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King of Denial
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Harrison Carpenter
(carpenh) - M

Locale: St. Vrain River Valley
King of Denial on 12/29/2012 16:25:59 MST Print View

After getting lots of abusive responses to one of my latest inquiries (not posted onto BPL, by the way), I am now going to forever deny that I carry anything but the bare minimalist essentials in my backpack. That way, I'll never be accused of not following the rules of "ultralight backpacking" to the letter.

GPS? Never. Those things are for pantywaists.

Camera? Never. Pictures only need be taken with your mind.

Journal? Never. People who feel compelled to reflect upon their days must be senile.

Book? Never. Why read when you can stare at your tarp? Pointless time suck.


michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
iPhone on 12/29/2012 16:33:24 MST Print View

All the things you mentioned can be done with a iPhone, which is just a few ounces. Just saying.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: King of Denial on 12/29/2012 17:49:01 MST Print View

All those things are luxury items.

Harrison Carpenter
(carpenh) - M

Locale: St. Vrain River Valley
Pardon... on 12/29/2012 18:40:37 MST Print View

I apologize for my sarcastic rant. And yes, I know that I mentioned "luxury items," and that all of them can easily be replaced (an iPhone would truly do it, I know).

Call it "primal scream therapy," I guess... it just annoys me that some people I've exchanged messages with (again, not on BPL) seem to think that what counts as "ultralight" to them is absolutely, unquestionably true, and that if one makes even a slight variation from their definition, then they are outside the Kingdom of the Righteous.

I'm sorry, I just went at it again.

My point is this: the exchange I had showed me that I need to remember, and make it clear, that my ideas are just that-- ideas. Not absolutes. Everyone's ideas are different, and as zealous as I can be about trimming my pack weight down as far as possible, in order to see more in the time I have, and to do it safely and comfortably, I need to remember that my ideas are probably completely different from everybody else's. Essentially, what I call "ultralight" isn't necessarily what anyone else calls "ultralight."

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Quick question on 12/29/2012 18:49:19 MST Print View

Why do you give a rats a$$ if people think what you are carrying meets their arbitrary rules. It's you carrying it, not them.

PS. But a book? How could you? :)

Harrison Carpenter
(carpenh) - M

Locale: St. Vrain River Valley
Re: Quick question on 12/29/2012 19:25:18 MST Print View

Ha! Good point. And I'm sorry if I blasted the idea of a book. I deny that I meant anything by it. :-)

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Staring at my tarp... on 12/29/2012 20:33:54 MST Print View

I paid a heck of a lot of money for that thing...why would I bring a book if I can just ogle over all its cuben glory???

Nice post. It's the one thing about switching to UL I never got. Yes they are luxuries, but isn't that the point? Every trip I take into the woods or the mountains is a luxury...

I never understood people who didn't bring books into the wilderness...once the sun goes down, or on a nice zero day, or during a longish rest/nap stop, I love nothing more than reading a great book amidst the smells, the sounds, and the backdrop of Mother Nature. Rainy day has me trapped in my shelter?? I can while away hours and hours reading, listening to the pitter patter of rain drops falling on the tarp. Absolute heaven!!

I splurge on all this gear and cut extras...what is a 6 oz e reader (nook with glow light!!) added to all that? Like I'm REALLY going to notice the difference between my 9 pound and my 9 pound 6 oz pack...........

Paul Wagner
(balzaccom) - F

Locale: Wine Country
HYOH on 12/29/2012 20:35:31 MST Print View

I'm confused. We backpack more than a hundred miles a year, and have done so for many years. And we hike another hundred or so as day hikes. Sometimes my wife takes a book. We always take a camera, and we always take fishing gear.

And if someone told us they that disagreed with us on that, we'd invite them to take a hike...why should we care what they think?

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: Staring at my tarp... on 12/30/2012 06:50:13 MST Print View

"I never understood people who didn't bring books into the wilderness...once the sun goes down, or on a nice zero day, or during a longish rest/nap stop, I love nothing more than reading a great book amidst the smells, the sounds, and the backdrop of Mother Nature. Rainy day has me trapped in my shelter?"

Jen, you are sounding like the same people referenced in the OP. I can give you a great reason not to take books into the wildness..... I don't want to read. When the sun goes down and I finish hiking, I sleep. Rarely take a longish rest/nap stop but if I did I would nap or talk with hikers I may meet on the trail. Zero days, likely will never take another, I get too antsy. And trapped in a shelter, doesn't apply here either. So hopefully now you can "understand people who don't bring books into the wildness". You may not do things the same way but at least you can now say you understand them. :)

Raquel Rascal

Locale: Rocky Mtn. West
I support your rant.. on 12/30/2012 07:03:11 MST Print View

I'm used to the BPL culture now, but when I started reading the forums a lot, a few of these types of attitudes rubbed me the wrong way. Now I just let any negativity flow over me and away. But I think it is healthy to get the feelings of frustration out at least once and then move on.

Thanks for sharing.. :)

Another attitude I have been trying to cultivate lately is kindness, even on Internet forums. As Jewel says in her song Hands "In the end, only kindness matters."

BTW- I tweaked out my Droid incredible to cover all of these bases and have included iBirdPro and Wildflower and Edible food apps too. iBird takes my phone to the next level!

