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":
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?