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2013 Staff Picks
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David T
(DaveT) - F
u mad? on 12/31/2013 12:30:23 MST Print View

why are you mad about people posting their opinions about the opinions?!

they're opinions!

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: 2013 Staff Picks on 12/31/2013 12:31:05 MST Print View

I'm starting a thread "2013 Reader Picks" so we can show how it's done :)

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Useless on 12/31/2013 12:58:37 MST Print View

"Why are y'all mad for people posting their opinions?

Its opinons! Sheesh"

I think the issue is quality and appropriateness. People come here looking for the answers and this article falls short. It smacks of being thrown together at the last minute rather than pointing the readers to quality, useful information. Shame shame.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
the theatre of the absurd on 12/31/2013 13:34:05 MST Print View

Art, I'm not going to change your mind. Past evidence makes that pretty clear. I would however submit that your above comments suggest that on a root level you do not know what you are talking about.

Dale, I'm not clear on what questions you're looking to have answered by something like this. I am genuinely curious.

I don't direct content for this site, but as a writer my personal answer to what seems to be the implicit question here is that there is only so much that can be said about plain old walking around in the woods. Take lightweight rain jackets: the only thing worth noting in the 2 years since I wrote a SOTMR is the same laminates on new materials with new names, and that Haglofs discontinued the Ozo. Sleeping pads? Ridgerests work. Thermarests work. Neoairs work but are fragile and stupid expensive. Everything else is variations on a theme or white noise.

I'm shocked no one has admonished me for forgetting my helmet on that Waterton trip and riding anyway. Only went two for three this time around.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
I like it on 12/31/2013 13:38:17 MST Print View

I like this years picks. It seems to me there is only so much you can say about std backpacking gear that hasn't been said before. So for me it's good to hear about a diverse range of kit. Without Bpl I wouldn't know about packrafting and there wouldn't be surly ogre in the garage ready for a trip in the next couple of weeks.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Useless on 12/31/2013 13:45:30 MST Print View

People come here looking for the answers and this article falls short.

I'll probably hate myself in the morning for stepping into this squabble but ...

This reader comes here for information, not answers. Information helps me formulate my own answers.

I'm not sure any of the annual staff picks articles has ever filled that need for me. But member interests are varied enough that I'd expect few articles or threads to be useful to all readers.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Nickelback on 12/31/2013 13:51:20 MST Print View

Story time kiddies... gather 'round. A lot can be learned from the relationship I have with Nickelback.

I don't like Nickleback and would rather staple my face to the floor than listen to them. Sometimes the local hockey arena plays Nickelback over the loudspeaker. Sometimes I hear Nickelback on the radio. There are even times when I'm walking past CDs in a store and I see a Nickelback album.

Despite my desire to start screaming at the top of my lungs, rip off my clothes, and flee the establishment sobbing violently……

I just take a deep breath.... count to ten.... and chant "It'll be ok. It'll be ok."

And then I move on with my life. If you have a magazine you subscribe to and are happy with every article ever written, then good on you but it seems unlikely.

Kevin Buggie
(kbuggie) - M

Locale: NW New Mexico
Re: the theatre of the absurd on 12/31/2013 14:09:25 MST Print View

The inclusion of only 1 BPL item on each staff members list seems to have left many of us wanting for a little bit more insight to the kit of the pros. In past years, the 'lifestyle' item was balanced by 3 or more conventional BPL gear pieces (+1 for Sawyer mini function and price)

That said. +1 on Dave C.'s use of BPL gear and philosophy to make outdoor pursuits of ALL types safer and more accessible to us. I've yet to pull-off a planned packraft/turkey hunt/fat bike loop on the northern edge of the Navajo reservation but thanks to BPL and Dave's inspiration its coming. I did however take my zpack zero, foster can/starlyte, quilt,and roclites on numerous walks and overnights with my A5 this season. That's (Browning A5; 8 heavy lbs.) a shotgun and I guess it could be called.... hunting. But to me and many of us its just backpacking lighter, outside.

I do look forward to the other months of the year when my SUL and UL base-weights aren't dwarfed by blued metal or rabbit-hole rims. HYOH!

Katy Anderson
(KatyAnderson) - F
Re: the theatre of the absurd on 12/31/2013 15:01:06 MST Print View

David Chenault - BPL Staff - said "my personal answer to what seems to be the implicit question here is that there is only so much that can be said about plain old walking around in the woods."

and therein lies the rub, or in this case the difficulty in writing essays for a backpacking magazine-website year after year.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Re: the theatre of the absurd on 12/31/2013 15:14:40 MST Print View

The point is: who cares what their opinions are. They are just some folks that work for some website. They may do thing differently than you so their picks dont apply to you. Why be mad?

Don't hunt? Ignore the part about the gun. The people who do hunt (the intended audience) may get an idea from it.

I hike with people so all of the solo shelters don't apply. I just skip em. I don't bike, i don't raft, i don't -who cares what i don't do.

Whats your favorite piece of gear? Well it sucks! My x is better!

See how ridiculous?

Dave t made my point.
Who gives a rats ass about any opinion!?!?

... This is just my opinion

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: the theatre of the absurd on 12/31/2013 16:20:15 MST Print View

"Dale, I'm not clear on what questions you're looking to have answered by something like this. I am genuinely curious."

