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Examples of "Stupid Light"
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Daniel Russell

Locale: Creation
Examples of "Stupid Light" on 02/20/2013 18:57:42 MST Print View

I've seen the phrase "Stupid Light" tossed around here quite a few times. I understand it means that an individual is sacrificing crucial survival items and comfort levels to shave some weight (or something like that).

Does anyone have specific examples/scenarios that you would consider stupid light?

I was thinking about how many ultralighters don't carry adequate bear canisters, in bear country, because of the canister's weight.
Would this not be an example of stupid light?
I know I'd rather carry two extra pounds versus getting my food eaten or, worst case, becoming the bear's meal.

I ask this because I recently have made a switch to synthetic outerwear, after a horrible (close to hypothermic) experience, because of the risk of wet down from humidity and precipitation in my hiking terrain. Yes it is heavier but I find the risk far greater than the reward of shaving 8oz off a belay jacket.


Edited by Superfluous_Grizzly on 02/20/2013 18:59:43 MST.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Stupid Light on 02/20/2013 19:15:21 MST Print View

I use synthetic sleeping bags over down because of the fear of hypothermia. I also carry a Nalgene bottle to guarantee a way to carry water over a platypus, although I'll probably just carry extra platypi if I do a serious long-distance trip. "Stupid-light" was coined by Andrew Skurka, and I forget where he got it, but his main example was carrying a fleece over a down jacket because of rain.

Another one I've commonly seen is the use of a poncho as a shelter. It's tough setting up your shelter in the rain when your rain gear is your shelter.

Herbert Sitz

Locale: Pacific NW
Skurka on 02/20/2013 19:31:26 MST Print View

Here's Skurka's original article:
Skurka Stupid Light

I think original example was not taking bug protection in attempt to save weight, when bugs were likely to be encountered.

Not taking a bear canister is not "stupid light" unless you have no ability or skills to protect your food some other way. E.g, having equipment and skills to do a bear hang makes it reasonable to hang your food, not a "stupid light" attempt to avoid a bear canister.

Tommy Nelson
(snowfugger) - M

Locale: Orange County
Re: Examples of "Stupid Light" on 02/20/2013 19:32:42 MST Print View

oh boy...more than I care to remember. two stand out, embaraassingly from the same trip:

Little background info: got on the road on Friday mid day, thinking "oh great I can hike in further now that I have some extra daylight." Trip was in August. Let me state that again...August.

I hit the parking lot at about 4pm. 4:30 by the time I'm hitting the trail. I've still got 3 hrs of daylight. I have 9 miles all uphill, several thousand feet EV gain to campground I select (mistake #1). I should have picked a lower campground.

I reach the campground at dusk, congratulating myself on my 3mph uphill pace. Oh I also had to take a 1 mile detour to get water, so 10 miles in 3 hrs. Neglecting the fact that I am sweating more than normal, and therefore prone to getting chilled upon stopping, I pitch my tent and the wind is whipping up big time. A low pressure system is coming in and the temp drops to 40 or so (per wunderground, so likely a few degrees lower). So now I am heavily sweating, about to get chilled big time, on an exposed ridge, and walking around taking pictures with a full moon (mistake #2, not getting wet clothes off).

Here's where the stoopid light comes in...There are no trees capable of hanging food, and I though pre-trip "nah, bears won't be a problem!" (mistake #3, not doing enough research). Make dinner, with my brand new Ti mug, rinse it out, and pack it with my food. I take my expensive cuben fiber food sac complete with Ti mug used once and walk 200 yds from camp and bury it beneath a few heavy rocks (one of the smarter decisions, to at least get it away from my campsite). We will revisit this...

Now, I was waiting for a new down quilt in the mail, but it wasn't there by the time I left. I didn't want to carry my 20 degree down bag, so I thought "my U.S. Army poncho liner will be fine, it weighs the same as the summer quilt I am waiting for...I'll be good." Not good. I was shivering the whole night, both from a combo of being to wet and stopping as it was getting chilly, wet, and then not having enough insulation. I didn't sleep for 60 min all night. I tried covering my head and woke up with a puddle under my pad from condensation (mistake #4, keep your mouth exposed).

I finally decide at 4:30am it is getting grey enough outside that I can make breakfast and hike out. I stumble to where I stashed my food bag...only the mini bears have made off with it. So now I have to hike out on an empty stomach, having lost my cuben food bag AND my brand new Ti mug, and being chilly until 7am, pissed off, cold hands, but LOTS of valuable data points for future trips. Couldn't find the first Carl's Jr. fast enough...

Type II fun all the way...


