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I say let's decide on a general consensus of Ultralight definitions and terms.
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Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
I say let's decide on a general consensus of Ultralight definitions and terms. on 12/30/2013 18:24:57 MST Print View

Hope this is in the right place--if not, mods feel free to move it. This has been on my mind for a long time. Prepare for a bit of wall-o-text, but there is a poll at the end we can all vote in to try and figure this issue out.

http://cesarandthewoods.blogspot.se/2013/12/the-general-consensus-on-definitions.html

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: I say let's decide on a general consensus of Ultralight definitions and terms. on 12/30/2013 18:33:00 MST Print View

Sort of like defining the color "mauve"?

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Definations on 12/30/2013 19:40:25 MST Print View

I think you're going to have a hard time with the shift to metric, as the USA has a lot of UL influence in terms of cottage makers and participants. I agree metric is better, but I don't think change is likely.

I voted in the poll for the wikipedia definitions. 10 lbs is a nicer number than 12 and it requires more critical thinking and some skills, whereas 12 lbs is mindlessly achievable from a big box outfitter. Ultimately I do agree with Jordan that it's more about philosophy than a specific weight. To me, UL incorporates skill/knowledge and integrates that with gear to lower pack weight. SUL is taking this to the extreme, while lightweight backpacking is simply a matter of prudent gear choice with little inclusion of skill to lower weight. Traditional backpacking is a giving little regard to weight when selecting gear.

Edited by dandydan on 12/30/2013 19:42:25 MST.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: I say let's decide on a general consensus of Ultralight definitions and terms. on 12/30/2013 19:48:41 MST Print View

Geez, I don't want somebody tracking my IP address!

I keep my own standards, since a major purpose of my backpacking is for photography:

Base weight, 10 pounds (including bear canister)

Consumables, 10 pounds (although this varies for the length of trip)

Camera gear, 10 pounds (since this is a priority)

--B.G.--

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
def on 12/30/2013 20:14:30 MST Print View

Given the inherent unfairness of the generally accepted 10 and 5 lb norms as they apply to different locales, seasons, and hiker body sizes, I think 10 and 5 are acceptable definitions for 3 seasons with temps down to about freezing.

But its not like it matters anyway. Its a #, something for people to aim for when lowering their kit. When they get 10, then they go for 9. From 9 they go for 8. etc. 10 is achievable enough without making sacrifices, except in durability.

What is important, I think, is that the act of striving for a lower weight goal causes the hiker to learn in depth about the different options available to them. Then they are empowered to decide what is right for given hiking trip for them. The easier the goal is to obtain, the less the hiker may learn in the act of reaching it.

Edited by livingontheroad on 12/30/2013 20:19:33 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: def on 12/30/2013 20:40:02 MST Print View

What M B wrote. +1

Cheers

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F

Locale: Central CA
Re: def on 12/30/2013 21:32:41 MST Print View

MB nailed it, especially in his last paragraph. To me, any conscious descision to save weight is a step in the right direction. A few years ago I was at 50+ lbs for a summer weekend trip. Two years ago I totalled about 40 lbs. This year I aim to be under 30 total (camera gear, bear vault, consumables, etc.) In my mind these are big improvements in a hobby. Some new gear has obviously contributed, but honestly mindset, comfort zone, and better planning have contributed even more than a change in gear to the weight loss.

I'm a long ways from being a UL backpacker, but I'm firmly of the belief that improvement is a good thing, and if a number helps set the goal and make it achievable, then the number is a good thing. If it is simply a number for it's own sake, without taking needs and wants into accounts, then it has a lot less benefit to me.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Re: def on 12/30/2013 22:18:00 MST Print View

Do we get some 'stinking badges' if we achieve these number? :)

Brownie points?

Gold Stars?

Sorry, but it seems funny to me..

Billy

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: def on 12/30/2013 22:22:48 MST Print View

"Gold Stars?"

Titanium, maybe. Gold is too heavy.

--B.G.--

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
thanks all on 12/31/2013 04:15:20 MST Print View

Thanks for those of you who voted and took time to contribute to the discussion. I was half-expecting harsh backlash from certain mindsets (post-modernists come to mind), but so far so good!

I too think it's funny to a degree. All arbitrary things are, really. I think it's silly we give literal gold metals to people that do things like hit balls, run fast, and jump high at the Olympics. This of course is not to say I don't respect athletes or the sports--I have lots of respect and admiration for them. But from a certain point of view, it is funny I'd say. We live in an absurd existence devoid of meaning, if you ask me.

I don't think anyone, myself included, is suggesting giving awards to anyone for reaching an arbitrary--but very helpful for the purposes of enjoying backpacking more, I dare say most of us would suggest--base pack weight numbers.

This is more for clarity, semantics, and mutual communication and understanding within our community. As I said in my text, I will be happy to just reach a general consensus that we can all work with, and even disregard my own suggestions for definitions/terms in the spirit of solidarity--in spite of my distaste of the imperial measurement system and love of the metric system.

Edited by PrimeZombie on 12/31/2013 04:16:05 MST.

Stuart R
(Scunnered) - F

Locale: Scotland
Re: I say let's decide on a general consensus of Ultralight definitions and terms. on 12/31/2013 08:10:09 MST Print View

I don't think it's possible to have a general consensus on a numerical definition of UL, SUL etc, as equipment required depends so much on terrain, weather, altitude etc.

Whilst I do weigh all my gear, my definition of UL is something like:

The minimum amount of food and gear required for a multi-day hike to be 1) safe, and 2) mostly comfortable, in the expected conditions.
1) implies that the gear must be sufficiently robust to prevent adverse conditions that are not likely but could still be expected from becoming life threatening.

Knowledge is a big part of it - knowing the capabilities of yourself and your gear and having a good idea of conditions to expect.

And SUL - as above, but for a day hike.

Kevin Burton
(burtonator) - F

Locale: norcal
Re: Definations on 12/31/2013 11:12:49 MST Print View

"I think you're going to have a hard time with the shift to metric, as the USA has a lot of UL influence in terms of cottage makers and participants. I agree metric is better, but I don't think change is likely."

The switch to metric is VERY important for the US in terms of economic and scientific terms.

If you want to help with the switch, it starts at home. Start using it :) I use grams for everything now...

I need to use celsius more and start using kilometers for milage.

This also forces others to make the switch.

It's partly evil but time for the US to join the rest of the world.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Not Quite on 12/31/2013 12:06:14 MST Print View

I agree with MB and Roger, "It all depends..."

But in looking at Mike Clelland's MAX weights (here in BPLs archives) for various items, especially The Big Three, I find I'm always a few ounces over his maximums. "Not quite there."

In one instance I was a whopping 6 oz. over with my Prolite reg. mattress at 16 oz. to his max of 10 oz. His camera max is 7 oz. my Olympus TG 1 is 8.3 oz.
My Thorlo Hiker wool blend socks were 1.3 oz. over Mike's max and my Merrill Moab low cut trail shoes were quite a bit over his max weight. And those are just examples.

SO...I've found what works for me:
1. on the trail comfort
2. sleep comfort

These seem to be the two most important criteria to most.

Mike C. also said that a frameless pack was much desired over frame packs. Here I DEFINITELY (yes, I'm shouting) disagree. I take Osprey's philosophy to heart that the comfort afforded by the small additional weight of a lightly framed pack far exceeds the "comfort" of a slightly lighter frameless pack. (i.e. it's about suspension, suspension,suspension)
And here I think a "pack poll" of BPL members will bear me out.

UL is supposedly about comfort through light weight on the trail.

I say backpacking is about comfort 24 hours a day.

And so we must Individually define BACKPACKING COMFORT. Then we can try to shave the ounces that fall outside of our own comfort zone.

Edited by Danepacker on 12/31/2013 12:10:28 MST.

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Not Quite on 12/31/2013 12:44:00 MST Print View

When are we ever going to go metric?
We're about the only fools to use pounds, so really it should be metric.
I wish it was 5 Kilos for UL. It would get a lot more people wanting to get down in the range.
If they just cant go UL - 10 pounds, then the weight doesn't seem to matter much to them.

If we went metric and it's 5 Kilos, that would work for a lot more people and spark a lot more interest in be UL.

American's are dumb.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Not Quite on 12/31/2013 12:58:09 MST Print View

Besides, my newest digital scale goes up to a maximum of 5kg.

This is the first time ever that I've been able to digitally weigh my entire base weight with sub-gram precision.

--B.G.--

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F

Locale: Central CA
Re: Re: Not Quite on 12/31/2013 13:01:25 MST Print View

"American's are dumb." -

Hahaha, I love it! (done on purpose I hope) ;-)

I would prefer a switch to metric. I already think mostly in terms of kilometers (the weights are less familiar to me). After living in Canada for a while, and using the MGRS/ UTM while here in the US, "klicks" are so much easier for math.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
The onion on 12/31/2013 13:18:53 MST Print View

Man uses Internet forum to gain general consensus.

I am still stuck on miles and lbs/oz I am afraid.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: The onion on 12/31/2013 13:36:30 MST Print View

"American's are dumb."

Hmmmm... Glass houses (my tort vs torte comment months ago plus others) so I'll refrain.

I can work with Kilometers ok since that's all we used in the military. Lbs to kilogram conversion were a pain in the butt when I was taking the paramedic course. Had to guesstimate the weight of the patient in lbs (since they are rarely honest when asked), make the conversions in my head to kilograms, and then calculate the proper dosing for whatever drip we were going to run all while in the back of a moving vehicle with little sleep and running on four cups or so of coffee.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 12/31/2013 13:37:34 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Not Quite on 12/31/2013 13:52:34 MST Print View

> a frameless pack was much desired over frame packs. Here I DEFINITELY (yes, I'm
> shouting) disagree. I take Osprey's philosophy to heart that the comfort afforded
> by the small additional weight of a lightly framed pack far exceeds the "comfort"
> of a slightly lighter frameless pack.

I agree totally with Eric here. Actual weight carried is not the critical factor even for UL travel. Comfort and enjoyment is far more important.

There seems to be a threshold around 15-16 kg (total), above which many of us feel the pain. Below that the pack does feel lighter. Around 12 kg (total) pack weight becomes a much less significant item when travelling. Yes, I know these weights are way over the SUL 5 lb level, but remember that the 5 lb does not include food or water. They can easily add over 6 kg (13 lb) to your pack if you are out for a week. So much for the '5 lb' idea then.

Also remember that the concept of the 5 lb SUL level is mainly for travel in the 'American rainshadow summer' region. If you are travelling in alpine regions in the shoulder seasons, you MUST carry extra gear to handle bad weather. You may also need to carry extra food and fuel.

Cheers

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Re: Not Quite on 12/31/2013 14:15:52 MST Print View

"American's are dumb."

Classic :)

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
miles on 12/31/2013 14:21:14 MST Print View

Mile is actually from mille, latin for 1000.

Romans used "1000 steps" as a measure of distance.

sounds kind of metric to me.

All measurement basis are arbitrary. Having a meaning which can be easily related to, makes them more useful.

The desire to make all measurements in arbitrary units of 10,100, etc because it seems "neat" itself is kind of stupid.

Edited by livingontheroad on 12/31/2013 14:26:20 MST.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: arbitrary weight classifications on 12/31/2013 14:26:07 MST Print View

Having these arbitrary weight classifications is only useful for discussing the lighter weight gear lists. That's fine, but sidesteps a few issues.

For me, the "game" is not to have the lightest kit possible, but rather the lightest kit that provides the level of comfort and safety that I want, comfort meaning warm, dry, getting a good night's sleep and enjoying my meals. Safety would include warm and dry as well as good navigation and prepared for injuries, changing weather and general emergencies. Of course comfort and safety overlap.


The basic concept of UL hiking is that you have control over the weight of your kit. The UL revolution was started with escaping from the box labeled "MUST," as in "you must have boots" or the gear must be some military grade of durability, etc. The real UL revolution came when someone said, "I refuse to accept that I must take 50 pounds of gear for a basic backpacking trip and I'm going to find a better way." The rest is really a question of how far you want to take it, with cost, durability and comfort being limiting factors for most practitioners. Safety shouldn't be an issue, but it comes up.

But getting out of one box doesn't mean you should go climb in another. Once outside the box, what UL principles work for me?

Take only what you will use. Sounds like a good common sense approach to me. Not only does it apply to leaving unnecessary items, it also means adjusting the quantities to suit the trip. Just don't get too crazy and start leaving stuff on the "ten essentials" list behind. That doesn't mean you can't apply the other UL principles to the essential/emergency/survival items.

Seek out the lightest, highest performance examples of the gear you use. You can still dial in comfort and safety, so find the lightest yet comfortable air pad with a good R-value. If you want the lightest pad possible and you're willing to live with the level of comfort, by all means for for it. The thing is that you know the differences and are willing to accept the compromises and the consequences. , which is going right back to the first principle I listed, which is knowing that you have control over the weight.

Seek out items that have multiple uses. Bandanas are my favorite example. My compass has a mirror that works for grooming and signaling too. My sit pad supplements my sleeping pad and I've used it for a pot cozy too. Et cetera.

So if you want to talk about SUL and define that as a certain weight, have at it. Talking about "light" vs "ultralight" is rather useless and much more a process of weeding out the extras and heavier gear. Talking about SUL is really a discussion about lightest possible alternatives and Spartan comfort levels. XUL is just a more radical extension of the same thing.

The real discussions come down to the lightest example of a particular type of gear and the limitations and compromises involved: "I have a nine ounce pack and need to take a bear can and ten days food...."

Edited by dwambaugh on 12/31/2013 14:31:35 MST.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: Melbourne
I say let's decide on a general consensus of Ultralight definitions and terms on 12/31/2013 14:40:51 MST Print View

Cesar
"I think it's silly we give literal gold metals to.."
if it makes you feel better, those medals are just gold plated the rest is mostly silver (now that is funny).
The last medals literally made of gold were awarded in 1912.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: miles on 12/31/2013 14:49:29 MST Print View

>"Romans used "1000 steps" as a measure of distance."

Close. From Wikipedia: mille passuum - literally "a thousand paces" in Latin, where each pace or stride was two steps.

>"The desire to make all measurements in arbitrary units of 10, 100, etc because it seems "neat" itself is kind of stupid."

Agreed, base 12 is a superior numbering system since division by 2,3,4, and 6 all work out nicely, instead of only division by 2 and 5 in base 10. I think we should do a duodecimal measurement system, and simply genetically modify our offspring to have 6 digits on each hand. People already born could be surgically modified to this new norm.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: miles on 12/31/2013 15:16:40 MST Print View

I think brain modification would also be required

Brain can only hold 7 +- 2 things in working memory at one time. 10 is a bit bigger than this, but the more you go above that, the harder for the brain to comprehend

Base 12 would be worse.

Base 8 would be pretty good. Conveniently stores in 3 bits.

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
not a bad start for voting on 01/01/2014 14:46:06 MST Print View

As of now there are 25 votes, with 13 votes favoring imperial (9 for current Wiki set, 4 for Abela's) and 12 favoring metric (8 for normal metric, 4 for my idea). This only after a few days, so I'd say that's not bad. I think if we get over 100 votes that might be something close to significant, perhaps. Poll is open for a month.

Some response to some comments:

Franco, thanks for the information. That bit of trivia about 1912 was interesting. Note however that I didn't say *solid* gold, so I think that my sentence is still accurate. There is, after all, at least some gold on the gold metals, making them at least partially made of literal gold.

To several that have pointed out different conditions and comfort and such, please keep in mind I am not suggesting (nor have I ever suggested) that UL backpacking is applicable to all types of outdoor recreation or even backpacking in general. I think this is a fairly simple and straightforward issue: UL as we are currently discussing (be it 5kg or 10lbs) in general is not applicable to everything. This is Backpacking Light, not Mountaineering Light or Outdoor Lake Ice Hockey Light other such more involved activities. As someone pointed out on reddit, having a 15lb base weight for deep winter camping one could call XUL.

Obviously if you need to account for safety, UL guidelines (and probably many other guidelines) go out the window. If you're going to be sleeping up on top of the Alps in the middle of winter, why, why, why would you entertain the idea of having a SUL BPW? UL on such a trip I personally think would have a pretty good chance of being foolish and/or dangerous.

