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Where are the lightweight backpackers? Not on the JMT...
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Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Where are the lightweight backpackers? Not on the JMT... on 08/21/2012 21:28:27 MDT Print View

Well, lets' see, my first ever trip carrying a pack was a winter trip into mono lake. My parents bought me a lot of new gear for this trip, with the assumption that it would be money well spent because I could use it any time of year if I decided I liked hiking and wanted to do more. So I was pretty much stuck with that heavy base weight for a LONG time, and couldn't afford or justify buying lighter gear for summer trips. The up side of it all was that I became VERY fit when it came to hiking. I don't see anything wrong with that...I still enjoyed hiking. But that was in the 70s. There really really wasn't any light gear available at the time anyway, even for summer trips. There weren't any internal frame packs, there weren't any light stoves, pots were all stainless steel, sleeping bags were made to last forever, and the common wisdom was that down was too risky for a sleeping bag or jacket, so everything was synthetic. Just as well, coz down fill was doing well to hit 550 fill. There was no Goretex, silnylon, Caldera cones, aircraft grade aluminum tent poles, or any of the other options most consumers now have at no great increase in $$$ (except maybe good quality down, which still costs a lot). The idea of multiple use items was unheard of. A lot of my stuff was army surplus...yikes.

So we have it pretty good these days. Aside from food, fuel and water, there is no good reason someone getting kitted out now with new gear to have to carry a heavy pack, or spend a fortune, except the historic reasons that seem hard for some to overcome.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Orange County, CA, USA
Re: Re: Where are the lightweight backpackers? Not on the JMT... on 08/21/2012 21:34:58 MDT Print View

Interesting comment on "hikers" vs. "campers". I find that I do different trips depending on my mood, what time I have available, and who I'm with. In all cases though I'm cognizant that having a comfort in camp means hours of discomfort on the trail, and that often helps me eliminate some items -- although with a Neoair pad, I find myself sleeping quite comfortably.

It's also a nice thought that I'm not just taking my daughter hiking; I'm building a future backcountry constituency. :)


michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
. on 08/21/2012 21:35:54 MDT Print View

I am at about a 8lb baseweight give or take a pound and a half depending on weather and I feel very safe.

I feel like I sacrifice nothing to get to this point, in fact I have been enjoying my excessive hiking and gear more than ever. When I stop to set up camp my back isnt hurting, blisters are not too bad, and I am full of energy.

Gone are the days when I had a 45lb pack and I only weighed 130lbs. Everything I own I feel is going to last a long time and is versitille, meaning I can leave my canister stove at home and cook over the fire. I can leave the tent body at home in my double walled tent.

I can go even lighter!

Take a look at my gearlist, everything I have serves a purpose, its about being smart and driving a little Civic; rather than a gas guzzling V10 Ford truck.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Great thread on 08/21/2012 21:37:50 MDT Print View

"How many of us (honestly, now) began backpacking with all the traditional amenities? Think of what it took to convince you to change. "

On my very first "backpacking" trip, my pack probably weighed overall less than 20lbs. I was using a 35 liter osprey pack with a cheap nylon tarp and a mil surp patrol bag. I feel very, very fortunate to not have been sucked into the swirling vortex that is mainstream backpacking gear.
To be honest, I was spending a ton of time on and it got me in the mindset to go minimal. The knowledge of bushcraft skills has been tremendously useful in all of my backpacking adventures. Ironically, most of the people on that site carry more heavier loads than your average backpacker but with less comfort. But they sure do love their wool blankets and canvas tarps... can't blame them.

(KalebC) - F

Locale: South West
Thanks for the thoughts... on 08/21/2012 22:12:35 MDT Print View

Thank you all for your thoughts. I felt like I was sitting around a campfire and discussing the evolution of backpacking over the last 15 years. I will post a trip report in the respective section. The last memorable trip experience was running across a couple that was doing the Rae Lakes loop clockwise, and was at Mist Falls 5 miles deep. They said they were too tired to push on and they wanted to do the loop in 7 days. It was very sad to think that they were not going to make it and have to turn back. They had at least 50lb packs that were massive. I thought "they have 41 miles to go, and about 12,000 elevation gain/loss and they were struggling, they are not going to make it". The Rae Lakes loop is a formidable hike and if you go light you have a better chance.