Daniel Russell

Locale: Creation
skurka skurka mohammed jihad on 02/20/2013 19:46:37 MST Print View

Hey Max,
Thanks for the reply. I found
the article you referred to about Skurka and it contains more examples of stupid light than I wanted to read! Hah!
It is a very nicely organized and, overall, well written article also.

One person in the comments used a bug headnet as a pillowcase, with extra layers stuffed inside, to save an ounce. That was probably one of the most grin-worthy of the bunch. Also seeing how many mosquitos were in the introduction video has me thinking twice about not carrying a bug headnet myself.

Edited by Superfluous_Grizzly on 02/20/2013 19:47:14 MST.

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: Stupid Light on 02/20/2013 19:51:50 MST Print View

I think Stupid light is going to be one of those things where experience and knowledge play a big role. Use of ultralight gear often requires enhanced knowledge of it's proper use. Using Down insulation is perfectly appropriate in many conditions.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Examples of "Stupid Light" on 02/20/2013 19:52:21 MST Print View

Oh wow, right when I read "my U.S. Army poncho liner" I cringed. The poncho liner is alright for warm weather, like 60 degrees.

Max, I only use my platy around camp to have extra water near me. That way I don't have to stumble around in the dark as often to get water.

Daniel Russell

Locale: Creation
On pace to Carls Jr. on 02/20/2013 19:55:17 MST Print View

Tommy that 3mph is a great pace, nicely done in that regard! The rest sounds like a nightmare dude. I bet you learned a lot though! :P
Good thing you didn't sleep next to your ti pot and cuben bag.

I was jealous about on thing I read.... I live in the east and I miss Carls Jr! Western Bacon baby!

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Arbitrary numbers... on 02/20/2013 20:12:03 MST Print View

Trying to meet arbitrary numbers and definitions define "stupid light" in my world these days.

Paying more attention to what things look like on a spread sheet (and backpacking forum!) than what your actual fitness, experience, mileage, terrain, or need dictates.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: Examples of "Stupid Light" on 02/20/2013 20:14:43 MST Print View

You know if you are stupid light when:

I've cut dental floss pieces too short so I couldn't wrap them around my fingers when I flossed. Trying to floss my tightly positioned teeth with floss held between two fingertips does not work.

Brendan S
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
Re: Arbitrary numbers... on 02/20/2013 20:29:17 MST Print View

I agree with Craig that it has a lot to do with skills, location, and condition of a given trip. A lot of people successfully use a Zpacks Blast but that would be stupid light for me. I take a shelter on probably 40% of trips and rain gear on 10% and that would be stupid light for most people.

Daniel Russell

Locale: Creation
Re: Re: Stupid Light on 02/20/2013 20:39:55 MST Print View

Indeed Randy, I've had to read extensively about the lightweight gear, not to mention philosophy, and it does require a bit more experience and, sometimes, skill to use than traditional gear.

I still use a down sleeping bag and I have a down midlayer. I NOW prefer to have my dominant cold weather layer as primaloft one though (best clo/weight ratio of synthetics). My horror story that I referred to above had nothing to do with the climate conditions...

December of 2011:
Camped for the night, a friend and I were walking the edge of a creek nearby. It was about 28f at this time and we had most of our insulating layers on. It was going to drop down into the teens with light snow flurries that night. I was wearing a merino baselayer, top and bottom, montane terras, a uniqlo 7oz down puffy midlayer, and a montbell apline light hoody. My friend was wearing a rab neutrino endurance puffy (cant remember anything else). We stepped on a rock that gave way on a 6 foot slope down into the edge of a creek with a raging current, both dumped into 3-4 feet of water. We struggled to get up as the current slammed us but we weren't exactly in danger of drowning... We were soaked and all I had was a light baselayer and shell to put on for extra clothes. We both had neck gaiters and gloves with was nice but still didn't take the fact away from our reality. Luckily we were only camped about 1.5 hours out from our car and managed to dry off at the campfire and wrap up in our sleeping bags for about 20-30 minutes. With our main insulating layers soaked and the weather not breaking beyond 23f the next day, we decided to hike out at a medium pace to avoid severe sweating for fear of speeding hypothermia. By the end of the trail we were both having involuntary tremors and losing a bit of precision. It was hard to start the car because I was so shaken. We made it out alive, and I started to take synthetics into consideration as a result. Here is my justification - I'm in the best shape I'll probably be in my life, I'm relatively young and I feel like I can afford to carry and extra pound or two for comfort.

