Anyone Practice Trail Communism?
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Pete Acker
(pka45) - F
Anyone Practice Trail Communism? on 08/21/2012 13:08:36 MDT Print View

Maybe there is another name for this, but "trail communism" is what I came up with. It's my way of leveling the fitness and gear-weight playing field so that all group members can work just as hard, and nobody is left behind or too far ahead. The idea is to adjust pack weights until that goal is met.

Since rarely are two people's paces the same, when hiking in groups, is this the way anyone else does it?

http://elkprep.blogspot.com/2012/08/ultralight-philosophy-ii-trail-communism.html

Edited by pka45 on 08/21/2012 13:09:26 MDT.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Anyone Practice Trail Communism? on 08/21/2012 13:23:31 MDT Print View

I used to lead lots of group trips, and we generally had a central commissary, so there were bags of food and stoves and fuel that had to be carried. Let's just say that there are six people, and I have ten bags of central commissary. Some might be heavy, and some might be lighter. I announce that everybody needs to carry a share. What I don't say is that some may carry more than others.

One person may already have a forty-pound load, so they are reluctant to pick a heavy bag of commissary. OK, let them slide by with a light bag. One other person might have a super 20-pound load, but they might grab one heavier bag or two bags simply because they are more able to carry it.

In some cases, the object is to equalize the loads a bit so that will even out the speed that the whole group can manage.

Some folks think that this is incredibly unfair, so they never do trips where there is a central commissary. They want to carry their own stuff and nothing for anybody else.

--B.G.--

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Anyone Practice Trail Communism? on 08/21/2012 13:23:51 MDT Print View

So you're saying I can work my aRse off, skip the donuts and pizza, and wake up at 5 AM every Saturday to run to the top of a few peaks to stay in shape...

...Only to go out on a trip with a person that is more concerned with the Pizza Hut Take-Out Deal of the Week and their FFA ranking on Modern Warfare 3...

...and I have to carry extra weight so we can be "equal" on our trip?

Huh.

I may be a fan of certain aspects of Marxist economics, but on the trail I'm more of a John Birch Society kind of guy.

Brandon =Þ
(Beeen) - MLife

Locale: California
Re: Anyone Practice Trail Communism? on 08/21/2012 13:26:24 MDT Print View

I adhere to this principle when backpacking with my girlfriend, but I don't say anything to her about it. I just periodically put stuff in her pack when she's not looking.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Anyone Practice Trail Communism? on 08/21/2012 13:40:45 MDT Print View

When I leading BPing trips in the Sierra, I'd stay light (for the times) at about 29 pounds including personal food for 9 days. The lightest other pack would be, say, 45 pounds because her husband had most of it. But with such a light pack, I could strap another pack onto mine if someone was slow, twisted an ankle, etc.

On iconic day hikes (Half Dome, Grand Canyon, Whitney), my deal has always been that I'll carry the food and water for anyone who wants to just come without any load. I'll also insist that anyone who lags behind has to surrender their load to me so we can all, as a group, get there together.

I can often deflect the egos involved by pointing out that if we were selling real estate, programming in C++, or playing music that THEY'D be doing the heavy lifting, but right now, we're hiking and that's what I do well so shut up and accept the help being offered.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Anyone Practice Trail Communism? on 08/21/2012 13:59:18 MDT Print View

Heck no. The only reason I will carry another persons gear is they are my kids, husband or are injured. I have spent years dialing in my gear. I cook my own meals, sleep in my own tent and so on. This doesn't mean I don't share gear but I don't want to be reliant on others if I can help it. Most people I hike with are the same way also. We hike as a group but without group gear. We eat together, but all cook what we like and so on.
Works well.
But I also don't expect to hike in sight of others all day on long days. Is it nice? Yes, but I am fine with being behind. If a guy has legs 4" longer than mine frankly he walks faster! Even when my husband carries a 45 lb pack with our middle son in it his being a foot taller leaves me in his dust :-P

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Anyone Practice Trail Communism? on 08/21/2012 14:09:12 MDT Print View

With my wife? yes, of course.
I'm an ox compared to her. Plus, its chivalrous.

