear and I was all ready starting to collect traditional gear.

Edited by Steingass on 06/30/2009 23:12:27 MDT.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: How/When Did you learn about BPL? on 06/30/2009 22:32:01 MDT Print View

I've been on ultralight backpacking forums and message lists since about 1998. My guess is that i first checked out BPL when it went online.

Mark McLauchlin
(markmclauchlin) - MLife

Locale: Western Australia
Re: Re: How/When Did you learn about BPL? on 06/30/2009 22:59:59 MDT Print View

Roger Caffin conned, I mean convinced me this was the place to be...and guess what...he was right.


Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: How/When Did you learn about BPL? on 06/30/2009 23:29:34 MDT Print View

I discovered UL Backpacking in 1997 when I read Jardine's first book "The Pacific Crestt Trail Hiker's Handbook", and soon after "Beyond Backpacking". I bought a sewing machine and started making my own tarps and backpacks and in the frenzy of learning and excitement of the early years, scoured the internet for any information I could find: Adventure Alan's Homepage, Henry O's Ultralight Backapcking Page, Joe's Ultralight Backpacking, Southwest Ultralight Backpacking (Will Rietveld's homepage), Michael's Ultralight Backpacking Page (probably the original UL backpacking page, by Michael Connick), Yellowstone Backpacking Journal (Ryan Jordan's original backpacking page), Risk's Ultralight Hiking, SGT Rock's Hiking H.Q., Thru-Hiker, Centerwalk- Ultralight Backpacking, Onestep's Ultralight Backapcking Resource, (Roger Caffin's homepage) etc. (for many of you these blog and website names will bring back many memories. Some are still working). I was with BPL from the very start, though I didn't become a member until the second year. In the early days the forum members would have daily conversations with Ryan Jordan and Alan Dixon and Glen van Peski and Henry Shires... you hardly see them around any more. Everything has grown so much since then.

One of my favorite thread ever was back in 2006, Two-hiking Pole Freestanding Tent Idea. I had so much fun doing that!

Edited by butuki on 07/01/2009 17:19:22 MDT.

Jared Cook
(rooinater) - F

Locale: Northwet
Re: Re: How/When Did you learn about BPL? on 07/01/2009 11:04:20 MDT Print View

late 2004ish is when I stumbled across the site in the few minutes that I got access to the internet while in Iraq. The Marine Corp got me into the idea of doing backpacking on my own time, but I didn't want to carry the heavy pack... In early 2005 I became a member here and ordered the BPL Lightweight backpacking book/membership package and it's been a downhill weight drop ever since. Once I got home and started collecting gear my carried weight for an overnighter was down to only about 26 to 27lbs, now I have a 7.8lb baseweight and only carry 14lbs to 15lbs for several nights out.

Edited by rooinater on 07/01/2009 11:15:48 MDT.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
How/When Did you learn about BPL? on 07/01/2009 12:54:42 MDT Print View

Thanks for bringing this thread to life again, Matthew. It's fun reading people's beginnings.

The first time I visited Backpacking Light was July 4th, 2005. I was in search for a titanium cookpot and after researching various places decided to buy it from a place that was located in the same state I was living - Montana. Fortunately I perused the Web site deeper and learned that getting a titanium pot was only the first step to going ultralight.

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: How/When Did you learn about BPL? on 07/01/2009 19:01:58 MDT Print View

I found BPL after I had been on the BACKPACKER forums for a while. There were so many articles that I want to read, that I just picked up the membership and moved my outdoor-related ramblings here. Best outdoor-related decision I have ever made, other than working at scout camp and getting my Eagle.

Also, I bought a Gram Weenie Pro here from here over a year ago. And then, I was hooked.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
How/When Did you learn about BPL? on 07/01/2009 20:48:56 MDT Print View

On a 2000 Backpacking near death experience I realized I was no longer the pack mule I once thought I was. So I started an on and off quest for ways to cut pack weight.

Progress was slow but I eventually stumbled on Will's and Janet's Southwest Ultralight Backpacking, which mentioned AirCore 1 line available at this place called Backpacking Light. I know I was coming here in 2004 ... maybe late 2003. Could have read the entire G-Spot forum in a short afternoon.

Edited by jcolten on 07/02/2009 06:51:09 MDT.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: How/When Did you learn about BPL? on 07/01/2009 23:20:08 MDT Print View

Wow- this is fun forum!

I'm like some of you in that I bumped into BPL early on. It was about '98 that I started to move in a LW direction (bivy sack, smaller pack, etc) and then I bumped into Golite- '99 I think. Bought a Breeze pack that year and read Beyond Backpacking and started going lighter and lighter.

I guess it was '01 that I ran into BPL. I think they had a rain jacket review summary, a review of Beyond Backpacking, and just a little more. I was hungry for all UL backpacking info. Soon had a floorless Tarptent Squall and things were getting lighter.

As BPL started to grow beyond Alan and Ryan, they put out a call for reviewers. I JUMPED! Next thing I knew it was 03 and I was reviewing rain jackets and a tarp. Soon they realized that they needed more than reviewers and I applied to be the shelter editor and by God, I got it! I then spend many years with all kinds of shelters in my backyard and spent countless hours writing content for the site. The best thing was that it got me out more than ever before...and I got completely obsessed!

I just counted: 63 reviews, 5 review summaries, 3 other articles. That's a lot of time! I still do reviews, but at a more mellow pace (2 kids now and a new job) but I love my involvement with BPL and it's been extremely rewarding.

I remember when BPL first started the forums. It was fun- very small. And I still enjoy it, and I visit several times a week.

Thanks for the start to this forum- i really enjoyed this post!


Edited by djohnson on 07/01/2009 23:21:51 MDT.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Amazon! on 07/02/2009 04:56:56 MDT Print View!

I was searching for hiking books one day and found Ryan's, so I got it. I like tinkering, and simplicity, so the whole alcohol stove and tarp things certainly caught my interest. Then I got a "paper" subscription to BPL magazine, and then found the website, and so on.

Before that I had gotten into sea kayaking, so my equipment at the time was definitely NOT chosen with light weight as a criteria, and I was just returning to my hiking roots. I shed the weight pretty quickly...

Edited by acrosome on 07/02/2009 05:03:00 MDT.