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Who gets out more, the UL or the BC camper?
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Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Who gets out more, the UL or the BC camper? on 03/01/2011 22:41:22 MST Print View


Here are the answers you all seek...

Some BC people get out a lot.
Some BC people get out fairly often.
Some BC people get once in a while.

Some UL people get out a lot.
Some UL people get out fairly often.
Some UL people get once in a while.

No comment on BC and LNT, I don't know much about BC and cannot make a blanket statement, but suspect the run the gammit of impact. Not all UL hikers are LNT focused. A lot of UL hikers buy gear that does not last and ends up in land fills. No one is perfect.

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
Good flow going... on 03/02/2011 01:16:42 MST Print View

Without speaking in general terms and being the most logical, Nick has answered the question. So well put, Nick. :)

But of course, we rarely speak in absolutes, so I see little harm in using some blanket statements in order to pragmatically communicate about paterns and trends in a group or groups. All rational and reasonable people understand (or ought to understand) there is no "better" or "worse" but "different."

I do think there are bad apples on both sides that spoil things for many. BC people often view some UL people as elitist, and UL people often (see: above) view some BC people as destructive barbarians. A good point was made with the popularity of Bear Grylls, which has brought about a whole slew of posers and wanna-bes, which will make claim to the BC side and thus BC is often unfairly made guilty by association with these clueless/destructive people. There is no famous TV show with an UL persona that I am aware of.

But for the record, there are more and more hybrids such as myself being made. And also for the record, I do follow LNT as best as I can, and this includes the firewood I harvest with my knife/axe/saw when I do, which is either fallen or standing dead wood.

Altogether the threads both here and on the BC site have been very interesting reads.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Who gets out more, the UL or the BC camper? on 03/02/2011 06:45:26 MST Print View

UL is about the gear. BC is about skills. The first can be fully achieved at home with a credit card, but the latter is awfully difficult to achieve without spending time outdoors.

Chad Miller

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Re: Re: Who gets out more, the UL or the BC camper? on 03/02/2011 13:06:56 MST Print View

I wouldn't say that Eugene. That is unless you're a bushcraft guy trying to look all manly. If that's the case though why are you here on a UL website. Maybe not manly enough for the bushcraft sites? :P

I'm kidding!

I think going UL can require a good deal of skill. Sure headding out with nothing but a knife, some cord, and the clothing on your back is going to require more skill than UL backpacking but then agin I don't know of many bushcraft people who do that either.

Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
holy crap Craig on 03/02/2011 13:14:49 MST Print View


James S
(HikinNC) - F
Re: Re: Who gets out more, the UL or the BC camper? on 03/02/2011 14:16:02 MST Print View

You should be contacting the CA Dept. of Fish and Game to report out of season animal poaching.

Please do so immediately, if you have yet to do so. I sincerely hope you have, or WILL.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
assessment on 03/02/2011 14:18:45 MST Print View

I'd have to hardily disagree w/ that assessment as well- credit card doesn't buy you navigation and route finding skills, first aid skills, bear skills, the physical conditioning to carry a pack 20 miles over uneven and steep terrain, plan meals, LNT, on and on

sure credit card will get you the latest greatest cubin/carbonfiber thingamajob, but will also get you the latest Busse chopper or Gransfor Bruk, but not the ability to go out and use any of it

sadly just more of that negative "we vs them" crud

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: Re: Who gets out more, the UL or the BC camper? on 03/02/2011 14:48:08 MST Print View

"UL is about the gear. BC is about skills. The first can be fully achieved at home with a credit card, but the latter is awfully difficult to achieve without spending time outdoors."

Eugene, I suspect we do very different style of hiking. UL is much more to me than gear, in fact the gear is actual secondary.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Re: Re: Who gets out more, the UL or the BC camper? on 03/02/2011 19:58:19 MST Print View

Camping and hiking fundamentals are pretty much the same throughout all types of outdoor adventuring. While going non-UL may allow less care to be taken, it certainly doesn't advocate sleeping in depressions, a complete lack of navigation tools and skills, going to sleep in a sopping wet sleeping bag, etc. Sorry, but UL is just gear. Comparing UL & BC is apples & oranges. If we wanted to compare the long distance trekker to the BC, or UL to B.O.B., that would be a better comparison. What does matters to UL is that trips are enjoyed no matter the length or duration. Even if $3000 is charged for gear that's used once a year for a trip that's not much more than car camping, that's fine, as long as going UL made that trip more enjoyable...or possible.