Answer, conceptually speaking: How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

And shame on you, BTW, for riding helmetless up at Waterton. Where is Smokey when we need him? ;0)

And now, what you've all been breathlessly waiting for:

The ouzel's 2013 picks

UL gear

Locus Gear CP3's. I thought I'd be using LT4's for the rest of my career for Sierra doin's, but these poles have them beat hands down. The extra ounce or so turns out to be an advantage for pole management in windy conditions and brush, IME, and the
locking mechanisms are bomber.

Outdoor item

Mountain Hardwear Mountain Tech vest. It weighs 11 oz in a size small, but gives great core protection in temperatures down to the mid 20's so far, and probably lower, when windy. Also superior thermo regulation from there up to about 40 degrees. No further need for a windshirt, which I have had trouble with in the 30 degree range while on the move. Not UL, nor would I use it in the sierra, but up here in the Cascades in winter and early spring, it is a dream.


Just keep moving, preferably ion the mountains. simple as that.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: the theatre of the absurd on 12/31/2013 16:24:42 MST Print View

"Dave t made my point.
Who gives a rats ass about any opinion!?!?"

A wise BPLer, Nick G IIRC, once observed that opinions are like a$$holes, everybody has one. Since rats apparently have 'em, too, maybe we should turn this thread over to the rats at this point, before it gets any more acrimonious?

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Reader expectations on 12/31/2013 16:26:52 MST Print View

My expectations as a (paying) reader would be some new but tried and tested items used by experienced ultralight backpackers AND generally in the UL realm. This is quite different than surfing a site like and getting a head full of gadget eye candy.

I posted my 2013 favorites in a couple minutes and several others were able to add their pertinent selections in a short time, so I really don't buy the fact that there isn't anything new to write about.

BPL isn't Backpacker magazine in terms of budget or staff. IMHO, limited professional staff has always been an issue for BPL. They have done a very good job with what they have, but having two or three product testers not only limits the sheer quantity of gear tested, it also limits the range of experience and subjective leanings to that of the few writers on staff.

In a perfect world, there would be a larger staff bringing a greater diversity of views. And someone would need to help pay for that. Backpacker mag has multinational corporations buying ad space, which may never be in the UL niche. As I said, I think BPL could have fluffed this article up a bit.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Reader expectations on 12/31/2013 16:38:21 MST Print View

I didn't object to this article for reasons I've already mentioned. I fully realize that this is a gear-centric website and a thread about a new Sawyer water filter will generate more chatter and responses than the many wonderful trip reports shared on here either as a BPL sponsored article or a Post Trip Report submission. It'd be interesting (to me) to read a sister article to this where the staff provide a synopsis of their favorite adventure from the year prior.

BPL openly solicits contributions from the membership so those who are dissatisfied are more than welcome to step up and provide an article. I realize you have in the past Dale.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 12/31/2013 16:38:55 MST.

Buck Nelson
(Colter) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
It's Backpackinglight on 12/31/2013 21:19:11 MST Print View

Some favorite backpacking gear:

Montbell Alpine Light Down Jacket
I love that jacket. Warm, light, compressible. Mine weighs 16 oz. It's part of my sleep system.

Caldera Keg
Stable, efficient, light, nests beautifully. Mine weighs 6.3 oz.

Marmot Hydrogen sleeping bag
It's been a very warm, light bag and still lofts beautifully after thousands of miles. Mine (an older model) weighs 23 oz.

ZPacks Hexamid Solo Tent
Mine weighs 8.5 ounces, plus stakes. I have stayed dry and bug-free with it every single night. Wish I'd had one long ago.

Three gear lists:
Alaska Traverse
Desert Trail

Edited by Colter on 12/31/2013 21:23:20 MST.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: BPL on 01/01/2014 08:44:15 MST Print View

Thanks for the response Dale.

FWIW everyone, I dislike the Sawyer filters. Backflushing frequently is too much work in a world which contains Aqua Mira.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: 2013 Staff Picks on 01/01/2014 16:14:00 MST Print View

Hi John

> Roger Caffin once ridiculed me for suggesting he review the Hoka One One shoe.
Yes, I remember the incident. I was rather cynical about the shoe, the marketing spiel and the motivations of the vendors (and still am), but I certainly deny ridiculing you. I will not go ad-hominem over that sort of thing.

What we are seeing here is probably a difference in culture: Australians tend to be a LOT more blunt than Americans. I do keep getting into trouble over that! So if you were offended at all, my apologies.


Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Blunt? on 01/01/2014 16:23:12 MST Print View

"Australians tend to be a LOT more blunt than Americans."

Nah. An old girlfriend's mother once told me, "Dahling, the closest you get to 'tact' is 'appalling blunt.'"

And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled....

J Dos Antos
(Damager) - M

Locale: Redwoods of Santa Cruz Mts
Thanks for the article on 01/01/2014 16:35:52 MST Print View

I appreciate the article and respect the authors' opinions since I can trust they have tested their gear.

What I like most about backpacking, besides the escapist allure, is that it can be incorporated into several other outdoor pursuits. I have been a trail runner for several years and that crossover knowledge/training has made me a stronger, more capable backpacker. Now I am also starting to climb and boulder.

I feel that all outdoor pursuits make you more capable ... outdoors.

I realize not all of this gear is SUL or UL or even strictly for backpacking, but it is gear that is designed to take you places you might not be able to reach on foot alone, and that is a good thing. If this gear has helped push BPL staff members further, and broadened their perspective, then isn't it worthy to make a list for 2013 BPL Staff Picks?

Clayton Black
(Jivaro) - MLife
Zombie Apocalypse on 01/01/2014 17:45:27 MST Print View

BPL Staff is preparing us! Thanks guys and happy holidays.