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2012 Backpacking Light Staff Picks
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Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Female Staff on 01/01/2013 06:25:25 MST Print View

There may have been all sorts of problems with BPL over the years, but going out of their way to be unaccommodating to women or other minorities is definitely not one of them. Carol Crooker and Addie were always given as much consideration and visibility as anyone else, especially Carol, who contributed a lot of the major articles here, and had a very important position on the staff when she was here.

If there are no women around to write the articles there is not much the rest of us can do. It's not easy for men to write about women's specific gear, you know. To imply that BPL doesn't care about women or didn't give them a chance to have their say is very misleading, or, worse, shows unfamiliarity with BPL.

I have a feeling that BPL is barely getting by these days with a skeleton on-site staff, the rest of the staff being far, far away, mostly on a purely volunteer basis. Nearly all the women staff have left. What can Ryan and co. do? Not much, until some women volunteer their expertise and willingness to contribute. The same goes for any minorities (I am black/ Filipino/ German). Unless a minority person participates, there just aren't going to be any articles highlighting minority-specific issues in the outdoors.

The sourness of the tone of this thread doesn't bode well. It would have been nice to for once have a BPL staff posted article not be attacked and snarkily remarked upon. C'mon everyone! It's the start of the new year. Can we not have an article and forum thread without all the vitriol?

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Re Female Staff on 01/01/2013 06:42:01 MST Print View

Well spoken Miguel.

Happy new year.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Re Re Female Staff on 01/01/2013 06:49:39 MST Print View


You've written articles for BPL. In regards to Miguel's post, would you consider writing an article on a young persons views and experiences, Joseph's, in regards to the hiking experience.

Try to use as many of his own words as possible so that we could get his "younger" perspective.

Party On,


Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Re Re Re Female Staff on 01/01/2013 07:36:33 MST Print View

That is an interesting idea. Actually someone else suggested a younger person's perspective on an article once.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: Re: Female Staff on 01/01/2013 10:52:02 MST Print View

Miguel, I honestly do not feel much ire in this thread. If my post was taken as harsh, I apologize. It was only meant as suggestion, but I agree with you that whatever official infrastructure BPL retains is already stretched.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: 2012 Backpacking Light Staff Picks on 01/01/2013 20:32:46 MST Print View

Is it just me or do others not care about the staff's other outdoor and personal interests? I like the old format where they picked 3 "backpacking" items -- sort of matches this website's theme.

My 2012 choices were:

1. No trekking poles - I left them at home.

2. McHale LBP 36.

3. Trail Designs GVP Caldera Cone.

4. Mizuno Universe Wave 4 XC flats.

None of them were purchased in 2012 :)

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

2012 Picks on 01/01/2013 20:38:18 MST Print View

1) MLD cuben DuoMid (prototype)
The perfect solo shelter for so many trips because it maximizes simplicity and lightness. 4 stakes and a hiking pole results in 360 protection in no time. This prototype has a few less bells and whistles, so it comes in at an amazing 11.16oz.
MLD cuben DuoMid

2) Zebralight H51
By far the best light I've used. For any trip where a .2oz squeeze light won't cut it, the H51 steps in and provides power (200 lu), simplicity (1 x AA) and flexibility (very adjustable) for 2.1oz.
Zebralight H51

3) Alpacka Yukon Yak
This tool can add amazing diversity to a wilderness trip. Covering big miles shouldn't be this easy. 87.6oz with a spray deck.

Honorable Mentions
ULA Ohm - It's been impressing me for years. Nearly perfect mid-sized load hauler.
TarpTent StratoSpire2 - Great 2 person shelter
Exped Synmat UL - because I sleep better than on a NeoAir

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: 2012 Picks on 01/02/2013 05:55:29 MST Print View

1) Gossamer Gear Mariposa 2012. I had planned to use my Granite Gear Crown for my walking all throughout 2012, but something about the Mariposa 2012 appealed to me, so I went ahead and bought it. I fell in love with it. It's simple, yet light and strong, and very flexible. I used it throughout the month in August during my month-long walk of the Pyrenees in France. The more I used it, the more I liked it. The only thing I don't like about it is the way the cord on the outer edge of the pack bag always managed to get tangled in either my hands or something inside the sack that I was trying to retrieve. I have to refit something else to deal with that. Otherwise, a pack that does what it is meant to do, well, and has a way of getting out of the way and letting you do what it needs to do.

