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The SUL Mindset, Part 2: Less vs. Lighter
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Maia Jordan
(maia) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
The SUL Mindset, Part 2: Less vs. Lighter on 06/04/2013 20:19:51 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

The SUL Mindset, Part 2: Less vs. Lighter

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Does anyone have a comment on the location of the wood burning stove in the picture? on 06/04/2013 21:41:37 MDT Print View



Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
wood stove on 06/04/2013 21:46:29 MDT Print View

Nick: I know that it looks like a fire bomb there, but it's really not. Everything is very wet. Snow just left the area, everything is coated in humid mist. If this was summer (it's a far cry from summer up here still), it would be a very different story, and the likelihood that I'd be doing this under a tree would be nil.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: The SUL Mindset, Part 2: Less vs. Lighter on 06/04/2013 22:04:16 MDT Print View

Sweet kicks.

I use ashes and water to sterilize my hands. I can't remember where I read about that and I'm not totally sure how effective it is.

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Simplicity is key on 06/04/2013 23:15:45 MDT Print View

Great article, Ryan. It's easy to get caught up in the new gear frenzy, when simplicity is the key.

My wife still doesn't understand why I like backpacking, or why I complain so much about all the gear we take whitewater rafting (think car camping but your trunk is the size of a pickup truck - plus all the whitewater stuff).

I like to simplify my experience in the wilderness.

Thanks for the reminder.

-- Rex

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Simplicity on 06/04/2013 23:18:51 MDT Print View

Nice article Ryan.

I'm starting to freak out myself when things get too complicated for a bushwalking trip. Simplicity is awesome. Despite all the experience and trips I do, I hate the feeling, when things are complicated, that I have forgotten something. It always gets to me.

It probably takes 30 seconds to grab the gear you have there to get ready at home, and, once you know that you can live happily off it, you are able to leave the house at but a moment's notice to do a quick trip any time. Add a few minutes to grab some food stuffs and that's all you need.

Edited by oysters on 06/04/2013 23:20:02 MDT.

Serge Giachetti
(sgiachetti) - M

Locale: Boulder, CO
simplicity on 06/05/2013 02:52:01 MDT Print View

I love this approach! Very cool series you've got going here, Ryan. This style certainly compliments the beautiful simplicity of backpacking.

Personal preference, but I'll just add that stoveless fits well with this style of minimalism. Its also the perfect execution of backcountry bachelorism.

There's something great about just swinging by the bulk section at the grocery store before a trip, getting five or so bags of dense trail food (almonds, sunflower seeds, ban chips, choc espresso beans, jerky) and throwing them in a stuff sack. No matter how its broken down, this menu covers the main backpacking food groups--'carbs, fats, protein & caffeine' or, if you prefer, 'salty & sweet.'

I will add, though, that once i was asked to pack for my friend who was flying into town for a long weekend. Here's how it went.
He said "I trust your taste, just pack me what you eat in the mountains."
'You sure? I keep it pretty basic."
"yeah you know what you're doing"
{Finally, somebody said it...} --thought bubble

He smiled when I handed him his ridiculously compact bundle of food for the next three days. But after finishing the trip, he handed the stuff sack back to me just less than half full, 'here, you can have the rest.'
'You sure?'
'Yeah, I'm good on banana chips for a while'
Next time I probably won't be put in charge of the backcountry menu.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
"The SUL Mindset, Part 2: Less vs. Lighter" on 06/05/2013 05:07:11 MDT Print View

"One important goal of SUL is to take less stuff, not buy new stuff. If you have to buy new stuff, then regardless of your pack weight, consider that you may have transcended away from the ultralight philosophy and into ultralight hypocrisy."

Ha, ha...yeah....or super ultralight poverty!

Good read!

Joel Benford
(Morte66) - M

Locale: Surrey flatlands, England
Maps on 06/05/2013 05:44:42 MDT Print View

Do your map and compass weigh more than a day of extra food? Man, you don't eat much. Also, don't you have a job to get back to? ;)

Jon Holthaus
(t25hatch) - M
Maia on 06/05/2013 06:58:19 MDT Print View

It's hard to tell but it looks like even Maia is going SUL this trip without a collar or tag. Less really is more for her too :-)

Bill Townsend
(Olmanwilly) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Kicks on 06/05/2013 07:19:17 MDT Print View

Still a big fan of the Lone Peak's? New version looks better on paper, are they just as good in person?

