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A little UL Philosophy Help Please
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Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: A little UL Philosophy Help Please on 04/06/2010 20:46:09 MDT Print View

I go UL because I am not a normal human being (I'm from Mars, actually), and I'm not used to Earth's gravitational force. With a light weight pack I can handle the 1 G's here and still enjoy my walks. UL on Earth is not the same as UL on Mars.

Doug, does this qualify as a thoughtful response from a UL freak?

Edit: Looked back in this and it does come across as sarcastic... sorry. It was not my intention. I rarely make sarcastic jokes. Really just trying to be silly.

Edited by butuki on 04/06/2010 21:35:59 MDT.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: A little UL Philosophy Help Please on 04/06/2010 20:50:14 MDT Print View

Miguel! It does, my friend. Of course, I realize that thoughtful for a Martian is a bit different than thoughtful for a human.....but as long as it's thoughtful.....

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
A little UL Philosophy Help Please on 04/06/2010 21:26:01 MDT Print View


Edited by kthompson on 04/06/2010 21:55:07 MDT.

Travis Naibert
(outwest) - F
UL philosophy on 04/06/2010 21:27:54 MDT Print View

Try lightening your load by 10 lbs and you can suddenly walk for ten hours straight, or just for 2 hours, comfortably. You'll have the energy to make side trips from the trail, or to do something besides sitting down as soon as you get to camp, such as exploring the area, bushwacking to a highpoint, etc. But the best thing about UL, whether you hike big miles or not, is the ability to focus on the view and the flora and the animals WHILE YOU ARE MOVING instead of constantly thinking about your back aching and your feet hurting and how much longer til the next break when you can take the pack off. I think of UL as on the move viewpoints because I don't need to stop to enjoy my hike.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: UL philosophy on 04/06/2010 21:50:45 MDT Print View

We carry it if you don't need it?

I first ran across Ray Jardine's Website a few years ago, when a friend of my wife recommended I check it out. At first thought, I thought the guy was on the fringe about to go over the edge of rationality.

Like Roger, I am getting up there in years. Today I can hike further, faster, longer, and enjoy my surroundings more than I could 40 years ago.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: Re: Re: A little UL Philosophy Help Please on 04/07/2010 00:51:48 MDT Print View

"1) go farther in less time
2) get to places they never could get to before
3) play with gear, be gram weenies, invent new things, play with new technologies
4) have the flexibility to add extra mileage, change the route, do some exploring
5) do more with less"

Good post Piper. I'd like to add a couple more to this list.

6) Save $$$ on hold baggage charges on flights by going handbaggage only. And strolling out of the airport while others wait by the carousel hoping their gear got onto the same flight as they did.
7) Have your gear with you on the bus instead of fretting about someone dropping a 60lb case into the hold on top of your precious kit every time the bus halts. Or walking off with it.
8) Seeing the look on peoples faces when they realise you are carrying everything you have, not just a day pack.

Travelling UL doesn't necessarily mean going without luxuries. Kath and I often buy a 1L carton of wine to enjoy over the following couple of days. I carry a 1.5oz speaker to plug into my mobile phone for some music or radio, though we usually just enjoy nature's sounds. I often carry some mini-plying cards for airport delays and as emergency tinder (the plastic facing burns great, no XGK-EX required).

Richard Gless
(rgless) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
A little UL Philosophy on 04/07/2010 01:04:36 MDT Print View

I go UL because it lets me still do what I did many, many years ago. My favorite part is having people ask me where I day hiked to when I've been out for a week or more.

Mike McHenry
(mtmche2) - F
HYOH and "to each his (or her) own" on 04/07/2010 02:23:17 MDT Print View

HYOH kind of sums up what it means to go hiking for me. For me that is UL. For some I have met that is 80 lb packs with 3 person tents to themselves. Does my back hurt looking at that pack? Sure, but believe me, he/she is typically loving the heck out of being in the wilderness and doing it their way (ie hiking their own hike). And who am I to say otherwise?

I like the fact that you rely totally on your own knowledge and gear (the less the more enjoyable IMO but carry what makes you happy). I find that carrying less gear forces you to improvise and thus become more in touch with nature. By doing this I have more fun and IMO develop skills I might not otherwise possess.

As for luxuries, I think going UL makes you realize how much of a luxury a sleeping pad, a ground sheet, a warm meal, or an extra pair of socks really is. Essentially, for the UL hiker, the judgement of what is and is not a "luxury" item is significantly more critical. Things you take for granted with a 40 lb pack suddenly become bonus items. Isn't simplifying what we "need" one of the core fundamentals of backpacking?

Edited by mtmche2 on 04/07/2010 02:39:34 MDT.

