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Throwing In The Towel
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kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
You da guy on 03/22/2006 11:26:53 MST Print View

I nominate PJ for some fitting 2006 "Lightitude Award" category-- "SUL Secular Saint", perhaps?

Edited by kdesign on 03/22/2006 11:27:50 MST.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: You da guy on 03/22/2006 11:29:17 MST Print View

Nah...y'all just caught me on a rare good day, that's all. Considering all that I spent on gear for myself last year, my offer pales in comparison.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Re: Re: Subscriptions on 03/22/2006 11:59:19 MST Print View

J R -

$25 or $2500 - don't spend either one casually. If a $25 BPL subscription fee eats into money that you could spend getting outdoors, skip BPL and buy the tank of gas or backpacking meals or trail permit fee and go backpacking. BPL is not a requirement to do that, and it's a whole lot more important for you to get outside and do it than it is to read about it.

When I went hiking in Utah last week, there were a few people that lacked "the latest gear" or "technique". One hiked in blue jeans (he brought an extra pair). It was snowing, we were wading freezing rivers, and he's wearing jeans. It didn't matter. He used what clothing he had smartly and had a GREAT time.

Point being: there's lots of "add-ons" to this sport. BPL is one of them. But it's not an essential ingredient to enjoy the outdoor experience.

(RavenUL) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: Subscriptions on 03/22/2006 12:54:48 MST Print View

Paul, I very much appreciate your offer. However, I have a pretty strict policy with this sort of thing, that pretty much begins and ends with "dont".

Besides, Im not sure I would "use" it as much as either of us would like. Much of my complaint stems from the fact when I was a member, I couldnt "use" much of what I was paying for. But we dont need to rehash that yet again.

Ryan, I completly understand what you are saying. I made my decision when I let my membership lapse.

While the article content has not been what I was hoping for, a few gems do pop up on the msg board on occasion and BPL is definatly the place you want to be if you have a question on a SUL/UL topic. Thats awesome, and I for one am glad for it.

I truely didnt want to make this thread about finances, and certainly not MY finances... but I did want to address the way some people around here seem to just dismiss the fact that for some people $25 is a bit more significant than "about half the cost of a fill-up at the gas station" and that people should "go cry somewheres else".

BPL has a rather significant variety of people here. From the guy who wants to figure out how to drop a few pounds from his 30lbs ruck, to the guy who is trying to scrape grams off his 4lbs pack. From the guy who doesnt think twice about dropping $400 on the latest gazingus pen from, to the guy who cobbles all of his gear together from stuff he bought at the local wallyworld. Some people here think membership should be so high it keeps the unwashed masses away, others here buy stuff at garage sales that couldnt possibly fit them or there needs but they know they can barter it off to save a buck or two on buying a backpack that doesnt weigh 5+lbs...

I know BPL is an "add-on". It always has been. Its an add-on for every single person who pays for it. Whether they pay for it casually or not.

Edited by RavenUL on 03/22/2006 13:05:03 MST.

Ryan Potterton
( - M

Locale: East Cascades
Regarding gear reviews on 03/22/2006 18:08:15 MST Print View

Whatever it is that posesses me to make, analyse, and compare the gear that I take backpacking also leaves me rivited to the screen on some gear reviews, whereas I don't even open the page on others.

The reveiws that capture me all solve a problem. For example: the Integral Design E-vent jacket which, when it first came out, proposed to eliminate the wind jacket/ rain jacket redundancy. Many other jacket reviews, before and since, get narry a glance because they are either not lighter or more breathable so I don't really care. Often I will read a review long enough to determine whether the new gear dethrones a reigning champion--if it is not a threat I move on, whereas if it is a threat I am rivited.

I am not simply focusing on weight either. The Integral Designs e-vent never has been the lightest but it solves a problem: the lightest, most breathable, woven, waterproof jacket--a pretty narrow catagory. And when the Patagonia Spectre came out I had to then debate whether the sacrifice in breathability was worth the weight savings (how breathable is it really?)oh my, the tension, the delema.

I will put it this way: as a writer, you may want to wait to review something that you are excited about yourself--a new product that might replace a longtime favorite in your pack. Maybe it does, maybe it dosen't--read and find out.

By the way, I am very happy with my $25 membership.

Karl Keating
(KarlKeating) - MLife
Rates, Editorial Changes, and "Dr." on 03/22/2006 20:18:39 MST Print View

Even if I hadn't gotten back my subscription price in discounts on gear, I'd think the subscription fair. I have paid more for print magazines that have provided me less.