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Why not a day pack on 06/05/2013 08:50:09 MDT Print View

I like the focus on using gear you already have. Excluding that big Ridgerest I think a kit that simple could fit in most day packs.

For trips with a small chance of rain a cheap painters tarp might be a good option. You can lay on it and fold it over you if it actually does rain.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Why not a day pack on 06/05/2013 09:10:59 MDT Print View

The line between day packs and SUL is blurry. I bought a small Prolite pad because of the low volume. Sleeping insulation is the other volume issue. With a light summer sleeping bag, I could pull off an overnighter with a 22-24 liter pack.

You could use a polycryo sheet for a rain "blanket" (add some Velcro dots) but I would have a poncho for my SUL rain gear and a prefect paring with a bivy.

Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
shelter options on 06/05/2013 10:37:59 MDT Print View

I do something similar for shelter in that I will use my rain jacket for the top third, put my legs up to my knees in the pack and then use my trash bag rain skirt for the middle third. Another versatile option is you can use a heetsheets along with a rain jacket or a trash bag if you are using one as a liner on your pack.

The only issue I really have not solved is what do you do about bugs when it is too warm out for a bag/quilt/sheet for UL/SUL?

Edited by bpeugh on 06/05/2013 10:39:00 MDT.

peter vacco

Locale: no. california
Re: wood stove on 06/05/2013 11:04:03 MDT Print View

ummmm .. peter not so entirely sure that the much loved and respected bushbuddy is as totally "spark free" as might be hoped.
perhaps "almost totally nearly spark free , sort of, mostly. " ... ? sure.

i buy my sleeping bags with after tax dollars. of which those are few and rare these days, but even trying to save weight and bushbuddly cook at the same time, if i was going to have hot coffee at morning bedside (which sounds ambrosial, and i'm going to copy yer idea there), i'd pack me an esbit cube .. or two.

nice article.
peter bases his bb op on many years of bb cooking, sitting with the thing staged between my legs, and the occasional appearance of new burn holes in my pants.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
bushbuddy on 06/05/2013 11:09:30 MDT Print View

"sitting with the thing staged between my legs..."

Gotta try that in a packraft, sounds ... ambrosial.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Lone Peaks on 06/05/2013 11:11:13 MDT Print View

@Bill -- we have a review on the Lone Peaks coming up. Some incremental improvements over the originals with the new v1.5, include lighter weight and less water absorption. Also the upper wraps around the foot better, so less sloshing around. I like'em.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: simple but safe on 06/05/2013 11:54:48 MDT Print View

Simplicity is generally a good thing in so many parts of life and getting the number of items to a minimum to save weight is the easiest way to reduce base weight.

BUT, going without shelter and other basic essentials is bad advice. I'll buy a minimalist approach, but I won't go without. That is a whole other jug of Kool Aid in the fridge and should be left to skilled, experienced experts at their own risk.

In fact, I think Ryan is trolling a bit. These articles do make you think about what is really important and essential and serves that purpose well. It made me think, and yeah I could do that, but I'm not going there. It's recreation and spending a cold wet night out isn't my idea of quality time off, not to mention the risks. I just don't like that flavor Kool Aid!

Edited by dwambaugh on 06/05/2013 11:55:22 MDT.

Bradley Danyluk
(dasbin) - MLife
Location on 06/05/2013 12:05:47 MDT Print View

Really like this article. It will make me re-think some things.

But I do want to point out that some of the things mentioned (no shelter, lack of navigation aids, minimal clothing) are very location-specific. Here in the mountains around Vancouver, I think the local SAR teams would have a conniption fit if they read this. Every weekend a couple hikers get lifted out for what they ascribe to exactly this kind of ill-preparedness. Some don't make it. Usually soaking wet and hypothermic stuck on the side of cliff. Couldn't get away with it any time outside of July and August.
So, lest a new hiker read this and get over-confident... know what you're doing first, and what to expect. I'm sure most people here probably get that already, but you never know.

