Forum Index » General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion » I say let's decide on a general consensus of Ultralight definitions and terms.


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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) - F

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!