Admittedly, when I discovered BPL, I went into a UL/SUL daze. I wanted the best and lightest! Now I settle for less in regards to cost, which is a result of weight in some cases (I don't own cuben tarps), but not in practicality.

Edited by Superfluous_Grizzly on 02/20/2013 20:42:18 MST.

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Examples of "Stupid Light" on 02/20/2013 21:04:26 MST Print View

Oh, you want to talk Stupid Light; I love to go Stupid Light.

I've done 345 (223 & 122) miles on the John Muir Trail over an 8 day period without a sleeping bag.
I hardly ever bring a bag in a 2-3 day trip in the summer time. Then again, I like to hike 20 hours a day.
Hopefully going to do the SHR this year and hoping for a sub 20 lb total carried weight, but now I'm thinking I can get it down between 16 & 17.
PCT'ers can travel through the JMT without a canister. I never sleep in campgrounds while on the JMT, so yes I hang (cuben and olsack).

Why no sleeping bag, just sleep before it gets cold at night with all your clothing on until you get cold, and again in the morning when it warms up. No, this does not work very well but is very effective in taking the weight and bulk out of your pack.
Doing the JMT with a 9 litter pack on without resupply makes much more sense to me.
Taking cold food to ditch the fuel, stove, and pot, YEESSSS.

People bring sooo much crap with them. I just take what I "have" to in order to make it to the end.
Yes, I bring a lighter, so I'm pretty sure I won't get frostbite in the Sierras.

So, is that Stupid enough for you? Well it's light enough for me, so combine the 2 and that is what you get.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Stupid Light on 02/20/2013 21:54:19 MST Print View

I also do cold food, it's just easier and I'm not there to be gourmet anyways! Clif bars, nuts, and dried fruit. When I'm feeling luxurious I buy goldfish and snickers.

I make all my decisions based on other factors before weight. I consider survivability first, then usually durability second, and then I consider weight. I won't buy a true UL pack because of the certainty that I'd rip it eventually and be stuck in a jam.

The threat of falling in a river keeps me off of down. Maybe someday I'll change my ways, but my 45º Mountain Hardwear summer synthetic is only a few scant ounces heavier than a 45º down bag, and I never have to think about moisture. Or, at least, I have to think about it a lot less. YMMV.

Tommy Nelson
(snowfugger) - M

Locale: Orange County
Re: On pace to Carls Jr. on 02/20/2013 21:56:27 MST Print View

As long as someone else can learn from my mistakes...that is a win!

Yeah, I wouldn't say as Borat would "Great Success!" in terms of pace, since that is what lead to getting chilled. It would have been better for me to pick a lower campsite, go slower, and not get chilled form being wet. You are correct though I did learn a lot. The biggest lesson from the whole trip was one thing I have thought in the past was unjustified from a weight standpoint...pencil and pad. I made note of all the mistakes and can assure that was the only time I made them.

You can still go to Hardees! I am from the east and thought when I moved out here "hey, why do the Hardees places have a Carl's Jr. sign on them?"

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Hardees? on 02/20/2013 23:13:16 MST Print View

Not to derail the thread, but I've lived in three towns in Massachusetts, two towns in New York, I have family in Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont, and New Hampshire, and I've biked laterally across most of the states in New England and in TWO DECADES I have never seen a Hardees.


Edited by mdilthey on 02/20/2013 23:14:19 MST.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Hardees? on 02/20/2013 23:19:37 MST Print View

Matthew Black
Re: Re: Hardees? on 02/20/2013 23:50:42 MST Print View

They do not have Western Bacon Cheeseburger. At least they didn't in 2006. Otherwise Hardee's is adequate when you are on the road. Yes, the signage is almost identical to Carl's. Not sure what they have against the name in the South.

Jason G
(JasonG) - F

Locale: iceberg lake
sl on 02/21/2013 00:18:12 MST Print View

A few come to mind.. (based on my experience on bpl..gear lists..etc)

not taking a shelter
not taking rain gear
not taking a sleeping bag (seems to work for aaron, def not for most)
not taking adequate layering
not taking a bear can (in high risk areas)
not taking sunscreen
imo beer can pots
inadequate shelters (.34oz cuben)
"XUL" backpacking in general (the weenie line has to be drawn somewhere. at that point its just going that light to be able to claim you are of elite "XUL" status! STUPID!)

Kevin Burton
(burtonator) - F

Locale: norcal
stupid... on 02/21/2013 00:27:47 MST Print View

"I don't need this compass, I'm never off trail anyway".

ha... I though that for about 1ms and then thought that I was being far too stupid.

I also recently upgraded my tarp so that I get MUCH better wind and water protection. My previous tarp was just far too tight.