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eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
PROFESSOR HIKE: TOP 10 BEGINNER HIKER BLUNDERS on 09/25/2013 15:19:32 MDT Print View

6. Going ultra-light without ultra-experience
A regular backpacker going ultra-light is like a vegetarian becoming a vegan—it takes time to dial down a new, safe system. Definitions vary, but ultra-light hiking generally means having a base pack weight (your gear minus food and water) of 10 to 12 pounds. The advantage, of course, is that you have less weight to schlep, but your safety net also shrinks: You have fewer backup provisions (food, fuel, warm clothes) if things go wrong, like you fall in a river or rodents steal your food.

The more backcountry experience you have, the more safely you can go ultra-light simply because you’re better equipped with skills to, one, avoid such mishaps and, two, improvise if they do occur. However, even expert mountaineers can pay the ultralight price. Think of Joe Simpson of Touching the Void fame: During his and his partner’s ascent of Siula Grande in the Andes, bad weather prolonged their climb, causing them to run out of fuel for melting snow for water—something that later would contribute to Simpson’s fall into a crevasse.

That’s why ultra-light hiking should be a gradual goal and not a first-time objective. Reducing pack weight is a skill you hone after much experimentation. So how much weight should you carry on a typical day-hike? Is it 10, 15, or 20 pounds? It all depends on the circumstances. If you’re hiking a dozen miles alone on a mellow trail, you can carry a sub-10 pound load of water, snacks, rain gear, headlamp, and the always essential map, compass or GPS. But if the trail is unfamiliar, tricky, or remote, and you’re hiking in a larger group, you might want to add a small first-aid kit, warm clothing, and extra water and food that pushes your weight north of 15 pounds. That’s because carrying more gear—along with the skills to use it—is your best strategy to reduce risk.

more at link


Sharon J.
(squark) - F

Locale: SF Bay area
Re: PROFESSOR HIKE: TOP 10 BEGINNER HIKER BLUNDERS on 09/25/2013 15:46:53 MDT Print View

That actually sounds quite reasonable to me. Why all the discussions here about how to get a taut pitch if a tiny cuben tarp was the best choice for anyone, etc.

Paul Wagner
(balzaccom) - F

Locale: Wine Country
I worry more about safety on 09/25/2013 16:28:23 MDT Print View

Top ten Noob blunders?

Not taking enough water. Not taking enough food. Not taking enough clothing---particularly on top of a peak.

Not believing the signs that say "Stay out of the water--the rocks are slippery, and you won't get a second chance to make a stupid mistake."

Compared to those, using a Walmart tent or taking too large a first aid kit are way down on the list.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: I worry more about safety on 09/25/2013 16:59:00 MDT Print View

"Top ten Noob blunders? "

One person, who was complaining of a super heavy pack, was carrying a 6-pound bag of toiletries and cosmetics.

One person, who was impossibly slow on the trail, admitted to having been fasting for three days before the trip.

One person, who was having a difficult time on a supported trek up Kilimanjaro, admitted that it was the first time to have slept in a tent outdoors.

Geez! What were these people thinking?


Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: I worry more about safety on 10/05/2013 07:44:58 MDT Print View

"Not taking enough water. Not taking enough food. Not taking enough clothing---particularly on top of a peak."

I think that's true of day hikers. My experience has been that a lot of backpackers take too much food in the beginning and then later learn how much is just enough.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
day hikers on 10/05/2013 08:52:42 MDT Print View

I have been on both ends of that scale. Taking a picnic feast for an XC ski day trip and taking nought but a water bottle and windbreaker in the summer on the same loop. As with everything else, it's situational.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re:Backpacker links on 10/05/2013 09:47:17 MDT Print View

Why regurgitate this crap from that crap publication from two years ago?

Why does Eric never post these things in On the Web?

Why does Eric post these at all?

Why, why, why....

Edited by kthompson on 10/05/2013 09:54:49 MDT.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Re:Backpacker links on 10/05/2013 11:36:13 MDT Print View

Why does Eric never backpack?

Why does he continue to throw jabs at ultralight backpackers on an ultralight backpacking forum?

Why does he hate Marmot?

Why, why, why....

Aaron Croft
(aaronufl) - M

Locale: Oregon
Re: Re: Re:Backpacker links on 10/05/2013 12:06:50 MDT Print View

He must have a lot of time to surf the internet and post on his phone while belaying.


Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re:Backpacker links on 10/05/2013 14:09:07 MDT Print View

"He must have a lot of time to surf the internet and post on his phone while belaying."