Perhaps a notion or clarification ought to be added to say, the wikipedia article on ultralight about proper conditions (if there isn't one already there that I may have missed). When I think about the total sum of trip reports I see on this forum, and all the videos on youtube of UL backpackers I follow, there is a clear pattern. The majority (if not grand majority) of these trips are walks in nature, and mostly on marked trails. Some are in the desert (hi Nick!), some are in the woods (most of us maybe?), and most are during spring, summer, and fall--places and conditions where the weights in question are applicable. I thought that was understood, and hope it is now. "Backpacking" is a broad term, so it's worth pointing these issues out. And when it comes down to it, if you want to take 10kg base pack weight with you, take it. If you want to take 1kg, take it. Do what you think will make you the happiest and will also keep you safe and comfortable.

It's just that we, as a community of thousands of people, all have a collective experience that demonstrates that under the right conditions and locations, you can be just as happy, safe, and comfy with 5kg or even 2.5kg than what most traditional backpackers take (which is often double or even triple the standards of UL). There are even triple crown hikers that have pulled it all off UL. Being able to give a general set of guidelines that roughly communicate all this is valuable, not only for us, but perhaps even more importantly to others new to all this and need something more concrete first before moving into abstract "there are no UL weights, it's all in your mind" territory.

Edited by PrimeZombie on 01/01/2014 14:51:15 MST.

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: not a bad start for voting on 01/01/2014 19:26:28 MST Print View

You know what I would like to see even more than a consensus about what weight is UL and SUL should be, is to stop using UL in gear that would not make an UL kit.

3 1/2 pound tent, 2 1/2 pound bag, 3 pound pack, and a 1 pound pad = Ultra Light????

When is anyone ever going to get their gear below 10 pounds when 4 of them already weigh 10 pounds?

Market hype to the letters UL is so outlandish and is every where it shouldn't be.

Edited by awsorensen on 01/01/2014 19:27:22 MST.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
Consensus? on 01/01/2014 20:47:20 MST Print View

Oy vey...Trying to get consensus among outdoors people AND online??? This commercial comes to mind :)

Herding Cats

Edited by PaulMags on 01/01/2014 20:48:53 MST.

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
Re: Consensus? on 01/02/2014 02:19:32 MST Print View

I know, I know. It's just an informal way of making a rough sketch of what we as a community can agree on. If there is a better way to do this, I'm open to suggestions.

And side note, what are some other UL forums? I only ever visit BPL and r/ultralight, but surely there are other places? Though I am guessing these two are the biggest ones in terms of members.

Larry Swearingen
(Larry_Swearingen) - M

Locale: NE Indiana
Arbritrary Weight Classifications ? on 01/02/2014 07:29:55 MST Print View

In the first place having Arbritrary Weight Classifications is ridiculous for Light/UltraLight/SuperUltraLight.
Just compare equipment weights for a small person, let's say 5'2"
and a big guy at around 6'4"+. Almost every piece of equipment, except stove etc., is going to weigh a lot more for the big guy
than the small person (male or female).
I wear an XL top in anything, L in pants and a size 13 shoe.
Just compare the weights of anything in that classification to the
manufacturers listed weights.
The Big Guy needs Big shoes, Big clothes, maybe bigger shelter, bigger
pack etc. all the way down the line. The Big Guy will need to consume more food and water and fuel on a hike too.

Larry
"Hoosier Daddy"

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Re: not a bad start for voting on 01/02/2014 09:21:24 MST Print View

Aaron:
"3 1/2 pound tent, 2 1/2 pound bag, 3 pound pack, and a 1 pound pad = Ultra Light????
...
Market hype to the letters UL is so outlandish and is every where it shouldn't be."

Actually, it depends. If you are doing a winter trip in the high mountains then the items/weights that you mention could indeed be UL... for the given conditions.

This illustrates why a "a consensus about what weight is UL and SUL should be" would be very difficult... (along with size of the hiker, etc.)

Billy

Edward Jursek
(nedjursek@gmail.com) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Consensus on 01/02/2014 10:13:32 MST Print View

I have rejected the UL, SUL and XUL classifications entirely and I am now just seeking to get "lighter" in ways that are both comfortable and safe. I have a "light" kit built around trips of about 7 days long in the Pacific Northwest from July - October and a "lighter" kit built around trips of 2 to 3 days in length in the Pacific Northwest from July - October. My "light" kit currently has a base weight of about 9 1/2 pounds and is slimming down a bit more each year. It balances comfort and safety and works in all weather down to 20 degrees. My overall long term goal, based on my own safety, comfort and skill level is to get this kit to about 9 pounds. My "lighter" kit is just barely under 7 pounds now and is safe and comfortable in all weather to 30 degrees. My overall goal is to get my "lighter" kit down to about 6 pounds, balancing safety, comfort and my skill level. Each year as I learn and my skill grows I am feeling psychologically and philosophically "lighter" in the back county; more confident, comfortable and connected with nature. You can't put a label on that.

Edited by nedjursek@gmail.com on 01/02/2014 10:46:07 MST.

Stuart R
(Scunnered) - F

Locale: Scotland
Re: not a bad start for voting on 01/02/2014 10:31:54 MST Print View

Sorry, but I disagree. UL backpacking is not hiking in "places and conditions where the weights in question are applicable."
To me, UL is more of a philosophy which is applicable to all places and conditions but the weight carried varies to suit.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: Re: Re: not a bad start for voting on 01/02/2014 10:49:42 MST Print View

What is the actual benefit to having concrete weight categories?

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
The cost/benefit on 01/02/2014 13:57:05 MST Print View

>>What is the actual benefit to having concrete weight categories?

Lots of discussion to occupy the time? :)

Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Me too on 01/02/2014 14:20:15 MST Print View

"To me, any conscious decision to save weight is a step in the right direction... In my mind these are big improvements in a hobby. Some new gear has obviously contributed, but honestly mindset, comfort zone, and better planning have contributed even more than a change in gear to the weight loss.

I'm a long ways from being a UL backpacker."

Yup, that is me too. And in thinking about what I take I am realizing that I don't need most of what I use to take. Most of that gear was based on a camping trip that required you to pack everything in. I still take everything on that trip, but it is a camping trip, not a hiking trip. And that required a mindset shift. And that is what made the biggest difference for me.

Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Base 2 on 01/02/2014 14:31:00 MST Print View

Personally, I prefer base 2. Simple and easy. ;)

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Re: not a bad start for voting on 01/02/2014 14:31:44 MST Print View

Yeah, I agree with Stuart. Taking the lightest gear you have available does not always give you the safest pack load if conditions are not taken into account. It just doesn't make any sense. SUL, XSUL weights are nice. But, does this count what you are wearing? Or, what you keep in your pockets? No, it really is an arbitrary number.

Bas Hommes
(BHommes)

Locale: Europe
minus BPW, plus EBW. on 01/02/2014 15:38:32 MST Print View

Why is base pack weight (BPW) still in the definitions? OK, I can see the use of leaving out consumables when thinking about UL and its derivatives. But isn't there wide consensus that clothes worn count 100% or more? To me BPW is not a useful concept: in shoulder season about 25% of the weight is not in my pack. If I count shoes 5 times that number is about 45%. Also when reading this forum I get the impression most people don't really use BPW in their thinking.

I think it is time BPW is removed from the definitions.

What should be included however is excess body weight (EBW). It is in my spreadsheet (4 kilos), but to be honest I always set it to zero when I start planning next trip. Maybe I will put it into the consumable category in future so it seems to hurt less.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
BPW on 01/02/2014 17:18:17 MST Print View

While FSO weight is a measure as well, BPW is indicative of pack comfort.

In the end, what REALLY matters is total pack weight.

I have a distinct preference for a pack less than 23, most preferably < 20 lbs.

The more food or water I know I will need to carry, the lower I will keep my BPW for a given trip. Often to try to stay in the comfort range of a lighter pack, rather than a heavier one.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Re: Re: Re: not a bad start for voting on 01/02/2014 20:21:56 MST Print View

"What is the actual benefit to having concrete weight categories?"

Yea... should get rid of the concrete... much too heavy...

billy

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
some more replies on 01/03/2014 08:24:35 MST Print View

Stuart - I can respect that you disagree with me, but you're not giving me much to work with. I already elaborated on the fact that there is a clear pattern of general backpacking conditions. Do you think my assessment was accurate or not? Why or why not?

You say that UL is "applicable to all places and conditions" and I find this problematic. When something is so broad it no longer carries any meaning. If I say that pizza applicable to all bread and sauces, the word "pizza" is going to become a confusing term. Crackers with jam one could call "pizza," much like one could take your definition and say that their 10kg base weight is "UL" because of their own personal wants/needs. Hey, if you are going to bring musical instruments and chairs into the woods to jam out, then I guess 10kg could be "UL," especially if you're in a Ska band with a big horn section. And I don't mean to sound like I am mocking you or being pedantic here, I am just pointing out that the inherent shortcomings of overly-broad definitions. If someone with a 10, 20, or even 100kg base weight can apply the term to what we understand as the activity of backpacking, we might as well just do away with the term and call it all backpacking. Which is fine. But this presents other problems too.

spelt! - "What is the actual benefit to having concrete weight categories?"

To be able to give an approximate yet fairly accurate answer to the question, "what is UL backpacking?", for one. Next, for the international community of UL backpackers to have a base set of accepted categories to make discussions more pragmatic and easier. One could ask, "Going to X hiking trail in X season, would SUL work?" or "Went UL on X hiking trail, it went well but think I could have gone SUL." etc. I know that this person means 10lbs/12lbs/5kg or whatever when talking UL.

As I said in my blog, I can't state enough how much I also value re-defining, challenging, and re-inventing definitions and terms. But I also see the value in having a set standard to work with first so everyone knows what is being discussed.

Does all this make sense? Do you think the above constitutes a benefit?

Bas - I agree with you to an extent, which is why I included clothing worn in my suggested set of definitions. Consumables can vary even more than BPW or CW if you ask me, so I didn't even attempt to define that or FSO. I'm open to suggestions.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: some more replies on 01/03/2014 08:31:27 MST Print View

You aren't re-defining anything as there really aren't any specific definitions that currently exist. For some UL means a BW of 12 pounds. Others 8 pounds. You are trying to arbitrarily apply some meaningless number with ignorance toward geographic location, season, size of the individual, length of trip, personal metabolic rate, fitness, etc, which are all situation and individual specific.

Not to mention, this type of process is done every few years by someone who is trying to feel special that their BW is so low.

Happy New Year.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: some more replies on 01/03/2014 09:15:41 MST Print View

Hi Cesar,
I'm not against the idea in theory, but with the number of variables (season, geography, body size, etc) I'm not convinced that 3-4 categories will really be useful in conversation. You'd have to add all the qualifying information for context and then you're sort of back where you started, except that a bunch of people and a bunch of trip types will know "for sure" that they don't qualify as UL. (A few years ago back when I was reading here but not posting, I feel like some of those "who and what qualifies" discussions got pretty acrimonious. I'd rather not go back to that, honestly.)

My own preference (based on my own biases, of course!) would be a more detailed exploration of different decision processes to minimal/UL outdoor activities. Is someone's approach to be the absolute lightest no matter the fiddle factor? Or perhaps a minimal amount of gear is the goal, either used per trip or owned overall in the closet. Is there a difference in light kits based around big miles vs kits that are light so the owner can carry other things (cameras, research equipment, someone else's gear)?

Ultimately I'm more interested in why people want to go lighter, and how they make the decisions to do that, than I am in categorizing the results. Maybe this is the pomo wishywashyness you were worried about. ;) But it also reflects my personal behavior. I keep a spreadsheet, and I know roughly what my pack weighs when I go out, but I don't meticulously add up grams or think about what counts as an "UL trip."

Edit to add: I'm also not interested in categorizing process types, except loosely so that people with similar approaches could benefit from each other.

Edited by spelt on 01/03/2014 09:26:42 MST.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: I say let's decide on a general consensus of Ultralight definitions and terms. on 01/03/2014 09:53:53 MST Print View

Cesar,

I think the best thing for you is to create a reference within your blog of what those terms mean to you and reference them as appropriate as time goes on. Even if you were to get every BPL member to agree as to what these terms mean, you still wouldn't be at a point where you've created an industry standard outside of BPL.

George Carlin once said, "I leave symbols to the symbol minded." I look at these weight class badges much the same way. I'm very glad that I set 10 lbs as a goal for my three season base weight instead of 15 lbs. It forced me to make tough decisions, to refine my skill, and to do a lot of research. I now have a backpack that I barely notice as I walk through the woods and my feet feel like gold at the end of the day. That brought me to a point where I can lighten it up even more for the trips where I'm not in the Cascades or add weight to it for when I want to take my kids fishing or treat them to a fry bake. For me, the whole point was to reduce pain and increase enjoyment when backpacking, not to earn a weight class badge.

Hopefully this did not come across as rude to your OP. This is just my perspective, ymmv, hyoh, byob, etc.

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
more replies on 01/04/2014 05:48:53 MST Print View

Dave - "You aren't re-defining anything as there really aren't any specific definitions that currently exist."

With all due respect, you are mistaken here on two counts. Yes, I have re-defined things. You are welcome to read my blog post to see the specifics of my definitions. Next, yes there are specific definitions that currently exist. I cite two different definitions in my article: one from wikipedia, and one from Abela. You are welcome to check my citations if you so desire.

"For some UL means a BW of 12 pounds. Others 8 pounds. You are trying to arbitrarily apply some meaningless number with ignorance toward..."

Yes, I am trying to arbitrarily apply a meaningless number--as nothing has inherent meaning (see also: Camus, Sartre). But no, I am absolutely not ignorant towards other factors, and this tells me you've either not taken the time to read my posts in this thread or are being willfully obtuse. In my reply to Stuart I think I was quite clear about what constitutes the general pattern of "backpacking." Dare I say that most of us are not doing Andrew Skurka type adventures, and as I am sure you are well aware, his weights for his more involved and complex trips are well above 10lbs.

I strongly encourage you and everyone else to entertain the idea that there is a method to this madness. Take for instance something I think I am qualified to discuss, which is literature. In both my undergraduate and graduate studies, the question "what is literature?" and even "what is art?" were brought up, examined, challenged, etc. But it is beneficial to be able to point to say, Hamlet, and say conclusively "this is literature." There is a basic set of criteria that needs to be established, but obviously (and especially to those that study literature) there are gray areas and room for interpretation.

Anyhow, I get that calling e ignorant is a solid rhetorical device to try and make me look foolish. But it clearly has no substance and says more about you that me. Further more, I am prepared and indeed interested in having the discussions surrounding geographic location, season, size of the individual, length of trip, personal metabolic rate, fitness, etc, which are all situation and individual specific. That's kind of the point I had in mind in initiating a discussion of this sort, naturally.

"Not to mention, this type of process is done every few years by someone who is trying to feel special that their BW is so low."

Are you suggesting that this is what I am doing?

"Happy New Year."

Thanks and the same to you :)

spelt! - I generally agree with your first paragraph. But to grow as a community and not have our theory and technique get stagnant, we ought to address these challenges, which is what I am attempting to do. Yes of course whatever set we might agree on in general (if this is even possible) will not apply to some, if not a significant portion of people that are interested in lightweight backpacking. But we'd be closer to figuring out some practical solutions for lightweight backpacking--i.e. what weight is a good goal for what kind of conditions, locations, etc.?

I think we are fairly close--at least from my own observations, feel free to chime in here--to being able to uncontroversially explain how and why a BPW between X-Y for 3 season use on marked hiking trails is good to have for X, Y, and Z reasons. This happens all the time organically in the "Gear Lists" forum. Someone asks for advice on how much to take for a given trail and time of year, others who have experience chime in and suggest/debate the alternatives. When was the last time you saw someone suggest that a person take a 25lb BPW for the JMT in the summertime? Or a 2lb BPW for a thru-hike of the CDT?

"Ultimately I'm more interested in why people want to go lighter, and how they make the decisions to do that, than I am in categorizing the results."