I'm pleased to hear of plans for editorial changes and, as a publisher myself, understand how much lead time is needed for such changes to go into effect. Patience is still a virtue, and I hope subscribers won't nag the staff about speeding up the changes.

As for the "Ryan cult" business, I haven't see anything to justify that notion. I appreciate Ryan writing often--which is why his name is on a disproportionate number of articles--and just wish other regulars were able to be more regular.

My only recommendation would be for Ryan to drop "Dr." In my stylebook, that honorific is reserved for physicians, for a few ecclesiastics, and perhaps for university professors (though for them "Prof." is better). When used for any other holders of the Ph.D. (or the equivalent), the honorific tends to look like self-puffery.

(I have an aquaintance, with a Ph.D. in theology, who used to insist that the covers of his books include "Dr." before his name. He finally wised up and took the standard, and more modest, approach of using simply his name. Good writing doesn't need the prop of titles.)

Carol Crooker
(cmcrooker) - MLife

Locale: Desert Southwest, USA
Editorial Calendar on 03/22/2006 20:59:47 MST Print View

The Online Editorial Calendar is now available.
Click the button under Resources in the left column on the home page or...
Online Editorial Calendar
It doesn't include everything we have planned, but it's a good sampling.
Looking forward to your feedback.

Edited by cmcrooker on 03/22/2006 21:04:23 MST.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Rates, Editorial Changes, and "Dr." on 03/22/2006 21:28:05 MST Print View

Karl, I don't like and rarely do use the Dr. moniker. Informally, many folks refer to me as Dr. J, I don't mind that. I just don't like to invoke the PhD as justification for an authoritative opinion.

I use it from time to time to identify authorship on a paper that I'll want to add to my professional CV. That's really my only criteria for using it.

Our PR firm likes to highlight it because it's an interesting story, how a PhD became a backpacking magazine publisher. We'll save that for another time.

At any rate, I don't insist, ever, that anyone use it. I do agree that good writing does not require titles. There are way too many dr's out there that use the title to con people, it's unfortunate.

Karl Keating
(KarlKeating) - MLife
Re: Re: Rates, Editorial Changes, and "Dr." on 03/22/2006 22:10:21 MST Print View


Thanks for the reply. Feel free to make your PR firm happy by recounting your conversion to publishing.

The new editorial calendar looks well thought out. I know how difficult it can be to develop topics and to assign them to the right writers--more difficult than most readers imagine.

I predict, though, that many people will ask for even more articles on techniques, since those come closest to the story mode, and everyone likes stories.

Chuck Shugart
(cshugart) - MLife

Locale: Canadian Prairies
Re: Re: Re: Throwing In The Towel on 03/23/2006 00:29:37 MST Print View

I have just recently dicovered BPL (started my subscription last fall). I have also been delighted to read re views that are not tainted with an obligation to endorse one company or another because they pay to advertise with the reviewer. I think $25.00 is a pretty good deal to insure that kind of unbiased evaluation. I can't get enough of this stuff and hope you guys don't completely give up on reviewing whats new and lighter.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: In the Throes of the Towel on 03/23/2006 00:47:37 MST Print View

The new editorial calendar does indeed look wonderful... just the kind of good mix of stories that I have been hoping for.

Perhaps to clarify my original post about throwing in the towel: I am not an expert on anything outdoors (well, perhaps in a discussion about long-distance bicycle touring might I might be able to hold my own. I've done a lot of it around the world for over 30 years), and always feel that I have more to learn. One of the original joys of finding BPL was that I was learning so much from people who had exciting new ideas to share with me. It's why I subscribed. BPL, as much as Ray Jardine's two early books "The Pacific Crest Trail Hiker's Handbook" and "Beyond Backpacking", and more recently Ed Speer's "Hammock Camping", more than any other source of information, taught me to rethink my entire backpacking equipment list and how I used it when out in the mountains. And the "how I used it" was in the end much more important and challenging than any amount of gear I might buy. It's taken me about three years to make a complete change, to understand the equipment, try it out, see what works and what doesn't, test my own limitations, rethink my gear lists again and again, teach myself to refrain from snatching up every new fangled wonder gear that popped up in favor of training, as Ryan has written so often, my mind, and then returning here for more lessons and tips and stories from the field from others who went out and actually learned something from the experiences they had. When these tutorial-like stories stopped appearing it was as if I had been cut off from learning more. Suddenly it seemed only the gear mattered and none of the wisdom gleaned from people with more experience and skills than I have. But that is what I still hunger for most.

