Forum Index » General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion » Who gets out more, the UL or the BC camper?


Display Avatars Sort By:
Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: UL NOT versus BC on 04/20/2013 14:53:02 MDT Print View

"To the UL'ers: You have ten pounds on your back, how many days can you stay out with it?"

14 days with a ULA OHM, base weight of 11 pounds, if I feel like it, no matter what the terrain offers in terms of foraging, building materials, etc, and longer if fish are plentiful and I choose to fish. A ULer who has their gear/food dialed in, and knows how to use same, can stay out a pretty long time. Can most BCer's go longer if they are in terrain where there is little wood for fuel/shelter, or food to be foraged? A follow on question in my mind is why a BCer would go to all that trouble to build a shelter if he already has a UL shelter he used on the way in to his remote location. Why chop up a bunch of trees and dig up a bunch of soil, thereby disrupting root systems and associated mycorhizomes, not to mention all sorts of insects, worms, etc? Hardly LNT, IMO. Just wondering...

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: UL NOT versus BC on 04/20/2013 15:33:01 MDT Print View

"A follow on question in my mind is why a BCer would go to all that trouble to build a shelter if he already has a UL shelter he used on the way in to his remote location."

Because building a natural shelter is a fun thing to do? You are looking at this the wrong way.
I've built a few shelters when hanging out in one area for the day. I find it an enjoyable thing to do. I take them down and scatter the materials before I leave.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: UL NOT versus BC on 04/20/2013 16:49:53 MDT Print View

"Because building a natural shelter is a fun thing to do? You are looking at this the wrong way."

Or maybe you are looking at what I posted the wrong way by leaving out the second half of my comment regarding LNT although, to be fair, I probably should have said LLI(leave less impact), especially when it is not necessary. In any case, it was more a theoretical point added to a largely theoretical discussion as far as I'm concerned, because I don't see BCer's up where I go, or at least not ones who build shelters, out of necessity or just for fun. In the real world, there are areas where building shelters for fun is probably relatively harmless, and others where it would definitely be harmful. Hopefully, those who practice BC recognize the difference.

Everett Vinzant
(wn7ant) - MLife

Locale: CDT
Re: Re: Re: What is Bushcraft? its no mystery on 04/20/2013 17:14:37 MDT Print View

The answer to that is obvious. ULer's know better than to believe that a Bushcrafter could be anywhere that a ULer would back pack to. Bushcraft gear weighs too much for that...

It seems some people missed the joke, so I'm labeling this... JOKE

Edited by wn7ant on 04/20/2013 18:00:17 MDT.

Everett Vinzant
(wn7ant) - MLife

Locale: CDT
Re: Re: UL NOT versus BC on 04/20/2013 17:23:02 MDT Print View

Tom,

"Can most BCer's go longer if they are in terrain where there is little wood for fuel/shelter, or food to be foraged?"

Doesn't matter because you just eliminated:

"and longer if fish are plentiful and I choose to fish."

So YOU couldn't do it.

Next "Why chop up a bunch of trees"

Who said anything about chopping up trees? Why not use downed material? When I said process it, you can process downed material.

"and dig up a bunch of soil"

You know, I've been doing LNT for decades and I've still buried ashes as a safety precaution, and to, uhm, not leave a trace. Now if you want to go to insane levels, we can talk about the damage just walking through the area does, and then discuss how UL BP doesn't do leave NO trace. But I didn't think I needed to go to this level of silliness...

Next, great YOU can spend 14 days on 11 pounds. I asked about ten. Can the AVERAGE UL'er do that? I guarantee the AVERAGE UL'er could NOT do 14 days on 10 pounds.

As I stated in my posts Tom, UL Backpacking is about Backpacking (a method of transportation) NOT about camping. You can practice Bushcraft while camping. Why build a natural shelter when I have a Gatewood Cape. To practice for the time I don't have a Gatewood cape. Why wouldn't I have a Gatewood cape? The same reason I'd be camping where there's no trees. Hypotheticalville.

Are we done here?