Not sure if this would give you a certified PoMo card ;), but I get what you are saying. I am interested in both, and think (as I have explained before) there are benefits from doing an objective, non-judgmental, non-elitist, non-absolute categorization. I think this is not only possible, but we do it all the time, and think my example given earlier of a cracker with jam on it not being a pizza still holds.

I don't get why BPL staff themselves have not tried to sit down and work all this out, but considering some of the not-so-productive replies in this thread, I can sympathize with them for not wanting to open this admitted can of worms. I laud Abela for taking the time to write his own personal definitions and thoughts on the matter on his site. But what happens if someone else creates a lightweight backpacking site and says that 15lbs is the new UL? Or 25lbs? Even if they (like Abela) say that it is just their own personal definition, like it or not others will cite them as sources if they gain enough readership/following.

Thanks for your constructive and well thought out feedback, btw, it is much appreciated. This thread actually became more interesting than I thought it would be, and this is mostly due to people giving their own thoughtful insights on the matter.

Ian - First of all, no worries about being rude--your reply didn't come off that way to me. I had considered your suggestion about just coming up with my own references on my blog, but decided to take things a bit further when realizing that eventually I would most likely get people saying things like "But UL is defined as X, I read it on X website/book." I've already seen people apply definitions of UL (mostly the common wiki one, but at times Abela's too) not only here, but on youtube comments, reddit, etc. Then there are people like this guy who throw a monkey wrench into the numbers by calling his kit "tactical ultralight":

http://youtu.be/tmNd-voII2g

I don't see the comment there now, but when I first stumbled upon this video about a year ago (I think) someone mentioned that UL BPing is generally considered to be less than 10lbs, to which the guy who made the video responded that he and his community define as UL. This might be confusing, especially for someone unfamiliar with UL BPing.

I don't view any of these definitions as "badges" just as useful ways to communicate. You also go on to prove my point about the usefulness of having an arbitrary goal in your reflection of going from 15lbs to 10lbs.

But in the future I have plans for a bigger project on my blog where I lay out everything I use based on what the weather will be like and if I am going on or off trail. These I have found to be the two biggest factors in determining my gear list and thus weights. It is going to take more time and planning to finish, of course, but I will be sure to throw up a link here when it is ready.

Thanks for your feedback. I too am a big fan of Carlin, but I'd have to respectfully disagree with him about symbols. We all have to deal with them, like it or not. What is language, if not a collection of symbols, signs, signifiers, and the signified?

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
a minor correction on 01/04/2014 06:05:55 MST Print View

In my last post I linked to a video where a man shows off his "tactical ultralight". I linked to a newer video of the same guy in my hasty search, but I went back and found the older video I was thinking about to start with:

http://youtu.be/KI_FIBQU1cM

Which explains why I couldn't see the comment about UL definitions in the other video. In the above older video, you can see Keith Stevens say:

"Great video and some really cool gear. UL is described as having a base weight (all gear minus food and water/consumables) of 10 lbs or less. LOL. I don't think you made it brother. Good times. Keep on keepin on."

To which the guy in the video replies:

" I think that is open to interpretation, the community I follow says 20 Lbs all in is ultralight, my system is going to be referred to as "Tactical Ultralight" which is about 25 Lbs all in, and yes I know there is no such thing I just made it up, TL that is. You are right I am not at 10 Lbs base, more like 15 with all gear less food and water. Like I said I am working on it and will get it down to about 12 Lbs, I will be happy with that. Thanks for the comment, post your system up so I can learn?"

Which I thought was nice, seeing both of them friendly, tolerant, and constructive. Though this all illustrates one of my points about things getting confusing.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
UL Defs on 01/04/2014 09:29:29 MST Print View

I see value in having general definitions, even though there are a number of reasons why they don't perfectly apply to every situation. We use definitions because they are helpful, not because they are perfect. For example, the government defines the fuel economy of cars even though a ton of real world factors affect this. Despite being imperfect to our individual usage, these ratings are still helpful.

If nothing else, a definition gives aspiring hikers a ballpark idea of what UL is. It doesn't have to be an absolute definition (ie. UL = X lbs), rather it can be more loosely defined (ie. UL philosophy commonly leads to baseweights around 10 lbs for 3 season use").

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: UL Defs on 01/04/2014 09:45:51 MST Print View

"For example, the government defines the fuel economy of cars even though a ton of real world factors affect this. Despite being imperfect to our individual usage, these ratings are still helpful."

Actually, the Feds do spell out exactly their testing methodology so at least one has parameters to compare to. Arbitrary backpacking weight limits do not, unless specified.

We already have loosely defined parameters for UL backpacking. Ray Jardine provided those a long time ago.

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
Re: Dan and Dave on 01/05/2014 08:06:07 MST Print View

Dan - Big +1 to your post. Could not have said it better myself, and it's a great summary of why I think it is important that we have this discussion. I'd personally like to see what you wrote (or something similar) added to the wikipedia entry: "UL philosophy commonly leads to baseweights around 10 lbs for 3 season use."

Dave - Thing is, if one wanted to (even if just for the sake of argument or to just be contrary), they could reject and/or poke holes in the Fed's definitions and terms. The Feds will never be able to account for all of the variables in a given test that could potentially affect the data. Again--all definitions and terms are arbitrary, as all language is arbitrary. But we have to do the best we can to communicate.

I agree that we already have loosely defined parameters for UL backpacking, but as I continue to point out, there are different definitions for these parameters and hence no consensus. And not everyone--myself included--is familiar with Jardine's definitions. What are they exactly? When did he create them? Are they still relevant? And why is it seemingly acceptable for him to set the parameters and not say, us as a community in a vote?

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Dan and Dave on 01/05/2014 10:56:55 MST Print View

Maybe we can look at load percentages per bodyweight (which is somewhat traditional thinking) within general climate and geographic parameters? It would allow larger folks that require bigger, heavier clothing (and gear) to fall into an UL category but it would ignore fitness levels, however. Caveat, perhaps.

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
Re: Re: Re: Dave on 01/05/2014 11:20:28 MST Print View

That's a great idea Dave. I think a clearer definition is coming into view.

As of now, the current "common" set is in the lead with 21 votes out of a total of 42; then 6 votes for Abela's set, 9 for base metric set, and 6 votes for my set. So if this trend continues, looks like the current wiki set is going to have the most votes.

Next, an addition to the weight set of something along the lines of, "for three season (low temps around freezing max) general backpacking use in common geographic areas."

Then, how about a note regarding body weight along the lines of, "for every clothing size above Medium a 10% increase in BPW and/or CW to account for weight of larger clothing, sleeping bags, shelters, etc." Which would translate for say, a person that is generally "large" (like me--for instance my Zpacks sleeping bag is both wide and long) would get 1lb extra to BPW according to the current wiki set of 10lbs, or 11lbs BPW. A person that is XL would get 2lbs for a total of 12lbs BPW, etc.

Not sure about fitness levels. Perhaps this could be just avoided? An athletic person will be able to hike say 30km without much issue, but a person that is in poor physical condition might only be able to go 10km tops--yet either way, having a low BPW is going to help either person.

Several years ago when I discovered UL backpacking, the above information would have been really helpful to put things into perspective and got me on the path easier, I think.

Bas Hommes
(BHommes)

Locale: Europe
No need for consensus? on 01/05/2014 11:25:26 MST Print View

Maybe there is no need for more consensus? Would it improve the quality of conversations or articles in any way? Still thanks for bringing it up. Me noob, me learning, rethinking. 'Old' people bored with recurrent topic? Comes with ageing.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: more replies on 01/05/2014 14:17:51 MST Print View

Hi Cesar

> I don't get why BPL staff themselves have not tried to sit down and work all this out,
Well, a totally unofficial (non-BPL) reply, but there are several very good reasons.

1) The gear you need for balmy gentle lowlands can be totally different for what you need for stormy alpine conditions.

2) The gear you need for fine dry mid-summer lowlands is totally different from what you need for mid-winter alpine.

3) The gear you need for one area (eg desert) may be totally different from what you need in a different area where the weather is so different (eg NW wet forest).

4) To suggest that just getting your pack weight down to 5 lb maks you SUL is dangerously simplistic, and may lead to huge SAR costs with young male novices, or maybe just deaths.

5) The most important part of UL and SUL is not the gear weight anyhow: it is the mindset AND the skills which eliminate the 'take extra xxx just in case' and the 'what a cute gadget', while leaving you safe.

My 2c
Cheers

Edited by rcaffin on 01/05/2014 14:19:28 MST.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Defs on 01/05/2014 14:25:37 MST Print View

I think you really gotta keep it concise or it stops being a helpful as a definition. A new hiker doesn't want to read a paragraph of details, they just want to know that UL is roughly 10lbs (or whatever). I personally favour something along the lines of ".....but individual circumstances vary" rather than going into detail about different circumstances ( i.e. "....for each clothing size above medium you can add 8.5% etc.).

A bit off topic, but there are also weight savings advantages to being larger. Bigger bodies are more thermally efficient - particularly if you are round rather than tall. This is why there is proportionally a lot more big animals in the arctic. Thus a larger bodied hiker may need a larger size, but they can also get away with a incrementally lighter sleeping bag etc.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Defs on 01/05/2014 14:31:11 MST Print View

I think you really gotta keep it concise or it stops being a helpful as a definition. A new hiker doesn't want to read a paragraph of details, they just want to know that UL is roughly 10lbs (or whatever). I personally favour something along the lines of ".....but individual circumstances vary"

I think a 'cautionary statement' would be wise. We don't want noobies thinking they can get away with a 10lb base weight in the dead of winter at 12,000 feet...

would be good not to get these noobies killed... me thinks...

Billy

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Defs on 01/05/2014 14:36:17 MST Print View

> would be good not to get these noobies killed... me thinks...
Nah, they will do it anyhow. Just need to be sure that BPL does not get blamed for their stupids.

Cheers
PS: Oz humour on display...

Edited by rcaffin on 01/05/2014 14:36:45 MST.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Re: Re: Defs on 01/05/2014 15:07:21 MST Print View

Roger, I can see you're one of the '...decrease the 'surface population'" kind a guy... gud on ya mate !

Billy

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
I thought it was already decided. on 01/05/2014 15:18:01 MST Print View

SUL: <5 pound base
UL: <10 pound base
LW: <15 pound base

Why is this not adequate for general descriptive purposes?

Nitpicking it to death is silly. For example, the whole "Mountain SUL" idea (something around 6 pounds if I recall correctly). This seems to just be stretching things and grasping for titles. So what if you can't hit an "SUL" title for high elevation/bad weather mountain trips. Call it UL then. Call it whatever you want. I don't think anyone will hold it against you if you're doing cool things in the mountains.

And the idea that big people should get some sort of handicap speaks volumes to the fact that these titles are completely ridiculous and often used for nothing but cyber backpacking and online spreadsheet competition.

That a big guy would cry foul that he can't make some coveted SUL title because his XXL gear and long bag make him ~5 oz. heavier than a smaller person with the same gear tells me that this is about nothing but some sort of strange bragging right as opposed to something relevant.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
I thought it was already decided too... on 01/05/2014 15:33:35 MST Print View

But according to Professor Clelland!, the line between traditional and lightweight base weights is 20#, not 15#. And Mike knows the real deal, right?

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: I thought it was already decided. on 01/05/2014 17:09:50 MST Print View

"And the idea that big people should get some sort of handicap speaks volumes to the fact that these titles are completely ridiculous and often used for nothing but cyber backpacking and online spreadsheet competition.

That a big guy would cry foul that he can't make some coveted SUL title because his XXL gear and long bag make him ~5 oz. heavier than a smaller person with the same gear tells me that this is about nothing but some sort of strange bragging right as opposed to something relevant."

;0)

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: No need for consensus? on 01/05/2014 17:20:12 MST Print View

"Me noob, me learning, rethinking. 'Old' people bored with recurrent topic? Comes with ageing."

Old people come to religion, develop fascination with angels, naturally want to know how many can dance on head of pin. Noob no need pay attention, go read Ray Jardine SUL book.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: I thought it was already decided. on 01/05/2014 17:21:16 MST Print View

Defining UL

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
Definitions and terms on 01/05/2014 20:24:20 MST Print View

Lightweght = Can of Beer (Oskar Blues Old Chub works well)
UL = .5 ltr box of wine
SUL = 3 oz plastic bottle with your libation of choice (Jack Daniels is always a good backcountry classic)

Edited by PaulMags on 01/05/2014 20:25:45 MST.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Definitions and terms on 01/05/2014 21:54:01 MST Print View

"SUL = 3 oz plastic bottle with your libation of choice (Jack Daniels is always a good backcountry classic)"

Not if you live in Colorado. There is lighter stuff to be had.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Definitions and terms on 01/05/2014 22:05:59 MST Print View

"There is lighter stuff to be had"

Don't you need to have a fire permit for that?

--B.G.--

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
lighter on 01/05/2014 22:16:09 MST Print View

>>Not if you live in Colorado. There is lighter stuff to be had.

True, but I was going more for the general classic. Stranahan's is rather lovely for example. But ole Jack is like a comfortable pair of jeans: There may be trendier or glitzier brands, ...but those old Levis are quite nice.

Bas Hommes
(BHommes)

Locale: Europe
Re: Re: No need for consensus? on 01/06/2014 00:36:22 MST Print View

"Noob no need pay attention, go read Ray Jardine SUL book."

Noob yes will go find book today and read.

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
Re: Roger, Dan, Craig on 01/06/2014 03:23:45 MST Print View

Roger - There's no need to be condescending. I am well aware that different conditions require different gear, and never said otherwise. In fact, I've explicitly pointed out that most of what constitutes the general conditions of UL are three season backpacking on marked trails on more than one occasion. I also specifically stated that UL and SUL standards would be dangerous given certain conditions. If you are going to give your 2 cents, it's helpful if you have paid attention to the rest of the discussion.

Next, I think that going UL and the UL community is fairly inaccessible to outsiders. I think it is safe to say that the BPL forums are one of the biggest hubs, if not the biggest hub, of UL/SUL backpackers. Yet there is not a simple, general definition of what UL/SUL is that I am aware of here, and the "about" page is about as ambiguous as you're going to get and makes no mention of the word "ultralight". This is also an issue on other forums, like reddit's r/ultralight, that has no description of what UL is in the sidebar. Wikipedia has a set of definitions, but cites no sources and doesn't elaborate on what are the most applicable/appropriate conditions. I think it would be helpful if we would collectively try and fix this ambiguity for both people new to this and also to us converts/veterans for reasons I've already elaborated on.

Dan - Point well taking about being concise and keeping it simple. And as much as I like the idea of including something to account for larger people, you have a good point about the benefits of being larger that might negate the slightly heavier gear. Another thing I thought about when reflecting on this point is that larger people are often physically stronger than smaller people, and thus would deal with having say a 12lb pack much easier--it would feel as light as to them as lighter packs would feel to smaller people.

Craig - Those figures are not adequate because they lack some context (i.e. 3 season use on marked trails), and they also conflict with other definitions. I was under the impression that LW was under 20lbs BPW, for instance, and was told this when I first joined BPL.

Yes, it's Nitpicking. But don't we all nitpick when we create a gear list or debate nuanced choices of UL gear? Silnylon vs. Cuben, frame vs. no frame pack, etc.

The whole big people getting a handicap was just an attempt to try and balance things out, and you set up a false dichotomy that it must be about "nothing but cyber backpacking and online spreadsheet competition," should one want to apply such an idea. What about a larger person that just wants to enjoy themselves more on their next hike and wants to cut weight to accomplish this, but finds in the process of cutting weight that some of their larger gear keeps them a bit shy if the arbitrary 10lb mark? UL for big people might make them feel better and also take into account that bigger gear piece of the puzzle. But in the end, I am more swayed by Dan's suggestion of just having, "but individual circumstances vary" note.

If someone gives their proposed gear list out there for feedback/critique, and they note that they are 6'5 and 250lbs, it's helpful, no?

I'm not saying that some people just want to brag, and I'm not encouraging that either. But there is more to trying to establish a consensus than just having people use it for ulterior motives.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: I say let's decide on a general consensus of Ultralight definitions and terms. on 01/06/2014 11:50:53 MST Print View

Cesar,

Valiant effort to gain Internet consensus… a daunting task at best. And to think that you are trying to gain agreement on two different subjects; Weights & Measures and Standardized Categories.