Also note that, in bear country, tents have proven to be some kind of psychological barrier against bears. Despite the fact that they could easily enter or destroy them, they rarely do - while awaking to a curious bear right in your face while cowboy camping is quite common, I think.

Edited by dasbin on 06/05/2013 13:08:11 MDT.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Lone Peaks on 06/05/2013 12:20:25 MDT Print View

v1.5 is lighter? Does that mean less durable? The original version fits pretty well, I'm trying to figure out if I should buy one more pair on discount or get the new version later.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: shelter options on 06/05/2013 12:32:39 MDT Print View

I did a backpack with no tent. Weather report said no rain but it ended up raining quite a bit. I put my rain jacket over my top and made do, but got wet some. The next day I got things fairly dry. Maybe you can call it "type 2 fun".

In the future I will often not take tent if weather forecast is good, but it is much nicer with tent if it rains.

folecr r
(folecr) - M
Synthetic + fleece on 06/05/2013 14:39:05 MDT Print View

I used to have an R2 for exactly the same reason stated above : wet weather versatility.

I've used an Arcteryx Aphix Hoody recently in the frontcountry and I think it might be as versatile. It's a synthetic fill jacket with huge softshell-like fleece panels that extend all the way to the cuffs... very, very breathable. The jacket looks stylish enough that it is casual wear appropriate too.

Hamish McHamish
(El_Canyon) - M

Locale: USA
_ on 06/05/2013 15:52:26 MDT Print View

"For a weight difference of 26 ounces when total pack weights for weekend treks are in the 12-15 pound range, I may actually have to come clean on my motivation for carrying tiny sized packs, and I can’t get beyond the narcissism: it’s because I like the way I look with a small pack."

This, from the same guy who said "if you come across a water source and there's water in your bottle, you have made a mistake"? Now 26 ounces doesn't matter? Wow.

It's a mistake to tote extra water but it's not a mistake to tote an extra 1.5+ pounds of dead weight that, with a total load of 12-15 lbs, is doing nothing for you? At least you can drink the extra water or decide to dump it along the way.

I guess you've gotta generate site traffic any way you can.

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: James on 06/05/2013 16:55:40 MDT Print View

Yes, and Ryan continues to generate site traffic by producing high quality content like this very article. I for one have learned from both his water comment and this SUL series. Would you prefer that Ryan never evolve or clarify his thoughts on SUL?

John Hansen
James on 06/05/2013 20:33:01 MDT Print View

I think he said to use what you got and use your brain. We can always spend more to get lighter weight, but if what you have is a backpack that weighs 26 ozs more than the SUL version, use it. But you can still carry less and therefore carry less weight.

Jeez, James, did you really miss the whole point of RJ's story? It's not about buying more and more, but using less and less. Am I comfortable with RJ's wood burning, not in the areas that I spend 90% of my time? But do I get his point of challenging every piece of my gear and thinking of skills that could replace a piece of gear? Yes. I'm actually looking at my mountain climbing kit to explore ways to replace gear with skill.

Mobius Vortex
Please! on 06/05/2013 21:48:11 MDT Print View

So for a long dry stretch just carry you water in a zip lock bag. And just be extra safe don't carry a map or compass.
This all crosses the line into stupid light. Admittedly I was set off by the second paragraph "If you have to buy new stuff, ... ultralight hypocrisy." A couple of years ago my lightest sleeping bag was 3 lbs and the lightest pack that could hold it 7+ lbs empty. No way are you going to go SUL with that gear. Then to follow that with the suggestion of using a zip lock as your water carry for "long dry stretches". Please!

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: SUL on 06/05/2013 22:52:54 MDT Print View

If you blindly followed Ryan's gear list, then yes it could very well be stupid light. But bringing a tarp when you can stay perfectly dry under natural cover isn't necessarily smart either. What you need to stay safe and comfortable depends on a huge number of factors (experience level and environment to name a few). That, I think, is the whole point of this series - picking one number (5 or 6 or 10 lbs) isn't an accurate descriptor. Accurately assessing the conditions and bringing the least gear you can to stay safe and comfortable - that's a better definition of UL/SUL.