ben wood

Locale: flatlands of MO
Re: Re: Who gets out more, the UL or the BC camper? on 03/03/2011 08:21:11 MST Print View

Until this thread, I was not aware of any ideas of "us vs them" between ULers and BCers.
Ver interesting how people make such great claims as to the nature of the "other" group. I can see where some of these generalizations come from, but to apply them to whole groups and make judgement on the group based on that?
ughh...human nature

Everett Vinzant
(wn7ant) - MLife

Locale: CDT
UL NOT versus BC on 04/18/2013 21:17:49 MDT Print View

There are many forums that address Ultralight backpacking. A common concept you will find is reducing your pack weight to 10 pounds to achieve the moniker "ultralight." Another is not bringing the kitchen sink. The idea is to take only what you need and will use. Many try to turn this into, "leave important stuff at home." Only idiots do either of those things. No where in UL backpacking is anyone ever told to leave a first aid kit at home, forget those prescribed pills, or not bring a map because it weighs too much. These are myths told by people to support their need to bring the Kindle, iPad, Android phone, radio, TV, and... kitchen sink. They love their sixty pound packs for a three-day hike.

Another group of enterprising individualists call themselves Bushcrafters. If they do not have it with them, they can make it or improvise. They bring tools to the outdoors. They build a place to sleep, capture/hunt/forage for food, and pride themselves on their knowledge of technique for doing it themselves.

Ultralight Backpacking is about getting from place to place. Bushcraft is about how you camp (or what you do while you are where you are). These two ideas are not at odds. In fact, these concepts combine into a modern adventurer/conservationist. Leave no trace, take only what you need, and work to improve the environment for the next adventurer/traveller. What does all this mean?

Our adventurer sets out. He (being a man I will NOT speak for women) has a ten pound backpack. His full skin out weight is twenty pounds. The load out in the backpack is very clearly what you would expect a UL backpacker carrying. The plan is to move quickly and efficiently to a camping spot two and a half days into the.... wild/desert/forest/back country. He wants to get away from people/places/things.

As a UL backpacker he eats food that he brought while he is on the way to his campground. Along the way he forages for berries, finds some edible leaves for a salad, and even identifies a wild root or two to go with dinner. He collects these and stores them, but does not eat them right away. Everything at this point is about covering ground efficiently to get to that "remote" camping spot.

Once there he no longer relies on the Gatewood cape and net tent he brought. He collects branches to put around a felled log creating a rather nice improvised shelter. He lays the branches on thick, processing them with his Grunsfors Bruks when necessary. He whips out his Cold Steel shovel and starts the process of placing a layer of dirt over the outside branches. Once a layer of dirt is down another layer of branches covers that, followed by another layer of dirt. The shelter's built. During breaks in building his shelter he set some speed hooks in a lake nearby. After a few hours he checks them and finds dinner waiting on a hook. He takes it back to his camp and cooks it with the roots, and eats the berries for a snack.

The next morning he wakes early and begins the hunt for food. He finds some edible wild mushrooms (training and a guide can confirm this) and some more greens to add to the scrambled egg powder he brought with him. It is almost an omelet when he's done cooking it. After this he goes and checks his speed hooks again and finds another fish for lunch...

After a few days out he decides it is time to break camp. He misses his wife and kids and now looks forward to missing this, his time... out. He tears down camp spreading the foliage that covered his lean-to. He breaks up the fire pit, buries ashes, and collects any trash. By the time he is done an Army sniper would not know that this was a camp site. He turns, looks behind him, and smiles, thankful that a place like this exists.

On his way back he moves quickly. His UL gear allows him to make good time, and deal with inclement weather as it happens. The packed food he brought, the white box stove, and the last of his fuel give him a satisfying cup of coffee the morning he finds his car. Recharged, rejuvenated, and excited, he drives home to see the foundation of his life, the family he loves so dearly.

This is what happens when good backpacking skills meet good camping skills. There is a destination, time, and a way to get there. To the UL'ers: You have ten pounds on your back, how many days can you stay out with it? To the Bushcrafters, if you are able to last forever out there, why kill yourself in the process?