So we need to tackle each of you subjects separately. Let’s start with

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES

Someone noted that Americans are the stumbling block for a universal system of weights and measures. This is true. But what has been omitted is the fact that this is really not about weights or measures, but a philosophical battle between good and evil – akin to a Star Wars Saga, or a Hobbit Adventure. So let’s start with weights:

WEIGHTS

The attempt to move the world from ounces to grams is a Communist Plot launched shortly after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. The Commies wanted to take over the world, and they quickly identified America as their biggest hurdle. In order to take over America, they would need to kill God. So a plan was launched – convert America from ounces to grams. How would this kill God, you ask? It is acknowledged by many intellectuals that God gave the system of weights to Moses, and tasked him to implement it, which he did. Unfortunately he dropped both of the stone tablets and the 11th Commandment, “Thou shall use talents and ounces for trade,” broke off of both.

All of this was validated in 1976 by the famous American Bible Scholar Archie Bunker.

Eventually the biblical weights morphed into the English weight system, which we can use for backpacking.

16 drams = 1 ounce
16 ounces = 1 pound
7 pounds = 1 clove
14 pounds = 1 stone
28 pounds = 1 tod

We might find it useful to adopt cloves, stones, and tods in our standardized definitions.

MCCARTHYISM AND TEMPERATURE

For the backpacker, Celsius is not of much value. 0C is not very cold and we would die before the temperature hits 100C. But we know that 0F is freak’in cold and 100F is damn hot. This why American backpackers use Fahrenheit.

Why did American stick with the Fahrenheit system? It all started back in 1935 and 1938. Orson Wells lived in Europe in 1935 and the Pinko Commies infiltrated his brain and tasked him to convert America to Celsius. Upon his return to America, Welles attempted pandemonium with the ulterior motive to implement Celsius. But the World was saved in 1938 from Welles, by Charlie McCarthy and Edgar Bergen. Exasperated, Welles decided to run for the US Senate against Charlie’s younger brother, Joseph, in 1946. Defeated by McCarthy, Orson soon expatriated himself to Europe and eventually died penniless. Good triumphed again. As a side note, the Red Tide changed the name of Celsius to Centigrade, which is a phonetic play on Stalingrad – proof of the temperature conspiracy.

DISTANCE

The final metric attack on America was deployed by both the Communists and the Socialists. It is a battle between the collective and the individual. Think about this… the one universally recognized athletic accomplishment is the sub 4 minute mile. The mile race is about the individual. It is not a team sport, it is not collaboration, and it is not for the common good. It is about the heroic in athletic completion. The Commies and Socialists despise the individual, so they decided to replace to mile race with 1500 meters, and to further complicate things they convinced all high schools in America to replace the mile with 1600 meters. Chaos followed. There was no longer any gold standard to judge runners. Not to mention 1500 meters cannot be started and finished at the same point on the track, as a mile can be; and it is impossible to break 1500 meters into nice equa-distant points that make sense; as the mile can be using the ¼ mile, ½ mile, and ¾ mile splits.

Do we really want to replace 1st and 10 on Super Bowl Sunday with 1st and 9.144? Or the Boston Marathon with 42.195 KM? Do we want Eminem to star in 12.8748 kilometer or the Byrds to sing 12.8748 kilometers high? Do we want to change the mileage of the JMT to 338.6 kilometers?

I think not.

But a kilometer would have value to an Edgar Alan Poe, would could weave it into iambic pentameter.

ULTRALIGHT DEFINITIONS

I thought we had discussed The Death of Ultralight Backpacking in 2012, and decided it was not a weight, but a skill set.

During the course of this thread, there have been 4 distinct standards for consideration and possible consensus. I would point out that Abela’s set is used for his own consideration, to ensure consistency in his posts, and perhaps was never intended to be a standardized set. But who knows – John has retired from writing and enlightening the masses on how to hike SUL or XUL.

So let’s look at the most common accepted set, using the God-given measurement system:

Light < 20 lbs

UL < 10 lbs

SUL < 5 lbs

This system has some inherent problems. For example, if Hiker A has a base weight of 19.999 lbs, and Hiker B has a base weight of 10.0001 lbs, they are both Lightweight backpackers, even though Hiker A’s base weight is almost double that of Hiker B. Same would go for UL weights of 9.999 lbs versus 5.001 lbs.

In addition, a 10 day self-supported trip with a SUL or XUL kit would be awfully painful, the light pack being the weak link.

Perhaps we should chuck it all and just have weights by pounds (i.e. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, etc), without any definitions.

Or perhaps we should just forget the whole standards discussion? Since the goal of backpacking is to have fun, while staying warm, dry and safe. Perhaps we just need a “fun scale,” which I suggest is not Skurka’s. Perhaps we can assign a point system for fun. In this point system we can dispense with base weight altogether, because what truly matters is how much we carry in total weight.

This system might take into consideration the total FSO weight, the number of days traveled between re-supply, the number of people hiking together, and the number of other hikers encountered on the trail. Backpacking is about the wilderness experience, not gear. As a matter of fact, I am finding backpacking gear to be boring. So let’s consider…

Take the total FSO weight and divided it by the days on the trail before re-supply. So a 40 lb FSO weight on a 10 day trip would = 4 points. We can call this the FSO Factor.

Now we take the number of hikers in the party. If you hike solo you can add 1 point. If you hike with a significant other and have sex at least once during the trip, you can add 2 points. For all other situations, you would subtract the total number in the party from the FSO Factor.

Lastly, we will subtract the total number of people encountered on the trail from the calculations above. Let’s say in 10 days you encounter 80 people on the trail, there are 4 people in your party and your FSO Factor is 4. Your Fun Factor calculation is 4 – 4 – 80. Giving you a fun factor of negative 80 points. The goal is a trip with a total fun factor that is a positive number.

Okay, I agree this is too complicated.

I have been on vacation for a few weeks and my return to BPL showed about 80% of the posts on the first recent threads page to be gear related.

What would happen if 80% of the posts were trip reports? First it would mean that people would need to go hiking more often, and we would have more useful gear information from trips reports, where the poster could discuss what gear worked, what gear didn’t work, and how the gear was used. Of course, I would rather just see a bunch of great pictures.

Opps… guess I just hijacked the thread.

To be honest I do a lot of so-called SUL and XUL trips, but the gear changes due to the season, terrain, weather, etc. Here is a XUL trip I did, it was more of a what can I do, than something I would undertake for a long trip.

And I do even more UL trips. Sometimes I do lightweight trips.

Based on each trip, I select the gear I need. What it weighs, is what it weighs.

Happy New Year Everyone!

edited for some grammar. It is hard to be on a conference call and type at the same time :)

Edited by ngatel on 01/06/2014 14:49:12 MST.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: Re: Roger, Dan, Craig on 01/06/2014 11:54:26 MST Print View

Cesar, I laud you for giving this some thought and putting yourself out there. Even if the particulars differ in interest, the worth of the broader subject is a matter of consensus.

Personally, I find the weight cutoffs of little interest for a variety of reasons.

First, the various UL and SUL benchmarks aren't particularly hard to meet, nor do they depend on conditions nearly as much as people think.

Second, and as a corrolary to the above, many folks want to buy their way towards a given status, rather than improving technique and being able to do the same trips in similar "comfort" (whatever that means) with less stuff.

Third, a peculiar number of people want to identify as an ultralight backpacker, seemingly for no other reason than being part of a group which, for all functional purposes, does not exist.

Forth, all of the above leads to ridiculous behavior, the most prominent example being theoretical XUL trips where the gear is so fragile that a support team is required.

In short, the labels are too often a proxy for actually doing something, and thus I do not support their existence.

[PS Well done Nick.]

Edited by DaveC on 01/06/2014 11:56:41 MST.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: I say let's decide on a general consensus of Ultralight definitions and terms. on 01/06/2014 12:10:35 MST Print View

Nick,

Spectators are probably wondering why I'm wiping tears of joy from my eyes and delivering a standing ovation to my computer. It's difficult for me to believe that I'll ever find anything of value on the internet again after reading your response.

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
Re: Nick and David on 01/06/2014 12:38:01 MST Print View

Nick - Yes.

David - Thanks for the kind words, first of all.

1st: I generally agree, but don't see how this negates having a general consensus and its values.

2nd: If you say so. Maybe because I live in Sweden and I am pretty much the only UL backpacker in my neck of the woods, but I don't know who these people are buying themselves into UL--nor do I care about them. If someone wants to go nuts and spend 10K on the fanciest gear for every condition they can think of, well okay, good for them I guess. I don't see how this affects anyone significantly, nor how it negates having a general consensus and its values.

3rd: Again, I don't know anyone like this, nor would I follow say a blog of someone that suffers from such bad faith or take them very seriously. But I also don't see how having a general consensus would necessarily cause more of these posers.

4th: Where is all this ridiculous behavior? Where are these crazy people doing absurd XUL trips that require a support team? I've done a XUL trip and learned quite a lot from it and it was also a really fun trip. Not all XUL trips are like what you describe and people that attempt them without first knowing the ropes are clearly fools. People like that are going to do foolish things regardless of the existence of a consensus or not.

I am skeptical of your claim that labels are too often a proxy for actually doing something regarding UL backpacking, and don't see how just getting the community to agree on some common information about a shared interest is going to encourage people to be proxies rather than actually go out and hike.

I understand the core of your points, that labels are problematic. Believe me I know all about it, and even grew up jamming to songs like this: http://youtu.be/j1V2xzDTOPs

But this is not about labels for people, it's just a general set of numbers for a general kind of backpacking. No one is beating up SUL backpackers for being SUL backpackers, nor do I think this community is suffering from a division caused by the definitions and terms we use. And support their existence or not, they will still be there in some way or another. Why not just deal with them together?

It's just a matter of harmless pragmatism and semantics.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: Re: I say let's decide on a general consensus of Ultralight definitions and terms. on 01/06/2014 12:47:23 MST Print View

Don't skim over Nick's lengthy post, read it!

Bravo.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Nick's reply on 01/06/2014 17:37:08 MST Print View

Hi Nick

OK, I am outscored by your impeccable logic and erudite wit.
Translation: ROTFLMAO!

Hysterical!
Cheers

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Roger, Dan, Craig on 01/06/2014 17:39:31 MST Print View

Hi Cesar

> Roger - There's no need to be condescending.
I wasn't.
You asked why BPL Staff had not put up some formal definitions. I quoted your question and gave some reasons why not.

Cheers

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
I say let's decide on a general consensus of Ultralight definitions and terms. on 01/06/2014 17:48:47 MST Print View

Nick Gatel, you're a gentleman and a scholar.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: I say let's decide on a general consensus of Ultralight definitions and terms. on 01/06/2014 18:04:31 MST Print View

"Nick Gatel, you're a gentleman and a scholar."

Not to mention a divine comedian, deserving of a place in the pantheon of worthies. As Roger said, ROTFLMAO.

Mitch Chesney
(MChesney) - F
The point of all this...? on 01/06/2014 21:02:56 MST Print View

I've sort of skimmed this thread and the back-and-forth it created, and I'm just wondering what's the point Cesar is hoping to make on all this? As others have pointed out there are far too many variables for a single set of numbers to work for all situations. Secondly, there is no sanctioning organization that can somehow enforce the numbers to be listed on Wikipedia as a source. And last, even if you don't expect an official body to govern the UL units of measure do you honestly expect a consensus among a public internet forum? I enjoyed this whole discussion but I think Roger answered all the questions why BPL doesn't list numbers and no one really seems interested anyway.

That being said, the official MC response you can quote on Wikipedia is: " UL begins at conception and all ounces are sacred." ;-)

Edited by MChesney on 01/06/2014 21:05:23 MST.

Edward Jursek
(nedjursek@gmail.com) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
consensus on 01/06/2014 23:00:42 MST Print View

God bless you Nick and Cesar! Would this qualify for nomination as the best thread of 2013 or 2014, as it starts in 2013 and continues into 2014?

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
Re: Roger, Mitch, Edward on 01/07/2014 06:58:32 MST Print View

Roger - "I wasn't.
You asked why BPL Staff had not put up some formal definitions. I quoted your question and gave some reasons why not."

I beg to differ. First of all, the entire quote you are basing this off of is:

"I don't get why BPL staff themselves have not tried to sit down and work all this out, but considering some of the not-so-productive replies in this thread, I can sympathize with them for not wanting to open this admitted can of worms."

I was not asking a question, I was expressing, in other words, that if anyone ought to have attempted this task it should be BPL--but that I sympathize with BPL because of the challenges involved.

I am well aware that one needs different gear for war lowlands as one would need for stormy alpine conditions, for instance. And I have been posting around here for enough time now that you should know that I know that or at least give me the benefit of the doubt. Even if I was a total noob, this bit of information you contributed is fairly obvious (as was the rest of your post in question). Hence, you speaking down towards me.

Mitch - "I've sort of skimmed this thread and the back-and-forth it created, and I'm just wondering what's the point Cesar is hoping to make on all this?"

Perhaps you should read it and not skim it to figure out what I am trying to make of all this. I also wrote a blog post about it, linked in the OP.

In short, I find the lack of consensus and general definitions and terms from all of the online sources of UL discourse--which not only includes wikipedia, but also here at BPL and reddit too--problematic. I have made suggestions and encouraged others to join the discussion, make their own suggestions, and vote in a poll I created.

"As others have pointed out there are far too many variables for a single set of numbers to work for all situations. "

I am not trying to come up with a single set of numbers to work for all situations, nor did I even suggest this is possible.

"Secondly, there is no sanctioning organization that can somehow enforce the numbers to be listed on Wikipedia as a source."

I am well aware of this, nor have I suggested that there ought to be.

"And last, even if you don't expect an official body to govern the UL units of measure do you honestly expect a consensus among a public internet forum?"

I didn't expect it, but as an informal way of getting an approximation of a consensus I think that is possible. I mean, if you were to go onto a forum of pizza lovers and ask people to give you a general definition of pizza, I think someone totally unfamiliar with pizza would get a good idea of what the concept is.

" I enjoyed this whole discussion but I think Roger answered all the questions why BPL doesn't list numbers and no one really seems interested anyway."

I too have enjoyed this discussion--especially Nick's post, which added some much needed levity--but I disagree that Roger answered all the questions why BPL doesn't attempt to answer the question, "What is UL backpacking?" in a short, sweet, general, non-absolute way.

I mean I full well knew that there was a big chance that no general consensus would be found, and even called my efforts a "shot in the dark" on my blog. But I personally think that for the good points already made about what constitutes a broad UL definition has made it worth it.

I think it's hard to deny that most of what we talk about on this forum is about backpacking trips on marked trails in commonly accessible geography with a base weight that is around 10-12lbs and under for 3 season/low temps around freezing.

Edward - Thanks! I too really enjoyed Nick's post as well as several other solid posts, like from Dan and spelt! and others. A good way to start the new year.

Edward Jursek
(nedjursek@gmail.com) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Consensus on 01/07/2014 08:18:30 MST Print View

Cesar - yours was a great initial post. I don't think there is any place else where we can get a conversation like this. The comments (the good, the bad and the ugly) have been fun to read.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Consensus on 01/07/2014 11:22:40 MST Print View

Conversations like this are always good. As a species we measure things and that is how we communicate. It is ironic that Roger, the scientist, doesn't want to categorize weight classifications, but he will make your head swim with numbers when it comes to other things. Just to note, I do agree with Roger. But the conversation is always good.

I think younger folks, who are dialed into social networking, are more prone to measuring and classifying everything -- that is how they communicate. Not saying it is good or bad, it is just how it is.

Last year I had an interesting encounter. I was hiking in a remote area near the Colorado River. It was in a small mountain range formed from volcanic rock, so from a distance it looks like a big black mountain range, which is not very attractive to most folks, and there are very few trails -- meaning there are very few people who want to go there. One afternoon I was walking down a wash towards the river to get some water and saw a grizzly old man with a large external frame pack heading towards me. Now I often look like hell when hiking, but this guy looked worse. But he obviously knew what he was doing. As we approached, he tipped his weather worn hat with two fingers and half-smiled. I returned the salute and walked past. It occurred to me that is was one of the best trail conversations I ever had, and no words were spoken. Usually people ask me, "How much does that pack weigh," or How many miles did you hike?

