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Is there a decent non-lightweight forum?
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Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Philosophy rather than weight Target on 01/21/2013 20:13:41 MST Print View

For me the best thing I learned about this site was to think criticaly about what you take and not just say It doesnt weigh much. This process works no matter your base weight or budget. And i think it is something unique to this site.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Gear addictions on 01/22/2013 01:55:26 MST Print View

> I started to realize that being UL had nothing to do with sacrifice and being cold,
> but rather just thinking about what I needed,

For me it is not so much what I need, as what I don't need.

The transition to 'light-weight' is often about overcoming one's fears and not taking the kitchen sink 'in case of emergencies' or 'because it might be useful'. Learning this takes time.


James Reilly
(zippymorocco) - M

Locale: Montana
Re: Philosophy rather than weight Target on 01/22/2013 08:53:33 MST Print View

+1 Greg F. very well put.

Edited by zippymorocco on 01/22/2013 08:54:19 MST.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Is there a decent non-lightweight forum? on 01/22/2013 09:01:08 MST Print View

Hello there, Michael Ray! Kind of weird talking to myself. LOL. Thankfully, I found this site very early when I got into BPing finally at age 42. My first major trip had a base weight where you are at. Now I'm 11-12 or so. While I'd like to go lower (for some trips at least), I don't have the finances or get out enough to justify it at this time.

As many others have said, what gear you use is totally a personal choice. Hike Your Own Hike (HYOH) and all that. Yes, there are some here (pretty few IMHO) that love going as light as possible. The new folks would be where you are at and higher and I suspect the majority of longtime members are 10-15, which really isn't that far from you (especially if you have money to spend). But what level you get down to is ultimately up to you. At some point you reach whatever YOUR comfort and safety level is. Many venture below that for a while and then add some things back in as Dean shared above. You're fortunate that you can afford to try some different things to see what will work for you.

More important than gear though are the knowledge and skills that allow you to effectively go lower or save weight without even trying to do so. I've been here almost 4 years now, and I still come upon tips and tricks from others that help me out in some way.

Part of your concern may simply be mindset. You just can't see how you could be comfortable with only 10 pounds of gear. It can be done for sure, but it's true that it may not for YOU. First you may have a different definition for comfort. Second, you're a larger fellow so you'll need larger gear as well so it may be 12 pounds, for example. Plus, you've only been here a month so give it some time. It's not a race to reaching your ideal base weight. Nobody cares what your base weight is though I'll add if you post your gear list and ask for advice on where to drop you'll likely get a few extreme views. :) We're all here to make BPing easier. For some that means going farther faster. For others it's to ease the pain on aging bodies. For others to get to places few people see.

FWIW, I visit backpacker forums as well, NOT for gear & skills but for location advice & reports.

Finally, I hope you also do several shorter hikes first. Make sure your gear works for you and work out the bugs before the longer hike.

d k
(dkramalc) - MLife
Re: Is there a decent non-lightweight forum? on 01/22/2013 10:17:27 MST Print View

You might try TLB - The Lightweight Backpacker.

Seems to be less gram-weenie obsession there, and more people at least starting out from a traditional backpacking viewpoint. I started out my internet backpacking reading there, and have moved more to this site over time since there is just a lot more posting and information here. I've learned things from both sites about cutting my pack weight down. Even though some portion of what I read here is more cutting-edge and SUL than I want in for my own use, I still am able to interact and enjoy what's here.

Edited by dkramalc on 01/22/2013 10:18:09 MST.

Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
Going Lighter on 01/22/2013 10:50:30 MST Print View

+1 to Roger's comments regarding learning what NOT to bring.

I dropped more than 12 pounds off my total pack weight shortly after I found this site by simply leaving some stuff behind, specifically:

  • Water - Instead of carrying the four quarts I'd need until dinner, I now carry only what I'll need until I reach the next water source
  • Extra Food - I'll admit that I'm still getting my snack weight down (I always seem to be eating leftover snacks on the ride home), but did I really need to carry an extra breakfast, lunch, and dinner on a weekend hike?
  • Clothing - When I first started, I'd carry a clean set of clothing for each day on the trail (2 pairs of socks, boxers, shirt) PLUS a set of camp clothes (fleece pants and pullover).
  • Camp Shoes - I used to carry a pair of Crocs (which weighed a pound) to wear around camp. Now I just loosen the laces on my trail runners a little.

Stick with the site and you'll learn a lot without ever thinking about specific gear.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Is there a decent non-lightweight forum? on 01/22/2013 11:29:29 MST Print View

None of them have a "Carbon Flame War." So they must be significantly inferior.

