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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) - F

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
(mtblack) - F
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.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
oops on 02/21/2013 01:08:20 MST Print View

wrong post sowwy

Edited by bearbreeder on 02/21/2013 01:08:58 MST.

Tommy Nelson
(snowfugger) - M

Locale: Orange County
Re: Hardees? on 02/21/2013 02:12:09 MST Print View

Yup...southeast. At least as compared to NY/NJ/Conn/RI. I'm from DC, and they used to be all over the place, now not so much. There's still one in my hometown, but I can't remember there being any more in the area.

Serge Giachetti
(sgiachetti) - M

Locale: Boulder, CO
sensibility on 02/21/2013 02:14:14 MST Print View

Yum...Hardees: a good way to get stupid heavy.

'Stupid light?' is probably a good question to ask where safety enters the equation. Not sure, but I think alpinist Kelly Cordes first used this term to describe an alpine climb he and Josh Wharton did in Pakistan. Carrying the absolute minimal amount of gear to complete a climb considerably raises the stakes, because it usually involves carrying less protection in case of a fall, and less gear for stationary warmth and weather protection. It can also make for more dramatic ascents, bigger objectives in less time, more guts/more glory.

While pushing these limits makes sense for some alpinists on cutting edge climbs, I think it makes less sense for the weekend backpacker considering ditching their rain shell to save a few oz (not talking to you desert rats!). Here's where a friend or forum member might chime in 'stupid light?'

However, I could care less if someone wants to use super fragile SUL trekking poles, a poncho tarp, or a pack with no pockets. Its not my business, and I don't want it to be. I don't think it makes you stupid if you're willing to sacrifice a little comfort and convenience for the knowledge that you're pack weighs less than some arbitrary number. Maybe just quirky.

As far as my own backpacking goes, I use to sleep on just a 3 oz closed cell foam pad, but a couple years ago I started losing sleep and waking with an achy lower back. I got 'smart' and bought a neo air, but I'm still envious of those who can sleep soundly on thin CCF.

Edited by sgiachetti on 02/21/2013 06:34:47 MST.

Tommy Nelson
(snowfugger) - M

Locale: Orange County
Re: sensibility on 02/21/2013 02:18:36 MST Print View

Boy do I agree with you...I very much wish I could still sleep on some thin CCF, rather than the neo-air potato chip bag.

Paul Mason
(dextersp1) - F
Re: Examples of "Stupid Light" on 02/21/2013 07:16:38 MST Print View

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

There was a post recently about the philosophy of nature or some thing recently.

Several of the posts here mentioned compromising safety for weight. I don't want to be found dead on the trail and have the rescuer say "If he only had X, he would be alive." For example, I carry a personal locator beacon - Find Fast -

Might another be compromising enjoyment for weight? This of course is subjective.

Edited by dextersp1 on 02/21/2013 07:17:59 MST.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Examples of "Stupid Light" on 02/21/2013 09:20:19 MST Print View

I would define "stupid light" as compromising your health or safety in order to save weight. As others said, it can be simply defying common sense just to get a lighter base weight.

I think it is most important with items on the classic 10 essentials list and selecting items that aren't suitable for the conditions. Skurka's example of bug protection certainly hits the common sense side.

Trying to reduce base weight by leaving out core items like rain gear, first aid kit, compass and map, etc is stupid light to me. Extend that to using poor substitutes like a button compass for primary navigation, a single edge razor blade rather than a basic knife, or a tiny button cell LED for primary lighting. Taking toys just to say you checked off the essentials is fooling yourself IMHO. That doesn't mean loading up on heavy stuff, but a 2oz compass isn't going to bloat your spreadsheet.

To me, the down/synthetic debate is more an issue of local climate and conditions rather than not bringing good insulation at all. I've made the point that taking a thin puffy can be a waste of weight if you end up too cold in camp. Likewise the preference in sleeping pad. The stuff you bring needs to work.

