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Ultralight Tip of the Week
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F. Thomas Matica
(ftm1776) - F

Locale: Vancouver, WA
Why Take the Chance??? on 08/13/2011 09:56:05 MDT Print View

I'd say if you must experience drinking from puddles, do it on day hikes when the consequences may not be so dire as when out for several days. Or hope that it doesn't strike until you get home. In an emergency, do what must be done and follow all sensible tips to assure (almost) a decent source. Some folks have a built in immunity to the bugs and some have built it over time. Why take the chance, use your filter or tablets. The water tastes just the same coming out of my filter as it does directly from the stream. There is a certain subjective pleasure that comes with drinking directly from the creek, so do so if you must.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
How did our ancestors manage to survive? on 08/13/2011 10:17:00 MDT Print View

I always drink straight from mountain streams here in Scotland. The water might have the odd dead deer in it upstream. Adds to the taste.

I have to laugh sometimes when i meet some walkers boiling water. If only they knew the water they were drinking in their hotel the night before, came straight from a mountain stream, piped directly into the hotel. :)

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: How did our ancestors manage to survive? on 08/13/2011 11:21:11 MDT Print View

Yeah, well your body is used to it. Laughing at others boiling water shows how ignorant you are from your own personal experiences. If you told someone in your group to drink the water, and they got sick, you would probably change your mind and they would be very angry at you. You can get sick from the freshest looking high mountain streams. It can happen if you don't drink it every week.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Pure water. on 08/13/2011 11:30:10 MDT Print View

I've introduced many 'foreign' friends to pure mountain stream water. None of them have ever been sick.
Modern man is too worried about 'what if'.

Research here in the UK points to modern societies infatuation with 'cleanliness' being a factor in the huge increase in asthma amongst the population. Everything seems to be cleaned with anti-germ this, and anti-bacteria that. Kids don't get a chance to build up immunity to anything.

I didn't mean to come across as poking fun, but sometimes i think we worry too much.

Eric Jahn-Clough
(ejcfree) - F

Locale: off grid
it just tastes better on 08/13/2011 11:41:31 MDT Print View

I can only speak from my own experience over the last 12 years. I drink lots of untreated water in the Rockies. I treat more in the North East, but by no means all. Evaluate the source to your own satisfaction and accept responsibility for any potential difficulties. For treatment I've used only Aerobic O7, a sodium chlorite solution sold as a dietary supplement that has no approval as a purifier. About 300 nights out and not sick yet. Excellent book, it's helped me go further in my enlightening.
Best to All, Eric

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: it just tastes better on 08/13/2011 12:25:21 MDT Print View

It does taste better, and I do it myself in areas I know well. I would never recommend a destination backpacker to fly in and do a trip in a new area and not treat their water. As Mike mentions, experience is key, and that includes not just judging the quality of the water in situ, but also knowing enough about the environment it came from to make as informed a decision as possible.

Craig Gulley
(cgulley) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Tip of the week. on 08/13/2011 20:04:43 MDT Print View

I thought perhaps the only thing we differed on was how to potty in the woods, LOL but last weeks tip of timing your actions is the last thing I would want to do. my life is meeting after meeting, get on a plane, have a meeting, drive to next meeting. I certainly don't go into the woods to worry about spending a few extra minutes to eat or break down camp.... still what a fantastic collection of useful ideas and great art work

Ron Cooper
(Skraeling) - F
Taking your tips to heart on 08/13/2011 21:45:38 MDT Print View

Ever since I bought your book, I have dropped 6 pounds from my skin-out weight. Thanks for the tips!

Ivan Sharichev
(ivanchous) - F

Locale: Moscow
I would like to order your book! on 08/14/2011 22:52:58 MDT Print View

Please tell me what some online shop which provides delivery in Russia!

Unknown abc
(edude) - F
RE: "Ultralight Tip of the Week" on 08/18/2011 17:12:15 MDT Print View

Thanks for the tips, Mike!

I like this one because it solves for the excuse of 'oh I can't pack ahead of time because that would mean putting my sleeping bag and camping food in the pack and you can't leave it like that for long'. Well, one can still be that much closer.

