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Beyond Backpacking
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Steven Hanlon
(asciibaron) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Beyond Backpacking on 03/25/2012 18:50:53 MDT Print View

i was able to jump on a listing in the GSF for Ray Jardine's "Beyond Backpacking" book and have been enjoying the read for the most part. i stumbled over what i think are some segments of junk science in the food section. Ray claims that his coffee drinking was a net loss due to the diuretic properties of caffeine. he also commented on the fuel savings from omitting the morning coffee ritual.

unless Ray was drinking 5 or more cups in a row, the coffee is hydrating, regardless of the caffeine. as for the fuel budgeting, my fuel is budgeted for my daily needs, and if a cup of coffee in the morning is one of my enjoyments, then i will carry the fuel.

he takes his diuretic case to drinking alcohol. in the quantities required to dehydrate, they simply wouldn't be fun to carry. a few beers or several drams of whisky isn't going to dehydrate a person. these ideas were proved incorrect long before 2001, when this edition was published.

the junk science continues in the section on water, apparently, only pure water will hydrate regardless of the amount of liquids one drinks. i guess Ray never realized we get plenty of water from the food we eat, even on the trail.

for the record, i rarely drink coffee, but when i do, i enjoy it. i do enjoy a tasty malt beverage from time to time, and esp. after a big mile day. nothing soothes the weary body like an English Bitters.

i've noticed some other very bizarre opinionations in this tome and i have to wonder what the point of backpacking is for Ray - he seems to garner little joy from many of the traditional notions of backpacking. big miles can be done along a lonely mountain road much faster, as that appears to be the motivation at times for the weigh considerations.

Edited by asciibaron on 03/25/2012 19:20:00 MDT.

John Nausieda
(Meander) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Beyond Backpacking on 03/25/2012 19:57:02 MDT Print View

It's interesting that you take Ray to task in much the same way that Ryan Jordan did here at BPL not so long ago. Look it up.Yet Ray and his wife have to be 2 of the most continuously training hikers that I know of. And so what if Ray only analyzes to a point that suits him. He has little to prove given what he's done. Choosing the quiet life probably suits him. Was he wrong about tarps, quilts, stealth camping, not making money by selling labels? If you met him on the trail would you really take him to these tasks? His book was and as it is now continued as Trail Life was a paradigm shift. Don't throw out the baby with the bath?

Edited by Meander on 03/25/2012 19:59:28 MDT.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Beyond Backpacking on 03/25/2012 20:23:43 MDT Print View

I think the "answer" has to be 'whatever floats your boat'. Questioning whether someone else is really enjoying the activity is a losing proposition simply because there is too much subjectivity involved.

Steven Hanlon
(asciibaron) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Huh on 03/25/2012 20:55:00 MDT Print View

Be careful you don't fall off the edge of the Earth whilst backpacking.

So what if I think the Earth is flat if everything else I tell you is "correct"...

Edited by asciibaron on 03/25/2012 20:59:08 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Beyond Backpacking on 03/25/2012 20:58:21 MDT Print View

Heheh-- yeah, Jardine is an engineer and a very clever guy (he holds the patent on climbing cams), but I agree that he gets out there on his food ideas. He's like many iconoclasts--- great on some subjects, but not all.

I like to say that ultralight backpacking is a technique, not a religion. Use what works for you.

Steven Hanlon
(asciibaron) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Engineer on 03/25/2012 21:00:30 MDT Print View

I didn't know he was an engineer, but I had my suspicions :)

John Nausieda
(Meander) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Beyond Backpacking on 03/25/2012 21:09:23 MDT Print View

So you don't like the way Thomas Kuhn writes. None of us do. But he sticks around because some ideas matter more than others.Same with Ray. Do I want to give thanks and place a rock with him at a pure water source? Yeah, because he's probably analyzed so many he's right even if you don't like the reasons. Did you think his section about fear and mistakes was wrong? I've quizzed him myself about ticks and skeeters and the need for a bug tent and found him flexible.You want perfection? For what?

Steven Hanlon
(asciibaron) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Perfection? on 03/25/2012 21:25:29 MDT Print View

Basing a claim on junk science doesn't give confidence to other aspects of the information presented. I have dismissed quite a few of Ray's ideas because he is speaking from emotion and not authority or fact. The food section has several such instances. I Ray an expert in bear behavior, it seems his bear comments are based in anecdote and not from a scientific study.

Daniel Cox
(COHiker) - F

Locale: San Isabel NF
Ray on 03/25/2012 22:01:09 MDT Print View

I've read quite a bit of Ray Jardine's stuff in the last year as I got into dropping weight from my pack.

While he's been quite an ambassador to the culture of UL packing. There's no denying hes walked a metric crap-ton of miles, but quite a bit of his 'subject matter expert' writing left me thinking "Huh. That's not what *everyone* else says."
Feels like the majority of his views are personal anecdote, ignoring science and physics, particularly food and down insulation.