Nathan Hays

Locale: San Francisco
Stupid Light on 02/21/2013 09:48:47 MST Print View

"Stupid Light" is what I say when what should be the simplest of electronic devices - the headlamp - decides to not turn on when I need it.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: Stupid Light on 02/21/2013 10:46:28 MST Print View

Ha, Nathan!

"Stupid light" is sort of unfortunately phrased, since I've seen people get defensive about it, but the concept is basically to be more comprehensive and thoughtful when evaluating your gear choices instead of going directly from spreadsheet to field. A lesson that hopefully most learn without ending up putting themselves in real danger.

Everyone will develop their own decision-making process to facilitate this, but I think at the core is CYA--Check Your Assumptions. How realistic are your goals? How good is your beta? What skills are you weak on? Explicitly considering those questions can reveal things you're taking for granted that could compromise your trip. Ask the right questions, give thoughtful answers, learn from mistakes...and no more stupid light.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
after the fact on 02/21/2013 10:52:14 MST Print View

"stupid light" is something your find out after the fact ... when yr cold, tired, hungry, in the dark, and wet

it all seems a brilliant idea when you salivate over the spreadsheets ;)

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: after the fact on 02/21/2013 11:11:16 MST Print View

it all seems a brilliant idea when you salivate over the spreadsheets ;)


(Too many;-) decades ago I knew a Soil Science PHD student who was doing research on the effects of different tillage practices. His father, a farmer, loved to rib him by asking "Tell me again ... how you are plowing fields using a computer?"

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
"Live-and-Learn" (Just plain ignorant) on 02/21/2013 12:27:01 MST Print View

On the PCT in August just south of Olancha PEak in a high (8,000 ft.) valley I experienced a 26 F. and a 24 F. night. My ONLY extra insulation was a 200 wt. fleece vest. Barely enough with my WM Megalite 30 F. bag and NOT enough later the last morning on the trail at 16 F.!!

Now I carry a slightly lighter Eddie Bauer 800 fill light down jacket. In Nevada's Ruby Mountians it proved itself to be the best for cold summer nights. I'll never again venture into high altitudes without it.

John Brochu
(JohnnyBgood4) - F

Locale: New Hampshire
Re: "Live-and-Learn" (Just plain ignorant) on 02/21/2013 12:43:05 MST Print View

I went up on Denali with a single CCF sleeping pad -- pretty stupid but I had tested it all winter on Mount Washington, NH and thought I would be fine.

Luckily I realized early on that it wasn't going to be enough and the base camp manager radio'd down to the airstrip and they brought me another pad on the next flight up.

(Turns out we didn't get very far anyway but at least I was comfortable waiting out storms and sickness.)

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Sleeping on 02/21/2013 12:57:27 MST Print View

I can sleep soundly on flat rock and wake up ready to hike. That doesn't mean I do it... CCF works for me though. When I'm in my hammock I prefer a torso-length neo-Air though, because my CCF pad takes a beating from the hammock bend.

John Brochu
(JohnnyBgood4) - F

Locale: New Hampshire
Re: Sleeping on 02/21/2013 13:00:49 MST Print View

By comfortable I meant "not freezing my butt off." The single CCF pad just wasn't warm enough.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: after the fact on 02/21/2013 13:16:49 MST Print View

'"stupid light" is something your find out after the fact ... when yr cold, tired, hungry, in the dark, and wet'

That is what I call the "Too Factor". When you are TOO cold, wet, hungry, lost, tired, etc, it is time to re-work your kit. Hopefully, it is a gentle learning process rather than a life-threatening event. It has been discussed here before that the best method of testing new gear may be by taking a CYA backup if the new toys fail. New sailboat owners often take a deliberate "breakdown cruise" in safer conditions to work the bugs out. Testing gear in the height of Summer is much kinder than late Fall :)

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Shelter on 02/21/2013 13:51:23 MST Print View

I have gone without a shelter in winter when there was a sunny forecast. One time I ended up building a natural shelter when it stormed hard the last night. I took branches off a recently fallen tree.
Stupid light?