Mitch Chesney
(MChesney) - F
Your snarkiness aside... on 01/07/2014 11:44:15 MST Print View

" I mean, if you were to go onto a forum of pizza lovers and ask people to give you a general definition of pizza, I think someone totally unfamiliar with pizza would get a good idea of what the concept is." - Cesar

Here lies the crux of the argument. You are on a forum of, for the sake of argument, pizza lovers and you will find everyone here can tell you what a pizza is, how to make one, the history of pizza, and the many variations. But if you come on to this pizza site and ask. "what is the recipe for a pizza?" you're never going to get an absolute answer. Yes there's bread but is it white or whole wheat, crispy or hand-tossed? And a sauce, but is it marinara or BBQ, white sauce or maybe none at all? And the toppings! My word, the toppings, you'll find everyone likes different toppings if you've ever tried ordering a single Extra Large for a group of buddies watching the game. And this is just the thousand-foot description, the discussion of how to measure the cheese is going to be a whole 'nother can of worms - do you do it by eye, measuring cup, how much, how is it distributed?
But you will understand what a pizza is, you'll be able to recognize one, hell, you might be able to make one yourself with enough practice. And THAT is the concept of what is UL, SUL, and all those other weird initializations. People generally know they are eating a crispy crust by a vague definition of a crispy crust pizza, not by referencing a specific value or recipe. Same when you see someone skipping down the trail in a ZPack, something in the back of your mind says, "That guy is SUL."

Edited by MChesney on 01/07/2014 11:51:39 MST.

Andrew Stow
(AndyS) - F - MLife

Locale: Midwest USA
more on pizza... on 01/07/2014 12:01:18 MST Print View

To take the pizza analogy all the way, it's like going to a pizza forum and asking them to put a number on the dividing lines between "small" and "medium" pizzas, or "thick crust" vs. "thin crust."

Even if most people can agree that a 6" round pizza (15.24 cm) is certainly a "small" and a 10" (25.4 cm) is a "medium," is it really useful to discuss whether the dividing line is at 8", 9", or 20 cm?

Then let's get sidetracked discussing round vs. square.

Bas Hommes
(BHommes)

Locale: Europe
Re: more on pizza... on 01/07/2014 13:19:56 MST Print View

Also best pizzabakers are Italian guys and Italians do not like consensus.

Edited by BHommes on 01/07/2014 13:21:27 MST.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: more on pizza... on 01/07/2014 14:18:15 MST Print View

Well everyone knows that a 4" pizza is extra-ultra-small, 5" is extra-extra small, 6" is ultra-small, 7" very small, 8" is kind-of-small-but-not-medium unless the eater is over 6' tall then you subtract two size categories and then it's ultra-small again.

I think this is defined by federal law or something.

Mmmm.... pizza.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
pizza pizza! on 01/07/2014 14:39:36 MST Print View

Then there is the whole style debate: Thin crust? Chicago Style? Neapolitan? Bakery pizza? White pizza?

Mmm...pizza.


Being serious, the categories are guideline and not absolute. Much like the pizza examples! :)

Edited by PaulMags on 01/07/2014 14:40:52 MST.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: pizza pizza! on 01/07/2014 14:58:59 MST Print View

I think we can all agree that Chicago style pizza is pizza in the same way that a 60 lb overnight pack is UL. ;)

Andrew Stow
(AndyS) - F - MLife

Locale: Midwest USA
Re: Re: Pizza Pizza on 01/07/2014 15:03:12 MST Print View

Pizza or not, it's amazingly good. I miss having an Uno's here.

Edit: Thanks, I can now taste the delicious grease. Mmm...

Edited by AndyS on 01/07/2014 15:04:38 MST.

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Pizza Pizza on 01/07/2014 21:30:58 MST Print View

I was in Buffalo NY back in 2011 doing some work at a company and the last day I was there they bought this pizza... it was about three feet wide and at least 5 feet lot. The biggest damn pizza I have ever seen. Wish I had taken a picture of it. Being a west coast boy I had never seen anything like that before. And yeah, East Coast pizza OWNS anything you can get on the West Coast.

ps: SXUL was made up to be a joke for situations exactly like this thread (he termed it XSUL, I thought SXUL sounded better).

To quote Ross (Wood Trekker) Gilmore in his last paragraph:

Can we get back to the days when going ultralight meant reducing the weight of your pack, but still having all of the functional components necessary for traveling through the wilderness? How did we get from that, to cutting weight by sleeping in cabins and not going out when the conditions are less than perfect? Seems like we took a left turn somewhere and missed the point entirely.


pss: the entire poll should be thrown out as its completely farked through the use of both metric and imperial weight use. It should have been one or the other, and based on that weight system, the different listed weight systems/theories/standards/whateveryouwanttocallthem should have been listed. As it is, the poll is nothing but a skewed quest from the very get-go.

psss: I personally do not care. I have said from day-one that I defined things as I did to be able to give a base-line across all of my publications. I think the use of my weight-classifications should not even be used... it was something I put together to help define the lightest of the lightest and with full realization that it would never be applicable to the 99% of hikers throughout the world. GvP many many years ago set what I think should be considered the accepted base-line/standards.

pssss: As technology changes and fabrics get lighter I do think the industry needs to self-examine itself to see if new standards/classifications need to be made. Two decades ago when 30 pound packs on the PCT/AT where common is not the same as it is today when you have a whole lot of folks with 8-15 pound packs. I think guys like Warner Springs Monty has shown it all very well... he is one of the few people in the world to hike the PCT with a sub-5, yet every time he has hiked it since his sub-5 trip he has used a BPW in the ~8 pound range. So yeah, 30 pounds down to the 8-15 pounds range, I do think deserves a change in theory/terms/standards/whatever... but lets remember Ryan Jordan has been trying to get all of us to realize that UL is dead and SUL is where it is at... what say he on what the new standards/terms/weight-levels should be??


That is all I have to say on the matter... now, where is the pizza!!!

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Re: Pizza Pizza on 01/08/2014 00:49:27 MST Print View

Hi John

> pssss
ps = post-script (Latin)
pps = post-post-script - and so on to ppps

Cheers
ps: love stirring :-)
pps: sorry :-)

Edited by rcaffin on 01/08/2014 00:50:01 MST.

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
Re: Mitch, Pizza, John on 01/08/2014 13:09:19 MST Print View

Mitch - When you said you skimmed you really weren't joking. You've created a strawman to beat up on with your continuation of my pizza analogy. You say:

"But if you come on to this pizza site and ask. "what is the recipe for a pizza?" you're never going to get an absolute answer. "

This is clearly not what I proposed or asked, and repeatedly stated in very clear terms that this is not about an absolute answer.

This is about finding a general definition for a very specialized and specific sub-type of backpacking. So actually my first example of asking a pizza community to generally define pizza, while capturing the gist of things, is not specific enough--as I hope we can agree that UL backpacking is a pretty specific type of backpacking. To continue on the whole pizza comparison with something more accurate, what I am doing would be equivalent of asking asking a Neapolitan pizza forum to define Neapolitan pizza.

And wouldn't you know it? Wikipedia has a general consensus noted on their page on "pizza" regarding Neapolitan pizza:

"According to the rules proposed by the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana,[9] the genuine Neapolitan pizza dough consists of wheat flour (type 0 or 00, or a mixture of both), natural Neapolitan yeast or brewer's yeast, salt and water. For proper results, strong flour with high protein content (as used for bread-making rather than cakes) must be used. The dough must be kneaded by hand or with a low-speed mixer. After the rising process, the dough must be formed by hand without the help of a rolling pin or other machine, and may be no more than 3 millimeters (0.12 in) thick. The pizza must be baked for 60–90 seconds in a 485 °C (905 °F) stone oven with an oak-wood fire.[10]" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pizza#Naples_and_Campania)

Obviously not everyone will agree with this set of definitions, and you would be a real jerk if you went to a party where someone tried their best to make a Neapolitan pizza from scratch, only for you to scoff at them for the pizza being 4 millimeters and roll your eyes at the birch-wood fire.

But for someone new to making this particular kind of pizza from scratch, such a definition might be helpful, don't you think? And for veteran pizza makers, surely there is a debate going on about the nuances and gray areas of the definition, and how conditions and circumstances can change a pizza makers process and end result.

If you ask me, btw, the best pizza I have ever had (and I have had quite a lot of pizza in many different places) can be found in NYC and Rome. I can't ever make up my mind which city wins, and have visited both multiple times. South Philly pizza is also pretty good, as are most pizzas you will get in France. I am not a fan of Chicago style pizza, and ironically the worst pizza I ever ate was actually in Rome. I went into an avant-garde type pizza place with all these weird pizzas and people one time, and it was a hoot. A man told me I looked like his husband, something I will never forget. Anyhow, decided to get the most odd looking pizza I saw--root veggies with a white sauce with capers. I could only eat half. It was outright disgusting.


John - I was wondering when you would chime in! Thanks for that, and for your previous efforts that I've already lauded.

I have to say though, I had hoped for a more substantive reply from you. Why 12 over 10lbs I've been wondering about for some time, unless I missed something?

And SXUL was a joke? Hmm. Well, you fooled me. Especially considering that (correct me if I'm wrong) have taken or planned on taking trips with sub 2lb kits? I seem to remember you mentioning a sub 2lb kit in your profile before, and mentioning it in some threads here, but I could be wrong. Or were these jokes too?

Also, you wrote your article on how you define things on September 8, 2012--yet Ross Gilmore wrote the article you quote on August 27, 2013. How is it that you were inspired to make this SXUL/XSUL "joke" based on Gilmore's article nearly a year after your article was published? And I seem to remember SXUL on your definitions article before I read Gilmore's article (I also follow his blog), which would seem to rule out that you edited it in.

I am sorry to hear you feel my poll is skewed. I figured it was better to take action rather than be frustrated by the lack of consensus on a matter I am very interested in. People have asked me after I tell them the common wiki set of weight definitions where that figure comes from, and I say I don't know--that it is just a number most people seem to have unofficially agreed on as the unofficial rules. I still don't see how trying to informally try and figure out a consensus would cause any harm or take away from UL backpacking. Neapolitan pizza definitions don't seem to bother fans and makers of Neapolitan pizza that I am aware of.

I think you make some good points in your last paragraph about how things change. Certainly it would have been very lightweight to take 30lb BPW not just two decades ago, but for centuries before that too, with some exceptions of course.

Anyhow, I hope that's not all you have to say on the matter. And if you want a pizza I would be happy to make you one from scratch, but you'd have to pick it up here in Sweden.

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Pizza on 01/08/2014 13:17:34 MST Print View

The Pizza caught my attention...best Pizza I have ever had without a question was in Napoli . There they say the secret is in the water, but having real fresh mozzarella , or even better Bufala, is what makes it for me.


As for a consensus on defining UL and SUL, good luck, no harm in trying.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
consensus on 01/08/2014 13:34:55 MST Print View

To me, LW, UL, SUL, etc. are just a description of your base pack weight. One is not better than the other. You don't need to make excuses for being in one category versus the other. If you really need to, you can say you were almost SUL. I think most of us would rather be prepared for our trip than to just barely fit into one of those categories. I think its just best to think of them as shorthand to discuss the style of trip you are doing. I fail to see how you can use something other than real weights to discuss what your pack weight is.
And by the way, Bosnian pizza may just be the best.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: consensus on 01/08/2014 14:39:23 MST Print View

I do XUL, SUL, UL, and LW. None of them define me.

There is no better pizza than my lovely wife's Campground Baby Q Pizza, baked in a Weber brand Baby Q Grill!! It is a Friday night camping tradition.

It is also a birthday camping tradition

Mitch Chesney
(MChesney) - F
arguementative on 01/08/2014 15:07:48 MST Print View

Cesar you come off as argumentative so I won't continue debating this. I will simply point out if you are admitting that you are not asking for a single set of weights to define UL/SUL/et al I would suggest your blog poll reflect that.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Pizza on 01/08/2014 17:00:19 MST Print View

"best Pizza I have ever had without a question was in Napoli ."

A huge +1. Down in the red light district, or at least one of them, about 1 AM. From a wood fired stone oven manned by guys with long wooden spatulas, stripped to the waist and glistening with sweat. I don't know if the wood was oak, but the pizza was out of this world, a thin crust topped with a simple tomato sauce, garlic and a bit of olive oil. Never had anything remotely close since.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Pizza on 01/08/2014 17:20:31 MST Print View

"Bosnian pizza may just be the best."

Bad enough that I had to eat chow hall food for my tour in Bosnia, but now I learn that I missed out on some epic pizza?!?

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
my favorite pizza on 01/08/2014 18:51:06 MST Print View

The pizza in Napoli is of course wonderful.

But my favorite pizza, I think for nostalgic reasons, is bakery pizza.

Simple chewy crust, chunky tomato sauce with just a bit of spicy heat, maybe sprinkled with a little touch of grated cheese. It is humble food. Even more so than what most people think of as pizza.

Served at first communions, birthday parties, football watching games, functions, quick meals to the beach and so on.

When I met my grandfather's cousins a few years ago, I went to a birthday party in a local park. I suspect I was the only American there. My clumsy Italian with an atrocious accent gave me away. :)

At this children's party, there was much of the same food I grew up with back in Rhode Island. Same pastries, calzones and other similar delights. But what I spied on the picnic table was the bakery pizza! Same texture, same type of sauce, same crust and served at room temp. It could have been a birthday party from my own childhood. Our branches of the family have been separated by an ocean and 100 yrs, but it seems some things still persisted. Every bite confirmed that more than just my last name came across the ocean.

What does this have to do with backpacking definitions?

UL/SUL/Lightweight/Bantam Weight/Wait Wait don't tell me/ are just guidelines.

We all know what SUL is in general (5 lbs), but it is a generality. Not an absolute.
For me, I am just a lightweight backpacker..whether I am schlepping 5,8,or 15 lbs BPW. The KISS principle and all that.

In the same way, we all know what pizza is. We can talk about and define the generalities but there are many variations. And if you really believe people in Napoli follow the EXACT same way of doing things..well, these are southern Italians we are talking about. Rules, regulations and and sometimes laws are just suggestions as well. ;-)

An Excel spreadsheet looks really good on backpacking forum. In the real world, there is much more of a fudge factor.

Edited by PaulMags on 01/08/2014 18:52:43 MST.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Pizza on 01/08/2014 19:19:27 MST Print View

I just placed my order with Ferndale Pizza. Glad its not UL or SUL.

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife
Re: Cesar on 01/08/2014 19:45:27 MST Print View

>>> I was wondering when you would chime in! Thanks for that, and for your previous efforts that I've already lauded.

I wasn't going to... but the lure of pizza sucked me in. And, sure thing. And, thank you.


>>> Why 12 over 10lbs I've been wondering about for some time

Interesting one huh. That really should not be a/the stumbling block here though Cesar.

The "Why" is because I felt that there was a level of learning that warranted the two pound difference. Remember, the entire basis of my personal classifications are: "experience" - there just seems to be specific zones of weight where you are sort of forced into learning new skill sets, and as I went through the process I felt I had to learn less from going from the 18-15 range and more going from the 15-10 range. There was a whole other approach in the process of losing those 2+ pounds. Experience, Education. Experience, Education. Experience, Education.

>>> And SXUL was a joke?

Yes.


>>> How is it that you were inspired to make this SXUL/XSUL "joke" based on Gilmore's article nearly a year after your article was published?

Uhh, its called editing an article post publication. Gilmore just nailed it so spot on, I just had to add it to my own list.



>>> Wikipedia

giggle... the SUL/XUL classifications were added by me.


>>> I am sorry to hear you feel my poll is skewed

I do not feel it is skewed... it IS skewed.

You should have made it be ALL metric (or imperial) and just stick to that. Because as it is, you just have people voting for the "metric" option and not even seriously considering the other options, just on that issue alone. That is called a skewed polling.


