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Where are the lightweight backpackers? Not on the JMT...
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Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Thoughtful Choice on 08/28/2012 11:48:32 MDT Print View

I don't like to see suffering on the trail that wasn't chosen. I think there is a big difference between people on make a choice to carry extra things because they have decided that it is worth the wait and people who just pack without much thought to the effect of carrying the weight.

I think the biggest UL trait that can be applied to other types of backpacking is thoughtful evalution of your gear and the purpose of your hike and taking what you need to accomplish that purpose. I don't really care if a person is heavy or light but if they havent gone through that process and look like they are suffering I find it sad.

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
To each his own on 08/28/2012 16:24:33 MDT Print View

A wise man once said if something's worth doing, it worth doing right.

I went hiking a few days ago with this kid whos sleeping bag was bigger and heavier than my whole wet pack. He had it tied loosely to the bottom of his pack and I must say he did not look like he enjoyed the hiking, but I'm sure he slept well.

Dave Ploessel
(mailesdad) - F
Not sure you're giving people enough credit on 08/29/2012 16:50:43 MDT Print View

"In my time on the trail, I've only met a handful of people who fit this description. And each & everyone of them was a 20-something researcher/trailhand who had been selected for his physical strength/stamina in order to carry measurement devices & tools. To equate those with the rest of the population is a bit of a stretch."

oh come on now. I'm a heck of a long way past my twenties, so are the majority of the people i hike with, and not a one of us have been "selected for our abilities as pack animals" and they all are perfectly capable of carrying heavy loads without it being an excercise in misery and self abuse.

you are perfectly illustrating the attitude i was referring to in my previous post about how ul'ers are somehow convinced that carrying a 50# pack 25 miles is some hurculean feat that can only comfortably be done be done by "a professional athlete".

it's not. plain and simple, it's just not a big deal. really. i promise you. kids can do it. old people can do it. people of all shapes and sizes can do it.

yeah, a lighter pack is nice, it's easier, but it is not the end all be all in what determines if the vast majority enjoy and appreciate the wild.

as was wrtten above: it all comes down to if they are smiling.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Not sure you're giving people enough credit on 08/29/2012 17:24:12 MDT Print View

Guy over on Whiteblaze said today that after his AT hike it took months for him to stand up straight as he was hunched over from his pack the whole way and a year later he can't walk barefoot as it sends shooting pains through his feet. and said "it comes with the territory"

accepting months of pain AFTER you're done is not a good thing.

Donald Browning
(docdb) - M

Locale: SE USA
I'm both on 08/29/2012 17:37:18 MDT Print View

I really like all the ultralight techniques that I've learned on this forum, and comb the cottage industry websites like many of you do for the lightest, most functional gear. I also have a 9yo daughter that I've been dedicated to introducing to the outdoors, with its flora and fauna. It's been quite an adventure. She's so cute carrying the smallest possible ULA catalyst, "bulging at the seams" with an art tablet and some watercolors to paint what she's seen. I carry the whole load and try to stay within a mile of the trail head so she will have a good time and won't get fatigued. For my solo trips, I really enjoy going great distances with about a 15 pound pack. It's a pleasure and a joy, and I have many of you to thank for your advice and insight in my lightweight quest.............that's my Dr Jekyll, now for Mr Hyde:
I'm also a big-game hunter, prefer Alaska/North Canada, mountains and snow. This type of activity requires STOUT gear, dependable gear, weight-bearing gear. I live in Georgia and am must train for my trips in the wilderness areas of North Georgia to get the mountain training needed with this "heavy-weight gear". The thing is, I'm about to go all ugly on the next stranger on the trail that gives me a smug, judgmental look, with comments like "wow, what's in that pack". I mean EVERY person I passed on my last training mission had this same response. I spent the last trip pondering what it is about humans that produces that response. Why does anyone care? My whole goal on my solo trips is to get away from people with questions or worse yet, advice. There is no peace in the wilderness with a big pack in my experience, unless you are WAY off the trail away from other folks.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Where are the lightweight backpackers? Not on the JMT... on 08/29/2012 18:03:20 MDT Print View

The very basic point is that it is easier for anyone to walk with 20 lbs than it is with 50lbs.
This is BPL where after all the idea is to help each other to shed some weight and have more fun on the trail.
Give a kid a 50 lbs load ( on a few trips) and most likely you will have an adult with a bad back , possibly a non hiking adult ( as in : done that, never again)
But in a way I wish that everybody hiked with 50lbs loads, that would make me feel younger than I am every time I pass one.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Where are the lightweight backpackers? Not on the JMT... on 08/29/2012 18:11:45 MDT Print View

