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backpacking with non ULers/newbs
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Robert Dusing
(morob325) - F

Locale: texas
backpacking with non ULers/newbs on 07/15/2010 11:00:06 MDT Print View

I've planned and gone on trips with people who are new to backpacking and have little to no gear, or what gear they have is for car-camping. So far these trips have been short easy hikes in warm fair conditions so it wasn't a big deal, but now I'm planning a 50-60 mile Weminuche trip in Aug and I only have enough extra gear for 1-2 other people.
Having the others rent what they need isn't a problem, except the only rental items are "traditional" weight stuff I bet the new hikers will be hurting. Plus we're trying to bring a couple girls and I don't know how I or they will take it when I'm carrying 30-35 total and doing fine, while they have 20lbs more and are suffering.

Do you guys just not hike with people that you can't outfit, or not worry about it? What about with women? I'm all for carrying more than them, but I'm going to be frustrated carrying their heavy stuff after I've spent so much effort lightening mine. I know they won't have the money or interest in purchasing a few hundred dollars worth of gear.

Adam Kramer
(rbeard) - F

Locale: ATL, Southern Appalachia
Re: backpacking with non ULers/newbs on 07/15/2010 11:20:28 MDT Print View

try to forget about the weight on your back and just enjoy the outdoors and the company. when you want to go hardcore UL, get a group together that feels the same way. there are many different ways to enjoy the wilderness...when you are with people just starting out, be more of a teacher and lead by example. 60 mile trip with those types who do not have gear or experience could be biting off more than you can chew. i say you because it sounds like you are in charge and will get blamed for whatever goes wrong (including rain). why not a 30 mile 3 day or something if you are worried?

also, i will point out that some "women" on this site could hike 30 miles in a day and eat a bear for dinner.

Edited by rbeard on 07/15/2010 11:24:18 MDT.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: backpacking with non ULers/newbs on 07/15/2010 11:25:39 MDT Print View

First off, just be careful about commenting on women. There are a lot of strong and experienced women on here that'll call you out! :D

True, you may be dealing with the stereotypical "girly" girls who hate bugs and whine after they think they've broken a sweat. (I know some guys like that). If that's the case then they really need to decide if real backpacking is for them. Don't bring anyone out who doesn't fully understand what they're getting into. It can turn into a bad experience for them and you, and it may turn them off to the outdoors all together.

Its your choice whether or not to carry their stuff. Some here on BPL won't do it. Some will. If its a once-only trip, then you can probably bear with it. If you start taking more trips, then I'd have them get their own gear.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: backpacking with non ULers/newbs on 07/15/2010 11:39:25 MDT Print View


The key is finding a good "fit". What's your main objective for your upcoming 50-60 mile hike?

Some people treat their hikes as a sport -- to see how fast and furious they can challenge themselves.

Some people treat it as a hobby -- and maybe focus more on the proverbial "smelling the flowers along the way".

Still others get most of their excitement from the camaraderie.

Where do you stand will be a main factor in whom you choose to partner with you.

And just as importantly, when planning as a group, EVERYONE needs to be on the same page (or at least the same chapter). Better that the entire group ask and answer these questions upfront!! What are everyone's style, likes and dislikes? Will there be shared gear or will everyone be self sufficient? Who's carrying what? Etc., etc. And given there will be newbies -- they will need some hand holding -- including an outright pre-trip pack inspection.

Good planning and group selection will get you half the way to a happy hike.

Edited by ben2world on 07/15/2010 11:41:11 MDT.

Robert Dusing
(morob325) - F

Locale: texas
sorry to the women on 07/15/2010 11:42:14 MDT Print View

I don't mean to suggest that the women can't handle it, and I know that there are women on here that can handle way more than me. I was questioning what moral would be like for a 5'6" friend of mine or me when she has a massive pack and I have a talon 44, especially on day1-2 when the shoulders aren't as used to it. Even if she wants to and can suffer through it, it doesn't seem..."fair"?

I don't think there's an easy solution, I guess I'm just looking to see how others handle similar situations.

Robert Dusing
(morob325) - F

Locale: texas
newb packing on 07/15/2010 11:52:22 MDT Print View

yeah I figured out the hard way last time we invited camping newbs. I told them to bring at least a 2L water container or I'd bring a few extra simply orange bottles I had. They said they'd find something, but showed up with 2 16oz bottles between the 3 of them. The second night one of them wanted to bring his guitar, and tried tying it to his pack...didnt work and we ended up taking turns carrying it out and back. I should have told him no from the beginning but he said he'd carry it and I wanted to hear him play by the campfire, should of known

For the colorado group, I tried scaring them with the diff "hardships," like poopin in the woods, daily thunderstorms, lots of creek crossings, and all that stuff but they weren't too phased so I'm hopeful.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: sorry to the women on 07/15/2010 11:56:17 MDT Print View

Before I started dragging others along with me on UL backpacking trips (around 1983-1984), I put out a fact sheet. I listed the primary pieces of equipment that were needed, and I compared those against tradition equipment for weight. Then I indicated the items for which I had a loaner, and also sources for purchasing some items. I made sure that each participant knew what they were getting into and what the group expectations were.

