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

"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.

"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

"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.)


Edward Jursek

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 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

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.

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.