My two cents from here:

Nick Larsen
(stingray4540) - F

Locale: South Bay
Re: Who gets out more, the UL or the BC camper? on 04/19/2013 01:51:11 MDT Print View

“I see bushcraft as an activity just like fishing. It requires additional gear for a specific type of activity. If you plan on practicing making a hand drill fire, or making a bush pipe a razor blade won't cut it…
…Regarding the question in the OP, I would think backpackers will always get out more than bushcrafters. Bushcraft can be done in the backyard or while getting out. Backpacking always means getting out.” – Webster Jorgensen


“Bushcraft is about learning traditional outdoor skills.
Meaning before nylon tents and polyester tees.
Thats why traditional materials like canvas, pack-baskets, and leather is used. The "destruction" and axes are part of the pre nylon era. Instead of destroying some far off third world country and exploiting its poor workforce and oil reserves to put your LNT gear on the outfitters shelf, they concentrate on keeping things like native shelter and tool making alive.
People who do this seriously also avoid public land because its not the appropriate place to do most of this stuff.
bushcraft = traditional pre industrial out door skills, simple as that.
Bushcrafting is not hiking so its no surprise you don't see too many on the trail (if you can identify one?).
The ignorance of the "backpacking" crowd on this is a little sad. Why would you be against someone learning basketry? And why would someone think that a person would axe down a tree and make a shelter on the side of the AT -just because they know how?” – Brian UL

^And Definitely THIS^

“If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, will a UL backpacker still blame a bushcrafter for it?” – Douglacide


“I don't really know what a bushcrafter is, but I do know there is someone in my area who has been hunting deer with a bow and arrow, even out of deer season, and building "survival" shelters by chopping down bushes. I don't think this is cool at all.” – Piper S.

^^That is what we call POACHING, and is/should not be tolerated by either crowd, be it UL, bushcraft, hunters, mountain bikers, equestrians, mimes, etc. PLEASE CONTACT FISH & GAME IMMEDIATELY!

Nick Larsen
(stingray4540) - F

Locale: South Bay
Re: UL NOT versus BC on 04/19/2013 01:56:24 MDT Print View

Everett, Fantastic write up, showing how UL and BC can be mutually benefitial!

Only problem I have is that 20lb. skin out weight + Grunsfors Bruks + Cold steel shovel is an oxymoron. I would like to see that gear list!

Unless it is for a fair weather summer outing with warm nights and no rain expected. But, you mentioned the UL gear being used for inclement weather, so I can't see that gear list being possible.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: UL NOT versus BC on 04/19/2013 02:44:13 MDT Print View

I post on bushcraft usa. I agree that the website probably seems very strange to most backpackers. That's because it's not a backpacking forum. They carry huge and heavy tools because they are not backpackers, they just like to have fun in the woods.
Bushcraft refers to a bunch of skills and activities that relate to minimalist camping, primitive skills, foraging/hunting/fishing, and improvising things with natural materials. It's kind of like wilderness survival without the survival part. There are people on that forum who will go out with just a few tools and spend a night comfortable. True minimalists, unlike the people on here to claim to be minimalists just because their gear is lightweight.

Many of these skills and activities are not practical skills that anyone would need to use while backpacking. Nobody goes out into and builds a shelter or twists up some natural cordage to save weight. If you actually think that way, you are completely missing the point. If activities like a fire by friction, building a natural shelter, or flintkapping an arrowhead don't sound interesting to you at all, then you probably would not be interested in anything related to bushcraft.

I have learned many skills from "bushcraft" that I have regularly used while backpacking. I still go out into the woods and practice different skills for fun. Some of these skills have really saved my ass few times. I learned to start a fire in wet weather and keep it going all night. On a trip last December it ended up being much colder than I assumed it would and I was forced to keep a fire going all night every night for 6 nights to stay warm. It was a very easy solution to a serious problem. Once I went out with a shelter and it stormed on the last night. I built a shelter from the branches of a fallen tree and I stayed dry. Occasionally I will eat wild edibles (I want to become much better at this). Sometimes I will pass the time by testing the flammability of various tinders or twisting up wild cordage.

There really is no such things as a "bushcrafter". Bushcraft is a bunch of related skills, it's not something that you become.

If you want to see something really interesting, check out the paleo planet forums.

Edited by justin_baker on 04/19/2013 03:02:35 MDT.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: UL NOT versus BC on 04/19/2013 03:13:11 MDT Print View

That was a really great write up Everett. That's exactly the style of hiking and camping that I end up doing. Primitive skills and improvising with natural materials blends with ultralight backpacking incredibly well.

Everett Vinzant
(wn7ant) - MLife

Locale: CDT
20 lbs FSO including Gransfords and Cold Steel on 04/19/2013 09:29:12 MDT Print View


Thanks for the kind words. I was trying to show that UL is about how you travel while bushcraft is about what you do at the destination. I've seen some vitriol between the two crowds. It saddens me. I expected more from both sides. Hopefully we can prevent this from becoming an "us" v.s. "them."

