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jim bailey
(florigen) - F - M

Locale: South East
Why on 04/13/2009 21:24:31 MDT Print View

It was the popular consensus with the parole board/counselors that I needed to "lighten up" after my incident.

Fine now.

Thanks BPL!!!!

Dan Cunningham

Locale: Land of 12,000 Loons
Connection on 04/13/2009 21:30:23 MDT Print View

I have found that as I reduce the amount of stuff between me and my environment, the more I feel connected to it. For me this is a profound feeling. There are many aspects of backpacking that I love and could go on and on about, but the reduced level of stuff is what I have found to be the most rewarding part of lightweight backpacking.

This wasn't it at first... then it was my inner INTJ striving for efficiency, as pointed out above. And in great part, it still is. The real benefit, however, is not measurable on my digital kitchen scale. :)

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Connection on 04/13/2009 21:37:54 MDT Print View

I find that closer connection to be a side-effect or benefit. Learning how to live in the environment with less is incredibly liberating. And as I seek to get closer to the nature I came to experience, more opportunities for lighter gear open up. Still, I had a close connection to the environment back when I was saving weight by leaving gear home, too. (You know, like leaving home that heavy shelter thingie and all that annoying rain gear.)

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: WHY? on 04/13/2009 22:14:28 MDT Print View

“For me, the begging question right now is reconciling whether or not lightweight backpacking has shaped who I am, or is simply a reflection of who I am or would like to be.”


Some interesting responses to this thread so far. I am probably in the absolute minority here on BPL. I am a capitalist… gasp!!

I enjoy hiking period (as others do). It has no ‘spiritual’ or metaphysical connotations. In fact, to me ultralight is just like solving a business problem. How can I do it more efficiently? Only I am not concerned with the economics of the efficiency, other than the cost of expending energy on my hikes. Assembling an ultralight equipment list for a specific trip is similar to a lean manufacturing approach or building an efficient spreadsheet. How can I reduce the number of operations for any given task, and how can I increase productivity.

Also interesting is how many people try to par down to save money or reduce their ‘carbon footprint’. I have never seen so many people (myself included) who own so many duplicate pieces of equipment such as multiple stoves, packs, shelters, etc. There is nothing wrong with this either.

For nearly 3 decades, I pretty much relied on one backpack, one stove, one sleeping bag, and one cook set. From a cost per mile or cost per year, it was a very efficient gear list. However, the cost in energy expended per step eventually was too great a price to pay.

Additionally, the ultralight equipment I have assembled is somewhat of a tribute to the minds of the creators of these products. I admire the genius of folks like Bell, Frankle, Lindsly, Moak, Van Peski, etc. Where would we be without their creative products? Oh, we could hike without them, but not as efficiently. In addition, as a capitalist, I do not owe them anything; because we willing exchanged value for those products.

So it is a reflection of who I am.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: WHY? on 04/13/2009 23:56:12 MDT Print View

Asceticism. Symeon the Stylite.
I don't think it would've been quite the same had he taken a plush Thermarest, 25 pounds of foie gras, and a backcountry espresso maker atop the pillar with him. Pretty badass still, but not the same.

We can adapt to just about anything; not just to discomfort, but also to luxury and an abundance of stuff. This might be more dangerous.
From the mountains to the deserts to the jungles, the wise amongst us have been trying to tell us this since the beginning of time.

People loaf and sleep in soft beds so much that they literally begin to hurt; maybe then they need a new high tech bed with their own adjustable sleep number...Or maybe they really just need to walk long and far, not eat much, not have much, and discover they can sleep blissfully under bright stars if tired enough.

I stayed in a Zen temple while living in Japan. Every monk had one bowl. They ate, then they washed their bowls. Here in Pasadena, I just spent 40 minutes washing a mound of dishes piled in the sink. I did laundry for at least an hour today. It doesn't make any sense.

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
WHY? on 04/14/2009 00:18:24 MDT Print View

I suspect most (all?) here are backpackers first, and lightweight backpackers second. If gear was heavier we'd still be out there doing the same thing. That should tell you something.

IMHO lightweight backpacking is fun, interesting and challenging. But it ain't the main game.

The main story for me is being an explorer, adventurer, nature-lover. Lightweight is a footnote.

Kent C.
(kent) - M

Locale: High Sierra
Why? on 04/14/2009 01:26:29 MDT Print View

+1 Ashley.

We all (me included) hike because we like it (for whatever specific reason[s])! Fewer *things* and less *stuff* make it all the more satisfying.

For me, previous trips were always about being with my brothers and, the "payoff" - the view I would have from a summit or fantastic vantage point. I just endured the grind with a heavy pack to get there.

I have only gotten fully involved in lightweight over the winter, but I was just thinking yesterday (funny timing), that now, with lighter weight, it'll be about so much more. With, and because of, my light load I'll actually enjoy walking in the woods again!

And with less stuff and its inherent reduction in fiddle factor/attention stealing, what are we left with?...more time and attention for what really matters...the friends we're with and the natural and wondrous world we went out to experience!

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: "WHY?" on 04/14/2009 02:41:12 MDT Print View

> Why? Because carrying a heavy pack just plain hurts and is no fun at all.