RA Amundsen
SUL for kicks and tricks on 01/22/2013 14:01:23 MST Print View

Other forums? Not many, as far as I know (which isn't far). The choice is between traditional backpackers or those who are moving to the light side.
That is to say, the choice is between two definitions of light: one that locks at the whole ensamble (pack, cloths and body) and one that adds some gizmo to the load because it weighs nothing.

I'm more or less in your situation, but will happily read SUL postings for kicks and tricks, admit with no hint of shame that I'm not there by a long shot and pick other minds on lightweight packing.

After two (painful), years of failing to complete a planned trip, a short spring last year of looking at the philosophy of light backpacking had me not only make the trip, but cut the time from an estimated (sinking heart while underway), three weeks to eight days. And it was with no back-pain or sore feet. Even had warm meals, afternoon tea and more snacks than I eat between Christmas and New Year. And with boots and a pack with MOLLE straps all over.

So just count your own grams and find your own comfort level. It is a shock, tough, to see the American cottage industry for light-weight gear. Coming from a country where every tent and sleeping bag seems ready to go to either Pole or at least Greenland, it is fun to shop below expedition weight and price.

Michael Ray
alright, alright on 01/22/2013 14:10:03 MST Print View

i'm choking on a fire-hose amount of information now, so thanks for all of the responses. It's also obvious i need to spend more time fully reading through the site and i certainly plan to do so. I'll start working on being comfortable in my own [gear] skin.

to acknowledge one particular point: i'll absolutely be doing many test runs before october, even if it's just out and around my acreage. i definitely dont want to find out gear quirks or failures while out on the trail for a week straight.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
second opinions on 01/22/2013 14:54:27 MST Print View

+1 on - although it's a less active forum in general, it is sometimes nice to have another source of opinions.

Also, a useful tactic for dealing with this or any other forum; don't pay too much attention to the extremes - it's like that sports judging thing where they throw out the high and low scores and average the rest. Just ignore those whose attitude is too exclusive. Or rather, just don't engage, since despite the attitude you may find useful information in those posts.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

BPL on 01/22/2013 17:54:15 MST Print View

To me, packing light is about understanding and appreciating the role that weight plays in accomplishing your trip goals. It's not some big race to zero.

Understanding this puts the gear choices of other people in context, and it allows you to evaluate if they might be right for you. The best gear for a 40 mile overnight trip in mid-summer isn't likely the right approach for other trips like casual overnighters or mid-winter mountaineering trips. While certain techniques transcend a wide range of trip goals (ie. replacing Nalgene bottles with gatorade bottles saves 1/4 lbs), other gear choices are a lot more specific in their application.

So ultimately, you need to have a rough idea of what your goals are so you can base your decisions towards meeting them. A common mistake is to latch on to something that a "pro" does and try to apply it your hiking style without consider the goals or context of how it they were using it. I think a classic example is a closed cell foam pad. Andrew Skurka may regularly use one, but he's combining that gear choice with careful site selection (contoured, soft ground) for a good result. It would be a mistake to bring two for you and your wife to use on a wooden tent platform 3 miles from the trailhead.

Even if you're quite content with the weight of your pack now and see no real advantage in going lighter, it's still good to have a basic appreciation for weight so when you do need new gear you can choose the best compromise between weight and other attributes and if that ends up being lighter, you can add in more luxury stuff or take the weight savings. If that ends up being heavier, but it provides you with other benefits like durability, increased functionality etc, that's great if it improves your trip. Even going heavier should be done with weight in mind so that the extra weight is well spent. Ultimately you may be able to put together a gear kit that still weighs 18 lbs, but is more safe, durable and comfortable.

Edited by dandydan on 01/22/2013 17:58:18 MST.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: BPL on 01/22/2013 18:19:01 MST Print View

Ah, Dan. You're too logical and rational.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
do what you want on 01/22/2013 19:52:23 MST Print View

do what you want, and dont worry about it

its not called ....

weight matters ... but skill matters more ... getting out even more ... and having fun even more

its that simple ;)

Mike In Socal
(rcmike) - MLife

Locale: California
Don't forget Gear Swap (another reason to stick around) on 01/22/2013 22:11:51 MST Print View

One person's "old", "heavy" gear is someone else's new lightweight gear (at a discount)...and the gear is usually in great shape anyway.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: Re: Is there a decent non-lightweight forum? on 01/23/2013 07:27:11 MST Print View

"None of them have a "Carbon Flame War." So they must be significantly inferior."

What are you sayin'? :)

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: Re: Re: Is there a decent non-lightweight forum? on 01/23/2013 09:10:39 MST Print View

"None of them have a "Carbon Flame War." So they must be significantly inferior."

But Whiteblaze has a 17,000+ post thread on basically nothing. (cafe thread) Probably exceeds the total number of BPing posts on all threads.