A point I'd like to make is that I've seen a LOT of stories on the web from people that tell the story of, "I couldn't backpack because of some ailment, but now I can again." I've also read lots of, "I didn't get to do it as a kid for whatever reason, this helped my confidence." That's great. BUT UL is NOT a destination! It's NOT a stopping point! It's... a through hike. And THAT is my point (I can tell, see all the exclamation marks ;)


Thank you also for the kind words. You asked for a list. My blog is I have three articles (Survival kit to UL backpacking) where I show how to start at a survival kit, and build a UL backpacking kit out of it. The first three articles cover the first three days (72 hour kit) at one pound each day. I have two or three articles after that where I get up to 12 or 13 pounds for a three season kit. Once you subtract the weight of consumables, you're at.. ten pounds. Add the clothes you're wearing, the shovel, the hatchet (Gransfors Hand Hatchet at 1.1 lbs), a couple trekking poles, and what's in your pockets, I'm under 20 lbs for 3 season, and I live in Colorado. Let me know if you disagree. I'm always interested in double checking my work.

Hope you both have a wonderful time outback.

Edited by wn7ant on 04/19/2013 09:44:15 MDT.

just Justin Whitson
Re: Re: UL NOT versus BC on 04/19/2013 11:53:49 MDT Print View

When i think of Bushcrafting, i don't necessarily think of aggressive, macho types cutting down trees and hunting animals on off season, i think more of people like Cody Lundin that epitomize LNT ethics and practice it much better than most UL backpackers do (especially when you factor in synthetics production and impact). Heck, someone like Cody Lundin is more UL than most people here will ever be. But, like some said, it's not about the B.C. crowd against the UL crowd or vice versa. I think we all can learn from each other.

And personally, i think it's pretty practical to learn some basic survival and so called primitive skills. You may not need it ever, but knowledge and skills don't weigh anything. And a knowledgeable and skilled BC/UL hybrid type could do quite a lot with just a good and relatively light knife i imagine.

It's easy to stereotype, label, and narrowly categorize people and groups, and/or to view things in black and whites. It's easier to focus on the differences. It's harder to take the boxes off and see that most things are relative and shades of gray or to focus on the similarities and/or unity. But the latter is so much more worthwhile ime.

Nick Larsen
(stingray4540) - F

Locale: South Bay
Re: 20 lbs FSO including Gransfords and Cold Steel on 04/19/2013 15:58:26 MDT Print View

I'm looking forward to the reading I have ahead of me!

Everett Vinzant
(wn7ant) - MLife

Locale: CDT
Re: Re: Re: Re: Who gets out more, the UL or the BC camper? on 04/20/2013 13:29:35 MDT Print View

@drowning in spam

You start to make a few good points, but muddy it with so much absurdity, it's hard to take this seriously. Where you fail:

"Camping and hiking fundamentals are pretty much the same throughout all types of outdoor adventuring."


"While going non-UL may allow less care to be taken"

You've just contradicted yourself. No, the point of UL is not that you care more or less, it's that you consider something in addition to what you normally do. You endeavor to decrease unneeded weight. You do this by combining the purpose of multiple items into a single item, using a lighter item for the same task, not bringing unnecessary amounts...

"Sorry, but UL is just gear. "

No, it's not. You do not understand at all. It's mentality, mindset, and method. The gear is the by product. You can't see the forest for the trees.

"Comparing UL & BC is apples & oranges."

Completely agreed. One is about method of travel, the other is about what you do at the destination.

"If we wanted to compare the long distance trekker to the BC, or UL to B.O.B., that would be a better comparison."

I've already addressed how UL is NOT just gear, so this comparison is false, you confuse the effect with the cause.

"Even if $3000 is charged for gear that's used once a year for a trip that's not much more than car camping"

The most wrong I've seen in a statement about UL BACKPACKING EVER! First, look up MYOG. Going ultralight is about BACKPACKING (i.e. a method of travel), NOT "car camping" (camping: staying in one place for a period of time).

Edited by wn7ant on 04/20/2013 13:31:58 MDT.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: What is Bushcraft? its no mystery on 04/20/2013 14:33:15 MDT Print View

"If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, will a UL backpacker still blame a bushcrafter for it?"

Only if he is deaf but there to see it fall.