The last couple of years have been an amazing learning experience for me. As it happens, I came across the concept of UL backpacking totally by accident. It all started on last day that I would be living at my apartment in London. Opening up my eyes, it dawned on me that today was the day I had to pack up the masses of possessions which had been accumulated over the last 3 years and move out. Someone had apparently slipped a hangover into my drink at some point last night which made it all the more difficult to get up, but eventually, I stumbled out of bed. So my girlfriend and I started to pack up all my belongings. Some things were thrown into the trash, some carefully placed into boxes, some into bags destined for charity shops.
After a couple of hours it became more and more clear just how much junk had somehow snuck through my front door and taken up residence with me. Standing in the hallway faced with a mountain of bags full to the brim, my eyes stopped when I saw this bright green, wooden frog poking out from under one of the bags. I picked it up and stared at it blankly trying to recall just where on earth it had come from. Why did I have it? Ah, that was it - it had been bought on holiday a few years ago in Greece as a memento. It was heavy, heavier than I remembered so out of curiosity I went to the kitchen and weighed it. It was 2 pounds. Likely carved from 3 pounds of wood which was no longer growing somewhere, transported by boat and train to a chinese factory and carved down. Then shipped to greece to be bought by me, who then flew it back to the UK. How wasteful.
What the heck in the moment had made me think that I needed a bright green wooden frog? What was it's function? I like tail-less amphibians as much as the next guy, but how did it improve my life by owning it? The answer, I thought to myself was that it didn't, in fact it occurred to me that this innocently smiling little frog sculpture had made my life ever so slightly worse. It didn't really make me happy to look at it in the way that the photos I had taken that holiday did, It wasn't useful like the rain jacket I had taken with me and it certainly hadn't helped my bank balance. I would be better off without it so placed it in the good will pile.
It was after this day of moving out that I decided that something had to change. So over the next few weeks I sorted through absolutely everything I owned, selling or giving away most of my stuff all the while remembering that green frog. Finally I was left with the bare essentials I really needed. Whenever I had to buy something I would look online to find the best and lightest option and that's when I started to find out about the wonderful world of UL backpacking mostly through BPL. I began to use some of the principles in my everyday life especially the concept of multiuse items. Now my hiking clothes are for the most part, the same as my everyday clothes (with a couple of exceptions). My hiking backpack is my everyday bag and my carry on. A smart Pendleton wool shirt has become part of my hiking gear, but I also wear it to work. I use a titanium spoons and sporks in my kitchen etc.
I believe strongly that the UL backpacking revolution can also do a lot for people in their everyday lives. Allowing people to buy less, but use more and at the same time reducing whatever harmful effects we may be having on the planet. Who knows how much effect we are really having but why not err on the side of caution and try to make a change for the better.
So that's my story of how, I became an UL backpacker in a bit of an unexpected way. It would be really interesting to hear from other people. What's your story? Has all this UL madness spread to other parts of your life? Can you think of other ways that UL principles can change the way we live outside backpacking?