Edited by wn7ant on 04/20/2013 17:48:34 MDT.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: UL NOT versus BC on 04/20/2013 17:47:43 MDT Print View

"Are we done here?"

Apparently not, given you handily resurrected a two year old thread in order to further debate the "UL" mindset vs. that of the "bushcrafter".

Stop obsessing over labels.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Re: Re: UL NOT versus BC on 04/20/2013 17:48:02 MDT Print View

I think you are too focused on high alpine areas.
In many of the forests I camp in, it's REALLY hard to actually hurt anything. These forests get burned out regularly and vegetation grows almost instantly. If you cut a couple of saplings or branches, nobody will know. Campfire remains disappear quickly. Edible plants are plentiful.
Yes, high alpine areas can have very fragile environments and plants/trees grow very slowly. It's not the kind of place to utilize natural materials.

Everett Vinzant
(wn7ant) - MLife

Locale: CDT
Re: Re: Re: Re: UL NOT versus BC on 04/20/2013 17:50:35 MDT Print View

@Craig W.,

"given you handily resurrected a two year old thread"

The battle cry of those with nothing constructive to add.

Really? I debated it? I thought I did an excellent job of showing why it WASN'T a debate. It's a false dichotomy. They work together.

I'm not obsessing over labels. If you read the post where I show how these concepts (not labels) work together...

Never mind, casting pearls before swine.

"Stop obsessing over labels."

I do not think that word means what you think that word means...

Edited by wn7ant on 04/20/2013 18:08:38 MDT.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: UL NOT versus BC on 04/20/2013 19:23:19 MDT Print View

Relax Everett, I'm not coming at you as hard as you think. Maybe I was too blunt.

My point is that this whole debate, the same debate you're trying to end, would likely go away if people simply stopped labeling themselves based on packweights or whether or not they like to carve tent stakes and forage for berries. With labels come assumptions, misunderstandings, and all sorts of identity-based nonsense. We're confusing skill sets for identities and pack weights for how people see the world.

It is rightfully why so many have proclaimed "UL" dead. People have missed the forest for the trees.

You make a sound argument in your first post, but then follow it with two questions addressed to "ULers" and "bushcrafters". And immediately people start conjuring their own biased images of what a ULer or a bushcrafter is, and round and round we go.

The whole scenario you described in your first post should just be called backpacking, not UL or Bushcraft or a "hybrid" of the two. As should walking in the mountains with five, ten, or fifty pounds on your back.

I'd wager we're likely in agreement on all of this. I just think your argument needs to be taken a step further and people should work on dropping the labels and vague distinctions altogether.

Edited by xnomanx on 04/20/2013 19:24:28 MDT.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: UL NOT versus BC on 04/20/2013 20:44:59 MDT Print View

"As I stated in my posts Tom, UL Backpacking is about Backpacking (a method of transportation)"

That's funny. I've been doing a combo of both for awhile now: Get into a remote location, camp, and day hike around to get to know an area really well, only with no need to forage, build shelters, or burn wood.

As for the rest of your obnoxiousness, yeah, we're done. Your type comes and goes here, and I'm not going to do anything further to encourage you to hang around.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: UL NOT versus BC on 04/20/2013 20:52:18 MDT Print View

"I think you are too focused on high alpine areas."

I have my reasons. As for the rest of your post, see below.


"In many of the forests I camp in, it's REALLY hard to actually hurt anything. These forests get burned out regularly and vegetation grows almost instantly. If you cut a couple of saplings or branches, nobody will know. Campfire remains disappear quickly. Edible plants are plentiful.
Yes, high alpine areas can have very fragile environments and plants/trees grow very slowly. It's not the kind of place to utilize natural materials."

+1 As I said earlier, there are probably many areas where BC will have no lasting impact, and I have no problem with BCer's doing their thing there. I should think it would be a lot easier to make it work in the kind of areas you describe anyway. Where I tend to hang out, it would be pretty tough to make a go of bushcraft, beyond the food part, and even that can be pretty sketchy in a lot of places. We are pretty much on the same page here, as far as I can tell.