Edited by justin_baker on 02/21/2013 13:53:38 MST.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Examples of "Stupid Light on 02/21/2013 14:03:58 MST Print View

In my mind Stupid Light is when you compromise something that is important to you just to save weight. In the case of Skurka that seemed to be hiking efficiency, as he needs to crank out high mileage days weeks after week.

It will be other things for other people (speed, comfort, enjoyment etc.) and there will be a degree of subjectivity involved. By my definition Aaron and Justin need to decide for themselves if they went stupid light.

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
One man's stupid is another man's strategy on 02/21/2013 15:14:55 MST Print View

We're all out there with different goals, and for different reasons. I personally tend to prioritize all day comfort for high mileage hiking over night time comfort. Consequently, I'm happy to rely on a poncho for shelter, a postage stamp foam pad, and no changes of clothing or other luxuries. For those who value the comforts of camp, this might be a stupid approach, but it appeals to my minimalist sensibilities.

For me, stupid light would be bringing a pot too small to boil the water I needed for a meal/drink in one go, as this would drop my efficiency.

On one fast paced trip, I brought no insulation other than my 35 degree sleeping bag, using that to wrap myself in at stops. It dropped down to 28F or so one night which was pretty chilly (but not unbearable). That was probably stupid light. Then again, I achieved a personal best in mileage/pace and had an awesome time, in part because the additional challenges. Next time though, I'll add in a 3.5 oz vest, with no perceptible change in pack weight.

Stupid? Not so sure

From the same trip

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

The Tilley Way on 02/21/2013 15:24:22 MST Print View

I spy a Tilley hat. Hello, brother!

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Examples of "Stupid Light" on 02/21/2013 17:31:04 MST Print View

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: Mind your own business
Re: Re: Examples of "Stupid Light" on 02/21/2013 17:52:24 MST Print View

Very good John :-)

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: One man's stupid is another man's strategy on 02/21/2013 17:54:54 MST Print View

hand twins

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Examples of "Stupid Light" on 02/21/2013 17:58:31 MST Print View

First match your gear to where you're hiking and the conditions you expect to encounter. What is "Stupid Light" on Katadyn may be just fine for the Florida Trail.

Then factor in personal comfort issues and your own level of outdoors expertise. Then build your kit.

What is "Stupid Light" for me can be just fine for Andrew Skurka hiking the same area at the same time.

Don't let semantics an/ord an arbitrary targeted base weight number overcome your common sense.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Examples of "Stupid Light" on 02/21/2013 18:03:57 MST Print View

"What is "Stupid Light" on Katadyn may be just fine for the Florida Trail."

Do you refer to the Katadyn water filter or the Katahdin mountain in Maine?


Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Examples of "Stupid Light" on 02/21/2013 18:05:20 MST Print View

a 6 pack of Bud.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: Re: Examples of "Stupid Light" on 02/21/2013 18:21:27 MST Print View

a 6 pack of Bud.

No kidding. If you're gonna pack it in, at least make it Oskar Blues.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Good Beer, or you're just being stupid. on 02/21/2013 18:24:23 MST Print View

Glastenbury Wilderness fire tower route with a friend, a thru hiker, and twelve bottles of Magic Hat #9. Bliss.

Stu Pendious
(Beeen) - MLife

Locale: California
Shorts only on 02/21/2013 18:30:17 MST Print View

A buddy of mine brought only shorts on a 15 day trip, then forgot to put sunscreen on his legs a couple days out and got a serious sunburn. He ended up borrowing my rain pants to protect his burn for a few days, until the burn mellowed out.

Chris S
(csteutterman) - F

Locale: Tahoe
#9 on 02/21/2013 18:53:43 MST Print View

Haven't had Magic Hat in a while, but my friend used to work at the brewery during college and would bring home growlers from work all the time. Wasn't a big #9 fan though. Do they still make Heart of Darkness? That was good stuff!

