November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Ultralight Backpacking Ethically (UBE)
Display Avatars Sort By:
Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
UBE on 10/22/2009 20:18:50 MDT Print View

UL gear does not last as long and ends up in landfills sooner than more durable, heavier gear.


Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: UBE on 10/22/2009 20:45:53 MDT Print View

True. A Cuben or Silnylon pack wears out faster than a dyneema pack.

Anna Carter
(acarter_1) - F

Locale: Pacific NW U.S.
Re: UBE on 10/23/2009 11:14:39 MDT Print View

It would be interesting to find out the net environmental impacts of the maufacturing of UL gear (or its components if you make your own) and build a "cradle to grave" list...for companies and their products...I know that some manufacturers, even major ones, in the outdoorsy-people business are doing that...Patagonia, Chaco, REI, etc....also smaller ones like Tundra (the ethical down bag people)...

I know that, when it comes to my own gear, I will pay more (reasonably) for less impact. I see investing more money, such as I possess, in products or processes that have less net effect on the environment/do not use unfair labor practices/etc.

In the U.S. economy at least [unfortunately], we vote with our dollars if by no other a shift in the buying habits of a group of consuming people [hikers] is noticed much more quickly than changes that are less concrete- social or political in nature. As long as this economy is driven by GNP and the "growth is good" concept...the more that UL backpackers, or regular ol' backpackers for that matter, shift to environmentally-friendlier gear, the more notice will be taken by the manufacturers...

Honestly...despite the recent Pew "Americans don't believe in global warming" poll, I get the impression that non-recycled, non-reusable products are going to be passé within a couple decades. I don't have much to back that statement up...but I feel like the rapidity with which recycled and repurposed products have hit the market and are replacing throw-away standards bodes well for a change in our economic habits.

David Coate
(coateds) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Re: Re: UBE on 10/23/2009 13:35:00 MDT Print View

It seems to me that recycling is about as clear cut as it gets in terms of reducing human impact on the environment. That is why so many of us are willing to put in that little extra effort. In that, I completely agree that we will see more recycling, re-use, gear swaps etc in the future.

But this is not "despite" people's beliefs about other environmental concerns. I for one do not think Global Warming is clear cut. I do not see how it is possible to establish a base line temperature against which to compare current global temperatures. That is: how do we know what the current global temperature would be today without human industrial activity?

Please understand that I personally believe in taking action to reduce our dependance on fossil fuels for a lot of reasons. The possibility of global warming being one of the least of them. My only point is that it is hard to get people to take action in lock step when it is unclear just what impact enduring the economic pain have on the environment. When the benefits are clear however, it is easy to get everyone on board.

Michael Neal
(michaeltn) - F
hype on 10/23/2009 14:31:52 MDT Print View

I think more people would be on board with the concept if it was presented more reasonably. Telling people the world is ending tomorrow due to global warming automatically triggers the BS meter in a lot of people's minds. Then they become entirely unmoved by any environmental messages. Seeing politicians use it as a scare tactic also firms up this reaction.

Edited by michaeltn on 10/23/2009 14:34:47 MDT.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: hype on 10/23/2009 14:53:48 MDT Print View

"Seeing politicians use it as a scare tactic also firms up this reaction."

Politicians use everything as a scare tactic. "Socialism!" and "They're just trying to take your guns away!" are two of my personal favorites. Unfortunately, many (most?) of our politicians are not our best and brightest (or, perhaps, even very bright at all), so they don't have much else to rely on to get elected. Plus, let's face it, much of the voting public is pretty, well ..... ignorant. Not quite capable of critical thought. FUD works, and it works well. In fact, it works much, much better than honesty.

Anyway, I think reasoned people, for quite some time, have been warning about global warming without the "world ending tomorrow" rhetoric. IF global warming is a real problem (I think it is, and the vast majority of scientists think it is, but I respect those with opposing opinions when based on science and critical thought) then there's a tipping point. Don't know when that tipping point is. I personally think we're at it or near it.

So ... if the bridge is out, and you keep heading down the tracks toward the bridge at a high rate of speed, early on you can calmly say that you really need to change direction. But at some point, if you just keep barreling down the tracks in the same direction, the message will necessarily get more dire and compelling, and perhaps, just before you go crashing down into the canyon, hysterical.