>>> I still don't see how trying to informally try and figure out a consensus would cause any harm or take away from UL backpacking

Because it is just not going to happen. Trust me ;)

Think of this... lets say you got the 200+ people that are triple crowners into the same room and asked them all to share what they think the definitions would be. My guess is that most of them would just laugh at you and tell you they don't care and you missed the entire point of backpacking. But, even if you did press them to give you answers, you really think you could get a consensus by them... those with more miles on their feet than most the rest of us reading this single post put together. Nah, just not gonna happen Cesar.


...and with all that said... I really am going to stop commenting in this thread. I *respect* the attempt to do what you are trying to do, and it has been attempted every couple of years (including by myself) and it has just never happened and probably will not. It goes beyond just what a few hundred or thousand people at one or two websites think. The entire industry - from manufacturers, to retail companies, to the very predominate hikers, and just the average every day hiker - they would all need to come together and be a part of such things. It is not like the old days when just a few small people could put forth an article or publication in a magazine, or write a small book, and therein the standards were set.

In closing, I will just quote myself:

I define weight categories the way I do based upon how much skill a person should have, and how much a person has hopefully learned in order to reach each of the levels.


Experience, Education. Experience, Education. Experience, Education. For some of us, pounding miles is not just about pounding out the miles. It is about educating ourselves, helping to educate others, and being able to look back on a hike and thinking to yourself "wow, that was a really great trip" - and not just because of what you got to see.

Thanks,
+John Abela
HikeLighter.Com
facebook.com/hikelighter
@hikelighter

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Cesar on 01/08/2014 19:52:15 MST Print View

"giggle... the SUL/XUL classifications were added by me."

LOL.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
This ain't Pizza on 01/08/2014 20:12:58 MST Print View

Entering this conversation is like walking through a cow pasture blindfolded, hoping not to get anything on your shoes. I have decided to step into this conversation hoping not to get too much stuff on my shoes.

Cesar, as many very knowledgeable, respected people have already said "American's are dumb", sorry, that was for another thread, ok here it is; “Based on each trip, I select the gear I need.."

Maybe you are trying too hard to jam the numbers into too broad of categories. Nick posted a viable agreement “This system has some inherent problems. For example, if Hiker A has a base weight of 19.999 lbs, and Hiker B has a base weight of 10.0001 lbs, they are both Lightweight backpackers, even though Hiker A’s base weight is almost double that of Hiker B. Same would go for UL weights of 9.999 lbs versus 5.001 lbs.” To solve this and other issues others have pointed out, I think I have come up with a viable alternative to your basic categories:

You just start off with whatever title you want be it LW, UL, SUL, XSUL (or SXUL), etc.

I’ll use UL, it is basic and to the point. From there you just add a number 1 thru 30 depending on your base out weight and just round up. I stop at 30 just because. You could end up with something like UL13, if you are carrying 13 lbs. It gives a better picture of what Cesar has been trying to isolate. And you end up with something a little more meaningful than LW, UL, SUL, or XSUL.

Now, to really improve on Cesar’s idea…

I’d use XUWL (pronounced Zool) because it sounded cool in the movie Ghostbusters and the guy/gal was really important. Plus starting with an X makes it even cooler because it denotes I’m doing something extreme or something regular people aren’t.
From there you could add a number for the weight you are carrying at the moment, i.e. XUWL8.7 (if you are carrying 8.7 lbs). To that you add your present pre-trip body weight, minus your BMI score. For example 175 lbs guy with a BMI of 20 would use 155-8.7=146.3. Next divide your elevation gain (1500 for example) by the 146.3 and you get 10.25. Now XUWL10.25 really means something (to someone).
Some variation of this system could be used to get a more accurate picture of what you and others are carrying.


Cesar, thanks for the opportunity to think about this topic.

Sorry I haven’t weighed in on you blog- I keep clicking my mouse between the circles but your blog won’t register my vote that way.

Edited by bestbuilder on 01/08/2014 20:16:43 MST.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: This ain't Pizza on 01/08/2014 20:21:43 MST Print View

Cesar has been trying really hard to make a serious attempt at something he thinks should be considered. Let's give him credit and applaud the effort. The guy hikes a lot and posts some pretty cool trip reports on his blog, not to mention it sounds like his local environment is void of hikers of the lighter side of backpacking.

Kevin Buggie
(kbuggie) - M

Locale: NW New Mexico
Ryan Jordan, circa 2003 on 01/08/2014 20:52:07 MST Print View

Nobody has mentioned the very first sentence of chapter 15 of Ryan's book, Lightweight Backpacking and Camping, its titled, Super ultralight- Breaking the Five-Pound Barrier:

Page 299 "The ability to carry a pack that is not just light (12-20 lbs base weight) or ultralight (6-11 lbs), but ridiculously light (< 5 lbs) and still maintain a level of comfort and safety suitable for hiking in the high mountain ranges of the lower 48 states requires a bit of inovation, some compromise in durability, and most importantly, an advanced set of backcountry skills that allow you to remain warm and dry in inclement weather with a kit of gear that offers little margin for safety."

That definition (though RJ states in the next paragraph he's not attempting to define a new standard) seems to balance both objective and subjective measures in a concise definition.

Seeing as that BPL article from 2003 was reprinted in the 2005 book by the guy who created this site we all surf a full decade later, maybe that's the answer regardless of forum threads and individual blog posts.

Any votes?

Edited by kbuggie on 01/08/2014 21:27:39 MST.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Ryan Jordan, circa 2003 on 01/08/2014 21:11:48 MST Print View

Let’s take this discussion to a hypothetical conclusion. Everyone on BPL votes and agrees that 20-10 lbs is lightweight, 10-5 lbs is UL, and <5 lb is SUL (can be any number just plugged these in for discussion purposes).

What benefit have we gained? For sports like boxing and wrestling, I completely understand why they have weight classes but I fail to see the benefit here.

I'm truly not trying to sharp shoot the OP here but from reading the OP and blog, I get the impression that you’re trying to set an industry standard and not much else. I’d love to hear more about what we'll gain especially if you could give specific examples. Again, not attacking... just want to understand where you're coming from.

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Re: Ryan Jordan, circa 2003 on 01/08/2014 22:35:58 MST Print View

"Take the total FSO weight and divided it by the days on the trail before re-supply. So a 40 lb FSO weight on a 10 day trip would = 4 points. We can call this the FSO Factor."


I think I will have more fun keeping my FSO (before I leave for an outing) under 3.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Let's Start Over From The Beginning on 01/09/2014 01:22:39 MST Print View

Cesar has good intentions. Let's stop criticizing and think the subject through.

First step is to go back are re-read my dissertation on the case for the English System of Weights and Measures -- I don't think everyone did this the first time.

THIS WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT AND PROFOUND POST IN THE ENTIRE THREAD.

It even surpasses my "Pencil for the JMT" thread, which I thought was the most provocative and worthwhile thread ever on BPL.

Okay, I agree the English Measurement post was absurd. But so is a classification system and the debates about them. However, the dialogue is good.

Here is a fact... the lighter your gear, the easier it is to walk. But lightening gear eventually reaches a point of diminishing returns, both financially and safety-wise; if you approach Skurka's Stupid Light.

So the real questions are:

Why do you backpack?
What do you get out of it?
What is your relationship to the wilderness?
What do you learn about the natural world?
What do you learn about yourself when in the wild?

In other words, Why Walk?

These are not questions to be answered here, but to answered and kept to yourself.

Backpacking is not about gear, it is about what each of us gets out of our own time in the wilderness.

Gear, gear, gear... it is getting crazy. I wonder if carpenters sit around after work and discuss hammers and nails. I know mechanics don't sit around after work and talk about their tool chests.

Now, I don't hike often with others, which means I need to be very careful with my gear selection... there is little room for mistakes. But there are two people I enjoy hiking with, and both are BPL members -- Chad Eagle and Craig Wisner. One of the reasons I like to hike with them is that we almost never discuss gear, we don't compare kits, and we don't compete for lowest weight. We don't even know how much each other's kit weighs. We do enjoy going to insane places where we are assured there won't be any other hikers -- it doesn't get any better than that.

At the end of the day, backpacking is just walking in the wilderness. It isn't rocket science. You don't need a college degree or even a high school diploma to be a backpacker. Almost anyone can do it, even old farts like me. There is nothing elite about being a backpacker, so don't try to become an elite XXSULXX backpacker -- there is no such thing. Don't complicate it and don't take yourself too seriously -- just be safe, dry, and warm.

P.S. Leave the electronic crap at home, it separates you from the wilderness :)

P.P.S. Craig needs to post his recipe for bean burritos with pictures.

P.P.P.S. Roger Caffin, did I postscript correctly?

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Let's Start Over From The Beginning on 01/09/2014 02:16:21 MST Print View

> THIS WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT AND PROFOUND POST IN THE ENTIRE THREAD.
Oh, definitely. A classic.

> P.P.P.S. Roger Caffin, did I postscript correctly?
Why do I suspect the sole reason for this entire post was this last line? :-)
(yes)

Cheers

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
the real questions on 01/09/2014 06:16:44 MST Print View

So the real questions are:

Why do you backpack?
What do you get out of it?
What is your relationship to the wilderness?
What do you learn about the natural world?
What do you learn about yourself when in the wild?


Huge +1

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Let's Start Over From The Beginning on 01/09/2014 09:43:41 MST Print View

"Why do I suspect the sole reason for this entire post was this last line?"

Male fixation on pp's ?

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: the real questions on 01/09/2014 11:35:10 MST Print View

"So the real questions are:

Why do you backpack?
What do you get out of it?
What is your relationship to the wilderness?
What do you learn about the natural world?
What do you learn about yourself when in the wild?"

But Nick, those are difficult, nuanced questions. Can't we just come up with a hard and fast rule that lets me know if I am enjoying my hike properly or if I need to spend more time with my spreadsheets and credit card?

Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Typical gear sets on 01/09/2014 11:47:54 MST Print View

My $.25 (inflation). The categories could be somewhat useful as each category generally uses a different set of equipment. One example, in the heaviest category a tent is used, next we move to a large tarp and bivy, next we loose the bivy, next just a poncho tarp for the just in case but typically don’t use it. If we have categories already defined, then a standard get set (not just the shelters) will typically be used. Obviously not always, but will be somewhat typical.

Additionally, each category requires an increasing set of skills. Each category has a typical skill set that is required to keep the activity safe and enjoyable.

How useful this is is certainly up for debate. But, I think it has some merit.

Angus A.
(mangus7175) - F

Locale: http://theshadedtrail.blogspot.com
Re: Let's Start Over From The Beginning on 01/09/2014 11:51:03 MST Print View

"Backpacking is not about gear, it is about what each of us gets out of our own time in the wilderness."

Here here! Couldn't agree with this more :)

Ron Moak
(rmoak) - F
The problem with depending upon weight as a measurement of success. on 01/09/2014 13:38:33 MST Print View

We have an almost insatiable need to quantify things. So much so that if we’re not careful it’ll distract us from the real reason we’re attempting to quantify in first place.

The only real purpose for the pursuit of Ultralight Hiking to minimize, if not eliminate, the NEGATIVE role that gear plays in our adventure. Too much gear drags us down, make us tired and reduces our enjoyment.

By the same token, too little gear can also have a NEGATIVE impact on our hike. It’s the reason that Monty Tam no longer hikes with a sub 5 pound pack. The lack of gear had so great an impact on his enjoyment, that it was well worth taking a few extra pounds.

We do establish mile stones to help us achieve certain goals. They provide us a point of reference to focus our thinking. While we do use them in common discussions, it should be noted that they are also highly personal. The amount of gear carried that achieves the least negative impact, will vary wildly among individuals depending upon their conditioning and the nature of the activity undertaken.

So a 10 pound UL base limit maybe spot on for some individuals in some environments. It’s also equally true that it can be somewhat higher or lower for others.

In the early days of UL, attempts to conquer the 10 pound barrier required delving deep into the Black Arts. Learning all about tarps, appropriate campsites, etc. With advances in materials and designs, this is no longer true. We’re rapidly reaching the stage of Recreational Ultralight. This is ultralight for people who simply want to have more fun in their back-country trips and have no desire for acquiring a PHD in backpacking.

It is quite easy these days to develop a 12 pound kit that does everything your traditional backpacking 20 kit did just a few years ago. So for the vast majority of backpackers, a 12 pound UL kit would be a great target. For the die hard UL’er, an 8 or 9 pound kit would cover 90 percent of their needs.

In any case we still have to remember that it’s not the weight but the result that we are ultimately after.

Ron

Kevin Schneringer
(Slammer) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma Flat Lands
Wisdom on 01/09/2014 14:19:50 MST Print View

Reading the comments by Nick and Ron I am reminded of a simple Verse about wisdom.
Proverbs 3:13 says:
Happy is the man that findeth wisdom,and the man that getteth understanding.

Seems like these two guys, and I am sure others have Wisdom and understanding. its not really all about the weight.

Just my $.02

if your offended by the verse.....just ignore it.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: the real questions on 01/09/2014 15:02:14 MST Print View

"Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds nought and six, result misery."
Mr Micawber, David Copperfield.

Pack weight 5 lb 0.5 oz: result misery. Pack weight 4 lb 15.5 oz: result happiness.

Cheers

Stuart R
(Scunnered) - F

Locale: Scotland
Recreational Ultralight on 01/09/2014 15:20:14 MST Print View

Now there's a term I like: I immediately understand what it means. Note that Ron defines it without any reference to weights at all. It's all about taking only the gear YOU need/want to enjoy your personal hike wherever that may be.

My base weight always exceeds any common definiton of UL. Is that, as some previous posts have suggested, because I lack the skills to go sub 10lbs?
I know from experience how quickly the weather can turn in the places that I hike and how exposed you can be when well above the tree line. I would consider my preparations to have failed if I was forced to bail from a trip due to inappropriate gear.
I always enjoy my hikes. Nuff said.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: the real questions on 01/09/2014 15:28:43 MST Print View

My interest in numbers has faded with time.

I suspect it's like anything, at least for me; you get into a new hobby and want to eat everything up, learn all you can.
But with time and experience, you start learning and appreciating what's important.
I used to obsessively weight my gear. No more. I know what I need to know now, what's important to me and what's not.
I can look at my gear and pack and know if it's an appropriate gearlist and general weight (or not) for whatever my goals happen to be, no spreadsheet or scales needed.

Backpacking is also something that not everyone seems to get to do as much as they'd like. It seems the spreadsheets and obsession with quantifying everything can become a surrogate for being out and doing; a way to stay connected to something you love when you can't actually be doing it. I get it- I don't say this in some judgmental way. This too has grown pretty old for me.

This entire site was founded on the premise of shedding packweight and going with less. Does anyone remember the stupid "He who dies with the lightest pack wins" BPL bumper sticker? That says it all about the origins of this community/site. "The one who dies after having a lifetime of cool experiences wins" is the bumper sticker I would rather see.

It only makes sense that a community like this would get wrapped up in weight definitions, a race to the lightest pack, and the ensuing bragging rights. Countless trip reports and threads that only talk about the gear carried and what it weighed as opposed to the experience. Thousands of pages of "critique my gearlist" threads contrasted with a disproportionately low amount of trip reports and discussion. Something obviously went wrong somewhere.

I think a lot of people around here have been waking up, hence the lack of desire for some consensus on titles and definitions by which we can compare everyone and what they carry.

Edited by xnomanx on 01/09/2014 15:31:38 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: the real questions on 01/09/2014 16:25:31 MST Print View

"Thousands of pages of "critique my gearlist" threads contrasted with a disproportionately low amount of trip reports and discussion. Something obviously went wrong somewhere."

Writing a decent trip report requires a lot of time and energy. If the effort generates little to no discussion, there will be fewer and fewer trip reports written. A classic feedback loop. And, yes, something obviously went wrong somewhere, because if the trips are not the whole point, what the hell are we doing here?

"I think a lot of people around here have been waking up, hence the lack of desire for some consensus on titles and definitions by which we can compare everyone and what they carry."

The community zeitgeist evolution from enlitenment to enlightenment unfolds, albeit at a most leisurely pace.

