Do you think ideas are discounted because of the source?
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Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Do you think ideas are discounted because of the source? on 09/04/2010 13:10:58 MDT Print View

Do you think people discount some of the great ideas here because as soon as they see the word "light" they automatically reject it? As if backpaking light is a "brand" they don't even want to try? Or as if they were to accept one light idea they would have to accept them all? They say stuff like "Thanks for the suggestion but I'm not ready to go ultralight yet." Have you noticed this?

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Do you think ideas are discounted because of the source? on 09/04/2010 13:23:39 MDT Print View

I think the problem is that most all of us are bombarded by ads stating that you need robust gear -- and lots of it -- to handle what 'mother Nature dishes out'. Heck, even within BPL forums, we're seeing posts pontificating that a Spot or PLB is a necessary piece of gear -- esp. for anyone hiking solo!! Not saying that there's anything wrong with taking a Spot or PLB, but I would not automatically consider it an "essential".

With that in mind, is it any surprise that a lone individual espousing "ultralight hiking" be viewed with suspicion? Methinks ultralight is often viewed as an oddity -- or perhaps even worse, as downright reckless!

OTOH, UL -- or at least light weight hiking -- is definitely catching on! I went on a 6-day PCT hike with Hoosier Daddy two weeks ago -- and most all thru-hikers carried light to ultralight weight gear!

Edited by ben2world on 09/04/2010 13:26:41 MDT.

Francis DeRoos
(fderoos@comcast.net) - M

Locale: Mid Atlantic
re: do you think ideas are discounted becuse of the source? on 09/04/2010 13:50:50 MDT Print View

As someone who, until recently, had a base weight near 40lbs, I often find myself thinking "that's too extreme or not for me" as I read these message boards. Some things are very easy to grasp (get educated so you don't need "stuff" to keep yourself safe, buy lighter versions of similar products you've used before) but to take risk by using new or unfamiliar things like using a tarp or a short sleeping pad or a quilt when you've never done that, that's where people get very uncomfortable. I don't think it's discounting or dismissing the idea but rather its a protective reflex from the unfamiliar. The more success one has using "light ideas" the less radical other light ideas become and the more willing people are to try them.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Do you think ideas are discounted because of the source? on 09/04/2010 15:55:24 MDT Print View

I think it has more to do with the big stores (like REI) and Backpacker Magazine peddling the "standard" heavyweight gear! Most people starting out put themselves in the hands of the store clerk (advertised to be "experienced" but all too often with little or no experience) who will sell them a 6-lb. pack, 5-lb. tent and 3.5-lb. sleeping bag.

When I decided to "lighten up," I started with REI, spent a half day there and walked out with nothing that met my relatively modest criteria. They kept hauling out heavy packs for me to try even though I told them I was looking for a pack that weighed no more than 3 lbs. They tried to sell me the same tent that I had just gotten rid of (Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight, claustrophobic and with far more internal condensation than I've had in any single-wall tent). They kept telling me that lightweight gear was dangerous!

Unfortunately, most beginning backpackers never get any farther. They walk out of REI with the ingredients for 50 lbs. total pack weight and an empty wallet, and discover on their first trip that they hate backpacking!

As was proved in a recent thread, there is some lightweight stuff available at REI. To get it, though, you need to do a lot of advance research, be extremely assertive with the clerks and take your postage scale with you!

I must admit, when I unpacked my first silnylon tent (Tarptent Squall 2), I thought it looked awfully fragile. Then the first time I took it out, it came through just fine in high winds and rain and, the next morning, easily survived my 80-lb. dog's running through the guylines at full speed. I realized then that silnylon is a lot tougher than it looks!

Edited by hikinggranny on 09/04/2010 16:07:54 MDT.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Do you think ideas are discounted because of the source? on 09/04/2010 16:53:27 MDT Print View

What I see is that if someone asks for a suggestion for lets say something really inconsequential like they want some flip flops for camp shoes or something and I suggest they could just make some camp shoes out of a bit of blue foam, show them some pictures from this web site, they respond with "oh no, I'm not ready to go ultralight with my gear". But they're more than happy to take some light flip-flops. I mean, I get the feeling that because they see that the source is backpacking light, or the source is me and they know I'm a lightweight backpacker, even suggesting to bring a butter tub for a bowl is rejected because they're "not ready for ultralight". Seriously, are blue foam flip-flops or recycled butter tubs going to hurt anyone or force them down the dark path of counting grams and sleeping under a poncho tarp in the rain?