Hamish McHamish
(El_Canyon) - M

Locale: USA
_ on 06/05/2013 22:59:08 MDT Print View

Some of Ryan's advice just seems inconsistent to me, that's all.

"If you have to buy new stuff, then regardless of your pack weight, consider that you may have transcended away from the ultralight philosophy and into ultralight hypocrisy." Seriously: hypocrisy? This is the kind of bombastic verbiage I'm talking about. Are we all hypocrites for getting rid of our 7 lb Dana Design packs and getting frameless packs, regardless of the load carried?

In a certain way it reminds me of Twight's whining back in the day about how the summit didn't really matter anyway. Everyone knew that HE knew it was crap but he did it anyway to cause a stir and get more press. I doubt Ryan is looking for press but I believe that he likes to throw whoppers out there just to stir the pot, knowing that the statements are over-the-top and not really consistent.

While Googling I found this comment regarding Twight's writing and it almost seems apropos here: "he has said elsewhere that he doesn't really bother justifying his positions rationally and that most of his writing is more manifesto than treatise".

Maybe that's how we should interpret some of Ryan's comments: in spirit, not in substance.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
ziplock bags for water on 06/05/2013 23:07:24 MDT Print View

I find that a 1.2 oz Platypus bottle works better than a used zip closure bag that's in your garbage pile and contains some gorp dust for carrying water.

I'm not trying to educate you on "how to make this choice" just to save a half ounce, or otherwise extolling the virtues of using zip bags for water storage.

I got the idea because I did a 5 day trip across the Beartooths using the pot-steripen-no bottle approach, and I had one nine mile stretch that was dry (up on a ridge). So I figured I might as well use a dirty zippie from yesterday's lunch rather than take along a water bottle just for that one stretch.

And wait -- I thought the key to generating site traffic was to promote popular gear and methods? Sheesh, I've really got this all confused.

Besides, I needed that big pack (+26 oz!) to house the Ridge Rest Deluxe. Rolled up inside, that thing is huge, and it looks kinda stupid strapped to that little tiny 1600 ci day pack :D

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
ultralight hypocrisy on 06/05/2013 23:20:18 MDT Print View


It's hard for me to reconcile the seemingly endless acquisition of ultralight gear and promoting the virtues of ultralight philosophy in the backcountry while living a consumer-centric lifestyle and living in a consumer-centric culture.

I own way more backpacking gear *options* (and thus, more pieces, and more mass) now than I ever did before discovering the ultralight thing.

That's not...progress, is it?

If this hypocrisy isn't part of your journey, no big deal, just pretend the "Hypocrite!" finger isn't pointing at you. But it's certainly part of mine, and I see that finger pointing at me.

Edited by ryan on 06/05/2013 23:20:45 MDT.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: The SUL Mindset, Part 2: Less vs. Lighter on 06/05/2013 23:33:16 MDT Print View

Even on trips where I am following water, I bring a water bottle. I like having something to drink out of during the evenings without walking back and forth to the water. I can't drink out of my pot if it's full of food.

Serge Giachetti
(sgiachetti) - M

Locale: Boulder, CO
self-reliance on 06/06/2013 03:47:46 MDT Print View

I see a lot of people on this site blindly follow what someone else suggests they do, especially certain someone else's who are staff writers for BPL. I took this article as a suggestion to experiment with taking less of what you already own. If you've been getting out into the wilderness a decent amount, then presumably you've gotten a chance to see what of your gear works in different situations. And presumably you've gained some confidence in yourself in a wilderness setting, and thus an ability to parse the advice that you read in internet articles and forums.

Its not like now that Ryan had fun using his heavy CCF pad and no tarp or map that its the 'cool' way to backpack. Get outside more and figure out what works for you.

I'm lucky enough to live super close to a beautiful wilderness area (40mins to my profile pic). After taking enough trips, geeking out over routes on google earth and studying the terrain from various peaks, its no longer necessary to bring a map or a compass. This is no major feat of wilderness know-how--Its a small area and I go there a lot. If you've reached that point of familiarity, there's no question if you need a map or not. If you are questioning and thinking about what RJ wrote in this article at the trail head, then you should probably just bring one.