A most thoughtful post, Craig.

just Justin Whitson
(ArcturusBear)
Re: Re: the real questions on 01/09/2014 16:27:39 MST Print View

Speaking for self, somewhat in response to Craig's post:

My personal experiences out in the wilderness/nature border on the sacred and the undefinable--hard to put into words. Communicating about it is hard to do, and does not seem to suffice. Besides, on the surface, lots of my trips aren't as interesting or as exciting as a lot of the trip posts that people here put up. I'm also not into photography for various reasons and while i take my phone and can take pics, i really don't see the point (i have long had weird feelings in relation to photography and that's a long, boring story of other lives)

Talking about gear, while still essentially subjective, is easier to do because though subjective, there is a more objective aspect to it.

Anyways, the above more or less sums up why i don't post trip reports but do tend to focus more on talking about gear. It's easier to communicate with others regarding gear, than those personal experiences which are hard to put into words to begin with. Plus, i've not ever had an easy time relating to most people on a more personal level and vice versa--there's always been a lot of differences in perceptions, perspective, and types of experiences and sensing.

Though i do think and talk a lot about gear here, i never forget the more important reasons and motivations, which is why i quickly lost interest in exact definitions, labeling, obsessively weighing, etc.

So while i agree with much of Craig's post and the general spirit of same, i walk a different path for various reasons (or the same path, but walk it differently).

Edited by ArcturusBear on 01/09/2014 16:29:56 MST.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: the real questions on 01/09/2014 16:41:34 MST Print View

Do we really need to document our trips? Maybe special ones. And Tom is right, writing a trip report on the Forum here is more than painful. For this reason, I post most on my blog these days.

The main audience for my blog is my kids. Many trips reports are, "hey I was in some god-forsaken place, found a great place to hike and here are a few pictures."

It is enough. I am not Tom Clancy, and the kids don't need a dictionary to understand it.

I don't hike to entertain others anyway. I hike for my own self-indulgent pleasure. It is almost as good as sex, and I surely don't post about what my wife and I do in bed, or other opportune places ;)

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: Re: the real questions on 01/09/2014 17:02:43 MST Print View

I don't think every trip/hike I take is worthy of a report. If I hike 15 miles on a trail below the tree line, I enjoyed it but who cares?

Still I enjoy reading the trip reports that BPL publishes as articles and on the "Post Trip" forum here at BPL. I get to spend much of my professional time researching cases about sex offenders, ugly domestic violence cases, etc so I find the trip reports to be welcome brain candy. Keep ‘em coming folks.

I often equate a lack of responses following a trip report (written by whoever) as a general lack of interest but for most of them, there's not too much to discuss afterwards other than "Yo dude that was dope!" or other words of encouragement. Compared to the 15 million comparisons which can be made between Sawyer Sr. and Jr. or what bear canister in what ULA pack on the gear forum, I guess it seems to imply where the priorities are. I realize it isn't hip to talk about gear or to do gear reviews anymore but as I've mentioned in other threads, I think it's part of human nature to be fascinated by shiny objects. I'm certainly guilty of it from time to time and feel no need to apologize for it.

To keep the pizza zen flowing... BPL is a gear centric site despite what any of us might want it to be. It wouldn't be fair for me to complain to the cashier at McDonalds that they don't have pizza on the menu.

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: the real questions on 01/09/2014 18:32:51 MST Print View

"Pack weight 5 lb 0.5 oz: result misery. Pack weight 4 lb 15.5 oz: result happiness."

I know how Roger does it. He just doesn't bring a shirt.

Edited by awsorensen on 01/09/2014 18:33:36 MST.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: the real questions on 01/09/2014 18:44:26 MST Print View

My trips are important to me, but frankly they are crap compared to the trips of people who do post reports. Part of that statement comes from my unhealthy level of self-deprecation, and part is just plain truth. I don't go spectacular places, nor do particularly spectacular things.

I write in my own journal about what I do, and it's more personal reflection than anything suitable for an audience.

I try to comment on every report I read, and make a point of reading ones that aren't about the Sierras. Anyone posting their trips gets my respect for putting themselves out there. I would love to see more trip reports. But I suspect a lot of people are like me, and just don't feel their weekend trip in the local state forest measures up.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: the real questions on 01/09/2014 19:40:06 MST Print View

"My trips are important to me, but frankly they are crap compared to the trips of people who do post reports."

I'd respectfully disagree. Trip report porn is almost as bad as gear porn. It's not a competition. Your trips, if they're meaningful to you, aren't crap compared to anyone else's.

Besides, while gorgeous scenery helps, it's not what makes a trip fantastic, at least not to me. The things that have made trips meaningful and memorable to me are stripping off my shoes and socks to cross a frigid creek with both Ike and I grinning like fools, or sharing a sacred spot high in the Sierra with Tom, or shaking my head slowly with a slight grin at yet another Evan pun, or sharing laughter around a campfire with groups both large and small, with friends both old and new. For me it's the shared human experience, and the trip reports I've enjoyed the most describe such things as much the scenery - Craig and Ike talking about the glee and wonder in the faces of their children, Luke talking about shared challenges with his brother, Tom talking about his yearly trips with his brother in law, Eugene taking about a small group huddled (with much jocularity) under a Trailstar in a heavy rain, that kind of thing. In fact I remember these parts of trip reports much more than I remember whatever they had to say about the terrain or scenery.

FWIW and all that, I guess.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Great Lakes Bay Region
Nice one Craig on 01/09/2014 20:01:54 MST Print View

:-)

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: Re: Re: the real questions on 01/09/2014 20:06:09 MST Print View

The greatest conversation within BPL always resonates somewhere in the middle.

My take on the matter- gear is a means to an end, it's an important piece to the individual experiences we create, and we wouldn't be here sharing our experience(s) if not for the gear to begin with.

I'm encouraged to see the redirection this conversation has taken.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: the real questions on 01/09/2014 20:13:16 MST Print View

"FWIW and all that, I guess."

That pretty well sums it up, Doug. Very well articulated and on the mark, IMO.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: Re: the real questions on 01/09/2014 20:24:20 MST Print View

One more thought to add concerning consensus SUL/UL/LW...

I have to second the sentiments put out there that these categories are absolutely meaningless without context.

I can, and have, done "SUL" trips without even thinking about it. Good weather in Southern California makes it a no-brainer and no big deal. Heck, I could go backpack in the summer in my local mountains with a one pound pack...But an "SUL" solo thru on the Sierra High Route in late October would be an entirely different proposition and would certainly raise a few eyebrows...as well as some potential safety issues.

Context.

Edward Jursek
(nedjursek@gmail.com) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
consensus on 01/09/2014 22:25:28 MST Print View

I want a cabal of self proclaimed XUL, SUL and UL "elites" to impose arbitrary definitions and standards (oh God, in metric please!) and demand we follow them. We can then mock them, insult them, rail against them. Think of all the posts dripping with sarcasm and outrage! Engage in open rebellion, write philosophical UL manifestos that rip apart their meaningless standards. Seriously. I love that kind of stuff.

Edited by nedjursek@gmail.com on 01/09/2014 22:27:48 MST.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
Not much has changed in 15 yrs :) on 01/10/2014 09:44:06 MST Print View

http://softwareunderstanding.com/backpacking/weights.htm

"Ultralight vs. Lightweight Backpacking

by Ryan Jordan

October 6, 1999

To attempt to distinguish (in quantitative terms at least) "ultralight," "lightweight", and "normal" backpacking is to *****invite peaceful controversy at minimum and incite noticeable global conflict at worst**** (EMPHASIS MINE -pm].

However, this attempt serves some useful purposes: quantitative definitions allow us to identify appropriate classes of gear (e.g., "ultralight" or "lightweight", they provide a benchmark for comparing our own packweights, and offer some general guidelines as a starting point for readers new to ultralight and lightweight concepts."

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
Re: Mitch, John, Nick on 01/10/2014 11:04:25 MST Print View

Mitch - I am sorry if you feel that I am being argumentative. My intentions are not to upset anyone. I will admit I was a bit frustrated by your replies, but tried my best to give a productive rebuttal. Please try and put yourself in my shoes. Imagine if you spent time and energy on a small project on your blog and with long replies on a thread here, only to have people admit to skimming and then mischaracterize your points.

As for my blog poll reflecting more information, I didn't have enough space on the poll to write very much, which is why it is right to the point. Which is why I wanted a text to accompany the poll, and in my defense I hedged forming a consensus on my blog post with things like:

"I can't stress enough how much I value questioning, re-evaluating, and re-defining ideas"

"here is how I personally define the wonderful world of arbitrary UL weight definitions"

"It's not a magic number, of course, but what I and others have observed is a good approximation of when things significantly improve"

"Obviously people can and will reject whatever set wins, or any other definition they don't agree with or like."

"Granted, this is not 100% scientific or anything, but it's a good approximation of the community's opinion on the matter if enough people vote"

I had assumed that people reading the text would see the above quotes as sign-posts against me suggesting any absolute, single set of numbers to define all of UL/SUL. And here in this thread, I have been abundantly clear about definitions being arbitrary, and not meaning to set anything in stone or an absolute.


John - Thanks for elaborating on the 12lbs UL definition of yours. I was just curious. I encourage you to add this clarification to your post.

The SXUL "joke" I still find confusing. You didn't address my questions about your sub 2lb BPW. You seemed pretty serious about it when you discussed it, unless I am missing something. And when you write about SXUL it really doesn't come off as a joke:

"SXUL – Super Extreme Ultra Light = Anybody with a BPW of under 2 pounds (0.907 kg). This, the most extreme of the extreme, is more about the ultimate test of your hiking and survival skills. While I do not endorse or encourage hiking for the sake of survivalism, you can learn a great deal about yourself and your skills by going on a sub-24, or maybe even a three day hike, with a sub 2 pound setup. It would be, I tend to think, rather difficult to go beyond three days of hiking with a sub 2 pound backpack, unless you are highly skilled in seeking and acquiring natural food and water sources, in all but the best of weather conditions."

You'd think if it was a joke you would have mentioned, alluded to, or linked to Gilmore's post--but you didn't. Honestly, this just comes off like you trying to distance yourself from a very extreme variation of backpacking that people might take issue with.

I don't really understand what you mean with your claim that my post is somehow objectively skewed. I gave 4 options that I felt were the best and most relevant choices for people familiar with UL backpacking. Please don't take offense here, but your counter point for all this I fail to see it as coherent:

"Because as it is, you just have people voting for the "metric" option and not even seriously considering the other options, just on that issue alone. That is called a skewed polling."

I don't have people voting, they vote for themselves. They are welcome to seriously consider the other options however they want. How does this equate to skewed polling? Seriously, I don't understand what you mean here.

As for your point about 200 triple crowners in a room... I don't know what they would say, and neither do you. We'd have to find 200 of them and ask them about this issue and let them express themselves. As for everyone else, I am not saying it is possible to get everyone to contribute to a consensus, but this does not mean we can't try and get something that is close enough.

I know we all have different goals and aspirations when we backpack and pound the miles. Just like everyone has different feelings and experiences when they eat pizza. I will repeat my firm belief that there is no inherent meaning in anything, language included. We as individuals give meaning to things, symbols, and words. But we have to agree on certain things otherwise communication is hindered or not possible. What I think you and everyone else needs to keep in mind is something I have said already several times about being able to answer basic questions about UL backpacking.

I founded and ran an outdoor/backpacking club while I was a grad student a few years ago. It was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun, and I introduced a lot of people new to the outdoors to backpacking in general. Many times people would ask simple questions like, "What is ultralight backpacking?" when I would say that it was my preferred style of backpacking. This would usually be followed up with questions about who came up with the weights and terms and such--remember, most of the people in my club were inquisitive people, being college students both undergrad and graduate level.

It was this experience that inspired me to try and re-configure the definitions and weights to metric, and the past year seeing a lack of any general explanation/definition on multiple UL forums compounded my interest in trying to solve this admittedly arbitrary, but I feel is a somewhat important issue and useful thing to have for our community and those wishing to join our community. As I expressed earlier, I think this is a pretty tricky community and sub-type of backpacking to get into that requires a lot of initiative from people. That alone I think ought to be addressed, and I think this is a simple way to do so--simple in theory at least, but as this thread has demonstrated, no simple at all in practice.

Which is fine. It's just words, man. :)


Nick - Just wanted to thank you for your continued contributions and for the very kind words you had for me. Know that I think your blog is cool and well executed, and you're one of my favorite personalities around here--even if we don't agree on certain things (but who agrees with everything?). You are asking valuable questions and I too give a big +1 to them, but I also think they can coexist along side a generally agreed upon definition.

Phew! That's all the time I have for now as far as replies go. I'm only half way through the 5th page too, so I need a breather before I get to any more replies. I am not going to be able to address everyone, obviously, but will try and get around to posts directed at me or things I think stand out.

Until next time, the current numbers in the poll are:

23 for Wiki
7 for Abela
10 for Metric
6 for me

I still think if we get to 100 votes it would be worth noting on wikipeida, and regardless of what happens I think that someone ought to update the UL entry there with some of the gems found in this thread. Now if we can only agree on what the gems are...

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Mitch, John, Nick on 01/10/2014 11:29:08 MST Print View

"You are asking valuable questions and I too give a big +1 to them, but I also think they can coexist along side a generally agreed upon definition."

There is nothing wrong with definitions, pe se. But what happens is that many people make a definition their goal, or try to define themselves or others by the definition. And we then lose focus on the journey; the hiking.

Instead of managing our inventory of gear, I would like to see more people manage their inventory of recreational days and talk about that. I enjoy reading blogs of folks who are out in the wilderness a lot, even if they have full time jobs and other commitments. These are the people who truly cherish the outdoors and place a high value on spending as much time as possible do it.

Gabriel Frochtzwajg
(fleetfox) - M
Weight Class Scheme on 01/10/2014 13:31:16 MST Print View

Cesar,

I think your suggested classification scheme is not great. Right now, people discuss pack weight in two ways. 1) Specific - the exact BPW and what's in it. 2) General - Light, Ultralight, SUL, etc. The general terms are only useful in relation to one another, as others have suggested, because they signify level of experience. It doesn't matter that UL is 10 or 12 pounds. It matters that UL is heavier than SUL. They work very well as a "rule of thumb" because they are quick and give a vague impression. Your scheme includes a formula which is not quick and also easy to forget. It focuses on numbers rather than differentiating experience level, so it loses the usefulness of the currently accepted UL, SUL, XUL system. If your system is not useful, nobody will use it.

Also, I agree that your poll is somewhat skewed. By including the metric system as a separate option, you've brought the metric vs. imperial debate into your poll. If your suggested values are good, I should be able to express them in stones, kilograms, pounds, whatever. I believe the core goal of your poll is to set values, not determine which measurement system is best.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
And the beat goes on on 01/10/2014 16:29:34 MST Print View

Partially because of this and similar threads, my .05 worth
http://www.pmags.com/backpacking-weight-mania

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Great Lakes Bay Region
Re: And the beat goes on on 01/10/2014 16:46:12 MST Print View

Nice article Mags :-)

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
"A Modest Proposal" BASE WEIGHT POLICE on 01/14/2014 22:06:34 MST Print View

Perhaps we can contribute to form an organization known as "Base Weight Police".

They could team up with the NSA (No Such Agency) to watch our online gear lists, backpacking phone conversations and private in-person conversations and snail mail and then raid our homes to remove all non-UL gear we've listed, talked about or photographed and posted. I'm sure monitoring algorithms already exist. All they need is a backpacking vocabulary for the "watchwords".

This would certainly make one think twice before buying a silly lightweight frame pack or a regular length Thermarest Prolite. And Stock in companies making Cuben fiber would skyrocket, as would membership in Weight Watchers as nobody with more than 5% body fat would be permitted on trails.

Base Weight Police could also roam hiking trails to strictly enforce UL weight standards. That would surely take any boredom out of uninteresting stretches of trail. And we could make use of the emmerging aerial drone technology to exponentially increase enforcement capabilities. Drones could see things like external frame and military packs, all-leather shoes, Coleman Peak 1 stoves, etc.

Naturally after the Beta police force was deployed we could continue to finance training and deployment with a 25% tax on all backpacking gear. This is a no-brainer. Just ask 90% of the politicians.

I know of no other way to force backpackers to "see the light" (so to speak) than a "Base Weight Police Force". "Who would determine the correct seasonal base weights?" you ask. Well we just have to trust the BWPF to set them. After all they have our best interests at heart, just like the NSA.