Edited by idester on 10/23/2009 14:57:33 MDT.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Ultralight Backpacking Ethically (UBE) on 10/23/2009 18:59:53 MDT Print View

I'm very much aware that ultralight backpacking depends on cheap oil.

As I hiked the PCT this summer I thought about how none of my experience would have been possible without cheap oil. From the gear on my pack to the food I ate to my rides to and from the trail to the helicopters bringing in trail crews to build bridges and dynamite new trail. If there was no cheap oil there would probably be no PCT hikers.

Still, I reused all the ziplocs I could. (I do this at home, too. I try to never buy plastic bags.) I didn't use TP (but I admit I got so mad at the weather once I decided the earth deserved to be shat upon). I made as little impact to the wilderness as I could, but I gave up on cleaning up after others. If they don't care, why should I?

I don't know what to do sometimes. Down might be mean to birds. Synthetics are bad for the environment. Not much of a good choice there.

I'm a liberal tree hugger but I think hunting for food is ok.

Anna Carter
(acarter_1) - F

Locale: Pacific NW U.S.
Sweet...some people are using the acronym. on 10/23/2009 20:04:53 MDT Print View

I think that it starts with increasing awareness, first in ourselves then others who are open to it enough to not try to chew us up the minute you mention environmentalism. As soon as you have that epiphany, "Hey, all this stuff comes from oil, and it all had to be manufactured and shipped here, and at what cost?" then you start to become more and more aware of exactly what resources are required to get a single quart-size zip-loc bag from the oil field to your kitchen shelf to your pack. It's more than anyone [in the U.S.] realizes without a good deal of thought. Myself...I stopped buying new plastic bags, started re-using all the ones I had...when those are finally toast, I will recycle them and sew some new ones out of durable fabric (preferably recycled bottle fabric of some sort).
Why should you care? Because you know that it is a better choice to care- in every way. Otherwise, you would not ask that question in the first place.
About choices...maybe right now the choice between X piece of gear or Y piece of gear is not ideal. I think that is part of the point. That those of us who know enough to care put in the effort to try to get choices improved.

As an aside...on global warming...and the environmental sciences are actually my field, so I did not see this on An Inconvenient Truth (I have actually not watched it) isn't about warming or cooling, necessarily....that, like most things purported in mainstream U.S. media, is too simple...there is no baseline "normal" temperature with which to compare our current state....nor can any scientist "prove" that we are going to blow up the planet in the next 100 years...the Earth has gone through stages of warm/cool/really freakin cold over over its entire life (Global Weirding)...the problem is the rate of warming...exponentially faster than during pre-industrial human history...dangerously fast....will we wipe ourselves off the planet? maybe....but we are actually capable of preventing our own extinction, unlike any other species in the history of this planet (most of which are extinct)...what is so amazing about cars/factories/oil that we will sacrifice our own lives and the lives of coming generations to protect them? As I see it, if there were even a remote chance that my actions could be the direct cause of global catastrophe and the subsequent deaths of millions, I would make an effort to stop whatever that action was. I like this planet. That's why I hike. (Back to topic at hand with brilliant segue.)

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Sweet...some people are using the acronym. on 10/23/2009 20:36:23 MDT Print View

If greater sustainability in backpacking gear production is the goal, it seems that shifting gear production back to organic materials is what's needed.

I think it's great- there's a big movement to go back towards waxed cotton packs, etc. within the bushcraft community.

How these materials fit in with UL is pretty questionable.
I'd love to see someone put together a a sub-20lb. fully functional kit without using any plastics/synthetics.
Is it even possible? Sub 15? Sub 10?

It would be great to see some new designs maximizing the materials of old...I don't necessarily believe it has to be a regressive shift.

Maybe I have my next MYOG mission...
Anyone got a good source for a decent organic WPB hemp distributor?

P.S...Sorry to be a buzzkill, but I really don't care for the acronym.

Edited by xnomanx on 10/23/2009 20:43:26 MDT.

mark henley
(flash582) - F
Materials for Sustainable hiking on 10/24/2009 01:00:12 MDT Print View

The magic fabric your most likely looking for would be silk ... in lots of different weights.

SUL gear can and has been made from silk, just look up in the make gear forum. Bill up there has even made hammocks from the stuff I believe.

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Materials for Sustainable hiking on 10/24/2009 02:58:11 MDT Print View

-"I'd love to see someone put together a a sub-20lb. fully functional kit without using any plastics/synthetics.
Is it even possible? Sub 15? Sub 10?"