With other folks? nope.
+1 Craig.


One time (not at band camp) a girl we were with had the heaviest pack out of all of us and she was the weakest hiker. There were beach head crossings steep enough that there are ropes in place to aid. Her legs were wobblin so bad it looked liked she was doing the funky chicken. - dangerous.

So another strong hiker and I took at least 10 lbs off her. (see ladies, I ain't so bad)

Our women (yes, we own them) were so proud they let us cook dinner.
(back to being hated)

One guy emphatically wasn't going to take any of her weight and lost his friend with benefits over it.


So I guess I'll do it for safety and my wife. Other than that... prob not

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Anyone Practice Trail Communism? on 08/21/2012 14:15:01 MDT Print View

Generally, no. I carry my stuff, everyone else carries theirs. Of course, like Sarah, I generally hike with folks I've hiked with before, and we all follow that rule. We don't need to stay together throughout the hike, we do enjoy being together at camp.

I have, however, taken gear/weight from a suffering member of my/our party before. I generally don't hike with that person again, though.

Jon Fong
(jonfong57)

Locale: www.flatcatgear.com
I prefer to call it load matching on 08/21/2012 15:16:25 MDT Print View

Since I only backpack with my family, of course we do this. My three daughters are in college and are in various states of fitness. We balance the loads so that everyone is equally tired. When my wife and I go backpacking, we use the 60/40 rule in that I carry 60% of the total load. Even at that we make slight adjustments as we go. You would be amazed at the difference of shifting 2 pounds can make. Jon

Dena Kelley
(EagleRiverDee) - M

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
re Anyone Practice Trail Communism? on 08/21/2012 15:36:28 MDT Print View

I've had boyfriends carry more weight than me- usually because they carried the tent, or the kitchen. That was chivalrous and I appreciated it...and it probably kept me interested in backpacking, since even then my pack weighed 45 lbs.

Now days I hike with friends and everyone is fully responsible for themselves. We all carry our own shelters,food, kitchen, etc. I feel I've worked hard to reduce my weight and deserve to benefit from that. I also would never consider asking anyone else to carry anything from load. However, if someone in my party were injured I would take some or all of their load if I could, and if someone had a gear failure I would share gear or whatever. I would hope for the same from the folks in my group if I were injured or had a gear failure, as otherwise they aren't very good friends.

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: re Anyone Practice Trail Communism? on 08/21/2012 16:13:57 MDT Print View

I carried my friend's 24 lb pack on my head the last 2 miles of the hike in, while going ahead and looking for water. Does that count? She is over 60, first time backpacking , it was hot, steep and I really wanted her to have a good experience and not come out of it in pain.

Edited...apostrophe...

Edited by Kat_P on 08/21/2012 16:14:49 MDT.

Paul Wagner
(balzaccom) - F

Locale: Wine Country
we balance things out on 08/21/2012 16:14:56 MDT Print View

I carry about 30% more than my wife. And I am 30% bigger.

And that's no only fair--it's part of being a couple. Which is why I am still backpacking with my wife of 35 years....and a lot of you are hiking alone or with your good buddies (no benefits?) grin.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Trail Communism - Same Same Communism on 08/21/2012 16:21:51 MDT Print View

As others have already alluded...

If fitter people have to carry more, then few will want to be fit. They will pretend to be unfit. And then they become truly unfit. Until the whole team collapses.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Anyone Practice Trail Communism? on 08/21/2012 16:32:35 MDT Print View

"Some folks think that this is incredibly unfair, so they never do trips where there is a central commissary. They want to carry their own stuff and nothing for anybody else."

@ Bob Gross

Imagine a society where daily "communist" trail trips were forced onto everyone -- with a bit of let up only now! In China, people aren't forced so much anymore, but slogans exhorting them to sacrifice themselves for the greater good of all are still plastered EVERYWHERE! And it is in China that you will find the most incredibly impolite and discourteous people!! They are so sick and tired of "everybody else", they really just want to get ahead on their own for once!