Nate Davis
(Knaight) - F

Locale: Western Massachusetts
UL lets me do more on 04/08/2010 05:04:17 MDT Print View

-- Having less and lighter equipment makes it possible to get out of work at 5 and decide to go on a spur of the moment overnight trip. I can go home, change, pack my small amount of gear, drive to a trailhead, and hike to a campsite 3 miles away before sunset.

-- Short mile days go faster, leaving me more time for views, bird watching, exploration, and hanging out at the campsite.

-- Long mile days are actually possible. I'm training to do a 116 mile hike in three days. I would never have even thought that possible without having gone ultralight.

-- I only started making the shift toward ultralight a little over a year ago. I've done more trips in that year than in the previous five years combined. It's just way more fun when you're comfortable.

All of this said, there are some luxuries that I like taking. I'm trying out tablets right now for purifying my water, and not convinced that I like them better than a filter. I may go back to the filter for low to moderate intensity trips. For high mileage days, though, that extra 10 oz makes a big difference.

I like bringing my Tarptent and haven't made the switch to tarps yet. I plan to use one for that aforementioned 116 mile hike, but bug netting is a luxury that I'd rather not give up in New England.

I've brought my 21 oz insulated, inflatable sleeping pad on more trips than not. Sure, it's heavy, but that comfort makes for a great night's sleep. This pad only stays home on high intensity trips where I'd rather not lug the extra pound for 20-25 miles per day. I don't do that many of those.

Here's the thing, though: With all of those items, my baseweight is still around 11-12 lbs when I go solo. When I go with my wife, it's more like 8 or 9!

If for some reason I want to bring extra photography equipment, fishing equipment, wine, or a six pack of beer (cans), it's no problem. My back will still feel good at the end of the day. Works for me!

Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
It depends... on 04/12/2010 18:02:48 MDT Print View

How far you hike and how steep the terrain must certainly influence what you carry. I’ve only really gone to one place. It’s maybe 2 miles in, granted with about 2000 foot elevation change, but still. And it’s downhill going in. We camp there with only day hikes until we leave. Once my base weight was less than 40 lbs I didn’t care anymore.

This year I’m planning on a “real” hiking trip in Yosemite. Well, sort of. We will probably do no more than 5 miles per day with packs on (it will only be my wife’s second backpacking trip). However, I’ve cataloged and weighed all my gear and I’m making some significant changes. I still won’t be UL, but that is only because I can’t afford to. But, my base weight will be significantly less than 40 lbs! I will be taking some items that many here would never consider (a lantern (and its fuel) is one of them).

Once I’ve purchased this new equipment I will take it on my annual 2 mile trip. Since I’ll have it, why not? :8^)

So, I’d say that most people are trying to make their hikes as enjoyable as possible. And, the longer and steeper the hike, the more the need for a light pack.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: A little UL Philosophy Help Please on 04/12/2010 18:17:15 MDT Print View

I recognize that some pieces of UL gear are pricey, and I confess to having fallen victim to some of the marketing. On the other hand, some pieces of UL gear are MYOG, so the cost is almost nothing, or at least cheap.

Another way I save money with this is carpooling. Yosemite National park is 180-200 miles away, so the auto cost for getting there is not insignificant. In the old days, we could load up only three people maximum into a car because of the considerable space taken up by big backpacks. Now that many of us are going with small 15-pound packs, we can put another person or two into the same car, so this reduces our split carpooling costs.

Julian Watson
(JulesWatson) - F
Do more stuff on 04/12/2010 18:46:09 MDT Print View

For me it's been about being able to do 'other things'. I like to flyfish, and knocking of the kilos on my back has meant I can fish more and longer every day I am out and about, or more easily get to areas.

With a large and traditionally filled pack it's a case of:
~Go to creek;
~put down pack;
~walk and fish;
~return to get pack;
~shoulder it to new spot;
~start again.

Now I leave the pack on all day. I backtrack much less. I can rockhop and bouldercrawl and jump over things without any real fear of tipping over or hurtinmg myself. I fall less. Bushwhacking is easier in that streamside hakea scrub.

I look forward to the next few years as that packweight slowly comes down even more.

Thomas Burns
(nerdboy52) - MLife

Locale: "Alas, poor Yogi.I knew him well."
Good point! on 04/12/2010 18:54:51 MDT Print View

>I fall less.

I hadn't thought of that, but it's true. When I was carrying 35 pounds, I slipped and fell at least one time/ hike. Now that I'm carrying 12 pounds, I don't fall a'tall, ya'll.