It is completely unacceptable to get ten miles out on a twenty-mile day and then somebody "gives up."


Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
backpacking with non ULers/newbs on 07/15/2010 11:56:20 MDT Print View

I've hiked with both women and men who have had 50% greater pack loads than me and who have forced me to keep up with them on the trail. Consistently forgotten, there are some who are stronger than others and can easily hike with higher weights. Of course, one could only imagine how efficient they could be but the reality does exist.

On the flip side, I have seen really skinny and really fat UL's suck the wind on the trail. Get training people.

Sarah Kuhn
(SCKuhn) - MLife

Locale: Mountainous Ohio
Backpacking with OTHERS on 07/15/2010 12:25:43 MDT Print View

Robert -
Best piece of advice is a few intro hikes and a pack shakedown... don't put yourself (or others) at risk simply out of desire to do a 'big' hike. Like others have said perhaps a 30 miler would do the job...... or find a group of more equipped hikers to do the 50-60 miler with.

I just spent 10 days hiking with a group of young men and while I might have hiked the slowest,.... I carried as much or more weight than ANY of them and NEVER was I the one crashing on the trail in the middle of the day due to dehydration or lack of eating... Proceed with caution with a 'Novice' group, they won't understand gradual/continual calorie intake, the early signs of dehydration, or what all is required to set up a 'campsite'.... hope you aren't in 'bear' country - educating novices on smellables can be a real challenge!!

Good Luck and most importantly, enjoy whatever hike you take!!

Alex Gilman
(Vertigo) - F

Locale: Washington
Shorter Hike? on 07/15/2010 12:29:51 MDT Print View

I would say cut the hike in half and bring some drinks and really just make it "fun". Make it more about hanging out having a cocktail by the fire than about a tough march.

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
forget the gear on 07/15/2010 14:06:24 MDT Print View

Your focus should not be on the gear at all, it should be on the physical fitness and that your properly explaining what the trip entails exactly. I've taken noobs backpacking on trips less than 30 miles and everytime we had to stop early because they "couldn't take it". We were doing less than 10 miles a day. I dont think you should taken any noob on a hike at 10 miles a day or more. Many just can't handle it, or have unrealistic expecations about what a hike is like.

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
ye on 07/15/2010 14:09:31 MDT Print View

as the poster above me said, and which i will echo, make it a march, and expect to go home after 15-20 miles, guranteed. 50-60 is not appropriate for noobs at all, just a warning, i don't want to see you dissapointed like me. From now on, i wont go with anyone on a long hike like yours unless they are experienced, been dissapointed too many times.

b willi jones
(mrjones) - F

Locale: NZ,,, best place in the world !?
backpacking with heavy/newbs on 07/15/2010 15:39:36 MDT Print View

heard the phrase 'short term pain, long term gain'?. its a small sacrifice to make at this stage. i think you should suck it up, take some of the heavier gear for them, & save the ultra light for later. you will just get frustrated waiting around if you go ultra light, & they could also get injured if they over do it, then you will have to carry them, that would be ultra heavy.

if some of them are of similar build, you could swap the packs around during the hike, this way they can share the weight, get to try out other types/brands of gear as well. going over their gear first before you leave would be the go, just in case there are surplus items.

sometimes letting other people carry the lighter load can back-fire though, & they expect to carry a lighter pack all the time. i did a hike with my wife on Stewart Is a while back. she mainly carried an osprey pack 28L, sleeping bag, clothes, some water & snowpeak ti cup. maybe 3kg total. she thought it was great, 'heaps easier than i thought it would be'... i wonder why? (this is good though, she is keen to go on more hikes, this also means i can get out more). i hope she doesnt expect it to be that light every trip. she did injure he knee later on the walk so i then offered to carry her pack. i am now looking to get her a lighter sleeping bag, then she can carry some of the food, which will lighten me up, even though she wont know any difference. am i a bad husband?

doing more training before you go out would be a great help for everyone. you dont want put these wahine off with a bad experience first up. its too much of a sausage fest out there as it is, the female companion puts a different perspective on things out there. there can be distractions, so watch where you are walking.

it sounds like you have a few miles under your belt. lead them. share the weight, then share your knowledge. any trips after this will only get lighter & better, with a whole lot of new light weight friends. thats when you go ultra light.

have fun but keep it real

Edited by mrjones on 07/15/2010 16:28:24 MDT.

Jennifer W
(tothetrail) - MLife

Locale: So. Cal.
Re: backpacking with non ULers/newbs on 07/15/2010 15:43:44 MDT Print View

Robert, it kind of depends on how far you plan to go each day and how fast you want to get there.

On the trips where I have taken newer hikers, they started off fine with the weight, but as soon as we hit a hill, the pace dropped dramatically. Since I was getting more tired of waiting for them than I would by actually carrying their stuff, I just lashed their packs on mine and my friend's packs and hiked on. If you have the time and patience, just let them hike at their pace with their load. There's usually only one way to find out that while it sounds fun to have your big comfy college sweatshirt, flannel pants, and fuzzy slippers to lounge around in at night, it really isn't necessary--that's a tough concept for some people.

