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2013 Staff Picks
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Oliver Nissen
(olivernissen) - MLife

Locale: Yorkshire Dales
MYOG picks on 01/02/2014 07:14:18 MST Print View

I've enjoyed the article (liking the non-purity of many of picks) and the selections made by various readers too. Having spent 2013 entirely on work, I'm probably disqualified from submitting my own picks. However, 2014 will see me tramping the trails again, and unlike most others, the gear I'm looking forward to are notably MYOG in nature:

Roger Caffin's home-made inverted canister stove for Winter camping over the next few months.

My current MYOG projects are a lot simpler but are also winter warmers:

Replacing the EVA handles on my trekking poles with some nice natural cork ones. I get cold digits and EVA just sucks (heat!)

Similarly, I'm fashioning some foot-beds using Primaloft's felt-like footwear quality - a really easy cut-and-sew project.

I'll post photographs in a few months after I've put them through some scenic abuse.

Happy New Year :)

Todd Hein
(todd1960) - MLife

Locale: Coastal Southern California
2013 Picks - Really? on 01/06/2014 18:13:14 MST Print View

I'm a stick in the mud I guess: This community is called "Backpacking Light", not Hunting Light, or Kayaking Light, or Packrafting Light, or Mountain Biking Light, right? These are probably worthwhile activities to some members, but, in my opinion, should be discussed in other forums. I value opinions about trips, techniques, and gear that I can use when I walk and carry my own stuff in wilderness (or as close as I can get to wilderness) areas. If this url is really supposed to be "Wilderness Travel Light", then maybe a name change is in order?

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: 2013 Picks - Really? on 01/06/2014 19:34:17 MST Print View

"This community is called "Backpacking Light", not Hunting Light, or Kayaking Light, or Packrafting Light, or Mountain Biking Light, right? "

You are right.
That's why most of them barely have nothing to do with this site anymore.
They're busy hunting, kayaking, and mountain biking.

Jim H
(jraiderguy) - M

Locale: Puget Sound
Too much subdivision kills traffic on 01/06/2014 19:52:18 MST Print View

I think the site has defined itself well. It obviously isn't backpacking in the travel-around-europe-in-hostels sense, and it doesn't focus too much on any of the standing-still outdoor activities. Calling the site BPL and allowing a variety of posts means a larger and more diverse userbase, and hopefully more resources to generate and curate content.

Not sure how many of you are familiar with, but it can be a good example of too much subdivision within a hobby. Users can create a subforum for every possible topic, and they could create a subforum for exactly their definition of backpacking (r/threeplusdaytriponly-nofishing-photographyokay-butnotelephotos/, or something). And people do that. But then they get less than 10 subscribers, and practically zero traffic. An active forum where 50% users don't always agree seems better than an inactive one.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
"This is BPL, where's the BPing Gear?" on 01/07/2014 11:55:17 MST Print View

This is a question I might have asked up until a year or two ago. But I have learned that many folks here, like me, have other outdoor interests. This is good, because who wants to talk to backpacking Zombies? There is more to life than backpacking.

We have folks like Wisner, Durston, Ike, P Mags and others who are outdoors almost every weekend and every vacation and they are not single focused. When they discuss their other interests, it tells me more about them. Although I have met very few of these folks, I know I would like most of them -- their other activities tell me a lot about them. And I have learned to enjoy some of the non-backpacking topics. I say, Embrace the Diversity!

Now I suppose some of the negative comments are really directed at Dave Chenault's choices. Perhaps some of the negative posters might want to wander over to Dave's blog and read. Now, some of Dave's blog posts irritate me, and I hate it that I need a dictionary to understand half of what he discusses -- but there is a lot of value in his perceptions.

I suggest that everyone go over there are read all of his 2013 hunting posts. I don't hunt, or even own a firearm. I know will never hunt. But his posts about hunting will give you insight about the man, his relationship to the wilderness, trails, weather, people, animals and the cycles of life. We all might learn more of wild places from him. Keep an open mind.

Now for my own choices:

Favorite UL Gear:
McHale Full-Dyneema LBP 36. Some may say this isn't a UL pack, but it must be, since most of the time I take it my BW is under 10 lbs, plus it has carried up to 14 days of food. It is virtually indestructible.

Outdoor Activity Item:
Camping with my wife in our travel trailer. Priceless, as the commercial says. [P.S. for RJ -- when you get to my age you can buy a lifetime Inter Agency Pass for $10]

Lifestyle Items:
I have owned a Sony RX100 camera for a little over a year. It has renewed my interest in photography (to a limited extent). In conjunction with the camera, I am using PhotoShop and Lightroom for processing.

The other items are an iPhone and iPad. Not wilderness gear, but items that make me more productive at work, which means I can free-up more time for outdoor pursuits.

Vanne Mocilac
(tui-chub) - MLife

Locale: South Western Montana
Re: 2013 Staff Picks on 01/17/2014 21:57:31 MST Print View

Well I really liked my P-Style this year. Freaked my brothers out, which was worth something. When I got scared in griz and wolf country they said I need to grow a set to go along with peeing standing up. They call it my addadicktomy. Even my kids call it that now. So fast, leave the pack on, no tp to get out and then hide, go in bottle when it's raining outside at nite, and the best part is I don't have to walk all the way back across the reservoir when we are ice fishing and expose great surface area to the wind and other viewers.