Morgan McWilliam
(morgofborg) - F
I can go both ways... on 04/12/2010 19:02:26 MDT Print View

I think that I fall into a rather interesting category. I spend about equal amounts of time carrying both light and heavy packs, and I enjoy both. For the past 2 summers I have worked as an instructor with NOLS teaching mountaineering in Alaska. Typically, in my Bora 95 I will have a full Trango 4 tent, 60m rope, crampons, wands, pickets, flukes, ice tools, snow shoes, cook gear, multiple insulating layers, and sometimes up to 19 days of food. My pack can easily weigh 70 to 75 pounds (and I only weight 125). I can carry it ok, but we are never covering more that 12- 14 mi a day. On trips back home in the east however, my base weight is down to about 8.5 pounds and I will usually hike 30 - 35 miles a day. So I cover both ends of the spectrum. I like to think of myself as a jack of all trades and really just enjoy all kinds of challenges outside. Either multidiscipline trips were extra technical gear can very quickly add weight, or just regular backpacking, while going light and traveling fast.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Good point! on 04/12/2010 19:04:00 MDT Print View

Alex said: "You know, I think of all my little weekend trips as training trips for "that one" big hike. So I end up bringing extra weight in water pretty much every time I go up"

I thought about that on a hike once. For a second, it makes sense. If I carry more now on the little hikes, the "big one" won't seem so hard, right? However, in practice, that's negating the very reason to lighten up! I'm not lightening up so I can carry more on every trip except for that "big one." I'm going to enjoy my lighness on EVERY trip!!

If I want to train for a hike, I'll do that separate from actual backpacking hikes....but then again, actual backpacking trips are perfect training, even without carrying extra weight!

Jeff K
(jeff.k) - F

Locale: New York
Re: Re: Good point! on 04/12/2010 19:18:07 MDT Print View

I agree with you Travis.

For me also training for the "big one" is more then just getting my body in shape, but learning how to deal with certain situations given what is in my bag and in my brain.

For example I want to work on my water management. That might sound silly, but I want to get in the habit of drinking at every stream crossing and trying not to carry any water if I don't need to. If I always am carrying extra water to stay in shape then I won't develop these skills.

Therefore, if someone is trying to get their body into shape for the "big one" I would recommend carrying extra weight that has no function like rocks. That way when the "big one" comes their body and their mind will be ready.

For me I enjoy the constant experimenting, learning, and pushing myself. Developing skills and experiences if far more important than developing muscle in my opinion. Pretty much everyone that has seen my scrawny body might disagree, but like they say HYOH!

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Good point! on 04/12/2010 20:19:56 MDT Print View

"Developing skills and experiences if far more important than developing muscle in my opinion. Pretty much everyone that has seen my scrawny body might disagree"

From one scrawny lil' guy to another, it ain't how much muscle you've got but how well conditioned that muscle is. Strength to body weight is the name of the game. Rock on!

James Lantz
(jameslantz) - F

Locale: North Georgia
Farther doesn't necessarily mean faster on 04/12/2010 20:27:36 MDT Print View

It's interesting that UL is often associated with "faster" hiking, but for me this is not the case. I always carry 11-15 lbs. depending on the season &/or food load. Sometimes I'll hike 10 miles & sometimes 25. My speed averages between 2-2.5 MPH depending on the terrain. The only difference for me is the length of time that I hike. The beauty of a lighter gear set is that at age 51, both options are now available to me since I can more easily walk for 12 hrs., if needed, & still enjoy the experience.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Good point! on 04/12/2010 22:44:36 MDT Print View

I sometimes go on work trips and can cut brush with loppers and a saw and toss the branches without taking off my pack.

Alex Gilman
(Vertigo) - F

Locale: Washington
Holly Crap! on 04/13/2010 14:13:49 MDT Print View

OK SOo0oo..

I was testing out our "weekend tent" with my dog. My GF just picked up a Nemo Morpho AR on REI clearance.

You know I think of myself as a "lightweight comfort driven" type of hiker... Well that was redefined for me when on Saturday morning the Boy Scouts caught up to me.

Holly crap! they brought Coleman stoves, lanterns, NOISE, parkas, axes, saws etc.

A few of the adults came over admiring my tent because it didn't even have a wrinkle that fluttered in the wind. (Theirs flapped but mostly because they didn't pitch them properly) They took a look at my gear and were shocked at my kitchen.

It made me realize that I'm definitely on the Spartan side of the equasion right there with you guys

It took those kids about 4 hours to start a fire. You know that saying "where there's smoke there's fire"? Well they redefined it. Where there's smoke there is just smoke.

The next morning I was packed up and out of there before they could even turn on their Coleman. I bumped in to two Eagle Scouts who were humping back a 3 Gallon blue water jug for the kids. They asked me what time ti was.

What a beautiful mess, those guys are. African carrying 3 gallons of water to a place with lakes. While the adults didn't even think to bring water treatment or even think of boiling water the night before and letting it cool (it was 30 at night).

The good news is I just picked up a Nemo GoGo and dropped my base weight down to 14lbs.