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David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Minimalism on 01/05/2012 09:32:19 MST Print View

A friend posted a FB link to this:

And it reminded me of you guys and gals. Kind of. I mean when we're hiking, we're like this guy - minimal stuff. But he's living this life, 24-7-52. As he puts it, all his belongings would qualify for the speedy check-out lane because there are only 15 of them.

I have certainly found great mental-health benefits in having my backpack packed and ready. Even when I don't have a any trips planned, just knowing I COULD leave at any time affirms that I'm choosing to be where I am, doing what I'm doing.

So there's the No New Gear in 2012 thread. Do you really need 3 tarps or 4 backpacks? Here's a guy who doesn't have a second pair of jeans. By choice.

Aaron Croft
(aaronufl) - M

Locale: Oregon
Minimalism on 01/05/2012 10:04:45 MST Print View

I think that on this site, ultralight gear breeds specialization. A gear list is made for every trip planned or condition expected, and as a consequence, people will have multiple backpacks, tarps, tents, stoves, and a plethora of clothing. I think this is what partly what Ryan was talking about in the cottage stagnation thread:

"You don't need the gear, you don't need the debt, you don't need to further tax our resources, you don't need to spend your children's social security on your gear addiction, you don't need to waste time and money storing (or disposing) gear you don't love, and you don't need to lighten your pack from 5.2 to 4.6 pounds."

While that article wasn't the most popular, it sounds like it was written by a guy who has come full circle and is willing to add a little weight (blasphemy!) to his kit to have gear that works for most every situation. Due to the consumerist nature of outdoor gear and our need to have everything just so, I think we lose sight of the main goal: getting outdoors and enjoying ourselves.

Are you committed to an ultralight life, or just ultralight backpacking?

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Minimalism on 01/05/2012 10:20:54 MST Print View


UL BPing: I wouldn't say committed, but I've always enjoyed the scenery and exercise more than the weight on my back. My big motivation now is being 50 with a 11-year-old son and we really enjoy hiking together (he did spectacularly on a one-day, Bright Angel to the Colorado River and back this last May and on 7-mile-in BPing trips. I'd like our family to be backpacking together still in 20 years (met my wife on a gourmet backpacking trip), but I know many things could change that. So I'm looking to capitalize on our current mutual interests and physical abilities but he hasn't had his growth spurt yet so I'm carrying all my gear and all the group gear.

I'm also a serious techno-geek and testing boil times on different pots, designing heat exchangers, and blowing things up are fun ways to spend time in the garage.

In life: I'd like to have less stuff around. I fight a male-linked hoarding gene that runs in my family and seem to be getting the upper hand in part because my brother and uncle have gone so far over to the dark side and I don't want to end up like that. I keep reminding myself, "If I need a particular piece of tubing or a thermocouple or blower, there's always Home Depot and eBay and I have deep pockets. And keeping lots of theoretically useful stuff around at some point limits what I can do/find/use/make."

Ty Ty

Locale: SE US
Too much stuff... on 01/05/2012 10:37:10 MST Print View

I tend to keep a lot of stuff around too. Recently my wife and I talked about reducing the amount of stuff we have but it was tough deciding what to get rid of, you can always imagine that one 'what if' scenario that demands you keep x,y, or z. One day I had an idea, how about we gather all this stuff up, take it to the local flea market and sell it all. It was a lot of stuff that you wouldn't bother selling on ebay but at the same time it would be wasteful to throw away. Furthermore we decided to take the money we made and put it in my son's college fund.

With that twist in mind, it made it a lot easier. It was more like, hey this is for a good cause. The table at the flea market ended up being $8 bucks for the day and in the end our profit was just a hair over $500 bucks. Of course we sold a lot of stuff and basically lost a lot of money but we cleared out the junk and clutter. The premise we used was 'if we haven't used or thought about using this since we moved into this house (about 1 year ago) then it probably needs to go'. We cleared out a ton of old paper and junk in addition to all the stuff we sold. All told I bet we had 5 big trash bags of trash and one Tahoe SUV packed floor to ceiling with stuff to sell.

