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Old-School Ultralight: East Fork San Gabriel River, 6/11
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Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Old-School Ultralight: East Fork San Gabriel River, 6/11 on 06/12/2011 12:53:00 MDT Print View

For those interested, a quick overnight with a different sort of gear focus.

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: Old-School Ultralight: East Fork San Gabriel River, 6/11 on 06/12/2011 14:25:24 MDT Print View

What a great way to breath a little nostalgia into our lives, Craig!

Thank you. Time for all of us to do a trip like this.

Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
RE: Old-School Ultralight: East Fork San Gabriel River, 6/11 on 06/12/2011 14:32:03 MDT Print View

Great trip reporting and your gear choices touched on a similar interest of mine, so glad to see someone actually doing it. Remember around 10 years old, the Y would always take a bunch of us kids outside camping with wool blankets and cotton sheets pinned together during summer months. Guess bedrolls had been around since sheets and blankets...

Good take on it and thanks for posting.

Edited by hknewman on 06/12/2011 14:52:01 MDT.

David Drake
(DavidDrake) - F

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Old-School Ultralight: East Fork San Gabriel River, 6/11 on 06/12/2011 14:45:55 MDT Print View

Very cool report, Craig. I've been interested to see what you would do with the idea, since you started the other thread about it a few days ago.

About how long a trip and under what expected conditions do you think you'd be comfortable with this approach?

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
Going Old School on 06/12/2011 15:03:58 MDT Print View

The picture of your dog on the wool blanket was priceless. I'd love to see more pictures if you guys have them.

I agree with Todd above- everyone should try something like this at least once. My own version involved only cheap military surplus, but I think the feeling was similar to what you described. Thanks for the great report.

Edited by Ike on 06/12/2011 16:40:20 MDT.

Michael Reagan
(MichaelReagan) - F

Locale: Southern California
Old School is Still Cool on 06/12/2011 15:10:17 MDT Print View

By golly, "Old School Ultralight" sure looks a lot like Bushcrafting to me. Trips like this are very educational and confidence-building as well as being mentally freeing. You are quite right that we ULers put a huge emphasis on gear. It's part of the "fun" I think, but can easily be overdone to the point of obsession. It's nice to take a trip like this now and again to get a different perspective. It looks like you had a great time. Thanks for sharing!


Adan Lopez
(Lopez) - F

Locale: San Gabriel Valley
Great report Craig on 06/13/2011 12:40:00 MDT Print View

thanks for the writeup man. our packs didnt feel all that much heavier or less comfortable. but for the burden they removed from our minds, they were like feathers. now i'll be working on lightening my hobo kit and assembling my sleeping mat idea. you know, for next time...

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Old-School Ultralight: East Fork San Gabriel River, 6/11 on 06/13/2011 12:54:14 MDT Print View

Thanks Craig. Very nice. Brings back some fond childhood memories.

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Old-School Ultralight: East Fork San Gabriel River, 6/11 on 06/13/2011 22:31:23 MDT Print View

How warm are the wool blankets? Did you use one as insulation from the ground? I also can't tell if you used fire all night to help keep warm or if that was just for cooking and a little warmth before you went to bed?

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Old-School Ultralight: East Fork San Gabriel River, 6/11 on 06/13/2011 22:58:56 MDT Print View

Thanks for the comments everyone. I'm really glad Adan was as excited to do this as I.

As for blankets, I had two, Adan had one. Two isn't as bulky/heavy as you would think...still tons of room in a GoLite Jam.

I was plenty warm on top. I'd estimate the temps were in the mid 40s. I started by the fire and was absolutely fine until I started getting smoked out really bad; I was on the wrong side when the wind shifted the smoke low. I don't think Adan had any issues with this. But the fire made a HUGE difference not just in air temperature, but in the temperature of the sand we slept on. When I moved my bed due to smoke, the sand I was on had to be at least 10-15 degrees colder. I was able to manage by wrapping the blankets under me, but the ground was definitely the greatest source of heat loss. Had we wanted to go full-on bushcraft, we could've easily gathered a lot of brush, leaves, boughs, etc. but we didn't want to tear the place up...there wasn't much deadfall/litter suitable for bedding so we stayed pretty LNT.