Mina Loomis
(elmvine) - MLife

Locale: Central Texas
REI etc. on 09/04/2010 17:13:24 MDT Print View

Hmm. Yes there are many REI clerks who advise as you describe. Traditional backpackers are certainly the norm, and REI clerks are no different.

I am a part-time REI salesclerk. To the extent we can, we advise from our own experience. It's not that REI is deliberately training us to sell bulky gear. People want certain features, and those features have weight consequences. People come in wanting huge packs for multi-day trips. At least I can explain that adding days does not need to add volume in some linear calculation; generally they assume it does.

As to the "source," the best I seem to be able to do with folks is explain my own experience. As in, here is how I do it. I tell them I like tarps. Or alcohol stoves. Or the higher end down sleeping bags. Or closed-cell foam. I'll hand them a Flash 65 pack and, for example, and Aether 60, so they can compare the pack weight directly. After a weighted try-on, though, the advice-seeking customer much more frequently will choose the heavier pack. (We sell a ton of the Flash 65 and 50 packs, but mostly to people who come in, grab 'em, and check out, without asking for help. They already know what they want.) But my personal experience comes in a context: I am not very big, and certainly not young. So I tell people about specific trips. Like having to keep my kit weight down so I can haul 16 lbs. of water up for 2 days in the Guadalupe Mts. Sometimes works, often not. I am forever telling parents that their 13-year-old does *not* need his own solo tent! That he (it is nearly always a boy, why aren't parents outfitting their daughters?) needs to share. Sometimes they agree with me, mostly they demur.

I don't get the impression that folks are discounting my recommendations because I say I prefer going light, but rather, it seems that they have a fear of anticipated discomfort, think they can alleviate discomfort with more or cushier stuff, and fail to see that more stuff can create discomfort. For newbies, normally there is no talking them out of this--they need experience.

nanook ofthenorth
(nanookofthenorth) - MLife
... on 09/04/2010 17:16:34 MDT Print View

it happens all the time - Bruno Latour wrote on this, demonstrating how not necessarily the best ideas were picked and explored in scientific research.
were less impartial then we think

Edited by nanookofthenorth on 09/04/2010 17:17:08 MDT.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Do you think ideas are discounted because of the source? on 09/04/2010 17:31:24 MDT Print View

"...even suggesting to bring a butter tub for a bowl is rejected"

Geez, I've been using the same recycled margarine tub for a bowl for years now. It's hard to beat it for weight or cost.

--B.G.--

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Re: Do you think ideas are discounted because of the source? on 09/04/2010 17:46:25 MDT Print View

Piper:

I think some people are just more comfy with store-bought items. It often takes a "leap of faith" to make your own gear pieces -- for use out there in the "unforgiving wilds" -- so people would rather just buy "real" sandals from the store.

Often, people ask about ways to protect their packs during airline travel. I suggest FREE huge, heavy duty plastic bags that some airlines still give out -- the kind used to protect golf bags and baby carriers. Silence... until someone else posts about a $30 'packable' duffel bag -- and OP comes back quickly with a "thanks, just what I'm looking for"... Each to his or her own, of course.

Edited by ben2world on 09/04/2010 17:50:53 MDT.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Do you think ideas are discounted because of the source? on 09/04/2010 18:11:29 MDT Print View

Benjamin, can't you suggest something with a little style?

It doesn't have to be Gucci, but maybe North Face?

--B.G.--

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Do you think ideas are discounted because of the source? on 09/04/2010 18:27:10 MDT Print View

Heh heh...

OTOH, why put a damper on people trying to resuscitate our economy? :)

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Do you think ideas are discounted because of the source? on 09/04/2010 19:13:15 MDT Print View

Sometime people reject simple but effective ideas because they did not think of that themselves.
That used to happen to me selling photo gear when I offered a very inexpensive solution to what it appeared to the customer a major problem.
(you know, like a doctor after 2 decades I had come across their problem before...)
Just yesterday in a British forum during a discussion about using a snow peg as a potty trowel some chimed in that they made a handle or were asking about adding one to make the digging easier. My solution is to turn the peg around and use it as a pick and not as a trowel...
Brown-snow peg

Franco

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Do you think ideas are discounted because of the source? on 09/04/2010 19:30:36 MDT Print View

Ben: "OTOH, why put a damper on people trying to resuscitate our economy? :) "

I'd rather stimulate the economy by buying "cottage manufactured" goods made in the US rather than mainline gear made in China! Call it stimulating our own small business!