The exercise really did something else, kind of went a step further for us. Now when we are tempted to buy or even accept something for free, we look at each other and say "Is this going to end up at the flea market in a year?" It really makes us think more about what we buy. Overall it's been a really good exercise for us.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Too much stuff... on 01/05/2012 10:48:09 MST Print View

Ty, my wife and I have a rule. If we buy something, then something must go. This is in part because we have a small apartment, but we also hate clutter and excess things. We bring a small bag of items to Goodwill every few weeks it seems.

There have been some things that were tough to get rid of. But do you know what? Once they were gone, we never gave them a second thought because they were just "things" and held little value compared to what really matters.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Minimalism on 01/05/2012 10:49:31 MST Print View

Excellent link. We spent three weeks in Europe with one carry on sized bag each and that was in the winter too. I could do Maui with an 18 liter pack! I think Ben wrote about getting rousted by the customs/immigration officials in one country because his travel kit was so small for the length of the trip and they wondered what he was up to. Modern electronics and synthetics help. Many use a concept of "threes" for clothing: one to wear, one dirty, one clean, in rotation.

Urban travel makes going minimal so much easier than hiking: no cooking, sleep or shelter gear and resupply is readily available.

Gandhi had Hyde beat. Here is a famous photo of his worldly possessions at the time of his death:
Gandhi's possessions

I have written about having all your possessions fit in a one meter cube. It makes an interesting exercise.

Edited by dwambaugh on 01/05/2012 13:16:52 MST.

Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: Minimalism on 01/05/2012 13:13:47 MST Print View

Is a drive to minimalism an aesthetic or a reaction to clutter? I'm kind of in a gray area about this. Civilian backpacking gear packs up small for me but paperwork can pile up. Electronics keeps getting smaller and more powerful too.

Realize we are all a bit different but looking at it, does a person's possessions or clutter interfere with
(1) social life: does a person need to cram their clutter into closets when guests arrive?
(2) work life: can a person retrieve required paperwork in time for clients, promotions, etc...?
(3) health: a lot of us are increasingly allergic to dust and pollen, thus a need for clutter-free spaces.

Yes, I'd prefer a minimalist aesthetic while, on the other hand, avoid houseguests (mostly Western) sitting on mats, crossed legged? After that, I will leave the decor decisions to the next Mrs. N. who (edit) will hopefully be into this aesthetic. Then again that's what eBay is for .. one man's trash is another man's treasure.

ed: grammar, clarity

Edited by hknewman on 01/05/2012 14:49:45 MST.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Minimalism on 01/05/2012 13:18:48 MST Print View

"Is a drive to minimalism an aesthetic or a reaction to clutter?"

Either way, when you get there you are enlightened about being owned by your possessions (no pun intended).

clay stewart
(Reluctantwaterhauler) - F
Interesting on 01/05/2012 13:22:58 MST Print View

I like his idea, but it doesn't seem like he is interested in self contained minimalism. I suspect, without a sleeping bag, pad or shelter, he has to either eat out every day and stay in a Holiday Inn Express, or mooch off of other people. I've met people like that over the years and although the idea is quaint, the constant "hey can I sleep on your couch or use your washer or borrow your shower, catch a ride, etc.," makes their minimalism more of a at other peoples expense endeavor. Looks good on paper, till you start to really think about it.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: Minimalism on 01/05/2012 13:25:00 MST Print View

possessions define many if not most people ...

at a certain point they become a who you are/aspire to be ... people buy it to fit in... or in lieu of what they would like to do ... or to project a certain image ....

i suspect this happens on BPL as much as anywhere else ....

as to the guy in the link, he has less of them, but i suspect they define him too, to a certain extent ... he has some "higher priced" gear while something lesser will do ... his choice

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Interesting on 01/05/2012 13:33:17 MST Print View

You're right, he couch surfs. So cooking, cleaning, etc, become non-issues.

It depends on the person - sometimes they're a pain and the hosts find ways to get rid of them quickly. But we've got friends we'd love to have stay for as long as they want. They tend to be good conversationalists, cheerful, help out around the house, and sense when to borrow our car and make themseles scarce.