Is this what this thread is about. I did not say a word to him about his pack. Looked like he was having, huff, a, huff, lot, huff, fun, huff. He and his wife were up there with two of their kids. I actually have that same pack in my garage.On the Paiute Pass Trail 8/24/12

Edited by scottbentz on 08/29/2012 18:12:52 MDT.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
this is BPL on 08/29/2012 18:50:08 MDT Print View

This is BPL where after all the idea is to help each other to shed some weight and have more fun on the trail

to be more precise ... This is BPL where after all the idea is to make fun of other people who carry more weight and have more fun feeling superior about it online ...

several of these threads pop up every season ...

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Where are the lightweight backpackers? Not on the JMT... on 08/29/2012 20:18:30 MDT Print View

The most popular packs on the AT are ULA, granite Gear, gossamer gear and the like. Some of the most popular tents are tarp tents.
Some people lessen their load with time and experience because experience teaches them that they don't need as much as they though or that lighter alternatives works as well if not better. Some people also find that they like the heavy gear they carry and its worth it to them to shoulder the load. Nothing wrong with that its just different styles. I personally don't like to feel like a pack mule and don't like a lot of stuff to fuss with. Thats just my style it has nothing to do with being smarter than others. Mostly its the casual or newbies that are just unaware of whats possible and unable to separate needs from wants or marketing hype from practicality. As they gain experience they learn those things and they may or may not prefer the UL style.

Susan Papuga
(veganaloha) - M

Locale: USA
Re: There were some - but not many on 08/30/2012 01:03:21 MDT Print View


Glad to hear your family had a good JMT trip.

Yeah, I too was surprised by the boy scout troops and all the crap the scoutmasters had those young boys carrying. of course the scout masters also were loaded done with 1970's style gear. We all expect those kids to be sculeosis-hunchbacks before they finish hitting puberty!

I also had to speed up as well given all the rain. Whoever says August is a "dry" time to do the JMT may need to re-think that advise!

I saw some big pack warriors and a few UL'ers and a few working on getting their pack weights down, but except for some ladies with a GG tarp, I didn't meet anybody else with UL gear from the cottage industry manufacturers that are popular here.


Susan Papuga
(veganaloha) - M

Locale: USA
MTR Scale on 08/30/2012 01:19:07 MDT Print View

Quick question...i was told the MTR scale was off (light) by 3 lbs. Can anybody verify this? I weighed my pack after resupplying and with water, it weighed 20lbs by the MTR scale.

After I first put in all the food i sent in my bucket, it weighed 25 lbs, so I took food out and left a lot behind with the already over-flowing hikers buckets. I must say i was impressed with MTR's bucket system.

David Marle
(DMarleUK) - M

Locale: Close to the Lake District
Gear and Things on 08/30/2012 05:49:24 MDT Print View

Hi there,
Just returned to the UK after hiking the JMT (and in the Snowmass area). I saw a lot of light hikers and some ultralight hikers as well as people with scary packs. I was curious to check out different gear that isn't readily available/visible in Europe. ULA packs seemed to be very popular as did Big Agnes tents and caldera cones reigned supreme with the odd Jetboil. I saw a couple of cuben tarps/poncho tarps which were interesting and a hyperlite pack I rather liked. The people who had the ultralight gear were often on 20+ miles per day.

I made a bear canister before I left to check the diameter would fit in my pack; it was still rather a shock when I loaded it in full in YV and picked up my pack. At 6kgs (13lb) base weight my pack was reasonably light, but it felt heavy and looked huge with that canister in there!

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
History and Me on 08/30/2012 11:58:59 MDT Print View

My life in backpacking has reflected changing gear and attitudes. I got into backpacking in the late '50s as a Boy Scout, carrying a frameless lump of a canvas BSA "Yucca" pack and sleeping in a kapok filled rectangular bag. NOT fun at times, fun at others. Lots of "pioneering" (constuction of newly cut poles lashed perfectly together into latrine seats, tables, lean-to frames, etc.)

