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Are You Spreading the UL Gospel?
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Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Are You Spreading the UL Gospel? on 06/16/2008 11:35:22 MDT Print View

As a companion thread to the one in the link below that asked how you heard about BPL, I was curious what forum participants do to share the techniques, gear tips, and resources that we debate about here at BPL with traditional backpackers?

I wouldn't put myself in the Jordan, Skurka, or Jardine group, but I try to share info where I can.

- When hiking with traditional backpackers, I offer to swap packs with them so they can appreciate what it's like to hike up a hill with 11 lbs vs. 40 lbs. Picked up this tip from a Glen van Peski podcast. There are two interesting moments here...(1) when they first put on my pack partway thru the hike and (2) when they put their behemoth back on for the next section.
- Several folks have an open invitation to borrow my gear if they are going on a backpacking trip.
- I offer to bring my 2-person tarp or hammock so they can give them a try with an experienced UL user, and get comfortable with the idea and appreciate the lighter side of life.
- I pass along links to BPL, Gossamer Gear, and other UL sites.
- I loan out books and videos on the topic. Glad that the GG UL video was so cheap since that never came back.
- Invite people along to attend talks, like Skurka's Sea-to-Sea presentation.
- Buy UL gear for relatives & friends as presents so they can try it out without feling the need to spend their own money. Of course, we're talking about little stuff here to ease them in...not cutting edge cuben shelters that might go unused.

When I do this, particularly the hands-on stuff, I definitely see them migrating toward lighter stuff, or leaving things at home. It seems to depend on how ingrained the traditional habits are. Besides my children, I think I've influenced 3-5 people.

Let me know what you have done, people's responses, and whether it has worked.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Are You Spreading the UL Gospel? on 06/16/2008 15:25:30 MDT Print View

1. I spread the word through other sources on the Internet such as the mailing listserv for my local trail.

2. I used to work part-time in a gear shop and always touted lightweight stuff to potential clients.

3. When one of my backpacking buddies decided it was time to quit borrowing his Dad's ancient gear and get his own I answered every single last question he e-mailed me and also bought him a bunch of little items to keep him interested (aquamira, esbits, firesteel).

4. When another friend decided to get into backpacking I gave him some of my old gear and sold him some other stuff. He e-mailed me today telling me he just joined BPL!

5. When people stop me on the trail and ask me if I'm dayhiking I modestly inform them that the little pack on my back is full of overnight stuff.

Casey Bowden
(clbowden) - MLife

Locale: Berkeley Hills
Are You Spreading the UL Gospel? on 06/16/2008 16:12:12 MDT Print View

No, the world already has way too many people and I don't want more of them out in the wilderness. I'll be very happy if the 'heavy weights' go no more than 5 miles from the trailhead.

Yes, to family and friends and people who initiate questions on the trail.

Maybe, to strangers at REI when a newbie is being sold heavy gear by an 'expert'.

Jesse Glover
(hellbillylarry) - F

Locale: southern appalachians
Are You Spreading the UL Gospel? on 06/16/2008 16:18:08 MDT Print View

They always think I am being smug. So I stopped. And besides if we were all UL you wouldn't get the "You aren't going to sleep under that are you?"

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Are You Spreading the UL Gospel? on 06/16/2008 16:19:05 MDT Print View

Only when I see folks eyeing my UL pack. Then I might start a conversation...

Richard DeLong
(Legkohod) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Europe / Caucasus
Are You Spreading the UL Gospel? on 06/16/2008 16:26:51 MDT Print View

Yes. I make sure everyone I know knows that I am into ultralight backpacking :))) My message to them is mostly about getting into the outdoors and the ease of wilderness enjoyment with well-chosen lightweight gear. I don't talk about going light with entrenched traditional backpackers unless they display serious interest beyond the typical questions:

- "where are your skis?" (re: trekking poles)
- "is it supposed to rain?" (re: chrome umbrella in broad daylight)
- "your pack seems pretty feeble there"
- "where are you off to so late in the day??" (close to sunset)
- "don't you get bored alone?"
- "where's your tent?"

Edited by Legkohod on 06/16/2008 16:27:21 MDT.

Scott Peterson
(scottalanp) - F

Locale: Northern California
Are You Spreading the UL Gospel? on 06/16/2008 17:15:48 MDT Print View

I have an annual trip with 5 other friends. This started about 7 years ago. I was the first to discover the "weight" factor when considering equipment.

We all enjoyed evaluating and trying new things, but weight was not a major consideration for the first several years. At one point, we all kind of bonked on a hike up a long steep grade at the end of a long day. I vowed to do anything to avoid that, and discovered this concept we all covet today. As I shared, we all went through the process of re-learning and re-buying a whole lot of gear.

