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Ron Bell
(mountainlaureldesigns) - F - M

Locale: USA
SUL Decade Reflections- Sub 5lb Base Pack Weights on 12/30/2010 10:50:42 MST Print View

As 2010 comes to a close I look back over the decade and think 2000 - 2010 was the Golden Era of Modern Ultra Light and Super Ultra Light backpacking.

I recall a line in Ryan Jordan's 2005 book Lightweight Backpacking and Camping that defined SUL as a sub 5lb base pack weight and a description that lovingly called it "ridiculously light" and he noted he knew only about 10 other people who regularly went that light.

How times have changed... I'm sure that now there are many thousands worldwide that regularly go that light at least part of the year for some trips. Gear has changed and more information is available all over. Certainly gear makers have changed!

I remember making my first SUL backpack and a silnylon poncho tarp and bivy in 2001 (or maybe 2002) for a long weekend trip on the AT- I don't know the exact weight but it must have been pretty close to 5lb- maybe less. As years went by, MLD was born and grew, and my UL lifestyle and mind set grew too. There is still more room to grow.


It's Been An Awesome Decade! Can't wait to see what's up for 2011- 2020...


When did you first break the sub 5lb barrier? How did it change you beyond backpacking?

Edited by mountainlaureldesigns on 12/30/2010 12:12:43 MST.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: 2005 Flashback- Sub 5lb Base Pack Weights on 12/30/2010 11:16:52 MST Print View

I've been doing SUL trips, mostly solo overnights, for a few years now. I think I sewed my first (and only) SUL pack around 2006/2007...roughly when the BPL article "Five Yards to SUL" was published.

While not practical for all conditions all the time, my SUL kit has taught and enabled me to do a few things:

*I enjoy exercising minimalism. This is a theme in my artwork and life in general and I enjoy extending it to backpacking. Trying to minimize the amount of stuff carried by reducing everything to it's simplest form, discovering dual-uses for as many things as possible. I see it as a form of backpacking that is actually the opposite of the highly gear-centric attitudes we find here. My SUL kit is very simple and was very cheap to build; no cuben fiber or expensive products, much of it made myself.

*Getting a down to a sub-5 base has enabled me to do many hard solo runs and trips in the mountains with a measure of safety. Heading out for a solo 50K+ run was a little daunting at first- the idea of getting hurt and/or lost and being stuck fairly deep in the mountains alone and without gear is intimidating. But running with 5lbs (or less) of basic gear is not an issue and provides flexibility, as well as a big safety margin. I enjoy going on runs in which I can simply spend the night if I'm tired or continue on in a single push if I'm feeling good; all without the gear really getting in the way.

*SUL spills into other gear lists and gets me in the habit of really questioning function and design. I enjoy this in itself.

Good question Ron.
Cheers.