Bill Segraves
(sbill9000) - F - M
keeping the main thing the main thing on 12/30/2012 07:34:42 MST Print View

I'm with you. While some may derive enjoyment from cutting weight for its own sake (and many others, myself included, for the creative problem-solving aspects of it), the main thing for me is to enjoy the outdoors. Generally speaking, keeping the weight down helps to promote that enjoyment, but if something's going to make my trip nicer, I'm bringin' it!



Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
keeping the main thing the main thing on 12/30/2012 07:46:17 MST Print View

Two things always trump weight savings. The first is obvious to all - safety. The second is not always so obvious on this forum - fun. If you get pleasure from carrying six ounces less than your buddy, great. If you like to read in your tent at night, take a book or Nook or iPhone. It's supposed to be fun.

Harrison Carpenter
(carpenh) - M

Locale: St. Vrain River Valley
Re: keeping the main thing the main thing on 12/30/2012 09:31:39 MST Print View

The "real thing," as John Muir once wrote: "Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." Being there is what matters the most.

Tipi Walter
(TipiWalter) - F
Re: Quick question on 12/30/2012 10:15:40 MST Print View

To Greg Gressel---Yes, but the fast and light types here have many arbitrary rules which they are never reluctant to express. I'm an Ultraloader anyway so I probably should not even google or participate in this site.

Back to books. The only time I get any quality reading in is during long backpacking trips and so I have no problem humping in 5-10 books on a typical 3 week trip as long as they are burned throughout. Many of my books are in the form of rolled up interweb copies of 70 pages each printed on both sides. Numbered, rolled, read and burned.

Edited by TipiWalter on 12/30/2012 10:17:06 MST.

Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: King of Denial on 12/30/2012 10:42:40 MST Print View

Just depends on what you are doing. Trying to make record mileages, one may want to get to minimal weights and max miles possible since chances are they are going to zonk out when they hit the sack. Heck might even want to get one of those new vest/pack hybrid thingies being offered to trail-runners this fall instead of a pack. A less rigorous daily schedule, another may want to bring some camp activities with them (reading material, fishing gear, etc...). Then there's snow mobility or climber gear. There was one guy on who would bring his scuba gear to the high country.. and show pics of him doing it. As long as I'm not carrying it. Just depends on the trip or situation.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
HYOH on 12/30/2012 12:14:41 MST Print View

One missing principle is Hike Your Own Hike. We can follow our own drummer! I'm sure many hikers adjust their gear list to their own comfort and pleasure. Some use UL techniques so that they can take photo or video gear, climbing equipment, fishing gear, pack rafts, etc.

One of the core UL principles is that you have a choice about your pack weight, that it is under your control. The first application of that concept is that you don't need to haul a 50 pound load to be comfortable and safe in the backcountry.

The other side of that coin is that you don't need to be miserable due poor clothing choices, uncomfortable sleeping pads or the like. You can use some of those saved ounces for more comfort if that is your choice.

One way to look at it is the application of the UL concept that you take only what you use. If you use your book, journal, or camera, so be it. You can still seek out the lightest, highest performance versions.

The idea of "luxury" items gets a little Puritan at times. To get UL you need to be able to grasp the difference between essentials and other gear, but the idea that you can never take these items is too conformist or orthodox for me. I'm happy to have a light load with my essentials to allow adding a camera or a book and still have a reasonable pack weight while knowing the difference.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: King of Denial on 12/30/2012 12:34:16 MST Print View

There are no rules. Guidelines and principles? Perhaps, yes.... maybe? Even those can be tossed to the wind if you please. There are so many variations on the term "backpacking", it will mean something different depending on who you're talking to. This community appears to be of one loud voice, yet spend a few minutes perusing the forums and you will quickly discover an ocean of disagreement down to the most foolish of details.

Do not take yourself or backpacking too seriously, otherwise you may lose sight of what it was that pulled you outdoors to begin with.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Of course it's always HYOH on 12/30/2012 13:57:00 MST Print View


Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that I OPPOSED not doing those things, on the contrary: what I mean to say, albeit with a hint of sarcasm that was lost in a post, is that I am also one of those people who sometimes feel the need to defend my zero days with a book, or lounging about under a shelter for a few hours waiting for a storm to pass...

We all derive certain pleasures from our time in the wilderness and that is the whole of the point. I was simply agreeing with the OP that I am also of the ilk that I do not think of a book, or a journal, as a luxury, but rather a necessity.

I can't appreciate why people want to pack a weapon into the wilderness, but go ahead. I have a difficult time understanding why my hiking companions don't find it funny when my dog shakes water all over their down bags, but if I must restrain him then by all means.....

This is all in's all about having a good time in awesome places...however we choose to do it.

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
Light is smart, it's superior. on 12/30/2012 16:08:06 MST Print View

I'm in the group of people who are ultralight and borderline SUL. Part of it is that I enjoy solving the heavy pack weight problem, it's sort of like a puzzle.

But really what it comes down to is the enjoyment on the trail, less injuries, and being able to hold my head up and view the scenery.

People find all sorts of reasons to think ultralighters are stuck up, or think they are better than them. When it comes down to it it's true, this is a hobby and the guy who has the fastest bike always wins.

Personally I find joy in getting the best gear for the job, and if people think I'm too cocky or extreme then that is thier problem. I have a passion for a lot of other things in life as well as hiking, and everything I do I try be the best at it it.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: Of course it's always HYOH on 12/30/2012 16:34:59 MST Print View

You mean hiking can be fun. :O