BPL Classics - We want your input
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Don Wilson
(don) - MLife

Locale: Koyukuk River, Alaska
BPL Classics - We want your input on 05/10/2008 10:50:50 MDT Print View

Hi everyone -

We are planning to create a page that indexes the BPL Classic articles. Most of you know what these are - the classic articles that set BPL apart and make it a unique resource for passionate backcountry travelers. I won't taint the discussion by suggesting anything to start.

So, what do you think are the most classic articles at BPL?


Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: BPL Classics - We want your input on 05/10/2008 11:10:19 MDT Print View

Three articles that I feel represent BPL very well:

The Poncho Tarp: Techniques and Gear Systems for Inclement Conditions

Advanced Tarp Camping Techniques for Inclement Conditions

Lightweight Footwear Systems for Snow Travel Part 1: Principles and Techniques for Keeping Feet Dry and Warm

And the article that is still a favorite since I first started reading BPL:
Not Your Ordinary Lightweight Backpacker: An Interview with Bill Merchant

Roger B
(rogerb) - MLife

Locale: Here and there
Re: BPL Classics - We want your input on 05/10/2008 11:14:38 MDT Print View

What a great idea. I wonder Don, there have been for me at least, a number of classic forum threads as well have you thought of including them?
As this is a BPL site my first thoughts relate to traveling light but safe. So in no particular order

Tarping (the original article from ????)
Tarping in inclement weather
Comparisons of packs
Comparisons of stoves
Bivys, Ryan had a number of Spotlight reviews and the Lost Coast article, maybe they could be combined in some way.
Navigation, I recall an article by Andy Dixon (or ????) about navigation.
The hypothermia article is a must.

Hope this helps

Edited by rogerb on 05/10/2008 11:16:20 MDT.

Lyan Jordan

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
BPL Classics - We want your input on 05/10/2008 11:15:00 MDT Print View

How Far, How Fast, How Heavy by Roman Dial.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
BPL Classics - We want your input on 05/10/2008 12:03:29 MDT Print View

adding to Miguel's excellent choices:

"Hypothermia" by Darin Banner; 2008.

" '06 Comprehensive Sleep Systems Manifesto" by R Jordan and M Clelland; 2006.

"Lightweight Backpacking for Couples" by A. Simon & A. Dixon; 2003

Edited by wandering_bob on 05/10/2008 12:11:12 MDT.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
Re; "BPL Classics - We want your input" on 05/10/2008 13:03:29 MDT Print View

Due to the new and poor website layout (like something from 1996, IMO), I can not find the exact titles (nor the articles), but the ones which encouraged me to subscribe for 2 years running now were:
- a comparison of synthetic and wool as shirt fabrics, with some guys wearing clown shirts, half and half of each fabric.
- an article on the science of breathable waterproof fabrics.
- the article on CO2 produced by stoves.
- the amazing fabric threads (sorry for the pun), by Richard N.
- the gear lists section as motivation!

I must interject, Instead of using critical programming time to make a classics, page, or in addition to it, make some basic functionality and bug corrections.
For example, an article index, grouped by subject. Currently your "Gear Categories" section has "Gear Lists", "Podcasts", etc.. and other non gear-category items.. lists and podcasts are not gear categories. Thats just one example of illogical web page organization which has been beat to death in other threads.

As another example, try to click on "GEAR", then mouse right to "Gear Checklists", it is impossible in Firefox on XP. The menu collapses to only the first few horizontal items..

and on and on.. See relevant threads.

Edited by Brett1234 on 05/10/2008 13:11:21 MDT.

Ron D
(dillonr) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
BPL Classics on 05/10/2008 13:14:07 MDT Print View

Brett brings up a good point, some of the best content has been in the forums. I would also agree with him in pointing out Richard and other contributors in their discussions of fabrics and insulation. I've learned as much from these threads as the articles.

Joe Kuster
(slacklinejoe) - MLife

Locale: Flatirons
BPL Classics - We want your input on 05/10/2008 13:18:58 MDT Print View

I've had a ton of friends ask me about the Boy Scout Gear List: Philmont Scout Ranch, New Mexico, Summer article. It's several years old and it has consistently made it on the most popular pages. It really encompasses a jumping off point of making the UL approach accessible and even practical to entry level folks who are coming in from a traditional mindset or beginning with no prior experience.

Next up the Bear Bag Hanging Techniques article was actually one that made me sign up for BPL in the first place. It's simple, practical and seems I couldn't find a decent write up elsewhere. I've never used anything else but the PCT method since.

Sometimes it's the simple things....

R Alsborg
(FastWalker) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Re: BPL Classics on 05/10/2008 13:23:39 MDT Print View

I'd like to second Brett's ideas. Very organized and thought out.