I do not bother getting involved with conversations at REI that do not concern me. Last year in Glacier NP, I had the opportunity to have meal time with backpacking strangers. Some were older, and some younger. All still used "heavy" gear. When questioned about my beercan stove, I explained, but did not get preachy. I could tell they thought it was a novel concept, but probably too geeky or fanatical to be worthwhile. I was fine with it. I realized it would be time wasted really trying to alter their opinion when I saw one of the guys retrieve two still unopened BOTTLES of beer from the lake. He had just come over a pass and was on his third night of a trip...and he did not bother to drink them either. He put them back in his pack for the evening and would presumably finish the hike without consuming them. To me, his perspective was "part of backpacking is being a mule"...where mine is, I want to get as far away from civilization as possible with as little pain as possible.

David T
(DaveT) - F
. on 06/16/2008 17:21:02 MDT Print View


Edited by DaveT on 11/20/2014 20:58:43 MST.

te - wa
(mikeinfhaz) - F

Locale: Phoenix
ul gospel on 06/16/2008 17:47:55 MDT Print View

I tried, sort of nudged some of my friends into 8-10 lb packs, but others who are so far beyond help (so what do UL hikers pack for food? UL food?) I stopped. Besides, thats so yesterday. If anything, Im letting interested parties try out my hammock as they give me that "i just found god" look.
things of importance, in order:

Edited by mikeinfhaz on 06/16/2008 17:48:30 MDT.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Are You Spreading the UL Gospel? on 06/16/2008 18:51:14 MDT Print View

Over the years I have done a number of things.

  1. I maintain a set of web pages which are lightweight / UL friendly
  2. I used to participate in a variety of online forums: PCT mailing list, whiteblaze, In the last two years other things have taken priority and so I am much less active in these communities.
  3. I organize and run backpacking trips. As we prep for trips, I work with the participants to reflect on what they are bringing and encourage them to think lighter weight. My family has enough gear that depending on conditions we can equip 1-2 adults, and 1-2 kids in a light weight style. Often, we get people to try a lighter weight trip without having to spend money. Many of the people on these trips have started to embrace light or UL approach. A few did a whole equipment / style makeover. Some have started change bit by bit as old gear needs to be replaced. A few have gotten in the habit of borrowing stuff and leave their heavier stuff at home.
  4. Basic example on the trail. I periodically have people ask about my small pack... though that's pretty rare. Much more common are trips when someone come by my campsite. I often get questions about "What is that?" point at a shaped tarp or tarptent. Typically I start by telling them the weight (right now that's ~1lb). Frequently, people will ask more questions including "Where can I get one". Sometimes they don't. If they ask questions I am happy to share some about UL and typically give them the URL to my webpages because they have points to good resources like BPL, backpackinglight on yahoogroups, etc. If they don't, that's fine too. The most common discussion is about other good hiking destinations, or what conditions are expected on the trail / weather.

Over the last six years I would guess that I have been responsible for ~6 "coverts", and maybe 6-10 people who have made small changes in their style. With most of the people, I have taken several trips with them.

Edited by verber on 06/16/2008 23:21:16 MDT.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: Re: Are You Spreading the UL Gospel? on 06/16/2008 20:20:10 MDT Print View

In my old age (31 this year!), I can't be bothered. I used to chat some people up at my local MEC - trying to show them the light. It usually ended up in a discussion which went nowwhere. Like most above, unless someone asks about my gear, I just take a back seat. In all honesty (and without sounding mean) I could care less if the guy I'm hiking with has 200 lbs, or 2 lbs in his long as were out there. :)

I should add, that I have bought tons of gear over the years, and when replaced, it is almost always sold off to fellow friends for bargain basement prices...I think that's doing my part?

Edited by Steve_Evans on 06/16/2008 20:23:26 MDT.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Spreading The UL Gospel on 06/16/2008 21:43:37 MDT Print View

Like Steve Peterson, I too have a group that I hike with annually each year. Over the course of time, one of them has gone to lighweight hiking and actually has mirrored some of my own gear. My friends will ask questions whilst hiking about my poncho tarp, pack, interesting looking stove...oh look it can really boil water!!! If they're interested, I will answer questions. If they don't ask, I won't. As for folks on the trai? It depends. If someone is interested I will talk to them. Sometimes I just get strange looks about my small pack and why I am "on a day hike" so far from a trailhead. It's also fun running into others on the trail that practice what we all do...Hi Mark Verber (Rancheria Falls, Yosemite a few years ago), and checking out what they are using versus what I use for gear.

Oh I forgot, my wife is converted to lighweight backpacking too. 13 lbs skin out!!

Edited by kennyhel77 on 06/16/2008 21:44:18 MDT.

