Leave it out or lighten it up?
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Roman Dial
(romandial) - F - M

Locale: packrafting NZ
Leave it out or lighten it up? on 12/09/2006 16:50:49 MST Print View

Curious about the general approach most of us have to going lightweight:

(1) Do you travel like a Spartan, very doubtful you'll need much of anything and so going without a full pack?

(2) Or are you sort of a gear-geek, tracking down the lightest and coolest and latest cutting edge techno stuff out there so you can "wash your dishes" so to speak?

(3) Do you like to save weight by sharing with your partner?

Miles Barger
(milesbarger) - F - M

Locale: West Virginia
Combo on 12/09/2006 17:07:26 MST Print View

I kinda go through all three in steps.

1. I figure out exactly what I need and get rid of everything I could do without.
2. Then I satisfy the gear geek in me by tracking down the lightest and most useful tools to fit those spartan needs.
3. If I can talk my partner into going with me, we divide up things as much as possible so that we're both comfortable with the weight we need to carry.

I guess that step 4 is adding back in things that, while not absolutely necessary for some physical function, add to the whole point of being out there, i.e. a journal, camera/camcorder, tripod, reading material. Whatever adds to enjoyments of the mind like memory, appreciation, art.

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Combo on 12/09/2006 22:05:04 MST Print View

I do it like Miles, including #4 - which I think is important - but add a coupla steps:
A) I note any piece of gear other than the "10 Essentials" that I didn't use or need on the last trip, and take it off my list for the next trip.
1) I look at ways to make an item do more than one job in addition to finding lighter stuff.
x) I question my assumptions. That is, I'm always looking at how I do things and wonder whether I'm being dense or what. That's how I learned that Sporks should be a synonym for something that sounds like a good idea but turns out to be useless in practice. Eating pasta with a spork is like eating peas with a knife, and eating soup with one is like...well, eating soup with a fork. I've got boxes full of spork-like gear. So now I'll get flamed by spork fans. Oh, well.

J R
(RavenUL) - F
Travel like a spartan on 12/09/2006 23:10:30 MST Print View

I hardly carry anything any more. The stuff I do carry is light, but durable enough I can depend on it. I figure, if I need it... then I *need* it, and failure isn't an option. If I don't *need* it, it doesn't go, and I save myself 100% of its unneeded weight.

Roman Dial
(romandial) - F - M

Locale: packrafting NZ
Spartan and Muir on 12/09/2006 23:13:52 MST Print View

Anybody have any (true) very spartan tales? How many nights without tarp? How many nights without bivy sack? Without sleeping bag/quilt? WIthout foam pad?

A pack full of food, a cookpot, and an overcoat? Isn't that all we really need?

Edited by romandial on 12/09/2006 23:16:45 MST.

Eric Noble
(ericnoble) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: Combo on 12/10/2006 00:54:42 MST Print View

No flaming from me Vick. I've switched to the Light My Fire Spork because it isn't really a spork and weighs the same as my old spork and it's still one implement. You summed up my experience with sporks very well.

To answer Romans post, for me it's about achieving what I wish as efficiently as possible with an acceptable safety margin. I must admit that I do get a certain pleasure out of the gear. I like what I do carry to excel at what it does. I'm not good at sharing weight. I like being self sufficient. Sharing tends to hinder that. However, I don't mind easing someone else's load a little, particularly if they've given some thought to what they're carrying.

J R
(RavenUL) - F
Re: Spartan and Muir on 12/10/2006 01:46:22 MST Print View

"Anybody have any (true) very spartan tales?"

Its funny how people seem to always get the idea that "spartan" tales might be made up.

Ive never counted how many nights of anything... I only carry a foam pad if I know I cant (reasonably) improvise. My last trip, I was able to gather about 2-3in of mostly dry leaves and laid them down into a roughly body sized nest of common juniper. It took only a few minutes to gather and arrange the leaves and I was absolutely warm, even though it snowed that night. I almost always carry a synthetic sleeping bag or military poncho liner with me, so no tales of daring-do there. I sleep far too cold to mess around with not enough nighttime insulation... though I used to just use a wool blanket back when I was "goin' ta ronny'vou". I rarely carry a bivy sack, and my tarp is a military poncho... which unless rain is a certainty, I usually just wrap around my sleeping bag. It blocks the wind, stops light rain, and acts as all the ground cloth I might need. Ive thought hard about getting a Gatewood cape or a silnylon poncho to drop some ounces, but I haven't yet because I would lose the "improvised bivy" function if I went that way.