I’d also like to suggest: Andrew Skurka's excellent article: Artic Trekking Techniques for Early-Season Conditions. It’s an instant classic

Joe Westing
(pedro87) - F
sticky threads on 05/10/2008 17:37:58 MDT Print View

I completely agree with Brett. I appreciate you trying to group all the classics from BPL, but I think it would be better in the long run to fix the site's searching capabilities and organization. If it were easier to find things, then a "classics" page would not be necessary. Just a suggestion.

Edited by pedro87 on 05/10/2008 17:39:41 MDT.

Don Wilson
(don) - MLife

Locale: Koyukuk River, Alaska
Re: sticky threads on 05/10/2008 19:14:30 MDT Print View

Hey all -

Search improvements are #1 on our list of priorities for the site, and we're actively working on it now.


Tim Heckel
(ThinAir) - M

Locale: 6237' - Manitou Springs
Search Condensation on 05/11/2008 09:54:58 MDT Print View

Thanks for working on the search facilities for this site, it really does need improvement.

I liked the article on condensation. It discussed the causes and gave some insite into prevention of condensation in shelters.

Unfortunately I can't find it now to post the author or details.

Don Wilson
(don) - MLife

Locale: Koyukuk River, Alaska
Re: Search Condensation on 05/11/2008 10:15:37 MDT Print View

Tim -

I suspect the article your are looking for is the Single Wall Shelter Condensation Factors and Tips article by Will Rietveld.


Edited by don on 05/11/2008 10:17:33 MDT.

Roleigh Martin
(marti124) - MLife

Locale: Moderator-JohnMuirTrail Yahoo Group
Long List of BPL Classics on 05/11/2008 10:36:56 MDT Print View

Unordered: (if someone can send me via PM back this list so that the links are hidden uderneath, I'll edit this post) - thanks

ps - I too had problems navigating to some pages (I use Firefox -- so I was not able to make this list based upon reviewing every article page -- but many of the great ones are here and I found some ones I had not seen before that I think are great too).

Frameless Pack Review Summary
by Jay Ham

Condensation in Single-walled Shelters: Contributing Factors and Tips for Reduction
by Will Rietveld

Comparison Review of Tarps and Other Floorless Shelters
by the Product Review Staff

by Doug Johnson

Publisher's View: Bear Predation (Commentary)
by Ryan Jordan

Camera Selection Basics for the Lightweight Backpacker
by Franco Darioli

Lightweight Backpacking with Young Children
by Stephanie and Ryan Jordan

An Old Dog Learns New Tricks - How Lightweight Technology Keeps me on the Trail at 70
by Ron Hamm

by Darin Banner

Western Mountaineering, Feathered Friends, Nunatak, and PhD Lightweight Down Jackets (Comparison Review)
by Alan Dixon

Closed Cell Foam Sleeping Pads
by the Product Review Staff

Catenary Curvature as an Element of Ultralight Tarp Design
by Ryan Jordan and Alan Dixon

Master Index to 'Stoves, Tents and Carbon Monoxide - Deadly or Not?' Series
by Roger Caffin

LED Lighting Technology: A Comprehensive Primer to Understanding the Design Basis of Light Emitting Diode-Based Flashlights and Headlamps
by Rick Dreher

Backcountry Water Quality: Technologies, Trends and Paranoia?
by Ron Silflow & Ryan Jordan

Exploding Gas Canisters: The Hazard of Overheating
by Roger Caffin

Comfort and Moisture Transport in Lightweight Wool and Synthetic Base Layers
by Don Wilson, Alan Dixon, and Will Rietveld

Comparative Fuel Efficiency and Carry Weight for Six Lightweight Backpacking Cooking Systems: Part I
Assembling Comparable Cooking Systems and Test Data
by Will Rietveld

Comparative Fuel Efficiency and Carry Weight for Six Lightweight Backpacking Cooking Systems: Part II
Calculating Fuel Usage, Carry Weight Analysis, and Cost/Efficiency Considerations
by Will Rietveld

Water Weight Gain and Drying Characteristics of Lightweight Hiking Shoes after Submersion
by Carol Crooker

Drying Characteristics of Select Lightweight Down and Synthetic Insulated Tops
by Don Wilson

Lightweight Dry Sacks: Comparison Testing Results
by Carol Crooker

Frameless Backpacks: Engineering Analysis of the Load Carrying Performance of Selected Lightweight Packs
by Ryan Jordan, Ph.D.

Night Time Condensation on Tarp and Tent Fabrics
by Mariah Walton

Performance Comparison Testing of Lightweight Canister Stoves: Controlled Data Evaluating Key Variables of Temperature, Wind, and Windscreen Use
by Will Rietveld

The Original Ultralight Hikers: Seeking Wilderness Simplicity from Modern Day Nomads
by Douglas Durham

EXPEDITION: The Great Western Loop
by Andrew Skurka

Doing Denali Light: Post-Trip Report and Gearlist
by Agnes Stowe with Matt Hage

Edited by marti124 on 05/11/2008 10:38:17 MDT.