Had I been less lazy and remade my bed, a doubled blanket below me and one on top would've probably been best. I think a single blanket down into the 40s would be fine with bedding below. It could probably go even lower if combined with a shelter, especially an insulated deadfall style one.

For reference, I wore canvas pants, a cotton t-shirt, a cotton flannel, wool socks, a wool hat, and wool gloves to bed.

Edited by xnomanx on 06/13/2011 23:00:23 MDT.

Jeff Wright

Locale: ...
Excellent Report on 06/13/2011 23:59:25 MDT Print View

Great report. Enjoyed the philosophy. Simplicity is a beautiful thing. Sometimes I think we need to shift from the mindset of "Backpackinglight" to Backpackingefficient". Obviously light is efficient but as you illustrated there are many instances where that does not hold true.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Old-School Ultralight: East Fork San Gabriel River, 6/11 on 06/14/2011 00:00:32 MDT Print View

Very cool. I love old school gear. I have seriously considered throwing out the plastics and going full old school with my gear. I just don't think I could ever bring myself to pack a canvas tarp though. Those can be a few pounds or more. When you add up the base weight of the wool and canvas, it starts to sound a bit much for a framless canvas pack..
But if you try that style of camping outside of mild, dry climates though you are going to need an axe or else you are going to be freezing your butt off all night trying to manage a wet/frozen fire. Trying to keep warm using fire during the night without a way to cut standing deadwood is possible but you are probably not going to get any sleep.

Edited by justin_baker on 06/14/2011 00:02:05 MDT.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: old school UL on 06/14/2011 20:03:15 MDT Print View

FKNA Craig. Awesome idea.

K ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Great trip!! on 06/15/2011 05:59:12 MDT Print View

What a nice report of a great trip! Thanks guys.

Adan Lopez
(Lopez) - F

Locale: San Gabriel Valley
Wool, Fire and Tequila on 06/15/2011 17:11:35 MDT Print View

Folks seem interested so I thought I would chime in with my comments:

@David: I personally would be comfortable with this approach down to mid 30s because I know what to bring and how to stay warm. A little more wool, fire, and tequila, thats all. I would definitely have taken the time to make a proper bed though. As for how long, I'd say more than a few days food would start to make the weight a problem. I might default to this approach now for any trips less than 3 days and less than 10 miles a day. I have a high elevation trip in aug, 8 days @10-15 mile per, I'll be back in my light gear for that.

@Brian: Low of mid 40s, i had only a thin canvas tarp under me and it was not enough. With one thin wool blanket i was okay on top but i was cold from below. However i planned to be cold at night, so i slept right against the rock fire ring letting heat from the gaps in the stones enter my blanket. Since i was so close to the fire, i could reach in and bring hot stones into my blanket without even sitting up.

@Justin: I agree you would need to spend more time finding wood in wetter climates. But we used a few fallen logs close to 10 inches in diameter and were able to break them easily without an axe, we had a few tricks for this. Btw, I carried two canvas tarps in, one for each of us, I doubt my total base was much over 15lbs. YMMV.

If you always carry the absolute best gear, I doubt you could ever really know what you are capable of. This trip reminded me that I am still that same boy that slept on the ground in corduroys and a sarape. Ive learned alot about gear along the way, but it's nice to know that if I choose to, i can still just leave it all behind and be simple again.

Rick Horne
(Rick778) - M

Locale: NorCal - South Bay - Campbell
Re: Old-School Ultralight: East Fork San Gabriel River, 6/11 on 06/17/2011 12:25:40 MDT Print View

Great trip report. Brought back memories of camping in Wisconsin as a boy (40 + years ago). Not much equipment, just the desire to be in the woods.

Kendall Clement
(socalpacker) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
RE: "Old-School Ultralight: East Fork San Gabriel River, 6/11" on 06/20/2011 15:52:22 MDT Print View

Great trip report. I'm right along with everyone else when it comes to the memories. In my mind, I kept going back to camping in Ohio and in the hills of Northern Kentucky as a boy (over 40 years ago). Love the simplicity. Glad you guys had a good time. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Edited by socalpacker on 06/20/2011 15:53:33 MDT.