I've been working on just such a MYOG project for a while now.
EDIT :Started a new thread in MYOG as I have a feeling this one is gonna get ugly.

Edited by MAYNARD76 on 10/24/2009 03:08:24 MDT.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Ultralight Backpacking Ethically (UBE) on 10/24/2009 03:00:46 MDT Print View

Here is an argument about global warming that makes a very strong case for taking action, no matter what you might believe.

I can never understand why talking about taking care of the place that we all live in somehow becomes an argument about being conservative or liberal (personally I don't believe that there are any purely liberal or conservative people... either of those are unrealistic fantasies). Perhaps it is more useful to think of the planet as our house. You have a house on the street in your neighborhood and you don't know who's living there, do you think it makes a difference whether the inhabitants are conservative or liberal? But take a look at how the house is being cared for and the attitude, diligence, awareness, and knowledge of maintenance immediately jump out in the condition you see the house in. Don't take care of the house and it will fall apart. Do care for it and it will last many years and provide good shelter for its dwellers.

How is caring for the Earth any different? It's got utterly nothing to do with politics or beliefs. We physically live here. We depend on it for every single minute detail of our survival. We must breathe its air. We must drink its water. We must eat what life it provides. We cannot live anywhere else (and even if we did have another place to go, the same conditions would apply there, including whatever transport would take us there). Its health affects every single aspect of each of our lives, no matter what denomination we are. So why not stop quibbling about whether we should care for it, or whether we believe in global warming or species extinction or oceans getting polluted, and simply get to business, using our minds for better housekeeping (including new attitudes and values) rather than wasting time on rhetorical debates?

I would think that anyone who gets out into the wild and spends time there would inherently see this as the way the world works. Unless your eyes are not open and your gear is the only thing you are concerned about when you are out there.

Its hubris to think that the planet is going to think of you as somehow special and spare you if things do go wrong (in the same way that a dilapidated house won't think twice about falling on you and killing you). And its laziness and folly to not care that things might go wrong (just as you can get by for so long by not caring for the house before it finally comes crashing down).

Why do the arguments in the States always come down to left or right? It seems childish to me.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Bill Fornshell on 10/24/2009 03:09:32 MDT Print View

Bill up there has even made hammocks from the stuff I believe.

Mark, I had a chill when I read this. I hope it's nothing... is Bill all right? I know he's been battling cancer for a long time. I hope he's all right.

Anna Carter
(acarter_1) - F

Locale: Pacific NW U.S.
UL Gear for a Happy Planet on 10/24/2009 09:53:31 MDT Print View

No buzz-killing happening here. I don't like acronyms, either...including my own. Thought I would give them one more chance; alas, some ideas are doomed to failure.
Anyway...I was giving some thought to lightweight fabrics...especially strong, water-resistant natural fibers...I know there are some out there...Silk can get pretty heavy...I read a few years ago that some researchers were trying to match the tensile trength of spider silk in a synthetic...strand per strand it's stronger than steel. Maybe a hybrid fabric? I don't think that synthetic fabrics need to go to the chopping block, necessarily. It's the oil-based components and manufacturing techniques. Think we could get the best of both worlds on that?

P.S.--I have hopes that this thread will not get ugly.

David Coate
(coateds) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Re: UL Gear for a Happy Planet on 10/24/2009 12:57:55 MDT Print View

I too have hopes for keeping this thread from getting ugly. I have been hanging out on this site, both because I am trying to reduce the weight of my backpack, but because there seem to be a lot of good critical thinkers here.

My interest is in solutions. Even when there are trade-offs. My own personal environmental dilemmas stem from my tendancy to hold on to useful items becuase they still work, even when there are other downsides. This year year I got rid of two SUVs. One was the kind that you park in your garage, the other was a 20 year old external frame pack that was well over 6 Lbs.

What do you do with this stuff? The SUV I was able to donate to charity. It's fate was to be sold at auction, either as a functional vehicle or to the scrap yard where it will be recycled as best as possible. I am not sure what to do with the pack. It is displayed in my picture to the left. It is currently a part of my home's halloween display as a repository for "bloody bones". But next month, I will want to get it out of my garage. The same goes for my 5 Lb synthetic sleeping bag that is as old as the pack.

Going light in a green way will not be easy. I will probably send some of this old gear to the second hand store. (anybody want a 5 Lb synthetic sleeping bag? I will sell it cheap!) I will also agonize over each piece of "functional" gear I replace for both personal financial reasons as well as my impact to the environment.