Among us Chinese, a running joke goes like this: How can you tell a Chinese from the mainland vs. one from Taiwan? Answer: When you approach an elevator and there is a Chinese already inside, the person from Taiwan will press "Door Open" for you. A mainlander will press Door Close and pout if you still managed to squeeze in.

William Segraves
(sbill9000) - F - M
sharing the load on 08/21/2012 16:57:33 MDT Print View

I always do this on group trips and have never thought twice about it. A group is only going to get as far as its weakest link. If I'm feeling strong, I'm always happy to carry some extra. In years when I was coming back from an injury, it was the willingness of my friends to carry a little extra that got me back into the mountains.

Best,

Bill S.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Anyone Practice Trail Communism? on 08/21/2012 17:11:56 MDT Print View

"So you're saying I can work my aRse off, skip the donuts and pizza, and wake up at 5 AM every Saturday to run to the top of a few peaks to stay in shape...

...Only to go out on a trip with a person that is more concerned with the Pizza Hut Take-Out Deal of the Week and their FFA ranking on Modern Warfare 3...

...and I have to carry extra weight so we can be "equal" on our trip?"

I struggle with this one, too, Craig. I guess where I've ended up is: 1) Select your partners carefully to weed out the unfit, incompatible, etc; 2) Once the trip begins, if someone gets slightly injured, contracts a minor sickness, or is just plain having a bad day here and there, I shift to "To each according to their need, from each according to their ability" mode in the interest of ensuring that the trip goes as well as possible. The inevitable post trip debriefing/rehash may, however, lead to some not being invited on future trips, in the interest of not making a habit of this approach. I've had trips work out this way from time to time, and there are no easy answers. I will say that as I've gotten older and have a very intense feeling of not having precious time to waste on turkeys, I have edged closer to being a John Birch kind of guy out of sheer selfishness.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: we balance things out on 08/21/2012 17:19:46 MDT Print View

"I carry about 30% more than my wife. And I am 30% bigger.

And that's no only fair--it's part of being a couple."

A very wise insight, Paul. A pity we can't extend it beyond our immediate families on a wider scale. In the end, we are in this together, and all we really have is each other. We will live or die as a species, not as individuals. Thus it has always been, and thus it will always be. The timeless, immutable key to survival.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Anyone Practice Trail Communism? on 08/21/2012 17:48:02 MDT Print View

Not any more. I used to before I decided to lighten my load, but like others have said, I have put so much time and money into going lighter that I no longer try to prop up those that go heavy. However, when it comes to my partner, we do try to equalise things (we both are already carrying very light loads anyway), and for sure if there is an injured member in the party, I will do my share to help. I see it like this: Each individual has a choice in what they carry, but not a choice if they get injured or ill. So if they choose a heavier load, so be it. My closest hiking buddies are old school. They WANT a bombproof everest tent, a bomb of a white gas stove, stainless steel pots, fresh fruit and veggies, a luxury mat, etc... They don't carry these things because they can't afford it or don't know any better, it's just what they are comfortable and familiar with.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Anyone Practice Trail Communism? on 08/21/2012 18:37:50 MDT Print View

No but yes.

In general I won't carry someone else's gear or more than an (approximate) equal share of group gear. But it's hard to be perfect on that. My favorite two person shelter is a TT RainShadow 2 ... not possible to divide that into two equal parts so I usually carry the heavy part if I'm bunking with another person.

I've also volunteered to be the "wine mule" for a group of 6-8 that takes an annual trip. This year's trip started a day after a 5 inch rainfall and it was almost certain that we'd get multiple waves of rain over the next 4 days so I brought a 10x10 silnylon tarp, lines and stakes (1.5-2 lbs) and handed off the wine I was going to carry.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Carrying other's weight is....... on 08/21/2012 19:35:30 MDT Print View

Immoral...... Unless it is your wife then it's just plain smart or survival!