the weight of all this philosophizing and pontificating is too much to carry in my pack!!!
It's fun talking about all this, even on a philosophical level. To me it adds dimension to the practice, and helps steer thinking about what it is we're trying to achieve. After all, the "philosophizing" and "rationalizing" came before the first actual move to redefine how one carries everything. It was the philosophy that gave shape to the whole movement, and that philosophy evolved over time.
Jamie, I still keep referring to your visual gear lists, both on your site and the printed copies, whenever thinking about my own gear lists. It's still one of the best I've ever seen. I've never thought of you competing, but always as a humble practitioner who has really challenged yourself. I love the simplicity of your thinking and your ability to get the gear down to the very bones. It's poetic, even. And I very much admire that. I still remember the transition you went through and the steps you took with each trip to lighten up more. I even remember every photo you took, both of the gear, and the trips. You've inspired me a lot.
The gear lists I keep returning to time and time again are yours, Glen Van Peski's, Andrew Skurka's (though usually far too ambitious for me), Ryan's (though they change so often I get confused), and Alan Dixon's. There are others, of course, but these are the one's that have made me take a hard look at my own gear and to rethink, again and again, how I carry things. Each one reminds me of haiku, each a little different, each with a personality all its own. It may sound ridiculous to those who are completely practical, but after taking UL seriously now for nigh on 15 years, the nuances have become part of an aesthetic appeal. And for me this is part of the fun of all this.
There are those who are completely honest about their lists, and those who are not. And those who very much do make it into a competition, and those who don't. I really don't see anything wrong with friendly rivalry and making the whole exercise into a game, which is what it is, basically. It's a lot of fun. But when people start speaking the way you described above, well, that is going too far. That's the kind of competition that puts a sour taste in my mouth. And undermines the beauty and fun in doing all this.
Tom, about the weight being worn. Good point about the way weights are carried in different points along a fulcrum. But that still doesn't remove the weight from the equation. When climbing a hill, the more weight you have, the harder the climb, whether or not there is a fulcrum to deal with. It's the same as the adage about wearing boots, "A pound on your feet is five pounds on your back." (which, admittedly, does, in part, have something to do with a fulcrum) It's still weight. If you had a backpack that piled all the gear weight straight up above your head so that there was no pulling back of the pack, would that make a difference? That would still be weight, too, and wouldn't carry any less heavily if the weight was high. You'd still have a hard time getting up the hill.
Jennifer, very good point about body weight! How exactly would you measure that and then do something about it? And yet that is weight nonetheless, too. And matters. And then there would be factors like how strong you are, how efficient your cardiovascular system in being able to carry weight for a long time or over rough terrain, how determined you are, and how much pain you can tolerate. Oy, the consequences spiral out of control!