The recent discussion about how to dress for constant wet-weather hiking was of deep interest to me because conditions in the mountains in Japan are very similar to those of the western Cascades in the States or of the Alps in New Zealand... rain, rain, and more rain. How do others deal with that? What kinds of techniques do they use for camping in muddy conditions? How do they keep reasonably dry and life-saving warm in constant drenching conditions? What kind of footwear do they use to deal with hours of slogging through mud? How does one train for the extreme vertical ups and downs that places like the mountains in Japan present? And so on. Articles like that would be both educational and fascinating for me, the way so many of the early Ryan Jordan, Alan Dixon, and others' articles were for me. I can still very vividly recall reading the account of Ryan, Alan, and Glen's late season walk in the Winds. i remember every photograph and how I took hours to peruse the way the shelters were set up and the clothing was worn. Ryan and Alan, (and Glen through our e-mails), you have literally changed my life. It may not be anything spiritually bound or earth-shaking, but for me personally the great old stories and articles were what kept me coming here day after day. And I still want that level of fascination and learning.

That's why I wrote what I did. I'm not cavalier about money and can't afford to just throw it away on a whim, but it was not about the $25 that I was talking. It was about the loss of what I felt was a great publication and what I gleaned from it. So with the new calendar and propect of being reengaged with great topics and challenging information, in a word, with further growing as a mountain walker, I'm really looking forward to what BPL has to offer. I most definitely will renew my subscription.

If my bringing the original criticisms up left a bad taste in any people's mouths, then please know that I did not do it casually or without regret. I do not like to publicly criticise people. I do not like to make people feel bad. But I do believe in high standards and voicing one's opinion when those standards don't seem to be measuring up. As a member I believe I have a right to say something, even if it is not popular. I hope that all the people who did chime in and voice their opinions on the magazine are respected for having the courage to say something, at the risk of getting publicly chastised. I believe that people voicing their opinions here made a difference for everyone in how the publication was developing. In the end I hope this is of benefit to everyone, including the BPL staff.

Isn't public debate just wonderful? Especially when it can make a real, measurable difference and can get so many different kinds of people together without rancor?

As to the speculation about Ryan's cult status... I have rarely believed that the cult figure him/ herself is the usual cause of the cult status... it is the followers who put someone into that position. I never meant to suggest that Ryan was placing himself into any position; he has always seemed friendly, accessible, and quite humble. He never gainsays anyone, replies when he has time, defers to those with more experience in something, and actively asks advice.

Personally I never call anyone "Dr." or any other honorific, not even doctors, and most certainly not presidents. All people are equal and deserve to be looked upon with equal measure. I will bow to no one and don't want anyone to bow to me. When someone expects me to give them some kind of loftier-than-me status then my opinion of them goes down. When they expect no praise but show by their actions their skill or knowledge or leadership, then I will gladly defer to them.

There are a lot of people here who get no fanfare who have immense amounts of knowledge, skills, imagination, and experience. It is the accumulation of it all here that I value so much. I just see BPL as a conduit for presenting and clarifying it all in one place. May the Force be with all of us!

Edited by butuki on 03/23/2006 02:10:05 MST.

Bernard Shaw
( - F

Locale: Upstate New York
For every action a reaction on 03/23/2006 06:22:35 MST Print View


I would fight for your right to express your opinion any day, freedom of speech is essential, despite today's political climate.

That said, you were not simply expressing your opinion, you were making personal accusations without checking your facts first, i.e., "unprofessional", etc. I think the problem is that we don't see each other face to face here on these electronic forums. It is altogether too easy to write and send these things.

I, myself, have learned to be more careful. To give you the benefit of the doubt, you are likely a fine and constructive person. IMO, however, you might consider how the tone of your own writing elicits the replies you got here. I am FOR you stimulating debate, but not for accusations that are not accurate. If the goal is to encourage a better product, people are least likely to hear the criticism if given in personal insult fashion. Perhaps this was not at all your intent, but it is how it looked to me.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: For every action a reaction on 03/23/2006 07:23:27 MST Print View

Bernard, I accede your observation about me. I was wrong in some points and earlier I did apologize. Allow me to apologise here once again. I hope that you will at least leave me some leeway for redeeming myself here in these forums. Everyone makes mistakes, even you, and I honestly did not mean to offend or harm anyone. The mortification I feel upon reading your comment I think is pretty good punishment already. I think that most of my comments in these forums throughout the time I've been a member have been fair and non-accusatory, non-belligerent and even, on three occasions, in defense of others. I would appreciate it if you judge me by that rather than just by one comment I made.

We could go on to debate the dearness of one's money and the responsibility involved in paying for something, but that is outside the scope of this discussion, so I will let it drop. Such topics should be handled directly between customer and proprietor anyway.