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Re: Examples of "Stupid Light" on 02/21/2013 18:54:51 MST Print View

>at least make it Oskar Blues


Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
Stupid Light on 02/21/2013 19:07:42 MST Print View

One time I packed a .5 liter box of wine when a 1 liter box of wine was avail.


Never made that mistake again.

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Stupid Light on 02/21/2013 19:26:11 MST Print View

"stupid light" is something your find out after the fact ... when yr cold, tired, hungry, in the dark, and wet

Now that's just stupid.
You need to pack according to the weather.

I see a person hiking that sees me and asks what's in my pack.
Then they ask, well what about this or that?
I just say no.

So that person is thinking "stupid".
I am just thinking "light".

Then I look at there huge heavy pack and I think "stupid".

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Stupid light on 02/21/2013 19:35:48 MST Print View

Stupid light is the point just before your pack gets slightly heavier. For me it was the addition of true rain gear for east coast hiking and a better mat for a better night sleep. I would also include the switch from a razor blade to small Swiss Army knife that can be used to trim toenails. All these we're an escape from stupid light IMHO.

Nathan Hays

Locale: San Francisco
Stupid Light on 02/21/2013 20:04:30 MST Print View

Tired, burned, blistered, hungry, dark, wet. I can deal with these. In fact, being out of my "comfort" zone is a large part of why I hike.

But unlike Aaron S., cold is the one thing I can't deal with. Several times I've found myself heading down that dark hole and each time I tell myself to carry more warmth. So this season I've armed myself with a 14oz down MyoQuilt and a 12oz down jacket (thruhiker).

And if I find myself on the SHR with Aaron and I'm chilling, I'm going to borrow his windshirt 'cause I know he can take it.

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Stupid Light on 02/21/2013 20:44:45 MST Print View

Ha, I hate being cold.
But I don't bring a windshirt.
If you are going to be cold, you put on a jacket.
The outer shell material is the same as a windshirt, so why the redundancy?

Less gear is always better!

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Stupid Light on 02/21/2013 20:59:12 MST Print View

>One time I packed a .5 liter box of wine when a 1 liter box of wine was avail.


brandon hippler
(brandonhippler) - F
examples of stupid light. on 02/22/2013 02:43:02 MST Print View

I was going on an overnight trip. I checked the weather and it was suppose to get down in the upper 50s. so i decided i was going to get my pack as light as i could. it all weighed in at 8 pounds with food and water. night fell and was amazingly cold. all i had with me was my fleece jacket and an emergency blanket to protect against the cold. well that night it got down to 40 degrees. i learned my lesson that night.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Stupid Light on 02/22/2013 06:03:40 MST Print View

"Stupid Light is when you compromise something that is important to you just to save weight."

Nice definition. It includes the key point that a decision can only be designated as SL or not when considered in the context of the trips goals. Leaving a sleeping bag at home isn't fundamentally SL. It's not SL if you're hiking all night or a bushcrafter who's going to make your own. It is SL if you realize you undermined the goals of your trip (one of which is probably always safety) by shivering to exhaustion.

Ultimately we're all trying to make good weight conscious decisions to help us best achieve our objectives - whatever they are. Sometimes we fail to bring functionality that we need (stupid light) and other times we bring functionality we don't need (stupid heavy). Learning how to make these good decisions is part of the journey.

Edited by dandydan on 02/22/2013 06:04:52 MST.

Nathan Hays

Locale: San Francisco
SUL vs USL on 02/22/2013 09:37:43 MST Print View

Looking at my spreadsheet, there's plenty room in my list to go Ultra Stupid Light!