Recently after a camping trip I reorganized my gear, which over my years of Scouting has grown to the total of 3 Rubbermaid tubs not including sleeping bags, pads and other items too big to go inside. From experience I was able to adopt something similar to what you recommend. I put all my most frequently needed stuff in the 'top-of-the-stack bin'. The rest is organized accordingly in order of priority. Works GREAT to not spend eternity packing.

Edited by edude on 08/18/2011 17:15:32 MDT.

Pilate de Guerre
(deGuerre) - F

Locale: SE, USA
Mike on 08/19/2011 16:08:27 MDT Print View

Love these tips. I read "Lighten Up!" awhile back and it really got me in to lightweight backpacking. Thanks Mike.

John L Collins
(WVCubDad) - MLife

Locale: Not too far off the Tuscarora Trail
For Ivan on where to get Mike's book on 08/27/2011 17:02:26 MDT Print View

Hi Ivan,

If you have a Kindle or other electronic reader you can get it that way. I actually got my copy of Mike's book specifically for my Kindle as my dear wife has really started putting her foot down about "more books and more camping gear and more Scouting stuff" in our house.

The cartoons are still great, the info is fantastic and you can also get Lighten Up and Lightweight Backpacking on the Kindle as well as a host of other interesting outdoor related titles.

Hope this helps.


James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
"Ultralight Tip of the Week" on 09/02/2011 02:20:32 MDT Print View

Mike, Your gear lists are excelent! Last week Hurricane Irene really hammered the High Peaks and Northville/Placid Trail forcing closures of the eastern trails. Hopefully, they will be opened back up by the end of the month. Till then the western regions are open.

Ivan Sharichev
(ivanchous) - F

Locale: Moscow
Re: For Ivan on where to get Mike's book on 09/04/2011 12:07:57 MDT Print View

O! its realy easy way! =) I did not think about it/ thanks!

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Spreadsheet on 09/07/2011 10:52:20 MDT Print View

One of the things I have with my spreadsheet is a column for "amount". In other words, if I carry two pairs of (identical socks) then I will put two in that column. That makes it really easy to calculate weight. I just put in zero for stuff that I don't count. It's still on my spreadsheet, which means it can be included next time (e. g. winter stuff). Since my spreadsheet doubles as my checklist, I don't have to worry about forgetting something (the list has everything, even though the weight of everything isn't calculated). It's very easy to check something off, even when it isn't brought ("tent, over there, check; snow shoes, not bringing, check; etc.").

Brad Bryant
(birddog) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Ultralight Tip of the Week on 09/07/2011 11:11:15 MDT Print View

Just finished the book and it was great. Now I will get my scouts into bringing thier pack weight down...thanks Mike

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Re: Re: Ultralight Tip of the Week on 09/07/2011 11:17:16 MDT Print View

I also use the zeroes and ones in my spreadsheet. There's supposed to be a way to print the thing out (to use as a checklist) omitting the zero lines, but after being retired (and away from my Excel course books) for 11 years, I've forgotten!

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: Being stinky on 09/08/2011 19:05:20 MDT Print View

As much as I admire and try to follow Mike's tips, this may be one I disagree with, depending on one's definition of "stink."

If by "stink" one means not taking a full shower each day, not using perfume or after shave, and having a mortal fear of sweat drying on your body, then I agree.

But if one means ignoring personal hygiene to the point that one positively reeks with that sweet-sour overripe stench, then I have to disagree (I suspect we all have come across such a human chemical warfare device).

Being somewhat prone to rashes and skin afflictions I have to maintain a fairly high level of cleanliness while backpacking, so maybe I go overboard a bit. Even if I didn't I would never get to the point that it is extremely unpleasant to be anywhere but upwind of me.

Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F - M

Locale: Northern Virginia
Hey! This is BPL! on 09/08/2011 19:57:16 MDT Print View

What does stinking have to do with ultralight? I'd prefer this guy sticks to useful tips, and not subject us to his personal choice to let himself go when he's on the trail.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Hey! This is BPL! on 09/08/2011 20:10:32 MDT Print View

"What does stinking have to do with ultralight? I'd prefer this guy sticks to useful tips, and not subject us to his personal choice to let himself go when he's on the trail."

This IS a useful tip. Don't bring soap and other smelly toiletries - it is okay to stink.