Eric's not doing much belaying these days, so this makes for a nice break from sitting all alone in his closet, fondling all his shiny new gear. ;0)

Steven Hanlon
(asciibaron) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
a recent trip on 10/08/2013 07:39:26 MDT Print View

i took my girlfriend to Dolly Sods, WV back in August. it was an interesting trip. i had hoped to cover 10-12 miles each day. we covered about 4.5 miles the first day, with me carrying her pack for the last mile or so. the next day was 4.5 back to the car and it easier with less water...

i knew what was in her pack, i watched her pack it. i tried to talk her out of carrying 128 ounces of water, but she refused. it impacted the trip in a very negative way. a year before we went on an overnighter on the AT and she carried too much water.

i found out on the car ride home from Dolly Sods that it was her 2nd time backpacking... she was embarrassed and nervous to tell me since i'm such a seasoned pro.

blunders happen for all sorts of reasons, i never thought i would be in part the cause.

we're working on overcoming her fears - the new approach is for us to hike in and setup a base camp and then do some day hikes until she feels more comfortable in the wild.

btw, her sleeping bag weighs 6 pounds.

Edited by asciibaron on 10/08/2013 07:41:10 MDT.

mistakes on 10/15/2013 20:29:34 MDT Print View


Id say the top mistake beginning HIKERS make is bringing too much stuff, and things that are too heavy and poorly made (i.e. cheap crap)

General b.s. misconception about UL. Anyone can be UL today just by buying $$ lighter gear and leaving the crap thats not needed at home. UL doesnt forego anything you need. And being an ultraheavy stupid beginner doesnt insure that you have anything you need either.

No experience necessary.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: mistakes on 10/15/2013 21:06:15 MDT Print View

I totally agree. For example, you can buy an easy to set up, fully enclosed shelter that is way lighter than a dome tent instead of a more complicated to set up flat tarp.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
first trip.... on 10/15/2013 21:17:18 MDT Print View

on my first backpack... couple of centuries ago..

two of us... took a 2 pound box of C&H sugar !!!! lol
I think we tossed that the second day...

Bill D

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Don't do too much too soon. on 10/15/2013 21:32:08 MDT Print View

>"ultra-light hiking should be a gradual goal "


Because I counted while I was in Scouts and it wasn't so many years after, I can pretty accurately estimate that it was after 150 nights of camping and backpacking that I started to go UL. 29 pounds including food and fuel for 9 days was pretty dang UL for 1983 (but other guys were more extreme). Ray Jardine wasn't quite so much the pioneer in the late 1990's he imagines himself to be.

And we all gained our skills over time.

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
"ultra-light hiking should be a gradual goal " on 10/22/2013 17:03:28 MDT Print View

I fundementally disagree with this statement.

You can now easily hike with all of the comforts and safety factors that every higher weight hiker does at a base weight of 12lbs maybe lighter. Doesnt even cost more other than the down bag and if you want a UL inflatable pad.

It takes some experience to push that down lower but even then not too much.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
"ultra-light hiking should be a gradual goal " Or maybe not. on 10/22/2013 19:33:49 MDT Print View

Rereading this again, I'll back off a little bit. I agree that you can jump on the UL bandwagon more quickly and easily than ever before. One doesn't have to be the slow learner I was.

Partly it is who you fall in with. If your first trips are with ULers and you start with that mindset, you don't have to unlearn so many bad habits. Whereas if you start on Scout trips or with some ex-military guys where half your body weight is the norm, it often takes time to reset your expectations.

There are ways I eat into safety margins (reasonably I think) because of hundreds of nights of experience. I suspect lots of us do.

Would you send a newbie out with as little, delicate gear, as you use yourself? I'd send a newbie out with slightly more fuel, food, and not my most fragile gear.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: "ultra-light hiking should be a gradual goal " Or maybe not. on 10/22/2013 19:43:30 MDT Print View

Maybe the reason some of us oldsters took a long time to go ultra-light is that ultra-light didn't exist until relatively recently

You don't need to start with heavy pack, tent, sleeping bag, boots,... to get experience before getting light ones

Maybe you need some experience before doing some "crazy light" things like using a small tarp in bad weather.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: "ultra-light hiking should be a gradual goal " Or maybe not. on 10/22/2013 22:52:04 MDT Print View

"ultra-light didn't exist until relatively recently"

What is relative recently?

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Re: Re: "ultra-light hiking should be a gradual goal " Or maybe not. on 10/22/2013 23:02:05 MDT Print View

What is relative recently?

50 years? relatively speaking.