Sorry, got to go and renew my ACLU membership.

Edited by Danepacker on 01/14/2014 22:12:44 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: "A Modest Proposal" BASE WEIGHT POLICE on 01/14/2014 22:27:51 MST Print View

> And we could make use of the emmerging aerial drone technology to exponentially
> increase enforcement capabilities. Drones could see things like external frame
> and military packs, all-leather shoes, Coleman Peak 1 stoves, etc.

Sounds like a boost to sales of 'Drone Loads'?

Cheers

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
Re: Ian, Andrew, Roger, trip reports, Craig, Paul, "Gabriel," Eric on 01/15/2014 13:17:24 MST Print View

Ian - "I get the impression that you’re trying to set an industry standard and not much else. I’d love to hear more about what we'll gain especially if you could give specific examples. Again, not attacking... just want to understand where you're coming from."

No, I am not trying to set an industry standard, whatever that means. I have already mentioned what benefits there are. See the post where I replied to spelt! when she directly asked me essentially the same thing as you are asking here. I was also pretty specific in my last reply to Mitch, so that's another post to check out. Given the length of my posts I am trying to cut down and not repeat myself. I hope that will give you a better understanding.

Put it to you another way. It occurred to me that in another post Nick said "I do XUL, SUL, UL, and LW. None of them define me." And I agree with him. But notice that he is able to use those shorthand terms without issue? We all generally understand/understood him when he used those terms. It's not like we'd be able to glean anything from someone saying, "I do GBQ, ARR, XXW, and RB!H. None of them define me." That's incoherent. The other terms have meaning, and we get it. Yet there are some differences in the way people define them. I prefer metric, for instance. Others--like the person in the video I linked earlier--prefer to bring guns and other survival stuff along and consider this a variant of UL. There is confusion out there, and I think I have already demonstrated that.

Anyhow, sorry I missed your post directed at me. And thanks for your polite tone :)

Andrew - "Can't we just come up with a hard and fast rule that lets me know if I am enjoying my hike properly or if I need to spend more time with my spreadsheets and credit card?"

Just for the record (as there has already been a lot of confusion and glossing over of my points and intentions), I am not trying to come up with a hard and fast rule. Nor do I think people should spend more time on spreadsheets and consumerism rather than get out and hike. I agree that Nick's questions are nuanced, and this is good. But as I said to him before, we can have our cake and eat it too here: both ask these kinds of questions and have a general definition.

Roger - "Pack weight 5 lb 0.5 oz: result misery. Pack weight 4 lb 15.5 oz: result happiness."

I had missed this before. Yeah, no one is saying that, myself included. It's a pretty unfair characterization of the discussion. Just sayin'. But I know, I know--you're just using that Oz humor of yours, right?

Trip reports - I enjoy reading certain kinds of them.

Regarding this discussion, I am the one suggesting that we try and come up and then use a general consensus, yet I put up a fair amount of trip reports. More trip reports than gear lists. Then again, I also don't see being excited about gear and gear lists as a necessarily bad thing. I like playing with my gear sometimes, seeing if I can improve the different combinations, how it is packed, get upgrades, etc. I see a lot of us drool over gear on here. So what? Gear is cool. There are those that collect it, there are those that use it, and there are those that do both.

Craig - +1 on your point about context. I attempted to give a general context earlier, but it's not really been addressed as much. I even asked a few people if they thought it was accurate if memory serves me correctly, but no replies.

So I'll ask you: Do you think that the majority of trips on BPL (i.e. trip reports, gear lists/trip planning intentions, etc.) are for 3 season use in common geographic areas and on marked trails?

If so, I think that's a pretty handy context to have when talking about UL in general. If not, what do you think is the most common context of UL backpacking and why?

Paul - Thanks for taking the time to dig up quotes and such from books. And also for writing a whole big blog post on this issue. I have not had time yet (look at all my huge posts, damn it!) to read the whole thing, but I will eventually and try and get back to you. I appreciate your tone and contributions throughout this thread, sorry I have not gotten back to you until now.

Gabriel - "It matters that UL is heavier than SUL."

Okay. So it's cool if someone says that their UL load is 50lbs and that their interpretation of SUL is thus 25lbs?

"Your scheme includes a formula which is not quick and also easy to forget."

How is it not quick and why is it easy to forget? You're just giving bare assertions here without any explanations. I think my set is quick and easy to remember, especially considering it's metric, and it's only adding one new term (VUL). Plus it's divided into two categories based on the addition of CW, which makes it even easier to remember. I even note this on my blog, as if you are not concerned with CW, then all you have to remember is UL and SUL. If you are, then VUL and XUL might be for you. See? Easy.

"It focuses on numbers rather than differentiating experience level, so it loses the usefulness of the currently accepted UL, SUL, XUL system."

All of the sets focus on numbers, and how exactly do any of them differentiate experience level? And when you say "currently accepted" I assume you are appealing to the wikipedia entry. My poll and this thread proves that this is not really the case--other people prefer metric, for instance.

"By including the metric system as a separate option, you've brought the metric vs. imperial debate into your poll."

So what?

" If your suggested values are good, I should be able to express them in stones, kilograms, pounds, whatever."

You can express them in stones, kg, lbs, or whatever if you so desire. Go right ahead. What would stop you or anyone? I don't get your point here.

" I believe the core goal of your poll is to set values, not determine which measurement system is best."

I have tried my best to explain what my goals are in trying to reach a general consensus, and you are welcome to quote me to show how you have come to such a conclusion. I disagree with your assessment here. My intentions where to promote discourse and get a significant number of UL backpackers to (no pun intended) weigh in on the definitions and terms that define their hobby. There is already a set that most people think of when they think of UL weights, but clearly there other sets that people would prefer or do prefer over those. Your post is appreciated, but it's pretty vague. Perhaps you could be more specific should you choose to reply?

Also, I could not help but notice that that was your first post on BPL and you have not yet noted your location or set up your PMs. This is curious to me. You seem to have an informed opinion on the topic at hand, and felt the need to contribute to the discussion. But your first post? This strikes me as odd is all, if not a bit interesting. Care to elaborate on why it was this thread in particular that compelled you to post for the first time? And how long have you been a member for? Just curious.

Eric - Ah. How amusing. But seriously, I get that you're being funny and all, but no one (myself included) is suggesting absolute rules/definitions here. Take whatever you want with you. I really don't care. Cast iron pot and all. :)


Okay... all I have time for now. After the poll is closed I intend on writing a follow up post on my blog on my reflections on all this. Pretty sure at this point--and this was not beyond my expectations--that the poll won't get at least 100 votes and that trying to establish a general consensus of definitions, terms, and context for them ain't gonna happen. Which is fine. I thought it was worth a shot, and if anything, promote discourse--which I think has been accomplished to at least a small degree.

Gabriel Frochtzwajg
(fleetfox) - M
Re: I say let's decide... on 01/15/2014 14:52:24 MST Print View

"Okay. So it's cool if someone says that their UL load is 50lbs and that their interpretation of SUL is thus 25lbs?"

If someone told me they went from UL to SUL, it would indicate to me that they believe they bumped up in backpacking experience, which is what the "UL/SUL comparison" is good for. Once they mention 25 lbs, I'll have a much better idea where they are in relation to myself.

"How is it not quick and why is it easy to forget?"

I only said your system is complicated because it's not as simple as the normal one. Some of your weight divisions include a weight in addition to BPW and some don't. The normal system is just a straight BPW scale. Easy to remember the gist, even if I forget the numbers for a moment.

"You can express them in stones, kg, lbs, or whatever if you so desire. Go right ahead. What would stop you or anyone? I don't get your point here."

My point is that you don't need separate poll options for metric and imperial. If I'm talking to someone who prefers metric, I'll tell them the weights in metric. If someone prefers imperial, I'll tell them the guidelines in imperial. To me, your metric and imperial poll entries are the same. I'm not concerned with a slight 1/2 pound imprecision when talking about guidelines like these.

Also this is my first post because I've been a lurker here til now. Long time backpacker though. The idea of weight definitons interested me and the discussion had helped me realize that I don't really care about specific weight numbers. A rough rule of thumb is fine.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Ian, Andrew, Roger, trip reports, Craig, Paul, "Gabriel," Eric on 01/15/2014 17:31:56 MST Print View

Hi Cesar

I think we have some cultural gaps here.

> Nick said "I do XUL, SUL, UL, and LW. None of them define me." And I agree with him.
> But notice that he is able to use those shorthand terms without issue?

I suspect what Nick was really saying was that his pack can have any weight he wants within a very broad range. I don't think he intended that anyone think he was using all those terms with any precision at all.

And yes, Oz humour before.

Cheers

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: Ian, Andrew, Roger, trip reports, Craig, Paul, "Gabriel," Eric on 01/15/2014 18:40:07 MST Print View

Cesar,

Your response to Spelt!:

"To be able to give an approximate yet fairly accurate answer to the question, "what is UL backpacking?", for one. Next, for the international community of UL backpackers to have a base set of accepted categories to make discussions more pragmatic and easier."

In my mind, this is an attempt to create an industry standard and there's nothing wrong with that.

To your OP,

To me, if I hear lightweight, I believe that it's a base weight under 20lbs, UL under 10lbs, and SUL under 5lbs. I'm a big guy who has to buy long sleeping bags, XXL jackets, etc and I like to hike in the Cascades so it's not difficult for me to have a base weight slightly below 12lbs. I don't feel the need to wail or gnash teeth because I didn't meet the UL threshold and don't see any reason to make a new subcategory of Chunky Dude UL / Mountain UL or anything like that. What's important to me is that I have a comfortable pack and gear that I trust while not going crazy with the what-ifs which add 30lbs to a pack.

I think three categories are sufficient but possibly make 15lbs the threshold for lightweight maybe. I voted on your poll days ago and look forward to reading the results.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Ian, Andrew, Roger, trip reports, Craig, Paul, "Gabriel," Eric on 01/15/2014 19:09:30 MST Print View

"I suspect what Nick was really saying was that his pack can have any weight he wants within a very broad range. I don't think he intended that anyone think he was using all those terms with any precision at all."

Correct. No matter whose definition you use, I cover the spectrum depending upon the trip.

If I need precision, I am usually measuring something with a micrometer or dial indicator; in inches of course.

For several decades my base weight was under 20 lbs. Of course I was only interested in the FSO weight. I didn't know I was a "LW" backpacker until I joined BPL in 2008. Before that I was just an ordinary backpacker. For many years I was an auto mechanic. Then someone be-knighted us technicians.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Let's get rid of the terms and definitions instead on 01/17/2014 05:36:45 MST Print View

Ryan Jordan's "claim to fame" maybe that he coined the name, SUL. Maybe he did, and maybe he didn't. But RJ is often synonymous with SUL.

Ryan, like many of, has grown and increased his knowledge over the years. It has been over 10 years since SUL became a common term here on BPL.

I suggest everyone go back and read these two articles. If they require a paid membership to read, then they are worth the price of admission to BPL.

In these articles Ryan discusses the SUL mindset and states that a defined base weight is irrelevant, and if one defines SUL only as sub 5 lb base weight, you have completely missed the point -- in fact, he provides a SUL gear list that (gasp!) weighs over 8 lbs.

Ryan also says he rarely calculates his base weight any more, and suggests a 38 oz pack is a SUL pack! He further says he now usually just weighs his fully loaded pack, to include consumables.

It is time for all of us to mature and grow up, by walking away from these silos of classifications and weights.

Here are the links. Sorry I didn't make the links clickable, but I am in an airport in the northeast and need to board a plane in a few minutes.

So let's start over and just call everything lightweight backpacking.

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/sul-mindset-jordan.html#.UtkcYX-9KSM

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/sul_mindset_part_2.html#.UtkdKH-9KSN

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Let's get rid of the terms and definitions instead on 01/17/2014 08:53:34 MST Print View

Parameters should all be based on percentages of your bodyweight. It is then easy to compare across parameters that vary greatly, namely your own bodyweight. Something like:

-traditional backpacking is a base weight of 15% and under.
-lightweight backpacking is a base weight of 10% and under.
-ultralight backpacking is a base weight of 5% and under.
-SUL is a base weight of 2.5% and under.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Re: Let's get rid of the terms and definitions instead on 01/17/2014 09:10:49 MST Print View

Dave - your suggestion makes no sense at all.
it penalizes the healthy athletic types and rewards those who, well, are not.

a better set of definitions would be to combine body weight and pack weight for each category. I realize those who are naturally large would be penalized, but the reality is what it is, they'll simply never be SUL.

Edited by asandh on 01/17/2014 09:12:00 MST.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Let's get rid of the terms and definitions instead on 01/17/2014 09:33:06 MST Print View

"Dave - your suggestion makes no sense at all.
it penalizes the healthy athletic types and rewards those who, well, are not."



That is a strange response, Art.

How does it penalize those in shape? You have this backward. If you are athletic and in shape (and strong - not the undernourished marathon type of 'health'), you should be able to carry MORE. If anything, it penalizes those who are NOT in shape. Perhaps it would encourage them to strength train as we all know running sucks.

Get in shape and packweight matters less.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: Let's get rid of the terms and definitions instead on 01/17/2014 09:39:42 MST Print View

basing things on percent of body weight allows those with extra fat on their bones to have a higher weight in each category.

so say if someone who weighs 145 is having trouble hitting the SUL goal, he simply gains 20-30 lbs and voila ... higher SUL lb limit ...

in reality we're both being unrealistic. just do what we can and put the dang pack on our backs and head out the door.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Let's get rid of the terms and definitions instead on 01/17/2014 09:43:44 MST Print View

Okay - I see what you are saying. But then that would go back to the 'in shape' comment. Adding 30lbs of fat is going to wreak havock on the ability to hike with the higher baseweight.

Ah well, who knows. Suggestions, suggestions.

I only know this, and I suspect we can agree: being in reasonable shape helps to trump whatever load you are carrying.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Let's get rid of the terms and definitions instead on 01/17/2014 10:39:13 MST Print View

For the record...

When my fat @$$ is putting in 20 miles days on the trail carrying a 20lb pack, the last thing on my mind is "Oh dear... the BPL peanut gallery won't ever approve of my extra tonnage... goodness gracious."

But this thread has inspired me to create a new classification of hikers. Due to the high level of sophistication of some of you members, and your greatly appreciated unsolicited opinions about crap that is 100% none of your business, I propose the following:

Debonair Backpackers Against Gigantic Ultra Lighters or D-BAG UL for short.

(drops microphone and walks off stage)

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Let's get rid of the terms and definitions instead on 01/17/2014 10:45:08 MST Print View

"Oh dear... the BPL peanut gallery won't ever approve of my extra tonnage... goodness gracious."

It should be. May I direct you to the Drone thread? We are watching you.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Let's get rid of the terms and definitions instead on 01/17/2014 10:53:11 MST Print View

"It should be. May I direct you to the Drone thread? We are watching you."

That was you!?! :)

Larry Swearingen
(Larry_Swearingen) - M

Locale: NE Indiana
?????? on 01/17/2014 11:41:33 MST Print View

What kind of Moron would put on 20 lbs just so they could fit into
an arbritary SUL/UL Category ?

Larry

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: ?????? on 01/17/2014 12:03:37 MST Print View

"What kind of Moron would put on 20 lbs just so they could fit into
an arbritary SUL/UL Category ?"

What kind of moron would spend an extra $200+ to save 5oz?

What kind of moron is willing to potentially suffer through giardia and tapeworms because they don't have five minutes to filter water?

What kind of moron would take time out of their day to drill holes in their toothbrush handle?

Welcome to the lunatic fringe Larry.

(FWIW this moron has done all those things)

EDIT TO ADD: (although the extra tonnage was through an effort to live up to certain professional stereotypes)

Edited by IDBLOOM on 01/17/2014 12:05:31 MST.

Brian Crain
(brcrain)

Locale: So Cal
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Let's get rid of the terms and definitions instead on 01/17/2014 12:08:50 MST Print View

"Debonair Backpackers Against Gigantic Ultra Lighters or D-BAG UL for short.

(drops microphone and walks off stage)"


LOL!