Jeff Bullard
(DallasJeff) - F
Heavy on 08/21/2012 22:20:19 MDT Print View

Because I'm fat and saving 16 grams doesn't make a noticeable difference.

After I shed those extra 21 pounds off my own frame then I'll start worrying about the extra 21 grams in my pack again.

At 30 years old I was the weight weenie trying to shed another gram off the components of my road bike for a half ironman. Now I'm the guy you pass on the top of the mountain that hiked up a charcoal grill and a six pack of Rogue Dead Guy (on ice). lol cheers

Edited by DallasJeff on 08/21/2012 22:23:09 MDT.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Where are the lightweight backpackers? Not on the JMT.. on 08/21/2012 22:47:03 MDT Print View

Then I saw one guy with a small/lightweight pack walking by himself. He asked how far it was to Forester Pass, so I told him. By the time I was asking how much his pack weighed, he was gone
Yes some of these UL guys can be very rude.

The above was meant to be taken as a double entendre (no capish in English...) type joke as in
Mike : If i get on my horse it takes me all day to cross my farm
Jim : yes, I had a horse like that...

Edited by Franco on 08/21/2012 23:35:58 MDT.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Where are the lightweight backpackers? Not on the JMT.. on 08/21/2012 23:05:17 MDT Print View

"Yes some of these UL guys can be very rude."

No, he was just a man on a mission, and I understood that when I saw his small pack size and his trail speed. He was southbound on the last four miles before Forester Pass, and he wanted to get to the highest/last possible campsite before sunset. He had only two days before he finished the JMT, and he didn't want to get distracted by questions from the bystanders. Once he found out (from me) what he needed to know, he was gone. No biggie. I mean, it wasn't like he was an Aussie or something.


eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
gear on 08/21/2012 23:26:08 MDT Print View

you can still be fairly light with a reasonable mainstream pack, 20F sleeping bag, real tent, etc ... its all mindset ... some people bring their fears with them, others dont

conversely you can be decently light without spending much money

the point about having a single set of gear and being a tad heavier is quite relevant, but isnt the reason why some people carry the kitchen sink IMO ...

its all about knowledge, experience, and fear ... and habits as well

this does pose an interesting question ... who is getting it better, a person who spends their money on 5 different packs, 4 down puffies, 3 different bags, 2 different pads and a partridge in a pear tree for all seasons who can claim to be UL/XUL at any given time ... or a person who is simply light with a single set of gear and spends their money having fun ...

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: gear on 08/21/2012 23:37:09 MDT Print View

"a partridge in a pear tree"

Eric, I believe that the bird would classify as a consumable item.


Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Partridge in a Pear Tree on 08/21/2012 23:40:34 MDT Print View

The pears would also be a consumable item. They'd need to be dehydrated, of course. The tree, though, might be a different story!

Edited by hikinggranny on 08/21/2012 23:41:20 MDT.

Barry Cuthbert
(nzbazza) - MLife

Locale: New Zealand
Re: Partridge in a Pear Tree on 08/22/2012 02:59:52 MDT Print View

The tree is multi-use of course... fruit as food and the wood could be used as fuel or arranged into a shelter

Josh Greninger
JMT on 08/22/2012 11:55:30 MDT Print View

I hiked the JMT this year and got back last week.
I randomly met up and hiked the last 3 days with a guy that had a Zpacks Hexamid Twin, Enlightened Equipment sleeping bag, etc.
I was using the Gorilla 2012 and saw another guy with the Gorilla 2012 around Heart Lake. I played leap frog with a guy that had a cuben Zpacks bag, shelter, etc. for a few days. I saw few Mariposas, old Gorillas, lots of Osprey Exos. I passed by a few cuben shelters, tarptents. One guy was even hiking the trail with an Ursack, despite it not being allowed.
I'd say around 20% of the hikers I saw/met had some lightweight gear.

