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Backpacker mag gear issue
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Jarrett Lambright
(jlamb) - F

Locale: Western PA
Backpacker mag gear issue on 02/25/2010 19:38:51 MST Print View

Just picked up the new backpacker gear review issue......Seems like most gear reviewed and recommended is still pretty heavy compared to what folks on here use. I am currently a lightweight want to be. I am still using pretty heavy stuff (big 3)trying to change that with time and money though. Mostly educating myself at this point. With all the innovations you would think that lighter gear would be the norm. Is UL not considered durable? Or is it the fact that the buying power of the masses still are more traditional backpackers (carrying everything for every possible situation?)

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Backpacker rag on 02/25/2010 19:42:17 MST Print View

Gear made by committees to sell to the masses. Backpacker Ragazine sucks up to the advertisers and openly makes fun of ultralight hikers. Vote with your feet!

Juston Taul

Locale: Atlanta, GA
Education / Personal Choice / Cost on 02/25/2010 19:56:58 MST Print View

Personally, I don't think it has anything to do with durability. Sure... UL equipment is not as durable as more robust / heavier items, but you get used to certain limitations and adjust accordingly.

Education is probably the key between us and the masses. Most of us didn't start off as UL backpackers, including myself. I just didn't know these products existed. If I was comfortable carrying 50 lb packs, I would probably still be doing so. However, I wasn't. My discomfort led me to find a better way.

For others, it's personal choice. Some like the idea of having backups, and more durable products, and creature comforts. They deal with the weight for the idea they are more prepared, and comfortable at the end of a long day of hiking. Personally, I would rather be more comfortable hiking. The key for me is to find a gear list, a particular weight, that is comfortable to me while hiking and that makes me comfortable while at camp. It's taken a while... but i've finally gotten to a point where i'm happy.

Lastly, cost. There are few of us, and many of them. There are more supplies making the products that they buy. Supply and demand. More competition leads to lower prices. We are a small group with limited producers of the products we desire. Thank God for people like Ron (MLD), Rand, Joe, Tim, Ben, Glen and Grant, Ron (SMD) and Tom who are dedicated to our practice and needs. Without them, we wouldn't be able to do a lot of the things we do. Not with my sewing skills that is. We pay the price that is currently required to produce such high quality products, and I'm happy to do so and will continue to do so.

I will never say my way is better than your way or another person's way... I just do what makes me happy. I think that's what everyone should do.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Education / Personal Choice / Cost on 02/25/2010 20:01:15 MST Print View

Quote from magazine, explaining their product evaluation process and conditions:

"....We logged 15-hour trail days with 50-pound packs....."

Do they want a high-five? A pat on the back? Even for the traditional backpacker, 50lbs is pushing it, I think. Not terribly good advertising, IMO.

Wyatt Hanks

Locale: Red Desert
re: heavy stuff on 02/25/2010 20:22:11 MST Print View

The problem is that people don't even think about it. I go to the outdoor store and am apalled by how heavy some of the simple gear like cookware and backpacks are that they sell to backpackers. And its not that these products are more durable or anything. They're just heavier. And they don't even need to be, they just have tons of extraneous straps or handles or whathaveyou and people just buy it because they need whatever it is and don't think about the cumulative effects of heavy, poorly designed gear. People think backpacking involves carrying a heavy load, not realizing that load is heavy only because of all the crap they bring.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Backpacker mag gear issue on 02/25/2010 20:25:13 MST Print View

Yeah I think I flipped through that thing in about 2min.

At least there were a few of 'our' companies in it!

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Backpaker Bling on 02/25/2010 20:29:17 MST Print View

It's just like hangin' chrome bumpers on a Buick-- BLING!!!!

Not that ULers don't go there-- $90 titanium pens and the like. Grandma Gatewood would give us a good talkin' to.

Like the Patagonia R1 I got the other day-- $120 MSRP for a 100w fleece with a grid pattern--- what a racket!

Shawn Peyton
(alifeoutdoors) - F - MLife

Locale: Iron River, WI
backpacker ad rag on 02/25/2010 21:15:50 MST Print View

Yea I still have a subscription and breathed through it. I used to get excited about it but I pay little attention except to maybe the gadgets. It's pretty much what a few said the only gear getting reviews is (for the most part) the regular advertisers. I use to think granite gear was one of the few exception, but now they have an ad in the back I see. I think they've thrown the UL community a bone in a couple of shelter/pack reviews in the past.

It would probably be suprising the amount of money that supports the outdoor industry from buy it once spur of the moment purchases. Put the gear on, go out for an overnight, realized how much work it is and said f*ck this.
Maybe they would have gotten a better first impression if they knew that other option exists. I would say if you'd never been backpacking before you'd get waaaaay more practical information coming on here than picking up a Backpacker. And may do it more than once...

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: backpacker ad rag on 02/25/2010 21:30:05 MST Print View

I'm not sure if its the ads that bug me or the fact that they hail some pieces of gear as "the absolute best and thats all there is to it because we said so."

Backpacker says (okay not a real quote, but you get the idea):

"Going on an overnighter? Don't be caught underprepared in the rain! With Company X's new 1 person, 12 pound, triple wall tent, you'll be as warm and cozy as those winter nights in your grandmother's cottage in the woods, sipping hot chocolate by the fireplace."