Franco, it appears that great minds :-) think alike even when it comes to the lowly potty trowel! Multiple use--possible hand/wrist splint and an extra tent stake!

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Do you think ideas are discounted because of the source? on 09/04/2010 20:21:37 MDT Print View

"My solution is to turn the peg around and use it as a pick and not as a trowel..."

Another aid is to wrap parachute cord around the handle end of the peg. It just makes it easier to grip. Of course, the cord can be removed and used elsewhere.

--B.G.--

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Do you think ideas are discounted because of the source? on 09/04/2010 20:23:23 MDT Print View

"Multiple use--possible hand/wrist splint and an extra tent stake!"

Now, somebody figure out how to also use this as a camera tripod, and I would be pleased.

--B.G.--

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Do you think ideas are discounted because of the source? on 09/04/2010 20:54:26 MDT Print View

"rather than mainline gear made in China!"

Those companies are still US owned employing US citizens.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
not one bit on 09/04/2010 23:20:30 MDT Print View

its discounted because of the associated perception ... not the source

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Do you think ideas are discounted because of the source? on 09/04/2010 23:55:45 MDT Print View

Do you think ideas are discounted because of the source?

I think the perception about UL very much affects people's sense of what is safe and what isn't. A lot of what I learned about what can be done if you just change the way you think about it, took me years to gather, some of it very much dictated by my sense of safety, especially when I had not experienced certain uses before, like tarps and ultralight packs.

But the perception and discounting of ideas also runs to those that come from outside your culture, too.

I'd rather stimulate the economy by buying "cottage manufactured" goods made in the US rather than mainline gear made in China! Call it stimulating our own small business!

While I understand, in this case, the desire to think of local economy, I'm sure that quite often people will simply reject an item because of where the company comes from. If it is made in Japan, people have more respect for it, but made in China, or even worse, the Philippines, and, even though the item might have a brilliant idea behind it, the idea may never even be noticed because of the origin of the company that made it.

UL is a way of thinking and of coming up with new ways to make things lighter, travel more easily, and think more simply. Concerns about local economy aside, I think it is good practice to listen to what people are saying in other cultures... the more heads the better, especially from people with very different ways of looking at things, or very different environments.

Larry Dyer
(veriest1) - F

Locale: Texas
Ranger Rick on 09/05/2010 03:23:23 MDT Print View

I find it humorous that poncho tarps and other tarps, minimalism in general, hiking in tennis shoes, etc. are considered unsafe and quaky by the so called "experts." If you want a good read on using these things try reading the Ranger Rick Digests. No silnylon there but the principles are still the same.

Mitchell Murphy
(Texico) - F

Locale: North Georgia
Re: REI etc. on 09/05/2010 10:12:53 MDT Print View

I, too, am a part-time REI salesperson. I, and everyone else with whom I work, try to recommend the light weight options for each person who enters our store. However, so many people are so sure of themselves that they ABSOLUTELY need whatever perceived protection and comfort that come from the heavier gear. There is no amount of reasoning which can convince said persons, and they end up humping 40+ lbs every time they go out. As an initiate to the lightweight way of thinking, I try to convince people through my experience, but so many people have rock-solid beliefs which cannot be changed. It's not our fault, it's the fault of the companies which produce the gear. If we could carry Gossamer Gear, MLD, ULA, etc, then I would be the happiest person on the planet. Every once-in-a-while we get a person who is open to the lighter weight options, though. These people are so much fun to help because I can shop vicariously through them. I mean, I'm to the point where I can't get what I want through REI anymore, and that sucks. I have to pay full price now haha.

BTW, everything I have right now I bought through REI, and my total 6-day weight with food and two liters of water is 28 pounds. That's not even the lightest weight stuff you can get through REI. So yes, you CAN do lightweight backpacking through REI. Ultra-light, on the other hand, is a little more difficult to do, but can still be done.