I carry a backpack, a sleeping bag, my poncho, some spare clothes (usually just some extra nighttime insulation), my 10 essentials, and few other odds and ends.

Not quite John Muir, but I can honestly say that I carry less (fewer) than anyone I know.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Spartan and Muir on 12/10/2006 03:03:42 MST Print View

> Anybody have any (true) very spartan tales? How many nights without tarp? How many nights without bivy sack? Without sleeping bag/quilt? WIthout foam pad?
> A pack full of food, a cookpot, and an overcoat? Isn't that all we really need?

Way too much. You need to try long distance walking in Europe. You need to bring a day pack with a water bottle, a fleece jacket, an SB liner and a poncho.
Yep, that's all. You spend the nights in the 'Refuges' or Gites (or B&Bs). All provide dinner, bed, blankets (you provide the liner), breafast and you can buy food for lunch. For Real! Carrying a guitar is optional.

We met five OLD ladies (all way over 65) in the UK way out on the moors. They were doing a long distance walk all right, same as us, and that's all they had. We felt ... overloaded!

I asked about lunch. Ah well, they called for the full breakfast at the B&B you see: porridge, bacon and eggs and toast and so on. They ate the porridge, and turned the bacon and eggs and toast into sandwiches for lunch. They put the orange juice in their water bottle. HONEST!

You reckon you invented SUL walking? Nah, they had it decades ago!

Edited by rcaffin on 12/10/2006 03:05:49 MST.

ian wright
(ianwright) - F

Locale: Photo - Mt Everest - 1980
lighten and add ? on 12/10/2006 03:58:46 MST Print View

I travel overseas for periods of 3 to 5 months. 7 trips so far (and 3 minor ones that don't count). With a lot of trial and error, I now have a way I like to travel and have worked out a list of what I need that is quite specific. If I intend to travel a different way or the climate of where I am going is different, then I may vary the list a bit.

The reason I try to travel lighter and/or with less are:

Effort, less weight = less exertion.

Worry, the less I have, the less to worry about.

Agility,(for want of a better word). The less I am carrying the easier it is to move around, jump on a bus or jump off a boat for eg.

Size, a big bulky pack is such a pain.

Sweat, the less I can sweat the better.

Luxury, when my pack is light and I'm feeling fit, I can shove in a few goodies to enjoy.

I wince when I see people carrying the biggest backpack on their backs and a big day pack on their front. I don't like the idea of being caught short of needed gear. I strive to have just what I need and no more. Hmm, sounds like warm porridge !

Roman Dial
(romandial) - F - M

Locale: packrafting NZ
Ian and Roger vs. Spartan and Muir on 12/10/2006 13:19:20 MST Print View

Those Aussies and Kiwis are the most Spartan and Muir-like of all the trampers and tarvellers.

We were car camping in Far North Queesnland, with its spiders, scorpions, centipedes, and bull ants and jumping jacks, and the hard-core Aussies slept out in the open. No tent, no pad, just blankets with their bare feet hanging out from under the covers.

If asked, they'd likely replied, "No worries mate, the vapors from all 'ar beer cans keep the creepy-crawlies at bay"...but the toughness and minimalism of those from down-under likely allowed them to dominate big-time adventure races for as long as they did.

Edited by romandial on 12/10/2006 13:21:48 MST.

Einstein X
(EinsteinX) - F

Locale: The Netherlands
Re: Re: Spartan and Muir on 12/13/2006 08:41:14 MST Print View

Quote
Way too much. You need to try long distance walking in Europe. You need to bring a day pack with a water bottle, a fleece jacket, an SB liner and a poncho.
Yep, that's all. You spend the nights in the 'Refuges' or Gites (or B&Bs). All provide dinner, bed, blankets (you provide the liner), breafast and you can buy food for lunch. For Real! Carrying a guitar is optional.

We met five OLD ladies (all way over 65) in the UK way out on the moors. They were doing a long distance walk all right, same as us, and that's all they had. We felt ... overloaded!

I asked about lunch. Ah well, they called for the full breakfast at the B&B you see: porridge, bacon and eggs and toast and so on. They ate the porridge, and turned the bacon and eggs and toast into sandwiches for lunch. They put the orange juice in their water bottle. HONEST!

You reckon you invented SUL walking? Nah, they had it decades ago!
End Quote


Roger,

I do all my hiking in Europe. But I never stay in a B&B and only rarely stay in a mountain hut. I think "hut-hiking" is sth completly different that pitching the tarp at the end of the day. I like the self supporting aspect of it.