Reader thinks:
"Oh man. They're right. I really don't want to get wet out there. I want to be warm and cozy. Maybe I'll just get Company X's triple wall tent. "

BTW, Shawn, where do you go hiking? I live in Milwaukee.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Backpacker rag on 02/25/2010 21:49:25 MST Print View

I don't understand why everyone is complaining. I was one of the early subscribers in the 70's. Then some conglomorate bought it, it got crappy, and I haven't read it in probably 30 years.

Just let it go.

Quit stressing over it.

I say encourage people to carry 50 lb packs. Most won't get more than a day or two from the trailhead. More room for you in the backcountry.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Backpacker Mag Gear Issue on 02/25/2010 22:01:00 MST Print View

I love the gear guide.

So there.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Backpacker mag gear issue on 02/25/2010 22:01:27 MST Print View

What Nick said. I still have the 1st 4 issues somewhere though.

Edited by skinewmexico on 02/25/2010 23:36:47 MST.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Backpacker Mag Gear Issue on 02/25/2010 22:03:21 MST Print View

Joe....time to let go.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Backpacker mag gear issue on 02/25/2010 22:11:54 MST Print View

@ Nick

D@mn fine point.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Backpacker rag on 02/25/2010 22:39:49 MST Print View

Backpacker openly makes fun of UL hikers? I don't recall that at all, but do recall seeing both SMD and HS tarptents represented in the last two years' issues.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Backpacker Mag Gear Issue on 02/25/2010 22:52:42 MST Print View

I was looking through the Spring 1974 issue of Backpacker (online - I am not that old) where there was a 'test' of weekend packs in the 45-60L range. What was interesting to me was that despite 36 years of apparent technological advancement, 90% of these packs weighed below 3lbs and the majority were below 2.5lbs. Some were 2lbs. When I look at the current issue, I see that many similar packs are actually heavier despite being made of lighter pack 'cloth.'

Just an interesting observation.

Kent C.

Locale: High Sierra
Backpacker mag gear issue on 02/25/2010 23:12:22 MST Print View

+1 to Nick and Shawn

Like many, I wasn't aware of the lightweight alternative. A couple years ago I was on the verge of a breaking point and ready to give up backpacking. My traditional load was so heavy I was miserable. Luckily my brother had by then fully transitioned to lightweight and turned me on to the concept. As Shawn said, how many just don't realize alternatives are so readily available?

There are multitudes of traditional hikers out there and Backpacker serves *them*, and that's fine. Now, I just enjoy the trip/trail ideas/write-ups, love many of the pictures, and a few other things, knowing all the while that is the limit.

I am satisfied with that because of the great place and people here at BPL! Far better info here than will ever be in Backpacker!

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Backpacker Mag Gear Issue on 02/25/2010 23:17:24 MST Print View

I don't know. I've found some times when Backpacker does a pretty good job of trying out lightweight gear and praising it.

I personally feel that the only thing that really matters is that all of us backpackers, UL or no, just simply ought to be having a great time out there. If you're enjoying it light or heavy, who cares how you go?

The only thing I don't like is when people become so preachy that they never listen to anyone anymore and close their minds to any opinions by others that they don't agree with. Some of us can sound like that sometimes... and on walks I've come across UL'ers who can't seem to stop evaluating every pack and gear set they see along the trail, going out of their way to "preach the gospel". I can't stand that! Sure, if someone asks about the amazingly light pack you're carrying, then go whole hog, but let others in peace with their walk. I feel the same way about most anything, including religion, food, politics, and yes, even g..., g..., g..., sorry I just can't say it. As long as what you do doesn't affect others in a bad way, put them in danger, get them sick, or simply ruin their own experience of the trip, what's wrong with it?

Backpacker's readers and fans are not the magazine itself. They're as varied as we as a group are.

Edited by butuki on 02/25/2010 23:45:17 MST.

Lori P
(lori999) - F

Locale: Central Valley
Re: Backpacker mag gear issue on 02/25/2010 23:25:50 MST Print View

A lot of folks get started with the lighter end of heavy (the "ultralite" stuff at REI) - can't really complain much cause it's easier for many to have a store like that to help them see possibilities. I remember the first time I went to REI - what a huge deal it was to see all the choices in gear, where before there wasn't anything like it (think REI is bad, go to Sport Authority and try to outfit yourself).

The gear issue is like REI - gotta start somewhere. I had no idea any of the backpacking forums existed, or the list serves, or the hiking groups other than Sierra Club. Many people still don't know. But, hiking around and meeting others on the trail, and being willing to show them my gear when it catches their eye, has resulted in people writing "gossamer gear" or "white box" on the backs of their hands so they remember to google it.

It's also fun to scan through the Backpacker back issues on google and compare. Some things really haven't changed. Others have - I haven't seen any ads for Jack Daniels lately. :)

Edited by lori999 on 02/25/2010 23:28:53 MST.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Backpacker Mag Gear Issue on 02/25/2010 23:33:00 MST Print View


Good points. Actually as a group many here at BPL can be rather dogmatic.

I quit reading Backpacker because they got further and further away from my idea of a backpacking focus. Too many fringe articles for me, among other things. I was paying for a subscription and they just started publishing too many articles of no interest to me.

However, I am not going to complain about the publication. They have a readership, and that is fine. It is just not my cup of tea.