Tom D.
(DaFireMedic) - M

Locale: Southern California
Looks can be deceiving when it comes to pack weight on 08/22/2012 16:27:19 MDT Print View

I just finished the JMT, same day as Manfred. My boys and I hiked with him and his family for a bit near Crabtree Meadow and both finished the next day (although we got up early and didn't see him the final day). I saw all ranges of weight, from a guy with a 70 lbs pack trying to do the trail in 12 days (he took some advice and sent home about 30 lbs from Tuolomne) to people thru-hiking with 30L packs and less than 10 lbs base weight including bear canister. I saw at least 3 Hexamids, more of Shire's Tarptents than I can recall, a lot of Gossamer Gear packs, two Z Packs backpacks (including Manfred's). So I saw a lot of Ultralight folks, but many people I talked to seemed to be carrying between 30 and 40 lbs. Most people seemed to be at least aware of ultralight trends, even if they didn't fully dive into them.

My pack (a Gossamer Gear G4) at its heaviest weighed just over 30 lbs upon leaving Muir Trail Ranch, more than I had initially planned for because I was carrying some stuff (i.e. food) for my 11 and 14 yr old boys to keep their packs as light as possible going into the major passes. My 11 yr old's Osprey looked like the heaviest pack of our group, as it was packed full with soft goods like his clothes, his quilt, etc., and had a few things strapped to the outside including their tent. But he didn't carry any food (except for some daytime snacks, energy bars, etc) nor a bear canister and his pack rarely exceeded a total weight of 14 lbs (only if he needed to carry more than a liter of water), if the scales at Yosemite Valley and MTR are accurate. So looks can be deceiving when it comes to pack weight.

Jason and Matt on the JMT

Edited by DaFireMedic on 08/22/2012 22:29:45 MDT.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Orange County, CA, USA
Where are the lightweight backpackers? Not on the JMT... on 08/22/2012 19:39:10 MDT Print View

Cool pics, Tom (Dowser?). Thanks for sharing 'em. I can't wait until my daughter is old enough to hike with me on a Sierra backpack.

I've see it all on the trail, from packs that stood up a foot and a half above the head of the wearer to guys carrying barely more than a day pack. The all time classic was the guy I met on the JMT near Palisade Creek who had a cast iron frying pan secured to the outside of his pack. Yipes!


Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
Patridge on 08/22/2012 23:13:35 MDT Print View

Roasted with olive oil, infused with garlic, a few spices and seasonings and definitely some orange zest.

If there are pears on said pear tree and you have some butter and brown sugar, you'll be able to make a simple yet tasty dessert.


/gotta go cook now. ;)

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
That must be heavy, I can see it on 08/23/2012 07:25:18 MDT Print View

Great pic, Tom, and a fine illustration of "looks can be deceiving"! Your boy's pack does "look heavy", even if his stride looks light.

Eddy Walker

Locale: southeast
Re: Where are the lightweight backpackers? Not on the JMT... on 08/23/2012 07:47:04 MDT Print View

why does it matter if they are UL or not. What is more important is that they are getting out and enjoying themselves. If you want to have a 5-10 base weight and I want to have a 20-30 does it really bother you that sure seems like it does!!

Edited by Ewker on 08/23/2012 07:47:38 MDT.

(rps76) - F
Re: Re: Re: Where are the lightweight backpackers? Not on the JMT... on 08/23/2012 12:20:08 MDT Print View


Edited by rps76 on 08/23/2012 12:28:07 MDT.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Where are the lightweight backpackers? Not on the JMT... on 08/23/2012 16:20:04 MDT Print View

"why does it matter if they are UL or not'

It doesn't for you but the point is that unnecessary weight can and does put some off from ever taking another walk.
Find me a single sane person that tells you they did not enjoy a walk because their pack was too light and I will find you 10 that will say "never again" because they had a miserable time with too much and the wrong gear and or techniques.
.For example I have pointed out many times that you see folk arriving at camp and stripping off their wet sweaty clothes , then they get cold afterwards.
Much better to strip off when you are walking , yet I keep seeing folk doing it the other way...
So the idea is to make the experience more enjoyable for others, if YOU are happy with 50lbs, that is not the problem...
BTW, again I am talking about very affordable and achievable (yes even at REI) LW, not UL or SUL.