Everett Vinzant
(wn7ant) - MLife

Locale: CDT
Re: Re: Re: Re: UL NOT versus BC on 04/21/2013 03:13:12 MDT Print View

@Tom Kirchner,

"I've been doing a combo of both for awhile now"

And if they weren't separate items, you wouldn't have been doing a combo. Thank you for supporting the point with this:

"Get into a remote location, camp, and day hike "

You backpacked to get there,

You camped while there,

and even added hiking... Notice you listed three separate activities.

"only with no need to forage, build shelters, or burn wood."

Tom, let me give you a hearty hand shake and a pat on the back. You did it without using those skills. Great! In my write up they were used. I did not say anywhere that someone is better for foraging, building a shelter, or burning wood. Nor am I trying to convince others that they are in some way worse for doing it...

"As for the rest of your obnoxiousness, yeah, we're done."

Thanks. That helps a lot.

"+1 As I said earlier, there are probably many areas where BC will have no lasting impact, and I have no problem with BCer's doing their thing there. I should think it would be a lot easier to make it work in the kind of areas you describe anyway. Where I tend to hang out, it would be pretty tough to make a go of bushcraft, beyond the food part, and even that can be pretty sketchy in a lot of places."

Now I'm confused. You're arguing minutiae with me, but you say something like this that is exactly correct. I never mention doing Bushcraft above the Alpine Line, so why the name calling?

Edited by wn7ant on 04/21/2013 04:08:56 MDT.

Everett Vinzant
(wn7ant) - MLife

Locale: CDT
When I'm wrong... on 04/21/2013 03:30:18 MDT Print View

@Craig W.,

I was wrong and am sorry. I misunderstood.

We are in agreement then on most of this.

I wonder if the labels can be useful to a point? A starting out point. I spent many years backpacking with 60 pounds on my back. Then I discovered "ultralight backpacking." The label intrigued me. I used that label to google techniques, locate forums, and find books (yes, the physical kind ;). The label provided me with a coherent grouping regarding subject matter. I found the information I was after based off of that.

The label helped me to find the information group I needed.

The same thing happened with Bushcraft.

I was expecting my post to communicate to the people at the beginning of their education. The one's in a position that the label matters. The "average" "ULer." I was not expecting to debate someone that had been doing it for years. But look at the posts between Tom and I.

My point is merely this.

Yup I've got ten pounds in my backpack. That's all I can really say about it. That in and of itself does not answer the questions, "how often do you go out," "how long do you stay out," "how much do you enjoy yourself?"

My pack weight, my full skin out weight, my Gransfors Bruks, my Laplander, these are all things that can fall under a label.

They don't communicate the awe that overwhelms me when I'm standing in a saddle looking into a valley that ends at the horizon. Trees all around me. The smell of the forrest filling my nostrils, and the sound of a river singing...

Yeah, that.

Craig, I hope someday to invite you to sit by the fire a while.

Edited by wn7ant on 04/21/2013 03:31:47 MDT.

spelt !
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
labels on 04/21/2013 09:13:34 MDT Print View

>>I wonder if the labels can be useful to a point?

As a claimed personal identity, no.
As a descriptor for a school of thought, yes.
As a descriptor for a cluster of behaviors related to a school of thought, sometimes.

Andrew Zajac
(AZajac)

Locale: South West
UL vs BC and synthetic vs. cotton on 04/21/2013 09:26:06 MDT Print View

I would like to add my two cents on a few things in this thread. One is the cotton vs. synthetic. Cotton is definitely a natural fiber, but the water, pesticides, dye, transport, and lack of recyclability of cotton doesn't make it any better than synthetics. In fact, it can easily be worse. It is also my understanding that the bulk of impact from any garment is post-consumer care. Impacts here are from chemicals used in cleaning and energy used for washing and drying. The most environmentally sound choice then would be to reduce our consumption as much as possible.