On a nother note, my compliments to Brian on his project. Maybe some good solutions will come from that. I am interested in silk as a base layer. I am too warm a person for wool most of the time. Even synthetics seem to be too heavy for me. It is amazing how much the solutions are right there in nature. My concern about silk is that it will not dry as rapidly as other materials. I have just started to experiment with it.

Keep asking questions everyone. Keep suggesting solutions. Anyone got a better idea for my ancient gear?

Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
Re: Bill Fornshell ?? on 10/24/2009 13:59:59 MDT Print View

Hi Miguel,

I am still alive. I continue to have a few medical delays when it comes to being able to go hiking however.

The good news:

I am in my third week of a six week of physical therapy treatment program to correct a right shoulder - rotator cup - problem. That seems to be coming along OK.

Cancer in my Balder is still happening at a rate of two or so times a year. I am schedule for a once a week for six weeks type of chemotherapy treatment starting mid November that my Doctors hope will slow that down. I will continue to get a Bladder exam every three months so when cancer does comes back it is never more than three months old. Outpatient surgery (21 times now since 1997) when necessary and back home usually the same day is keeping that in check.

My one Kidney seems to up to the task and that is always a nice thought.

Even though I can not eat real food my 100% liquid diet has allowed me to maintain my weight at about 158 pounds for the last 4 + years. I do take a group of different Vitamins every day. Ensure even comes in a DRY form so when I can hike again I can used that for my trail food.

If you asked me how I am feeling, I would tell you better than I have for a long time. It is almost scary.

I never stopped walking at least 2 miles everyday even when I didn't want to. I have increased my distance up to 4 to 6 miles a day and 8 miles ever so often. Last Thursday I walked 5 miles in pouring rain wearing all my older GoreTex rain gear (TNF jacket and pants both with lots of venting options), OR gaiters, TNF - GoreTex lined - Hiking Shoes and I stayed dry. I really mean dry. The weight of the all the above was 5.7 pounds. Those that know me may be surprised that I would even have all that heavy gear. It is from the "old" days.

My old gear will become a base line for me to see what I can replace it all with that is a lot lighter. The only requirement for the new gear is that it HAS to be as good at keeping me DRY as the heavier things do. I am getting to old to try a long hike such as the AT and run into a lot of rain and end up wet out and forced off the trail. I don't mind walking in the rain if I am warm and more or less dry.

So what do I have in mind. If things work out I might get up to Georgia sometime just after the new year for some hiking on the AT. That is about all I want to say at this point.

I have stared to work on different ways to winterize my TNF Hiking shoes to keep my feet warm and dry for a winter hike.

Other items of gear necessary are in the early stages of design with a few pattern prototypes under construction.

I will try to be as light as the weather conditions will let me.


The bad news:

Their is no bad news only "to heavy" gear.

This has been a long answer to a short question.

mark henley
(flash582) - F
Re: Bill Fornshell on 10/24/2009 18:09:07 MDT Print View

Up there only referred to the relative position of this thread in relation to the MYOG thread ..... sorry for the scare.

Bill ... it's always a pleasure to "hear" your words.


Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: UL Gear for a Happy Planet on 10/24/2009 18:16:29 MDT Print View

Sorry if I came across a little strong in my post. I wasn't trying to rile up anyone. And it's hard to put into a few words a lifetime of concern for the deterioration of the natural world. It's just that so much seems so stupid and so indifferent and so selfish that it's hard not to get heated about something that I dearly love. Too much is being lost.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Bill Fornshell ?? on 10/24/2009 18:18:50 MDT Print View

Thank goodness, Bill. When Mark wrote "Bill up there" I thought the worst. Great to know you are doing better than before. Hope you can finally get on your long walk soon.

Sorry to hijack the thread.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: UL Gear for a Happy Planet on 10/24/2009 18:45:51 MDT Print View

"Anyone got a better idea for my ancient gear?"

Offer them to the next homeless person you see wandering without bag and/or pack. It could make a real difference to their marginal quality of life. That's what I did with an old heavy weight Gore Tex jacket I had hanging in the basement. It's by no means the optimal solution to the plight of the homeless, but it can make a small temporary difference. It might even help someone make it through a sub freezing night. Just a thought.

Edited by ouzel on 10/24/2009 18:46:45 MDT.