Ty Ty

Locale: SE US
Re: Re: Too much stuff... on 01/05/2012 13:44:43 MST Print View

Travis - good rule. Yes we have found we feel better with the stuff gone. We are preparing to eventually move into a smaller house closer to town even as our income gets higher we have decided to really make an effort to downsize, spend less and save more, not let our possessions own us.

I think this guy and his 15 things is interesting just like the tiny house movement is interesting. It is on the extreme end but that does not mean everyone has to go to that extreme. If you have 15 million belongings and you are happy then don't worry about it but if you are trying to de-clutter, live a simpler life then it is interesting to see where others have gone with it.

Paul Wagner
(balzaccom) - F

Locale: Wine Country
too much stuff on 01/05/2012 18:49:27 MST Print View

Like almost all Americans, we have too much stuff in our house and lives.

But one thing we love about backpacking is the simplicity, minimalist, multi-use philosophy. Very peaceful--although i am still short of convincing my wife she needs only one shirt for a week long trip.

I wish we could accomplish similar things with the stuff we have in our house.

Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
Stuff on 01/05/2012 22:38:13 MST Print View

"In life: I'd like to have less stuff around. I fight a male-linked hoarding gene that runs in my family and seem to be getting the upper hand in part because my brother and uncle have gone so far over to the dark side and I don't want to end up like that. I keep reminding myself, "If I need a particular piece of tubing or a thermocouple or blower, there's always Home Depot and eBay and I have deep pockets. And keeping lots of theoretically useful stuff around at some point limits what I can do/find/use/make."

David, Is it really a lifestyle choice if you just choose to have less stuff around if you have deep pockets where you can buy whatever you want at any time anyway? That sounds like a pretty good problem to have. :)

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Stuff on 01/05/2012 23:36:26 MST Print View

>"David, Is it really a lifestyle choice if you just choose to have less stuff around if you have deep pockets where you can buy whatever you want at any time anyway? That sounds like a pretty good problem to have. :)"

Sure, it's more of a choice. I could have minimal stuff, lots of crappy stuff, or lots of nice stuff. The bank account suggests the later but I don't do or want that. The family history (Despression era parents and that hoarding thing) suggest the second. I find the first better for my pysche. When my surroundings are less cluttered, my mind is, too. But it takes mindfulness to get there and stay there. I'm still working on it.

Yes, it's a pretty good problem to have. It beats not having those choices.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Stuff on 01/06/2012 09:01:35 MST Print View

Until one does a multi-year remodel they never realize how much gear one needs to do it. Sure one could rent it, but it costs less to buy it outright!
Could we own less? Yeah, but it doesn't bother me. As long as there is a place for most everything life is OK. I do go by the theory of once outgrown things (my kids) and they won't be used again, go to the thrift store if in good shape (clothing, toys). Or for bigger items I put them out on the street on a sunny day with "FREE!!" on it (always gone in an hour).

As Americans go I don't own a ton of material items but I am sure my kitchen looks like that. So does my hiking and outdoor gear. I like specialized gear for both my hobbies and no, I am not going to go all minimalist and toss my stand mixer so I can stand there and hand mix items. Just like I am not getting rid of 2 of my 3 sleeping bags.

You all can do that if you want ;-)

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Contrarian Point of View (as usual) on 01/06/2012 12:00:29 MST Print View

The issue is efficient storage. Stuff is good. Sort of like a museum... museums are good, right?

I keep the good stuff when I find a better replacement. I also collect stamps and some modest art. Art is what separates us from the other animals; the ability to conceptualize reality based on our own metaphysics.

I have a 1960's REI pup tent. Should I get rid of it?

In 1971 I bought a Kelty D4. I really like this pack (used it almost exclusively for over 20 years, and still use it occasionally). After I bought this pack, I bought a brand new Kelty Model A pack from the original owner who purchased it in the early 60's (it was cheap and my thinking was a back-up back in case something happened to the D4). I have used it a few times, and it is in nearly mint condition. Should I get rid of it?