Patagonia, shockingly, has made a good article on the subject.
http://www.patagonia.com/us/patagonia.go?assetid=2066

In terms of UL vs. BC, I too see them as very different, but with a common goal. Both are about having fun and enjoying the great outdoors. UL is a backpacking philosophy that lends itself to travelling relatively long distance. BC, in my mind, is a reaction to modern society and is about shucking modern technology and getting old school. I also think they have a ton of overlap. ULers spare heavier sleeping bags and pads by being knowledgeable about campsite selection and bring less clothing by using metabolic heat and managing core temp and sweat. I'm sure you would see these techniques in any BC forum as well.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Who gets out more, the UL or the BC camper? on 04/21/2013 09:26:24 MDT Print View

Either.

Everett Vinzant
(wn7ant) - MLife

Locale: CDT
Re: labels on 04/21/2013 11:12:57 MDT Print View

"As a descriptor for a school of thought, yes."

Okay.

"As a claimed personal identity, no."

Huh? So what do you call someone that follows a school of thought? Followers of solipsism are solipsists. Those who practice math are mathematicians. Those who practice physics are physicists. Those that are American citizens are Americans. So why exactly doesn't it work as a personal identity?

Just so I understand...

Harald Hope
(hhope) - M

Locale: East Bay
have to read closer on 04/21/2013 12:22:46 MDT Print View

tom k, you misread what the guy said, he didn't say he could go for 14 days with 10 pounds base weight, he said with a 10 pound pack. See the difference? You most certainly cannot go anywhere with an 11 pound pack for 14 days as an UL backpacker.

It's important to actually read what people say when responding, otherwise the conversation gets too confused, I believe he also missed what you said there, and believes you wrote that your pack weighs 11 pounds, or 10, or whatever, for a 14 day trip, which of course is silly, it weighs roughly 14x 2 pounds (food/fuel/etc consumed a day) plus your baseweight plus water.

I think the way for an UL backpacker to avoid this type of confusion is to get in the habit of weighing your pack as it will be the first step you take onto the trail, and forget all about your baseweight at that point except for purposes of trimming stuff off it in between trips, that way you avoid the sort of convoluted thing ul backpackers sometimes do with pack weights, whatever you are carrying is your pack weight, that avoids all games with what is a consumable and what isn't, etc. My last trip, where I had enough food for 7 days, a camera, and whatever else, was 25 pounds including water at the trailhead.

I was going to comment more on the lnt absurdity, ie, drive up to the location in a vehicle often big enough to be a bus in the third world, ignore your daily lives impact on the overall ecosystem etc, but I think that's something you have to sort of figure out for yourselves, or not. I'll just leave it at this, if you drive some large vehicle to the trailhead, routinely, spare me any talk of lnt, I have to breathe in your traces every day of my life as I ride my bike around, so I'm not really into that lie or pretense, I also see the impact of those behaviors on the ecosystem, and it's not pretty, getting less so by the day. Not to forget that when we got to the new world, huge sections of the 'wilderness' were actually very carefully maintained gardens and park lands, controlled by burns and other human behaviors. What we call 'wilderness' is the state of those gardens returning to a weed filled condition after we killed all the original inhabitants/caretakers, like your yard does before a new stable 'natural' condition can resume in a few hundred years. What we term 'weeds' are actually natures first responders, very tough, hardy, plants whose task it is to start rebuilding the damaged ecosystem, layer by layer, preparing it for the next step in the recovery process. Point Reyes, for example, is filled with weeds in most areas that are not grazed, and is in a highly unnatural condition between the trails, it hasn't burned in a long time, and it shows.

In the future, we'll return to a sort of balance again, by necessity. Big Sur, for example, suffers extreme and highly unnatural fires, and most important, too hot fires, which actually destroy the conditions the plants there had evolved to thrive in, ie, seeding by fire etc, because of the decades of fire prevention, which build up, in an extremely unnatural way, traces of huge masses of dry wood and brush. These fires are prevented primarily to protect the properties of the extremely wealthy who ring that area, at least to the North, or of the fortunate original settlers, and there is little chance that we will return to normal controlled burns there any time soon because it's not really possible with human habitations scattered too widely around that region, so using the term lnt in that context is beyond absurd, every single element you see there is a huge trace of highly unnatural processes we cause directly by our actions, ignorant as they are. High alpine stuff is another story, there if you're concerned about traces, start lobbying to get the heavily subsidized livestock grazing permits, sold far under market rates, revoked once and for all, and pull those ranchers off the teat of government aid and charity. That's how you actually solve the primary trace issues there from what I understand.