Michael Gardner
(ekim765) - F

Locale: Southeast
Are You Spreading the UL Gospel? on 06/16/2008 21:45:41 MDT Print View

I think sometimes, as you mentioned Thomas, it can be most effective to lead by example. I have a very good friend that I'm slowly trying to brainwash... err... I mean lead to UL. Unfortunatly, he feels sometimes that if it ain't military surplus (which is so often made by the lowest bidder anyways), it ain't going to work. Hence, the 6 lb. entrenching tool... hence, is why he feels the need to drive his truck to a camp site. Although I did take the gamble and buy him a Hennessy Hammock for his b-day, which he loves!

I actually really like your style of letting your friend try your pack for a few miles. We're trying to plan a short trip to the Ocala Nat'l Forest here in FL this fall. I'd like to just start out with the 30 mile trail and stretch it out over a weekend (2 day, 1 night). I'll gladly loan him my pack for a few miles and hopefully he'll see the light. He also has the idea that we're going to utilize his Jeep on the jeep trails for the trip... OVER MY DEAD BODY!! Git' yer sneakers buddy!

Edited by ekim765 on 06/16/2008 21:47:00 MDT.

Jason Brinkman
(jbrinkmanboi) - MLife

Locale: Idaho
Re: Are You Spreading the UL Gospel? on 06/16/2008 22:35:45 MDT Print View

I suppose most of us are streading the word via these forums, but I rarely volunteer anything in person. If asked I will answer questions, but I try not to be preachy or imply that light is right. I expect that most people will get there on their own. The rest are just destined to hike their own hike, so to speak.

I do find a lot of interest from the outdoorsy types that I associate with however. Several folks I know have done some aspect of their trips lighter as a result of exposure to and awareness of the subject. A couple have gone UL.

As for conversations at REI, that's a whole other topic. I spend a little time at REI on a semi-frequent basis, just checking out the latest gear. I have seen enlightened folks try to volunteer information to customers who are working with an employee, but the volunteer and the sales associate almost always have differing perspectives or motives, so I have vowed not to be "that guy".

The tougher situation is when you are asked about a product by a fellow customer just because you are standing there looking at the same thing they are looking at. I don't feel like misleading anybody, but I don't have time to instruct them on everything they'd need to know to incorporate lighter gear properly, so if I sense they're a newby, I will usually just feign ignorance.

Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: Are You Spreading the UL Gospel? on 06/17/2008 08:27:14 MDT Print View

All of the people I build/maintain trail with know of my passion for UL. Its kind of a running joke at the gatherings. Adam just drinks from the bottle of Jack instead of beer because a bottle is a lot lighter than a 12-pack, etc.

There are a couple of other people that also carry UL packs and we always try to bring gear to the gatherings so people can check it out. Usually we let them ask to see it or try it out, rather than bring it out and parade it around. And as much fun as they have poking fun at me, quite a few have lightened their packs up a bit.

I think a big part is seeing the gear in use. A lot of people still have a hard time buying things, sight unseen, off the internet. When they see a Ray-way quilt, or Hennessy hammock, or silnylon tarp being used and the users doesn't just survive, but enjoys using it, they become more intrigued. Rather than force someone into UL or tell them its the only way to backpack, I like to expose people to it and let them make their own decisions at their own pace.


Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
gospel? on 06/25/2008 07:46:08 MDT Print View

I'd say that I generally don't. I do when people are interested though. And man, this past week in the field (i'm a guide) I did! I had a really small kid in my group and he'd been out in the field for a couple of months, struggling under a 30 pound pack. That kid picked my brain about every nuance of UL backpacking for probably ten total hours in two days time. It was really fun, and really, really rediculous how interested in detail he was.

His next choices?
Golite Jam2
WM Ultralight
BPL Membership

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: gospel? on 06/25/2008 09:19:49 MDT Print View

Pretty cool to have a kid so young yet so focused!

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Are you spreading the UL Gospel on 06/29/2008 12:04:48 MDT Print View

Here in Scotland/UK, the UL movement is pretty new. Our 'outdoor' tradition is mountaineering based. People tend to carry heavy bombproof kit. I've sometimes had strange looks setting up a tarp or tarp-tent in the hills. I've heard the odd comment about my footwear on a mountain by someone wearing heavy mountaineering boots. If i talk to some one and explain the what/why/when, then people seem interested. I try to spread the word on UK forums, but its hard work.:)

Douglas Prosser
(daprosser) - MLife

Locale: Camarillo, California (SCAL)
Spreading the Word in the Boy Scouts on 07/02/2008 22:06:19 MDT Print View

I have been trying to change the local Scouting groups in our area to really think lightweight especially with newer small boys and old overweight out of shape old farts. The old farts are resistant at first until we try to cover a longer distance. I was sleeping with one one night that said to me " you have more crap than me and it weighs less". He is now carrying my lightweight pack for the next trip. I wrote a couple articles that this site carries that are starting to get attention and are changing the practices for Scouts. I much rather go camping with some people & demonstrate the light packs & gear.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Are you spreading the UL Gospel on 07/03/2008 05:47:48 MDT Print View

I do my share!

Spreading UL