I think its pretty clear that RJ is not issuing general wilderness guidelines. He's trying to get you to think outside the box about applying a minimalist SUL ethic.

I think we're better at resolving potential contractions then we give ourselves credit for.

Edited by sgiachetti on 06/06/2013 05:41:46 MDT.

Claudio Zanoni
simplicity rules, a little more weight & volume is fine on 06/06/2013 06:31:37 MDT Print View

I have a lot less gear since UL started to creep into my mind

e.g. reduced to 1 stove (alc) or open fire...
1 sleeping bag & 1 pad (winter/3 season)...
1 backpack for everything

Reading this I am seriously thinking about reducing everything to just what you see in Ryans pictures... plus a tarp for very rainy trips... then you grab that and go...

Definitely worth carrying a little more weight & volume for the simplicity gained, at least to me...

p.s. the more pictures the better... that pad with all gear on it... better than a 1000 words...

Edited by zachiator on 06/06/2013 06:33:17 MDT.

Peter S
(prse) - MLife

Locale: Denmark
Great article on 06/06/2013 08:09:53 MDT Print View

Thanks Ryan, it's a great article series.

I won't blindly copy your advice, (as I'm 100 percent sure you're not advocating), but i helps me to think outside my own personal "spreadsheet-box"

It reminds me of this TED talk clip:

Robert Patrick
Sul Mindset on 06/06/2013 08:11:29 MDT Print View

The soft underbelly of the beast is that many just do not list their entire kit. Take Ryan's last video ---He is shown using a hatchet in the wilds to make a fire--We never see a hatchet on any gear lists. This is not to denegrate any of us but to say that a strict goal of a specific lbs causes a mind set that is not honest with oneself most of the time.

Jim Sweeney
(swimjay) - MLife

Locale: Northern California
the SUL game on 06/06/2013 11:05:57 MDT Print View

It’s very important to remember that backpacking, lightweight backpacking, is all a game-- which is in no way to denigrate it. There’s nothing more serious or more useful than play. Play makes us sharper, more able to handle the unexpected event, less apt to get in ruts, enables us to establish and function in stable hierarchies in social subgroups, refocuses our gazes outward, etc.

Typically a game is established by an inventor who creates the game and enrolls others in playing it. Unsurprisingly, the rules initially favor the skill set of the creator. But as the game gets absorbed by its surrounding culture, the rules change to keep it interesting— playable by more people, and unlikely to be dominated by some uninteresting subset of players. For example, in auto racing, engine size is limited to keep races from being dominated by the inelegant behemoths of super-rich sponsors.

The process of making the rules is inherently political, and subject to the surprises and reversals typical of politics. As with the engine size analogy, if the LW backpacking game had a cost-no-object flavor, the boards would ultimately be dominated by posters crowing about their latest $4,000 sleeping bag, and might ultimately devolve into the game of “what do I buy next?” (Thus losing sight of a fundamental initial play function, to reduce the gap that separates us from the natural world). As in any good game, the rules evolve to optimize the nature of the play.

Interestingly, before LW backpacking, the backpacking game was often (usually covertly) about “heavyweight” backpacking. People delighted in how much, not how little, weight they were carrying— hefting each others packs, bragging rights going to the heaviest load. So the shift to LW was a complete reversal. And perhaps the shift away from a consumerist approach is another reversal. (And just in time—I’m running out of room & money!)

Edited by swimjay on 06/06/2013 11:48:57 MDT.

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F

Locale: NW Montana
re: UL Hypocrisy on 06/06/2013 18:38:35 MDT Print View

Ryan, I do appreciate you acknowledging the hypocrisy inherent in UL. (Let's go ahead and be really honest--it's just inherent in most things we humans do.)

While I really like the emphasis of this week, I found it a little frustrating that you were saying that you were taking what you already had when you clearly just replaced your old HMG Expedition with a new one. Of course, you had clearly put a lot of use in the previous pack, so maybe replacing well-worn gear is less hypocritical.

Simplicity and elegance are worth a high price, but I'm not sure they're worth the cost that the hypocrisy of consumerism demands. Thanks for critiquing that, even if we're all entrapped within it to some extent.