And the fun of camping in the 'wild' when it's not allowed*.

Eins

*Wild camping is prohibited in most EU countries.

J R
(RavenUL) - F
Re: Re: Re: Spartan and Muir on 12/13/2006 13:37:49 MST Print View

Yeah, Im not sure hut-to-hut quite counts... seeing as how your "tent" is so big and heavy it has to stay in one place, and comes complete with all your sleeping gear and food items (excepting lunch of course).

By that logic when I go on a day hike with nothing more than a bottle of water, shorts, and a t-shirt (no socks or shoes weather permitting), I must really be a bada$$ god of spartan ultralight.

Kevin Sawchuk
(ksawchuk) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Re: Re: Spartan and Muir on 12/13/2006 15:47:04 MST Print View

Taking Roger's ideas to their limit a visa card may be the ultimate lightweight kit. It does limit your travel locations somewhat but it's not a far cry from the B&B/hut travel he suggests.

I've heard Paris Hilton can get a meal and a place to sleep dam near anywhere she goes wearing clothes lighter than a visa card--is this the true ultralight frontier??

Thom Kendall
(kendalltf) - F

Locale: IL
Re: Leave it out or lighten it up? on 12/13/2006 19:34:25 MST Print View

I look at it from a different way. I have done quite a bit of learning about primitive technology and skills which has an end goal of being able to go into the wilderness with nothing! Learning these skills I am to go into the wilderness with as little or as much as I want. It just depends on how lazy I want to be.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Leave it out or lighten it up? on 12/14/2006 21:02:25 MST Print View

I tend to go "bare bones" -- then toss in an extra insulation layer and bits of food -- just in case.

Edited by ben2world on 12/15/2006 11:43:11 MST.

Carol Crooker
(cmcrooker) - MLife

Locale: Desert Southwest, USA
Leave it out or lighten it up? on 12/15/2006 07:46:02 MST Print View

Ya gotta leave it out if you want to get your packweight down. My ditty bag (emergency/repair stuff) grew quite heavy with all the really cool mini items I found here and there. And electronics - really cool and geek satisfying - but the weight builds up quickly. So, I lighten up on the major items and cut out as much of the extra stuff as possible.

I set a base pack weight limit (5 lb) and started playing with my gear list to meet that limit. When I realized I could add a windshirt or a pair of gloves if I left some of that cool mini-stuff at home, it really put things in perspective.

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Re: Leave it out or lighten it up? on 12/15/2006 15:37:50 MST Print View

Like most other challenges that require cognitive thought, if you don't set a goal, you won't make it ...................

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Leave it out or lighten it up? on 12/16/2006 14:30:36 MST Print View

1) To go UL you are traveling Spartan.

I totally agree that we pack more weight from fear more than anything else.
Experience is the virtue.
Who needs a cookpot, just loft, calories, possible rain protection, and a good pair of shoes.

In most cases it's not the fear though. If I were to show my 5 day UL loaded pack to a backpacker on a 5 day, (probably 45# pack), he would probably just look at me like I was stupid.

I guess you also have to add in that we also pack our necessities.

2) The gear-geek hits me BIG.
The hardest thing to deal with in always wanting to go lighter is what other piece of gear I can make to get me there.

3) I find it hard to save weight with a partner. Being able to cut the items that can be shared off my pack would maybe be a pound. Mean while they won't go without their 5 pound tent, so the pound you actually take off is really adding 1 1/2 on, (-1 + 2 1/2).
Most people that go out on trips also carry a grocery cart full of (just in case something happens and we are stuck out here for the next month) food.
Taking 1/2 of this would be an ULers suicide.

Edited by awsorensen on 12/16/2006 14:31:18 MST.

Phil Barton
(flyfast) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma
Re: Leave it out or lighten it up? on 12/16/2006 18:32:38 MST Print View

Carol, that's an interesting approach. Using a weight goal forces you to focus on what is really essential. I haven't tried a 5 pound pack yet but I'm very close. I can see that that last pound takes the discipline to evaluate what is absolutely essential.

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
Re: Re: Leave it out or lighten it up? on 12/17/2006 17:36:40 MST Print View

I'm a #2 and #3...

I use light gear where and whenever possible and I will change gear to lighten up.

I also gear/weight share with my husband. He carries about 45 pounds with our current setup and I'm at about 40 pounds for a week. Keep in mind this also includes all the gear/clothing for our 5 year old and this is in the cooler (not winter) weather. We are more into light than ultralight when we travel with the little one.

Edited by Laurie_Ann on 12/17/2006 17:37:20 MST.