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: SUL vs USL on 02/22/2013 12:01:49 MST Print View

I was guessing USL was UnSafeLight

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Found This Gem on 02/22/2013 22:15:47 MST Print View

"Gram weenies might be tempted to use pure spectra cord, which has unparalleled strength for its weight. But this is a “stupid light” choice: the cord is expensive, prone to knotting, and hard to work with (because it’s very slippery). Cord featuring a spectra core with a nylon sheath is an improvement, but: it’s still expensive; the strength is overkill for all but the most extreme applications; and the weight savings are negligible."

-Andrew Skurka

Brendan S
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
Re: Found This Gem on 02/22/2013 23:18:38 MST Print View

For me, spectra core is worth it. Where I usually hike, stakes are usually useless and I have to use rocks for anchors. I've been on more than one trip that a gusty night has shredded the sheaths and if I wouldn't have had a spectra core I know that the lines wouldn't have made it through the night.

Moral, for the umpteenth time this thread: use what fits your conditions

Hoot Filsinger
(filsinger) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Stupid Light on 02/23/2013 00:22:44 MST Print View

Stupid light is pack system so light you can't afford the gas money to reach the trailhead to use it.

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
Stupid Light on 02/23/2013 13:16:57 MST Print View

Well I don't want to call my BIL and best friend Dave stupid, but climbing San Gorgonio in winter without a tent or sleeping bag was pushing it. I took this shot at 1:00 am when I got up to, ah, look at the stars. He is sleeping in his Marmot 8000 Meter Parka and Pants with an emergency blanket stretched over the snow pit he dug.

Dave in snow

I had a tent and warm quilt so I guess he figured he had a back-up plan.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: Mind your own business
Re: Stupid Light on 02/23/2013 13:21:17 MST Print View

Was he going to hit you over the head with his show shoes and take your quilt and tent Ray?

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
theft on 02/23/2013 13:28:48 MST Print View

The blue foam you see is my sit pad. At 9:30 he woke me up saying that his arm kept falling on the snow where the down would compress and then get him cold enough to wake him. I gave him the sit pad and I think he has my shells with his under the other arm.

I wish I had a picture of the time we were near Mt Whitney in July that he brought just one of those emergency blanket envelope things, thinking that is clothes and compressor jacket would be enough for a 3-day trip. First night the temps dropped below freezing and we had frost on everything. He froze, even after I gave him my down sweater and rain gear.

I love my UL brother-in-law if only for the entertainment factor. ;-)

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: Mind your own business
Re: theft on 02/23/2013 14:30:55 MST Print View

Sounds like a guy I knew years ago who would turn up with a sleeping bag and a pack of smokes for a trip and that was it, he would bum food and clothes off everyone else.

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: Examples of "Stupid Light on 02/23/2013 16:42:58 MST Print View

I read somewhere that human digestive systems are way less efficient digesting raw or uncooked foods compared to cooked foods. Something like 60% vs 90% or more. That is, it is possible that you are wasting a good fraction of your food weight if you don't cook. It's also possible that this effect goes away with careful choice of uncooked or raw foods.

Irrelevant on a short trip, but maybe not on a thru-hike.

Some claim the ability to cook is what allowed our primitive ancestors to evolve large brains and develop sophisticated social systems...we got more nutrition out of our cooked food so spent less time collecting the raw ingredients, giving us "leisure" time to do other things.

In any case we always cook at least dinner, and we don't scrimp on flavor!

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Food on 02/23/2013 17:17:05 MST Print View

Well, sort of. You're right about the cooking thing, but not for the reason you think. It literally came down to the time one had to spend chewing raw meat. We would have to chew for 4+ hours a day just to process raw food enough to digest it, and by cooking it our bodies also devote less energy to fighting food-borne illness.

Overall, cooking did help us evolve, but not necessarily because we spent less time doing one thing and more time doing another. Cooking was inevitable, but I suspect our brain would have invented fire and math and language even if we spoke with our mouths full.

As to cooked food while camping, there is possibly a correlation between energy and raw/cooked food, but it depends heavily on the food. For nuts, it's obviously irrelevant. For some vegetables, unprocessed is probably better. For grains and meat, there's definitely a correlation between cooked and uncooked.