I still have my military wrist watch from 1970. Keeps perfect time and is a "wind up" watch. It was my backpacking watch through the 70's and 80's. I wear it occasionally. In the late 80's I bought a simple Swiss Army brand wrist watch, quartz and battery operated. It was my backpacking watch until a couple years ago. Still wear it. A few years ago my son gave me a Nike sports watch. I wear it a lot. My current backpacking watch is a Timex Expedition. Lightweight with the Indiglo light. Not a lot of other features. I also have a Casio Pathfinder watch (solar, temp, alt, etc.), I asked my wife to buy me for Christmas a couple years back. I use it backpacking once in a while, when I may want to measure stuff. I have two dress watches, a Seiko my dad gave me when I graduated from high school in the 60's and an expensive Seiko my wife gave me. I wear both of them. That is 7 watches, and I really only "need" one. But I will never get rid of any of them, unless the Timex or the Nike break. The others can be repaired.

I still have "stuff" from the 60's forward. I have backpacking gear that is over 40 years old and still works, and I use it occasionally for nostalgia sake. Not giving it up. If something did not work out well, then it is not a "keeper" and I give it away. So it is a case of needing more efficient storage, not giving it up. Plus they can be bequeath to my kids, who can do as they wish with it. I hope they keep it and pass it down.

P.S. Anyone have some Gaz GT 106 canisters they would like to sell? I am down to my last 6 or so, and I still use my Gaz Globetrotter :)

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
Re: Minimalism on 01/06/2012 16:30:34 MST Print View

David, Interesting link, thanks for posting it. Great replies as well. I started looking at minimalism this year as a way to extend what I learned from lightweight backpacking into my broader life.

From a backpacking perspective I have tried to reduce the number of items carried as much as my weight. What I have concluded is that my wilderness experience tends improve with fewer items. In general the weight is less but also there are less items to keep up with and many tasks are simpler like packing up and finding things.

If thinking about a lighweightlife. There are a few good books on minimalism I have read that I would recommend.

- Minimalism: Essential Essays
- The Joy of less, A minimalist living guide to living with less and loving it
- Simplify

What I found was that I was having trouble letting go of things because I associated them with people or it had cost significant money. By no means would my family be considered hoarder, we are probably just average Joe, but I have taken truck load after truck load after truck load away to good will and the dump and we don't miss it a bit. Our house is beginning to open up more and it has spread to the rest of the family. With out even asking all of us (me, wife, and 2 kids) have cleaned out our closets. My daughter (14) helped my son (11) go through all his old toys and he literally donated more than half of what he owned. Thinking that all these toys were going to kids who didn't have much really inspired them to dig deep. I hit my office, the garage, bathroom drawers, and the attack this year. My wife went through the linen closet, bonus room, and kitchen. I still suggest we have a lot of opportunity in the kitchen.

Yes I even threw out my old north face pack from 1983 after finding the pack pad had turned to dust, out went my old sierra designs starlight tent that smelled so bad no one could sleep in it. These things all had great memories but they aren't the memories. Just because I don't have the stuff doesn't mean I didn't take the trips. We say nostalgia, but I never went to the attic pulled out the out tent and reminisced about old times. I was just moving them from place to place taking time and resources to unpack, store and repack them.

On to passing items down... I found I was "stuck" with many boxes of junk that belonged to both of my parents that had come to me after they passed away. I really did not want this stuff but did not know what to do after dealing with their loss. The boxes filled my attack and I was afraid to even look at them. They weighed on me heavily. Once I realized the stuff they once owned was not them I had the courage to go through it and find someone who would use it or trash it. I feel such a relief now that I didnt think was possible.

If you were to come into my house today you would not even suspect I have started to move to minimalism because there is still so much here, but start I have and each step I take has only made me feel better.


Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Deep Frreze
Insured value of your kit. on 01/06/2012 16:46:41 MST Print View

Hi folks,

I am moving to the US from Europe in a few weeks and the shipping company requires a breakdown and value of all goods shipped for insurance purposes.

I was quiet surprised by how much it would cost me to replace my kit if I bought it new, lets say I could buy a nice second hand car with it.

I do not own a crazy amount of kit, half my kit is used all year round and the rest I have a 3 season and winter item but no more than that.



Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
Minimalism on 01/06/2012 16:54:44 MST Print View

Having done a recent PIF gear-closet cleaning I have a feeling not of loss but of liberation. In regard to minimalism I have a ways yet to go but I've made a good start.