Edited by GlacierRambler on 06/06/2013 18:40:12 MDT.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
HMG pack replacement on 06/06/2013 18:44:49 MDT Print View

Clayton -- I wore the old HMG expedition pack out toting heavy loads while guiding, it ripped out at the hip belts. I notified HMG about it, and they've retooled it so it's no longer an obvious failure point, so the pack I'm using in the new vids is my warranty replacement.

Kat ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: the SUL game on 06/06/2013 18:47:13 MDT Print View

@ Jim Sweeney.
Yours is one of my favorite BPL posts. Thank you.

Edited by Kat_P on 06/06/2013 19:09:22 MDT.

Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
yep on 06/07/2013 13:31:23 MDT Print View

I personally like some of Ryan's ideas and have been doing a few of them myself previously. His series actually got me interested and willing to join as a member for another year again. I have often thought about buying new gear but usually instead just used what I had or came across. I own a used Rainbow for when it is really buggy and cowboy camp the rest of the time using a large garbage sack, my rain skirt and my rain jacket. I have an Evernew UL Ti 1.3L pot that i use on my stove at home also. I am not going to spend the extra $45 to buy a slightly smaller one to save ~1oz. If I take my Ridgerest Solar Deluxe I use the Granite Gear Vapor Trail, if I take the Klymit Static V, I use a generic school backpack. Not always the lightest but at 6'5" I will never make the SUL 5# measurement and keep my gear costs way down. So I dirt bag it, take less and come close to both.

Lachlan Fysh
(lachlanfysh) - M
Fleece on 06/07/2013 20:52:47 MDT Print View

Really interested by the choice of R3 - I'm going to Iceland in a month and had been planning to take an R1 (for active use) and a nano puff pullover for camp... but I've also got an R2, would you advocate this over one/both of these other two jackets? Windshirt and hardshell will also both be brought along.

Joel Benford
(Morte66) - M

Locale: Surrey flatlands, England
Creative use of conditions on 06/08/2013 03:41:21 MDT Print View

All this talk of philosophy... I don't give a hoot for philosophy, I just enjoy having less weight on my shoulders.

I got the message about "don't take what you don't need" a while ago. What I like about this article is the way it uses the circumstances to finesse "what you need". There is a reliable supply of thick trees for shelter? OK, no bivy. There is water every hour all/most of the way? Leave the containers, improvise over the gaps. You have extensive wilderness skills? Live off the land, bring less. On the downside... Can't keep down dry? Use heavier fleece. A 4400cu pack is what you've got? Bring it.

If it was canyoneering somewhere hot and dry, and the hiker couldn't tie a knot let alone build a fire with wet wood, the same logical process would lead to a different set of gear.

This isn't philosophy, this is engineering.

Edited by Morte66 on 06/08/2013 03:51:12 MDT.

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
Re: The SUL Mindset, Part 2: Less vs. Lighter on 06/08/2013 08:41:57 MDT Print View

What a grand series! It's like reading a great book, it so much fun then you suddenly realize it has to end. All I can say is I hope we continue to get thought provoking articles like this for all long as Ryan can continue come up with this stuff.

I have had a difficult time getting out this year...knee surgery in March, family schedules, work commitments... nothing was lining up. I've been inspired by these articles and just decided to let things go and head out for a 40 mile trip in the Smoky Mountains this week. I am bit a bit out of shape because of the knee and I spent a tough storm filled night on top of Mount Sterling, but beyond that it was spectacular. Heck even the problems were spectacular as they taught me several things.

Keep the inspiration coming, I can really use it.


Randy Cain
(bagboy) - MLife

Locale: Palmdale, CA
Very enjoyable read! on 06/08/2013 19:42:22 MDT Print View

I love this kind of article. Even though some folks might not want to try certain things, this stimulates thought about what is really necessary in your kit, what's possible, etc. Keep 'em coming, Ryan!

Josh Brock

Locale: Outside
Loved it thanks on 06/11/2013 10:04:25 MDT Print View

Really liked the article.. I think people need to get brought back out of the marketing side of "Ultra light" and back into the backpacking part.

And it seems that people are quick to jump on you about the article. Saying your gear list is irresponsible. and that your a hopocrit for having a new peice of gear. They hang on to your exact words and ignore the idea of what your saying. kind of petty, unless they really are just missing what your saying.