2) Kühl Liberator Convertible Pants. I wanted a pair of pants that would be all right to wear around town while I traveled in Europe, were light, dried quickly, fit very well, could be converted into shorts without looking dorky, and worked well in high heat. I loved these pants for their high-crotch fit and cotton hand (cotton is used on the face of the fabric to help draw moisture away from the interior), that felt great to wear all day long, even for hours sitting on a train. They worked like a charm during the record heat of the summer of 2012, when temperatures in the Pyrenees often rose to 45ºC. And climbing in several big thunderstorms at the highest peaks they did great when getting drenched and drying out very quickly. Great pants that got a Backpacker's Editor's Choice award.

3) Olympus OM-D E-M5. I've been using digital cameras for a while now, both compact and DSLR's, the latest of which are the Ricoh GXR with modules, and the Nikon D7000. I love both those cameras, but the Ricoh was far too slow (but with some of my favorite image quality of any digital camera I've used) and the D7000 for too heavy. Along came the Olympus OM-D E-M5, which has changed the way I use digital cameras. It's small enough to carry easily with you in a compact bag, has a good selections of lenses (though I've been very happy with the kit lens), has all the controls you could ever need, and is very weatherproof to boot. IO find the controls on the back and top of the camera to be too small and clunky at times, and the grip a little hard to get comfortable with, but on the whole it is a great camera that goes with me everywhere.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: 2012 Backpacking Light Staff Picks on 01/02/2013 07:07:32 MST Print View

I have to chuckle at Ryan's canoe choice .... Hornbeck Blackjack Canoe (looks like a very nice canoe!)

Nice to see technology finally rivaling the canoe weights achieved by Ruston 130 years ago!

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
La Fin Du Monde on 01/05/2013 22:49:15 MST Print View

With regards to Dave Chenault's third pick:

La Fin Du Monde is a great beer. I once proclaimed it as the best beer in North America (I would say that the brew from the Belgium monks are just a little bit better). Now, I'm not so sure. But I don't want to get into how a high IBU IPA compares to an oh so sweet and sour Belgian Ale (or the North American equivalent). I want to talk about hiking. And the great hiking and beer related breakthrough of the last five years is great beer in cans. The Aussie beer isn't bad, but I don't think it holds a candle to some of the wonderful micro brews available in cans lately. Now I can enjoy a great hike with great beer at the same time. The total weight of the beer weighs only grams more than the beverage itself.

La Fin Du Monde is a wonderful beer, but it was around 8 years ago. Truly great beer in cans was not.


Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: labour of love? on 01/07/2013 15:06:29 MST Print View

Roger C said, "One might be hard-pressed to define BPL as a business at the present. How about a labour of love?"

I was thinking that if Jordan could get things together, he could pay Roger a little money for all the fabulous work and contributions he gives us.

And then Roger could afford a shirt and some decent looking ski pants.

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: 2012 Backpacking Light Staff Picks on 01/11/2013 08:30:24 MST Print View

My favorite gear for the past year has been:

Javan Dempsy/The Stateless Society Quilt. M90 shell, wide cut, and 3" of loft for only 20.25oz. I have had this for a couple of years and has seen quite a bit of use. The other weekend it was 18*F on my thermometer when I woke up and I didn't realize it had gotten that cold. I was warm and cozy all night long.

100 weight fleece beenie.
This is the perfect weight to hike in for me in cooler weather. On some trips it never comes off, I hike in it and sleep in it under my balaclava. I have one from Lands End and one from Mountain Hardwear and they are interchangable for me.

DeFeet wool e ators.
Up until a few years ago I used Smartwool adrenalines but when they discontinued them I went through a couple of brands before I found one I like. These are the ticket and not too expensive too boot.

Honorable mention:
Mont Bell UL Down Inner Jacket - bought in 2008 and is still my favorite jacket ever.
Ridgerest-warm, light, cheap and bomb proof.
Leaukotape P- pre tape problem areas and blisters are a thing of the past. Lasts for a week.

Also did my longest backpaking day ever this year at 34.2 miles in the Smokies. It beats last years best of 29.8 miles in a day.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Re: labour of love? on 01/11/2013 10:10:37 MST Print View

"I was thinking that if Jordan could get things together, he could pay Roger a little money for all the fabulous work and contributions he gives us."

As long as we all commit to buying one of Roger's tents when they arrive shortly (?), he should be well taken of.

Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F - M

Locale: Northern Virginia
My three on 01/13/2013 20:53:20 MST Print View

Sawyer squeeze water filter: light, no waiting, lasts forever. 2K miles and counting with no regrets. The bags that come with it were practically useless to me. Recommend replacing them with soda bottles.

Dr. Bronners liquid soap (eucalyptus scent) I was put off by the lame verbose label inscriptions, but this is some damned fine soap. Works better than Shave Secret shaving oil for shaving and gets the stink out of the clothes I've been wearing for a week. Another long distance hiker "must have".