Early '70s:

after college, Peace Corps, marriage and kids I got back into backpacking.
>Bag- generic polyester fiber filled mummy W/ zipper on top
>Mattress- closed cell blue foam
>Pack- Camp Trails feame W/knock-off Kelty pack
>"Tent"- plastic sheeting tube tent or urethane coated nylon tarp.
>stove/Cookset- Svea 123 & Sigg Tourist cookset (Still not a bad choice W/ 1 pot)
>Shoes- Vasque "Waffle Stompers" Notta too bad...
>Hiking pole- bamboo carpet pole
>Later tent- Jansport wedge "2-man" (we didn't use teh term 2-person then B/C we were not politically correct

Mid '90s:

>TNF Ruthsack (1st internal frame packmade in the US) found it was too small forthe gear available at that time.
>Gregory Wind River internal frame
>Dana terraplane (7.5 lbs.!)
>REI "Sololite" 1 man tent (4 Lbs.!)
>Stove- MSR Dragonfly (a step backward in weight)
>Bag- Caribou Mt'neering early Primaloft mummy
>Mattress- Thermarest Lite, reg.
>Boots- Danner full grain leather (WHAT was I thinking?)Later Danner "Lights" HA!

Early 2000s to present:

>Pack- REI Cruise UL
>Bag- WM Megalite down
>Mattress- Thermarest Prolite, reg.
>Tent> 1st TT Contrtail, now TT Moment
>Stove- Brunton Crux or CC Sidewinder W/ ESBIT or wood (3-cup anodized al. pot)
>Shoes- Merrill Moab Ventilators or Moab Mid GTX if wet or snowy

Lordy! what a difference in weight over the years.
"We get too soon old und too late schmart." (Old Pennsylvania Dutch [Amish] Saying.)

Have pity, not scorn, for those benighted 'heavy packers' on the trails. "They know not what they do."

Chris Scala
(Scalawag) - F
Re: Re: There were some - but not many on 08/30/2012 16:43:40 MDT Print View


You probably were on the trail shortly after I finished. 7/25 - 8/13. Up til MTR for us, we had no rain at all, not even a single cloud. We first noticed distant fluffy (I'm talking wisps) clouds on our way out of Red's, going along the Cascade Canyon toward Duck and Purple lake. And our first afternoon storm the night after MTR.

But then every day after, the rain started about an hour sooner and lasted about a half hour longer. We got pinned down at Guitar Lake from 1PM to 4PM in a very cold downpour, managed to get the tent up dry (a miracle) and took a long nap. Woke up and found all our trail buddies at the "upper" lake, having passed us in our sleep, we had no idea where everyone was!

And about 20 minutes from the Portal, it poured. I mean POURED. Like the worst rain we had the entire trip, and the worst downpour I've gotten stuck in all year, anywhere. The trail became a river! We were finishing so it wasn't a dire situation or anything, but man, it would've been nice to finish dry. Of course once we hit Lone Pine the moisture was sucked right off of us.

Anyway, I felt bad for those on the trail after us... we lucked out with the gorgeous weather most of the trip, and while the afternoon storms weren't that bad, they definitely complicated the day a bit, as we had to pay more attention to keeping things dry and drying things off, and couldn't stop and relax in some spots we would have otherwise.

(Also, my pack at MTR was coming in at 25, which I thought was rather light given the amount of food I had...)

Charles Potter

Locale: Northern Cal
Re: Where are the lightweight backpackers? Not on the JMT... on 08/30/2012 16:57:01 MDT Print View

Just came back from the last southern portion of the JMT. Mother nature was not cooperating - lightening, hail, rain every day for several afternoons straight. Still, everybody had lightweight stuff, bearicades, carbon fiber pole tents. One guy was using a poncho tent, another a tarp tent. Another couple was doing 6 days of 30 miles a day with one lightweight backpack between them! I saw lots of tyvek ground cloths too.
The boy scouts often use heavier stuff because parents don't want or can't shell out lots of $ for a UL tent, pack, and down bag, just to find out that 11 year old Tommy really wasn't into camping after all. So scouts get trained on the heavy stuff (often what the troop has) and typically stay with it because that's what they learned. This is not a defense of this approach, but merely an explanation from personal experience in scouting.

Barbara Karagosian
(Barbara) - M

Locale: So Cal
Susan and David and MAnfred on 08/30/2012 17:56:58 MDT Print View

Sorry in advance on hijacking the thread - but had to say HI to Susan (saw you at Evolution Lake) and David (top of Mather), and of course Manfred - it was lovely chatting to you all. Cheers! Barbara (and Don)