I suggest that before people throw out the term lnt they be extremely sure that they are doing that first... or at least, leave less trace than most do, that's about the best we can hope for in this present culture.

Edited by hhope on 04/21/2013 12:47:02 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: labels on 04/21/2013 12:28:10 MDT Print View

UL Backpacking - years ago, given the state of UL gear, this kind of hiking really did require some special skills. Today with the improvement in materials, construction, options, etc. UL backpacking doesn't require as much skill, the UL equipment holds up and you can now carry a more robust kit in terms of number of items. I am looking at UL in terms of gear weight and what it takes to remain warm, dry, and safe. That is why a lot of people say UL is dead.

Bushcraft - I don't know what this really is. My limited reading would say it is the skill required to live off the land. It seems, from what I have read, bushcrafters bring along a lot of gear ( knives, saws, hatchets, etc.). Maybe this isn't accurate.

Over 40 years ago I went through USAFA SERE Level D training in 1970. My understanding is that Level D is no longer offered in the military. SERE training is Survival, Escape, Resistance, Evasion. At the time this course was the most comprehensive available, aside from special training like arctic survival. I bring this up because it is surprising what you do not need to survive and what you can do to survive without ripping up the wilderness. To give you an idea of what we did...

First, we did not receive land navigation training. We already had done a lot of this in the prior year to include night navigation in snowstorms in the Rockies. This type of navigation required you to get to check points within specific time frames. So we were already good navigators. There was no such thing as a GPS. Our curriculum after classroom training was:

Week 1 -- Simulated POW camp. Highlights were the methods used by the Viet Cong to extract important from prisoners to include water board torture, black box confinements, and beatings. During this time we would try to escape, which was next to impossible. Attempted escapes resulted in additional punishments. At all times we had sacks over our heads, so we were disoriented. During this week we got two meals, a bowl of rice with a fish head in it. We ate this with our fingers and a bag over our heads.

Week 2 -- starving, we were taken to Saylor Park in the Pike National Forest for survival training. It was assumed that in most instances we would have a parachute, so shelter building was minimal types of shelters, although we were taught how to build more elaborate shelters. Each of us was given one C Ration and we had to procure our own food, which we were taught to do. A few domestic rabbits were planted, but we had to catch them with a snare. A few of us shared the one rabbit we caught. All other food that week was any plants we could gather. Although a couple of us caught some trout.

Week 3 -- evasion training. Each night we had to reach a checkpoint (Lat/Lon). The maps we were given had prominent landmarks trimmed from the map and they were probably equivalent to a 15 min quadrangle. During the day legions of aggressors were out hunting for us so they could capture us and take us back to a POW compound, that was scary. By this time we were sleep deprived, exhausted, hungry, battered and bruised. We traveled at night and slept during the day. Most of us scattered and went solo -- less chance of capture. Sleeping during the day we had to be in shelters that could not be seen or detected -- else you were captured. For this week we again we received one C Ration, so along with navigating and hiding, you had to find food. As I remember we each had a sleeping bag, poncho, knife, map and compass. We might have had a firesteel. We did not have a pack so it was nearly impossible to keep your sleeping bag dry with afternoon thunder showers and a couple of days of snow.

Weight loss of 20 to 30 lbs over 3 weeks was not uncommon.

So... UL backpacking or bushcraft is rather silly in a sense. If you want to learn real skills, join the military :)

And of course the good backpacker never gets into a survival situation; but if you do, you need to know how to survive.

As to who gets out more -- silly question too.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: have to read closer on 04/21/2013 12:55:48 MDT Print View

Harold, the amount of fuel build up in Big Sur right now is scary.There are some large fallen over trees that are just huge pieces of charcoal, which means that the fires have killed redwoods (that's not supposed to happen). Frequent low intensity fires would be nice, but I don't see that ever happening again.
During the winter when we have had free time, we have built large fires (safely) to try and burn excess wood around the remote redwood groves and larger trees.