Outdoor Designs Glo-mits. All glove-mittens are NOT created equal. I gave my REI glo-mits away at mountain crossings hostel after a week of frustration. I felt bad for the hiker who took them off my hands. I replaced them with the OD version. What a difference! They thought of everything.

NeoAir Xlite 3/4 length (runner-up): Lighter than foam and a LOT more comfortable. I use it in my hammock and in shelters.

Edited by herman666 on 01/14/2013 08:23:55 MST.

Raquel Rascal

Locale: Rocky Mtn. West
@ Keith on 01/14/2013 06:21:05 MST Print View

I'm interested in those glomitts....can you post a link? I couldn't find them.

Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F - M

Locale: Northern Virginia
Re: @ Keith on 01/14/2013 08:16:22 MST Print View

Here's the link. They call them convertibles instead of glo-mits in the UK.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
2012 Backpacking Light Staff Picks on 01/14/2013 12:04:56 MST Print View

There is a female on the BPL staff, and (as already pointed out) a black female, at that. She's also very comely. Unfortunately she's lacking an opposable thumb and her vocabulary is limited to WOOF.

I guess I could try to write an article, but anything on the past year would be limited to coping with plantar fasciitis (lots of stretching!) and, most recently, knee strain due to too much walking on the beach (it's amazing how many unused muscles are discovered from walking on soft sand!). Favorite gear items would be a rehash of what I have had for several years, and would be a lengthy list. Also, since I'm lightweight (12 1/2 lbs. base weight, with no desire to go lighter) instead of UL, I probably wouldn't qualify in this crowd. Maybe someday I'll come up with "Confessions of an aged, rheumatic, short-distance woman hiker" or something of the sort. In the meantime, I'm trying hard to get in shape to get back out there!

At least my dog is now eating again! It turned out that despite his showing several symptoms of kidney failure (not uncommon in older dogs), his blood tests are still very close to normal. It appears that his sudden loss of appetite was his protest against his kidney-friendly diet ("To ### with this healthy stuff; I want real food!"). I can relate to that as I overindulged over the holidays so am on a rather strict diet myself!

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
Ski pants? on 01/18/2013 12:43:18 MST Print View

"And then Roger could afford a shirt and some decent looking ski pants."

Careful now. Rog probably made those pants...

Kevin Buggie
(kbuggie) - M

Locale: NW New Mexico
3 (+3) more on 01/18/2013 13:25:42 MST Print View

My 3 'backpacking' picks for 2012:

1) 190 Proof Everclear (some to drink, some to burn)

2) Smartphone with topo maps and aerials downloaded.

3) lightweight shoes that don't lose chunks (Inov-8)

And 3 more esoteric BPL picks:

1) tenkara.

2) pro-active chat with insurance agent about trailhead (car) vandalism.

3) Getting to 'know' the BPL forum regulars (Ken, Roger, Dan, Nick, Eugene, etc...I love you (irreverent) guys, man!). And to think I used to only read the articles...

Andrew Urlacher
(anarkhos) - M

Locale: Colorado, Wyoming
3 Favorites on 01/19/2013 17:47:40 MST Print View

1. GoLite Bitterroot Down Parka: 13 oz. Packs small, lightweight, and keeps me toasty on long evening walks on the neighborhood trails in single digits. Love the hood, can fit easily over a helmet if climbing is your thing but not too loose to be annoying. And for $150 right now I honestly don't think you can beat its value compared to any other down jacket of similar quality, which is outstanding.

2. Mountain Laurel Designs SoloMid: 14 oz. Okay, okay. So technically I do not yet have this particular piece of gear. Should arrive in a few weeks. But it has been my most anticipated purchase in, basically, forever. I'm counting it as a 2012 purchase because I did in fact place the order on New Years Eve, so it totally counts. I've NEVER been so excited to set up and seam seal anything, ever.

3. BPL Membership. 0 oz. Best value-to-weight ratio of anything I have ever purchased, hands down. As a relatively new convert to the world of UL backpacking, I discovered BPL in April 2012 and instantly bought a membership. My eyes have been opened to a lightweight world hiding right under my nose for years. In my defense, it might be because I have a big nose (I'm currently considering getting a nose job, see if I can shave a few grams off my base weight). I'm truly thankful for the articles written by the staff, but even more thankful for reader contributions. You guys are the reason this site keeps on chugging. What inspired me the most to take the UL leap was how passionate this community is about both lightweight backpacking as well as lightweight living. So keep it up, everyone!