It's useful to remember that chocolate is heavily processed and "cooked." So are CLIF bars and Granola bars and meal replacements and perpetuem powder and military freeze-dried meals. They're all cooked or processed in some way that increases their nutrition over unprocessed food, and then packaged. You could theoretically go on an all-cooked food diet without ever lighting a fire.

Hope that helps!

Edited by mdilthey on 02/23/2013 17:19:03 MST.

Jason G
(JasonG) - F

Locale: iceberg lake
yup on 02/26/2013 12:27:04 MST Print View

"Sounds like a guy I knew years ago who would turn up with a sleeping bag and a pack of smokes for a trip and that was it, he would bum food and clothes off everyone else."

yup had a buddy in college that we did a short trip with. he brought a jansport and a sleeping bag and then was complaining when he was freezing and hungry and trying to bum clothing and food off everyone else. the next day we were planning on doing a side peak and he got ahead of us somehow and we didn't think even knew which was to go so we thought he got lost and were searching the immediate area for 2-3 hours and were about to call in reinforcements when he came strolling down after taking a nap and eating all our cheese!

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: Mind your own business
Re: yup on 02/26/2013 13:04:20 MST Print View

I must preume that he didn't get invited on any other trips :-)

David Miles
(davidmiles) - F

Locale: Eastern Sierra
Re: Stupid Light on 02/28/2013 20:31:31 MST Print View

For me, it's when I see someone leave out some basic survival gear "because they never get lost". I've been on several rescues where the person could have spent fewer cold nights out if they had a signal mirror to signal our helicopters. Especially when we have had many trips with no incident, those items might start to look like just weights. It's like driving without a spare tire.

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Re: Stupid Light on 02/28/2013 21:20:15 MST Print View

"Basic" survival gear for me is some lukeo tape, a safety pin, and a small piece of shammy like material.

If anything else goes wrong, you can pretty much use sticks and clothing to keep anything bent straight and get yourself to safety.

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
Examples of "Stupid Light on 03/01/2013 16:29:22 MST Print View

Oh, please don’t get the idea that Dave is a freeloader or anything like that. He just loves to experiment with UL ideas but won’t try them at home. (It would do any good anyway as he lives in paradise;-)

Dave is the best hiking partner I have ever had. He even gets me to try “being UL” myself with his yearly UL challenge. Thanks to you guys I actually beat him once.

But he does get stupid light at least once a year. Maybe I need to write a humor article about them all...

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Stupid Light on 03/01/2013 16:53:24 MST Print View

"Especially when we have had many trips with no incident, those items might start to look like just weights. It's like driving without a spare tire."

Good analogy!

"Well, yeah, I own three compasses and stack of maps and a GPS, and a first aid kit, and I left my extra clothing and rain gear in the car, but I've never..."

[ ]read an inaccurate weather report
[ ]gotten lost
[ ]fallen down
[ ]injured an ankle
[ ]had an allergic reaction
[ ]had a heart attack
[ ]done something STUPID

And people try to refute Darwin's theories ;)

Leigh Baker

Locale: Northeast Texas Pineywoods
re: sl, thank you Brendan on 03/01/2013 18:14:36 MST Print View

"Moral, for the umpteenth time this thread: use what fits your conditions"
says it all....

David Miles
(davidmiles) - F

Locale: Eastern Sierra
Essentials on 03/01/2013 21:13:40 MST Print View

I'm very familiar with the 10 Essentials, but is there and ultralight essentials list? I'm asking which items should be on EVERY trip. Is it just ultralight version of each item, or are there some that you leave out completely. These are items that you carry in every condition.