I still cut the guy alot of slack, he's promoting global backpack weight loss, and that's never bad.

John Nausieda
(Meander) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Well if you have to choose on 03/25/2012 22:19:07 MDT Print View

That's the point isn't it . You play take it down. I say what's left after losing you stands up. It's not like you can simply shop and suit yourself unless you think you could do as well from the beginning premise.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Not relevent on 03/25/2012 23:17:36 MDT Print View

I view Ray Jardin as not really relevent to most UL backpackers now. If you want good advice on gear and techniques read Andrew Skurka's book or just subscribe here for a while. I've looked at Jardins books and websites and there's nothing theere that I can't get form BPL or Andrew Skurka.
Jardin's kit may work well enough for him and if he is content with it thats great. There's plenty to be said for being content. On the other hand if you're getting your first backpacking kit I would NOT point you to him. Not only are there some wacky ideas but his gear is just out of date.

Edit -Regarding experience my brother had this to say "Experience doesn't necesarily make you an expert. It may just mean you had one experience and you repeated that exact same experience multiple times." In other words you can have "experience" without necessarily learning and growing from it.
Thats what bugs me about Ray Jardin. Once he perfected the "Ray Way" he seemed to think it was the be all end all. I like the fact that Ryan Jordan is constantly experimenting. Thats why I'm always eager to read his latest article. By comparison I can't remember the last time I visited Jardin's website. Its not that I don't like the guy, its that he has nothing new to say (which is a shame in a way).

Edited by Cameron on 03/25/2012 23:24:57 MDT.

Mark Ries
(mtmnmark) - M

Locale: IOWAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
Re: Beyond Backpacking on 03/25/2012 23:30:53 MDT Print View

Never judge a man till you've walked 2600 some odd miles in his shoes or should that be 26,000. I wonder where we would be in this sport without Ray. Has everything he's wrote about not worked for him? And an awful lot of his ideas work for us. When Ray first started "doing" and writing about it my big three was 17+ pounds and going up, I thought Ray was insane cause I read backpacker and Collen Fletcher and Chris Townsend and bullit proof was the way to go. I carried 4 nalgene bottles. My pack weight was 55-60 lbs. Nobody is always right about everything and the op has some valid points that Ray was not an expert on everything. We have improved on alot of Rays ideas but we would be years behind having packs this light while traveling safely without him, not to mention his influence on MYOG

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Beyond Backpacking on 03/25/2012 23:37:52 MDT Print View

"I wonder where we would be in this sport without Ray."

We might be even further along without him. He came late to the game.


Steven Hanlon
(asciibaron) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
cultish on 03/26/2012 05:37:34 MDT Print View

it seems Ray developed a bit of a cult for a bit and in reading the book more, it seems that is exactly what he was after, a subset of backpackers that subscribed to his methods and motives, without question.

the entire coffee thing just sort of bugs me. instead of simply saying coffee consumes fuel, is added weight, and might not be so good since you are really just drinking it for the drug effect, he used junk science to declare coffee as something that any "serious" backpacker would leave at home.

last i checked, plastics and nylon were made from petrochemicals and we all know how clean that industry is... but they form the foundation for Ray's way of the outdoor experience. don't camp in established campsites, but use materials whose manufacture is anything but good for the wilderness.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Ray on 03/27/2012 08:01:05 MDT Print View

Jardine certainly is an impressive fellow- hell, just google him and read about all that he has done- climbing, kayaking, hiking, inventing, etc., etc. I'd love to have a beer with him.

But he IS an eccentric and you have to keep that in mind. Think of him like Howard Hughes. Just as there are a lot of smart, accomplished people who believe that Obama is a Kenyan Muslim or that Israel was behind 9/11, Ray has his odd dietary opinions. Also, I'm sure that fact checking EVERYTHING when you're writing a book gets onerous- I suspect that Jardine had just been told about the dehydrating effects of caffeine and alcohol so may times that he took it for granted.

Skurka's book also contains a lot of opinion but I certainly have no doubt that he is presenting an informed and experienced opinion, and he presents it as such rather than passing it off as "the obvious truth to anyone who is as smart and serious as I am." Humility and self-deprecation convinces me more than does arrogance. Likewise Jordan's book, while getting dated, has a lot of science in it and somewhat less opinion- though i haven't read it in a while so I may be mis-remembering.

Edited by acrosome on 03/27/2012 11:57:40 MDT.

James McIntosh

Locale: Near Bass Strait
Brilliant but mad on 03/28/2012 05:03:42 MDT Print View

If I remember right, one strong cup of coffee has enough diuretic effect to make a non coffee drinker wee an extra quarter of a cup. Less effect on a regular coffee drinker. So you can still hydrate by drinking coffee.

The weird thing for me in Beyond Backpacking was the assertion that humans need to sleep with their heads down hill.