Joe Westing
(pedro87) - F
Re: BPL Classics - We want your input on 05/11/2008 11:08:48 MDT Print View

a few articles that I remember that I don't think I saw posted yet:

MYOG: Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles

MYOG: Five Yards to SuperUltralight (whole series)

Groovy-Biotic Cooking: Quick, Healthy Meals with an Ultralight Cook Kit

Toilet Paper Free Expeditions

Joe Kuster
(slacklinejoe) - MLife

Locale: Flatirons
BPL Classics - We want your input on 05/11/2008 11:10:49 MDT Print View

Oohh.. ditto that for the TP free article and the 5 yards to SUL article. Those were definately useful articles.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
BPL Classics on 05/11/2008 13:36:58 MDT Print View

Clothing and Sleep Systems for Mountain Hiking Jordan, Nelson, Dixon

Winter Backpacking Comfort: Lightweight Gear and Techniques for Shelter, Clothing, and Sleep,Systems Jordan

Backpacking Checklist (Gear List): 3-Season, 3-Day Jordan

Phil Barton
(flyfast) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma
Re: BPL Classics on 05/11/2008 16:03:17 MDT Print View

These all come to mind --

A Lightweight Guide to Backpacking in Sustained, Cold Rain
by Alan Dixon

Boy Scout Gear List: Philmont Scout Ranch, New Mexico, Summer
by Doug Prosser

Boy Scout Gear List: New Scouts, Three-Season
by Doug Prosser

Lightweight Footwear Systems for Snow Travel Part 1: Principles and Techniques for Keeping Feet Dry and Warm
by Will Rietveld and Janet Reichl
(Also Part 2)

Groovy-Biotic Cooking: Quick, Healthy Meals with an Ultralight Cook Kit
by Mike Clelland!

The Poncho Tarp: Techniques and Gear Systems for Inclement Conditions
by Ryan Jordan and Alan Dixon

Toilet Paper Free Expeditions
by Mike Clelland!

2005 Backpacking Light Trip Planning Spreadsheet Contest Entries
by BPL Staff

The Backpacking Fly Fisherman
by Ryan Jordan

Considerations for Selecting a Lightweight Backpacking Stove
by Will Rietveld
(might need an update for the BushBuddy)

Hiking Efficiency: A Day in the Life of an Ultralight Hiker
by Ryan Jordan

The Poncho Tarp: Techniques and Gear Systems for Inclement Conditions
by Ryan Jordan and Alan Dixon

Make Your Own Gear: Alcohol Stove Windscreen
by Jay Ham

Comparative Fuel Efficiency and Carry Weight for Six Lightweight Backpacking Cooking Systems: Part II
Calculating Fuel Usage, Carry Weight Analysis, and Cost/Efficiency Considerations
by Will Rietveld

EXPEDITION: The Great Western Loop
by Andrew Skurka

Notes from the Field: High, Dry, and SuperUltraLight in Arizona
by Carol Crooker (actually the series on SUL by Carol)

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Re: BPL Classics on 05/11/2008 18:42:39 MDT Print View

LuxuryLite Big Survival Stik review:


Most fun review I've written (of the 40 or so I've done) I'm tooting my own horn here, but this product was SO fun to test and write about!

Richard Scruggs
(JRScruggs) - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: BPL Classics - We want your input on 05/13/2008 02:32:45 MDT Print View

So many classics have already been listed, it's hard to know if something's not yet covered. Don't believe I saw these two in anyone else's list, though:

One of the MIAs is perhaps a true classic "golden oldie" article (actually, it's a review) that hugely influenced my own "enlightenment" about the possibilities of lighter, & even ultralight, backpacking: The Nunatak Arc Alpinist piece by Ryan Jordan and Don Johnston as posted in 2002 at 3 AM (!!) on the Fourth of July (they both probably slept through the fireworks later on that 4th). The link is:


The other "BPL article topic" that has been of continuing value as a great resource to this novice winter camper, and even fun to just read and reread for all the detail that's included, is the whole series related to different aspects of winter backpacking -- especially since going light in snow is a new experience for me. I believe many (or even most) of these "winter-related" articles have already been listed by others, but there is perhaps one exception that has been missed: the three part series called Lightweight Footwear for Snow Travel by Will Rietveld and Janet Reichl. Links for that series are:

Part 1 ==> http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/lightweight_footwear_systems_for_snow_travel_part_1.html

Part 2 ==> http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/lightweight_footwear_systems_for_snow_travel_part_2.html

Part 3 ==> http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/lightweight_footwear_systems_for_snow_travel_part_3.html

Great idea to gather BPL classics together.

But there have been so many of those "classics" over the past several years, and they keep on coming, that it seems like it will never be possible to do them justice in a single compilation -- or put the totality of information that they contain to the fullest use that they merit.

Good luck anyway.