If you can, really take the time to go over every item they put in that backpack, otherwise, you'll be the one carrying it later. One specific item a friend wanted to take was one of those Mexican hoody pullover cotton woven poncho sweaters, dang, even the name is heavy! Well, I really tried to talk her out of it and offered a spare fleece, but she wouldn't hear of it, she had to take it. You can imagine my frustration in seeing that thing spilling out of the pack as I was trying to lash her pack to mine.

Now, these have just been two-nighters. The hour before we left, we were at Target buying their tent and other misc. supplies. They wanted to burn the tent the next morning in order to avoid having to carry it back. Just as you, I have enough semi-lightweight gear for one or two people, so I divvy it up to even things out.

Even if they rent their gear and it's traditional weight stuff, it's the rest of the unnecessary stuff they bring that really adds up.

Best of luck, sounds like a fun trip.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Mystery Solved on 07/15/2010 15:57:12 MDT Print View

"They wanted to burn the tent the next morning in order to avoid having to carry it back."

That could explain the half burned tent I found a year ago on a hike. Never could explain it!

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
My approach on 07/15/2010 16:11:01 MDT Print View

My approach in this situation is to go as light as a I can personally but take a pack that can handle some extra weight, than I carry as much or more in group gear as everyone else so they can keep up.
REI rents older internal frame packs, bags and tents. Not really light I know but they are for backpacking so they might be a step up for your friends.
If your friends are all new to this you probably can't do long days on the trail so plan accordingly. You might want a few of your luxery items since you'll be in your campsite a lot.
Oh don't forget to check their rain gear. I've seen a lot of new guys miss that one. An watch the hydration issue. When I worked with Outdoor Ed groups in Colorado we preached hyrdration all the time but almost every week we had someone get dehydrated.
Have fun.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: sorry to the women on 07/15/2010 16:15:25 MDT Print View

> what moral would be like for a 5'6" friend of mine or me when she has a massive
> pack and I have a talon 44, especially on day1-2 when the shoulders aren't as used to it.

Provided that you have made it clear to everyone that heavy packs are always a drag, and that you will be going lightweight, then there is NO moral problem at all. NONE. It's a free world, and you are all adults.

And no, I would NOT carry stuff for others - unless there is an accident of course. Once again, you are all adults.

If any ask advice, then give it of course.


Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Not Just Women on 07/15/2010 17:38:50 MDT Print View

"Provided that you have made it clear to everyone that heavy packs are always a drag, and that you will be going lightweight, then there is NO moral problem at all. NONE. It's a free world, and you are all adults.

And no, I would NOT carry stuff for others - unless there is an accident of course. Once again, you are all adults."

Roger -- I totally agree -- in theory. But newbies often don't know the meaning of "heavy" or "distance" or their own capability. So hammering on about hiking light is often just academic to them.

It is the responsibility of the experienced ones -- and esp. the leader -- to see to it that everyone selected to join is capable and suitably equipped before marching off for 50-60 miles. The leader can't be expected to know everything, but wise member and route selection will go a long way toward a safe and happy trip.

At mile 30, when a newbie is near collapse from a heavy pack that he thought was "light enough" -- an accident waiting to happen -- the entire team is painted into a corner.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: backpacking with non ULers/newbs on 07/15/2010 17:42:16 MDT Print View

>> Do you guys just not hike with people that you can't outfit

Yes, or to be more precise I don't provide their gear. So that has limited my group hikes to one hike with one other person in the last 30+ years. I like my own company best.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: backpacking with non ULers/newbs on 07/15/2010 19:56:20 MDT Print View

First of all, just because they have to rent or buy heavier gear it doesn't mean their packs will end up being so heavy they can't manage the hike. Most of us started out heavy and did just fine.

I remember in high school I went on a 50 mile or so trip with my best friend and 4 guys from my church youth group. My friend and I were very excited so we trained by walking around in our boots. This was in the early 80s. We had traditional gear from that time. I don't even remember if there were any rules about what to bring or not bring, but I can imagine that our leader probably had a gear list of things we needed, and you can be certain none of those items were light! You can also be certain that being teenage girls we had lots of extra clothing.

We hiked about 8 miles a day and our hiking took most of the day. We had such a great time. Since it was us two girls against the guys, we refused to let them win. They would try to lose us up the big hills so we killed ourselves not to let them see us fall behind. They ran on the flats so we ran, too. We were tough!

All that's to say don't underestimate your newbie friends. Give them a gear list of necessary items and suggest that they not bring extra items not on the list. Perhaps weight can be saved by suggesting people share tents and cooking utensils. Have realistic expectations about daily mileage and try to make that daily mileage an enjoyable experience. One of my fond memories from that trip is napping in the sun on the spongy grass next to 1000 Island Lake eating crackers and just enjoying being there. Another fond memory is how utterly painful my blisters were and how even blisters didn't stop my friend and I from having a blast.

I hope that was helpful.