Edited by tui-chub on 01/17/2014 22:00:32 MST.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
This is BackPackingLight, not HikingLight... on 01/18/2014 17:58:22 MST Print View

Wow. There's a lot of crying here over what is essentially an editorial piece. Is BPL branching out slightly from utterly-literal "backpacking?" Yes, but I don't think these digressions are inappropriate. If you want to limit yourself that way good on you, but I don't. It's not like they're talking about skateboarding or collecting figurines or whatnot. Or even expedition sea kayaking. Frankly, I always thought ExpeditionsLight would be a more interesting website, anyway...

But, really, the complaints are simply wrong if you think about it. If you do an activity with a backpack, that's "backpacking." This isn't the HikingLight website, after all. Expedition mountain biking? Yes- uses a pack. Packrafting? Obviously. Backcountry hunting? Also, obviously.

As for my own contributions- unfortunately I got deployed all summer and have thus done a truly disappointingly small amount of backpacking this year. The only trip really of note was my Grand Canyon trip prior to deployment in April. Thus I don't have many new insights.

Using a lightweight bivy with a floorless shelter- I think I've mentioned this in a few threads but I've only really recently solidified this opinion. I find shelters with floors to generally be wastes of weight. A simple lightweight bivy replaces your groundcloth and bug net, plus adding a couple of degrees to the utility of your sleeping system, while being lighter. So, very versatile. Plus, you can use the same bivy with multiple shelters, thus saving the cost involved with buying multiple floored shelters or fitted footprints. It's the perfect answer, I've finally FULLY embraced it, and am very very happy with it. (My usual floorless shelters and bivies are MLD products- I have a couple of their 'mids and have a Superlight.)

Minimalist rather than Ultralight- I think that like many here I'm moving away from literal ultralight thought and more towards minimalist thought. In 99% of the time this ends up being ultralight as a side-effect, but weight per se isn't so much what I obsess about anymore. For instance my next project is probably going to be going more with cat can stoves and simple aluminum pots with foil windscreens rather than systems like the caldera cone (though the Caldera Cones are EXCELLENT products) or manufactured alcohol stoves. After I play around a bit there might be one HELL of a gear swap listing in my future...

Lifestyle favorite? Huh. This sort of screams for "non-backpacking" issues, doesn't it? I guess Paleo diet. As I mentioned I got deployed this summer, and spent most of it on a special forces COP where the guys were all into paleo, so their cook generally accommodated them. I was also not very busy (thankfully, since I'm a surgeon) so I was working out a LOT and got fitter than I've been in a couple of decades. Mind you if you're religious about it it can be hard to be paleo in a healthy way, so I tend to be a very liberal paleo dieter- I eat everything that the paleo people argue about whether or not it's "paleo", like quinoa, sweet potatoes, wild rice, and legumes, though I do try to keep them light, as I do with red meat. (The legume issue particularly chaps me- like there aren't edible wild peas around! Heck, sea peas alone inhabit most coastlines around the world, and it is ridiculous to suppose that paleolithic man didn't gather them. Yes, lathyrism is an issue, but as long as you don't gorge on them you're fine.) I miss cheese... So I'm not a fanatic who believes the hype, but this at least keeps it fun while I try to limits carbs to keep my calories down. Because that's really my problem- carb calories. I just find it mentally easy to run potential food through the "cave-man" filter.

Edited by acrosome on 01/21/2014 09:11:45 MST.

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F

Locale: Central CA
BPL on 01/18/2014 20:54:19 MST Print View

I can't say I was personally interested in most of the choices, but then again this isn't the Doug Smith Interests ;-)

I like seeing some variety on this forum. When I first joined a couple years ago I was very concerned that I wouldn't fit in because I thought the site was entirely focused on Ultralight and SuperExtremeUltraLight, etc. What I hoped to do was get ideas for reducing my pack weight in a positive direction, while not becoming a completely different person. This site has helped tremendously.

I recently became interested in combining some of my favorite hobbies (backpacking and photography), with winter. So I started a thread on ski-touring and received all kinds of helpful tips, links, suggestions, and offers for help. Way more help than on any of the other forums I tried. In fact on an actual ski-touring forum I posted the same questions and got not a single response. I've really come to appreciate that BPL is open to people who want to channel lightweight gear and techniques into their other outdoor activities. It is an excellent resource.

OK, now my only contribution to the thread:
After some thought, the gear item that stands out most in my mind is my Barnes and Noble "Nook with Glowlight". I love to read, and used to carry real books on my backpacking trips. The Nook Glowlight is lightweight, fairly compact, and gives off an incredible amount of useful light for in-camp purposes. Since bringing it with me I've found that my headlamp is strictly for back-up or emergencies. I pretty much never use it anymore. And the Nook's light is adjustable in brightness, and lasts for an insane amount of time on a full charge. I have lots of books on it, and it is handy being able to glance at my downloaded copies of Sierra North and Sierra South, to read the trip info, and then switch to my current novel once I'm killing time in camp. Looking back, I'd say that strangely enough, the Nook has had more effect on my backpacking style over the last two years than any other single piece of gear.

Edited by Jedi5150 on 01/18/2014 20:55:09 MST.

Charles Compton
(tyemax2) - M

Locale: SF Bay Area
Re: re 2013 Staff Picks on 01/22/2014 08:49:04 MST Print View

I agree completely. I half expected to see a staffers favorite video game on the list. :-(