Emmanuel Romo
(emman714) - F

Locale: Southern California
Wanderer Series on 06/12/2013 02:36:15 MDT Print View

Thank you for producing these articles and Wanderer videos Ryan.They are worth the subscription I just paid for. I'm looking forward to more.

The cowboy camp advice reminds me of my my last trip up San Gorgonio a couple weeks ago. I split the weight of a GoLite SL3 with all stock parts plus an all-weather space blanket between my buddy and I. At night, his GF who was part of the group was tossing back and forth making the small space in the SL3 extremely awkward between the three of us- especially me being a back sleeper.

There were six other people in our group, 5 of which were cowboy camping- one of which was a first timer. After huffin and puffin I thought to myself, why suffer? If they can cowboy camp why can't I? I've been backpacking a few years. We were in a windy, flat below treeline with fast flowing water 30 yards away. The flying insects didnt worry me. We were lying near downed logs and I was using my EE quilt. I got over my irrational fear of spiders, termites and other creepy crawlies. It was amazing to fall asleeo eyes wide open staring at the stars. I didn't even wear my head net and I'm alive to tell the tale.

I will cautiously cowboy camp from now on even if I take my MLD ProPoncho. : D

Emmanuel Romo
(emman714) - F

Locale: Southern California
Double post on 06/12/2013 02:36:46 MDT Print View

Double post.

Edited by emman714 on 06/12/2013 02:38:31 MDT.

Richard Scruggs
(JRScruggs) - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: The SUL Mindset, Part 2: Less vs. Lighter on 06/12/2013 03:37:23 MDT Print View

Great series, Ryan. Really enjoy your discussions of techniques, gear, and looking at SUL in different and/or new ways.


Anthony Weston
(anthonyweston) - MLife

Locale: Southern CA
Sul mindset on 06/12/2013 23:51:40 MDT Print View

Interesting, I enjoyed the article.

I'd go with a 2oz plastic groundcloth and a large foam pad cut to my thighs.
I have a 3.6 oz tarp which in the rain is worth it's weight in gold.
All 3 weigh less and function better than a 19 oz foam pad but each to his own.

If there is a storm that is the time to be putting more things in your pack and not taking them out and as Andrew Shurka says, "Nothing is warm when wet" but I like fleece. Oddly enough the best warmth to weight fleece I'm found is by Landsend (inexpensive and 8.8 oz for a medium) very warm when dry.

Each trip is different and you bring what you need to cope with the conditons that you face. Last week in Tuolumne it was 100 degrees and I had sunscreen and was glad I did.
In April I left the sunscreen on the dashboard of my car by mistake and I did not notice hiking in but that night I saw my forearms were roasted like rotisserie chicken so I made sure I had it on the next trip. The mosquitoes were out in droves, I had a bug net to cover my face and in camp my duomid had a screen door and screen floor sewn in which I like much better than an inner net setup, more room and no nets in your face. I suppose I could have rolled in the river mud, when I was 16 on a survial overnight we tried this and it was fun.

You bring what works for you and if it's UL or SUL or dam heavy who cares as long as it's not on my back and everyone has fun and comes back safe - caked in mud or not.

And I always enjoy reading about Ryan's tecniques, not for everyone, I have no use for a hand ax (again when I was 16 in scouts we discovered we could split logs by smashing them with boulders) but I understand why he likes to use it when wood is wet, each man to his own tools. It's fun to push boundries and see what works as long as the weather gods are in a gentle mood.

Bill Townsend
(Olmanwilly) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Steripen on 07/13/2013 09:23:59 MDT Print View

All right Ryan may have me coming around on the steripen, but using my short/wide pot won't fly. Not sure if it's a valid concern or anyone has an answer BUT: any reason not to use this system with a 1quart twist loc container? Not quite Nalgene quality plastic so I wonder about leeching, degradation, ect. I could switch ziploc's every set of batteries or some other such system I suppose.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Steripen on 07/13/2013 09:42:49 MDT Print View

"any reason not to use this system with a 1quart twist loc container? "

No. Steripen even replied to someone here who asked them that same question a couple of years ago.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Steripen on 07/13/2013 10:59:19 MDT Print View

Another option is to use your cook pot. My Steripen (and all of them to my knowledge) has a .5 liter treatment setting. If you're carrying the bowl anyways then it's 6 to one half dozen to the other I suppose.