Edited by davidmiles on 03/01/2013 21:14:35 MST.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Essentials a la UL on 03/01/2013 22:23:30 MST Print View

According to an article on the REI Web site ( The Mountaineers came up with a list in the 1930's that was pointed to specific items, but the recent trend has been to working with systems:

● Navigation (map and compass)
● Sun protection (sunglasses and sunscreen)
● Insulation (extra clothing)
● Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
● First-aid supplies
● Signaling
● Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candles)
● Repair kit and tools
● Nutrition (extra food)
● Hydration (extra water)
● Emergency shelter

Easy enough to cover, but doing it in an ultralight way is a subject of debate equal to approving a Federal budget.

Here's my list:

Navigation: Green Trails maps and a Suunto MC-2G compass. There are suitable lighter compasses-- by an ounce or two. I think it should have adjustable declination and the mirror covers another category. Bottom line: compasses are not heavy, regardless of the model.

Sun protection: I wear sunglasses with bifocals for reading the maps and compass. I carry sunscreen in the smallest container suitable for the trip, not a big 6oz tube of the stuff. I also use bike gloves to protect my hands and a wide brim hat (Tilley T3).

Insulation: as light as a Power Stretch on up to a polyfill puffy per season and expected condtions. I usually have a little stuff sack with liner gloves, light beanie, spare socks and mid layer. I always have a windshirt and a ponch doubles for rain gear and emergency shelter.

Illumination: Olite i2 flashlight and Fenix HL21 headlamp. Both use one AA battery, so add one AA for a spare.

First Aid kit: AMK .3 with larger compresses, better tape and more meds.

Fire: mini firesteel, mini Bic lighter, a spy capsule with Tinder Quick tabs and a K&M match case with UCO storm matches and there is a button compass in the cap

Signalling: Fox 40 whistle, mirror on my compass, firesteel

Repair kit and tools: Victorinox Classic knife, Benchmade Griptilian 3.5" folding knife, flat pack of 18" duct tape, small roll 26 ga wire, hotel "freebie" sewing kit, small bundle light braided seine line, zip ties.

Nutrition: extra granola bar, hard candy

Hydration: 2 one liter drinking water bottles. Sawyer Squeeze filter and/or Micropur tabs. I keep a survival water bag in the crown of my Tilley.

Emergency shelter: poncho and AMK space blanket bivy and the line in my repair kit.

The flashlight, whistle, SAK Classic knife, spy capsule with tinder and firesteel are on a ring and carried in my pockets with the larger knife and the match case. The rest fit in a suff sack for quick locating and easy transfer from one pack to another.

Add training and improving skills and a can-do attitude, which are weightless.

Edited by dwambaugh on 03/01/2013 22:38:13 MST.

Anthony Weston
(anthonyweston) - MLife

Locale: Southern CA
stupid light on 03/07/2013 07:42:14 MST Print View

I have a 20 oz zero degree Epiphany quilt.
It is a magnificent piece of gear.

but I'm thinking how can I make a 12 oz quilt. Stupid.
It would be expensive.
It would if not dangerous then just painful, being cold is painful.
And for what, saving the weight of a small apple. I weighed an apple. It was 7.4 oz.
I'd do better to lose 10 lbs and carry a few apples in my pack.

I remember reading that several of the cottage industry owners got together for a backpacking trip (I think I read this on Gossamergear) And they are in the hotel together the night before the trip and the weather channel says a storm is coming in. They are weighing their gear. One is 6.1 lbs, the other is 5.9 lbs so the guy with 6.1 lbs takes something out and it becomes a pissing contest to see who has the lighter gear. in short, they go and during the night the storm comes in and it's an ice storm. It coats everything rocks, trees, trail with 1/2 an inch of ice. They are all skilled backpackers and they survive. Slipping and sliding down the trail in snow and ice in trail runners. But the great thing was at the end of the article they wrote, the night before in the hotel when we saw there was a storm coming, that was the time to be putting gear into the bag, not taking it out.

Edited by anthonyweston on 03/07/2013 08:22:04 MST.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: Mind your own business
Re: stupid light on 03/07/2013 08:08:30 MST Print View

Very well said Anthony,