As to your being willing to fight for my freedom... well... I do appreciate the sentiment, truly, but I'll also take it with a grain of salt. After all I am not American and I have my reservations about any need for fighting these days.

Edited by butuki on 03/23/2006 10:28:50 MST.

Bernard Shaw
( - F

Locale: Upstate New York
Re: Re: For every action a reaction on 03/23/2006 15:27:18 MST Print View

Thanks for being open, and I hope I included I have made similar mistakes. Point well taken about too much fighting. Post onward!

Mark Larson
(mlarson) - MLife

Locale: Southeast USA
Re: Re: Re: For every action a reaction on 03/23/2006 16:47:00 MST Print View

Group hug?

I like the new editorial calendar quite a bit. Looks like a great line-up--y'all are going to be busy.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Throwing in the towel on 03/23/2006 18:07:55 MST Print View

Throw in the towel? Nah. I'm pretty much on the same wave length as Bill Cooper. There is so much going on at this website that almost anyone who is into mountain doin's will find a lot of value/interest. It will just vary according to the individual. So absorb what makes sense to you and ignore the rest, but realize that it is offered in good faith by talented people who ain't gettin' rich in the process. I, personally, just renewed my suscription on that basis and will feel that my $25 will have been more than amply rewarded if Ryan publishes his gear/food list for the upcoming Arctic epic before leaving and does a post mortem on what worked and didn't work upon his return. It is a thread I have been following with a lot of interest. Even if he doesn't, I have no doubt my money will have been well spent by the renewal time next year. Absorbing the material presented here has sure lightened my load over the last couple of years.

Donald Johnston
(photonstove) - MLife
Re: Throwing In The Towel on 03/23/2006 19:49:31 MST Print View

I look at this from a different perspective. What I find here many times amazes me. It is truly unique. It provides what I will not find anywhere else at any cost. There is a lot of value in the free content and those who want more do get more for their subscription money. As I use the site I bump into the need for a subscription to get what I am seeking. But is it what you are seeking? Like with most things in life it isn’t going to please everyone and that can be viewed as unfortunate, necessary and a positive influence. This kind of feedback is valuable and necessary. We do wonder when things are delayed and an explanation and estimate of when it will arrive would be nice to see. There are some things folks are primed for that have not happened as we were led to expect and we don’t know why, when or if they will happen. For example the gear spreadsheet contest results and the SUL winter trip.

The focus is broad and the goals are high but worthy goals. I am actually impressed at what is accomplished by the small unpaid and paid staff. While not perfect from my point of view nothing else really ever is either and I value this for what it does provide. I see a true interest and effort to provide what light weight backpackers want and I value very highly that I can trust it to be independent of other commercial interests.

Michael Wands
(walksoftly) - F

Locale: Piney Woods
Re: Re: Throwing In The Towel on 03/23/2006 20:46:23 MST Print View

I joined BPL for one reason and one reason only.

I don't have anyone in my life that I can share my passion with. The people close to me all think that I am crazy for hiking alone even when it rains; sleeping on the ground without a tent and eating raw oats and pemmican. They can't imagine why any sane person would do this! I can't seem to get through to them no matter what I say.

For $25 a year I can connect to people who enjoy the same things that I do. People who understand the how and WHY of it. People who are actually doing the things that I have always dreamed about.

I enjoy the articles and reviews here at BPL, but as far as I'm concerned we are writing the magazine ourselves one forum post at a time.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
That towel needs laundering on 03/23/2006 20:58:55 MST Print View

I can relate . Of course, the Forum, and participation in it are free. But there are so many other reasons to subscribe, anyway.

Lighter pack, shrinking wilderness on 03/23/2006 23:11:28 MST Print View

No complaints here, I think the BPL Staff are doing an amazing job and probably on a shoestring budget too. The latest crop of Editor's Choice products in Backpacker magazine proves just how valuable BPL is. Hec, next year I fully expect Backpacker to devote half a page giving a Gold Award to duct tape or moleskin. And the best tent will be one that two 6'6" editors can sit up and play cards in for 3 days. (How sick am I of that line :)

Anyway, one thing I would like to see at BPL is Environmental Advocacy or at least some leadership in this regard. This theme has been evident in Backpacker magazine for a while now.

What's the relative importance of an ultralight kit when the places we love are under siege? Yes, an ultralight kit is fantastic, but...

Would you opt for aluminum poles instead of fibraplex, and donate the money saved to a group who are fighting to save wildlands?

Would you be willing to spend less time thinking about your kit and more about the planet?

Would you write a letter to a politician to express your desire to save wildlands?

To me this is a very "weighty" issue! How about an Environmental or Wildlands Editor?