Edit: Sorry. Tired from a long day of driving and re read your concern with your pot. If you're using an evernew UL pot then I suspect you'd be ok but I'll check my Opti with my Evernew UL 600 tomorrow morning to be sure.

Edit part deuce: I stand corrected. The Opti lamp is too long to work in the Evernew 600.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 07/14/2013 07:54:13 MDT.

Anthony Weston
(anthonyweston) - MLife

Locale: Southern CA
just my thinking out loud. on 07/13/2013 11:15:31 MDT Print View

I think gear sickness is a terrible thing but there is an easy cure: sell or give it away. I think a consumer society can be wonderful or terrible. It's wonderful if I need something it's there. It's terrible if I don't use what I have and it's just wasted.

However I may have some gear that I don't use but it's there in case I want to go on a different kind of a trip or as a backup in case my pack splits so I don't have to miss a trip just because I'm waiting 8 weeks for the pack I ordered. Not to knock the cottage industry - Thank God for zpacks, mld, EE and all the others.

be prepared vs take less
so what is it they teach you in backpacking 101, "When you get back from a trip put everything you didn't use in a pile and then don't bring it the next time". Here again discrimination is needed, somethings that I didn't use like a 3 oz bug net on this trip - are still worth carrying so don't ignore backpacking 101 but don't put yourself in misery if you don't have to. It's fun to cowboy camp, if the conditions will let you get away with it, we did it last week on Alta Peak no tent required but don't put yourself in danger, respect that the mountain can kill.

It's like in Laurence of Arabia where the Bedouin says we don't love the desert we love water and gardens. I think real mountain men of yesteryear would give their eye-teeth for down sleeping bag instead of wool blanket and bear grease smeared on to keep you warm because it's that or die.

Paul Wallace
Hypocrites unite on 08/05/2013 21:54:58 MDT Print View

Being called a hypocrite for buying new stuff is not why I paid to subscribe to this forum. Lucky for you that you already have two expensive looking cuben fiber packs, which I assume you found on the side of the road and did not have to buy.

Richard Scruggs
(JRScruggs) - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: The SUL Mindset, Part 2: Less vs. Lighter on 08/10/2013 02:09:23 MDT Print View

Read the article again and still find it's really good, full of thought-provoking notions and insights --- but, but, but . . .

Why even bother to include a rain jacket when you're feeling lucky enough to rely on a down sleeping bag with no shelter at all?

Why not cut the rain jacket as one less thing to clutter up the gear list?

Or maybe swap it out for an SUL poncho, something like the hoodless SpinPoncho T-Lite that BPL used to have in its gear shop, see link below (and say, that guy modeling the SpinPoncho T-Lite sure looks familiar, doesn't he!) --

Multi-functional (shelter/rain gear) at half the weight of the rain jacket, and all without increased number of items. What? Need stakes & guy line? Oops.

Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: The SUL Mindset, Part 2: Less vs. Lighter on 08/10/2013 15:07:18 MDT Print View

Think the point of the article was if one started traditional weight items (R3, down bag, waterproof/breathable jacket, etc..), an interested traditional packer could still go UL by taking less of items already owned.

Then start melting credit cards..

Richard Mock
(moxtr) - M

Locale: The piney woods
Re: Wanderer Series on 08/25/2013 23:57:39 MDT Print View

I cowboy camped for 4 decades but finally educated myself of the dangers of tickborne diseases and have changed my behavior and clothing in the outdoors.

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Re: The SUL Mindset, Part 2: Less vs. Lighter on 06/19/2014 16:47:13 MDT Print View

OK, I dig the article.
The whole less is more is a great mindset, and a great concept.
But calling a SUL Mindset?

It's terms like this that are just there to make you feel good about yourself.

This is why a size 6 pair of jeans would be a size 10 not too many years ago.
It just makes people feel good that they can be overweight and still fit into and say they are a size 6.