John Haley
(Quoddy) - F

Locale: New York/Vermont Border
For me, it's a reflection of who I am on 04/14/2009 07:21:29 MDT Print View

For many years the long hikes I took were while carrying heavily loaded packs. I was younger then and it seemed that the effort and pain involved were part of the experience. As I grew older and the rigors of life took their toll on my body, I began to cut down on pack weight and the so-called luxuries on the trail. Finally, at the age and body stage I'm at now, a light pack is a necessity if I'm to continue on long hikes on a regular basis. Spine compression, arthritis, and foot problems are major issues at this juncture, but won't stop me heading out for a month or more. Thanks to a very light pack weight I'm still able to enjoy the long treks I've come to love. To a great extent, the ability to keep hiking is related to my life itself, and when the hiking ends.........

Robert Bryant
(KG4FAM) - F

Locale: Upstate
WHY? on 04/14/2009 08:27:19 MDT Print View

Because it is f***ing easier. Its just that simple.

ben wood

Locale: flatlands of MO
Re: Re: WHY? on 04/14/2009 09:38:21 MDT Print View

i was thinking about how you were talking about duplicate peices of equipment. we stive to take the minimal we need for a given trip, yet we have overflowing gear closets, that's kind of funny. and no, i don't think there is anything wrong with that either. i too have capitalistic tendencies (don't tell anyone), in a free market efficiency is very important. having worked in manufacturing for several years, the lean manufacturing principles you mentioned can apply to any business, hobby or family for that matter.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
why? on 04/14/2009 12:17:49 MDT Print View

The lighter my load - the more liberating it feels to be outside - the more liberating the more I can loose myself to the mountains - I get a deeper metaphysical fix from the wilderness.

Less material stuff = More spiritual rewards

David Passey
(davidpassey) - F

Locale: New York City
Why? on 04/14/2009 15:31:32 MDT Print View

For me, the reasons are:

1. Simpler is more enjoyable, and lightweight generally translates to simpler (multi-use gear, fewer items to keep track of).

2. I feel more connected. The emblematic moment for me was sheltering from a thunderstorm in the Wind Rivers under a spinntwin tarp. I was dry and protected and cooking dinner, and the storm was literally at my fingertips--absolutely awesome. My companions were zipped away from the experience in their tents.

3. I enjoy the challenge of fine tuning my gear for different trips--enough, but only enough. The gear is slightly different for each trip.

4. Less fatigue means more enjoyment, though I've never packed heavy enough for this to be a major consideration.

Aaron Zuniga
(gliden2) - F

Locale: Northwest
WHY? on 04/14/2009 17:15:38 MDT Print View

It brings with it a heightened clarity that inspires me. Im able to focus on things that are important-and eliminate those that are not from my life and pack!Im able to be more
intuned with my surroundings and find it easier to escape my everyday busy life. I can enjoy longer, easier days, and focus on my skills, maximizing every minute out there!

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: WHY? on 04/14/2009 17:46:43 MDT Print View

For me it's a purely practical approach. Lighter pack = easier walking = more enjoyment of an activity I would be doing anyway. I would compare it to upgrading from a 5 litre V8 gas-guzzler to a modern modest hybrid car. They both can get me where I'm going, but one is easier on the pocket and environment. (Actually I upgraded from a 2.8 litre diesel to to a 660cc 5 door hatch...!).

/A .
(biointegra) - MLife

Locale: Puget Sound
The kitchen sink is now within reach. on 04/15/2009 01:10:04 MDT Print View

Because you can hide a watermelon in your pack and bring it out on the 4th or 5th day...for the kids, of course.

Art Sandt
(artsandt) - F
re: WHY? on 04/15/2009 20:28:40 MDT Print View

I like to be outdoors, but backpacking is a reality check for me. In order to avoid forgetting that life is about more than being a part of human society, I need to occasionally remove myself from society as such that I can live a while away from people.

As far as how does lightweight translate into that: it hurts less. Obviously.

Edited by artsandt on 04/15/2009 20:35:14 MDT.

Jesse Glover
(hellbillylarry) - F

Locale: southern appalachians
Re: re: WHY? on 04/16/2009 15:31:32 MDT Print View

The number of posts in the punk rock loving ultralighters would indicate that some people are just attracted to the sub culture of whatever they are into. I go against the grain with almost everything I do (its a curse) and I think that is a big reason that it was easy for me to move to UL.

Paul Smith
(ingoti) - F

Locale: MN
Why on 04/17/2009 09:55:43 MDT Print View


Having spent time playing rpgs, the comparison to ultralight bping is impossible to deny. Collecting and accumulating the best gear while exploring new places. Both can be addicting.

The difference is, of course, obvious.

I very much enjoy the reminder of how little that I really need to survive.

Sean Walashek
(caraz) - F

Locale: bay area
Its the Way on 04/17/2009 10:29:08 MDT Print View

I haven't read others posts so don't know if others feel the same.

Its the Tao of it. There is a pursuit of perfection and art in a pack. The part of our nature that strives to bring order to our world and from that order derive beauty. The pack, in itself is a symbol for the uncarved block. It represents the limitless potential of what is capable. In its outer appearance it is a pack, what resides inside however is a reflection of its wearer. Through trail, error, practice, consistency and time it is refined and becomes a masterpiece in the eyes of its wearer. It can tote spare shoes and snorkels or a wooden bowl and bivy. To me there is no denying the art of pack. The importance of being unencumbered allows me to be more like water. The pack acts to remove distraction, bring flexibility, and embodies wu wei. Action through non action. I am free to answer the call of spontaneity and follow a path, knowing that wherever it should take me I will have the energy to carry myself out (which I have done more often than not). The pack can become a mantra and through our repetition of use we can master aspects of ourselves.