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Ul & Mainstream
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Douglas McCoy
(dmccoy) - F

Locale: Spokane Wa
Ul & Mainstream on 08/05/2007 19:54:52 MDT Print View

Moderators if you have any guts you will not edit, delete, or change this post

While out on a recent PCT section hike in Oregon, I was discussing with a friend the advantage of being light on the trail and how it allows us to get out past the Tourons. Which makes for a nice hike because of the fact that we can go further into the backcountry due to our lighter loads. Plus without a lot of gear we also leave a more eco-friendly and smaller footprint. We were discussing the fact that maybe backpacking is a dying breed as well. But I had to disagree some what, because I see more and more lightweight equipment in more mass media markets.
This quite frankly makes me upset. I like being light because (yes I’ll admit) there is a certain gloat factor in it. I like it because I can get away from the people because they can not get as far. I like it because they do not know about it and this gives me a window of opportunity to do my second favorite thing, which is, teach. I feel as if this is our own little world, and that membership is required. I like keeping it clandestine and cottage. We are a minority of elitist, a pure society, one who is eager to help when asked, one who is more aware and sensitive of the over populated back country areas. But one must come to us for the information; it is not easily accessible, until now.
Imagine my disgust when I saw Dr. Ryan Jordan’s book Lightweight Backpacking & Camping: A Field Guide to Wilderness Hiking Equipment, Technique, and Style at of all places the Wal-Mart for the outdoors REI. Before I go on and start getting flamed, and having people come back and say, well you were in REI so what does that make you? What was I doing at REI? Simple, living up to there Return Every Item policy and giving back to them something that had been sitting on my shelf for 3 years due to malfunction that is related to over engineering.
Getting back to my point. How dare you, Dr. Jordan. You are not allowing this book to be sold because you want to spread the gospel, you are beginning to do just what Jansport, Gregory, and Kelty did, they started out small but then sold out the corporate machine in the name of Money!!!! You Dr. Jordan have done the same thing in this case. I feel as if you are not desirous of teaching, or helping “Joe Snuffy” on how to go light. It is the thought of the potential selling power that comes to REI and their catering to the “Joe Snuffy’s” of the world. Not only will people buy your book (which I bought through BPL more than a year ago) but because of all the “gear plugs” in it they will then go to the BPL site and buy more of your products. A very crafty marketing scheme I must say so myself, but and evil and typical corporate one, none the less. You yourself said “My wife, Stephanie, and I have renewed our commitment not only to simplify our lifestyle, but to renew and engage the relationships with people we love the most-including each other.” (1) You are not doing this by selling out Dr. Jordan. If there is one thing I have learned from people who have money or are seeking money it is that there is never enough. I beg of Dr. Jordan keep your business and this industry pure like it has been and needs to be. Do not loose sight of the mission, the movement, and the people. Do not sell out like the predecessors before you did. Who now are out sourced and of cheap quality, or over engineered products to mainstream companies.
What is even more disheartening is in another section of the REI store I saw a ton of light my fire gear, and the once BPL only long handle Ti spoon, which ok I can understand that, it is readily available and not to industry specific, neither is the ESBIT and ESBIT stove that was in the same row either. But next to that were about 10 Vargo Titanium alcohol stoves and a quart can size of denatured alcohol. Outrage, I say, outrage. What is next will we se ULA, SMD, GG, MoGo and others in mainstream out-door stores?
Imagine with me people that the nest time you head out and go to you favorite get-away place that you know, no one else can ideally get to because it is too far, or is not very well known to begin with. You get there and there is another person there, with lightweight gear, that they were able to purchase at REI or some other mainstream outdoor store. Not only did they buy the gear there, but they got the information from there as well. They did not have to go through the “rites of passage” they did not have to dig, research, explore, and find the information and knowledge themselves, they bought it!!!! And now a once under populated area is now over populated, all because Ul went. mainstream. Also when Ul goes mainstream the cottage industries begin to loose their positions on the niche market and therefore leads to them having to close shop. Which then puts them out of an income and forces them back into corporate society, and we loose quality hand crafted (in most cases) equipment.
People I beg of you lets keep our sport, our world, our society pure, let us not cater to the cooperate world, allow us to teach them via the means we always have, lets keep from becoming them majority. Let us not loose sight of our intent and allow others to purchase our knowledge in a department store for the sake of making another buck.
KEEP IT PURE !!!!!!!

(1.) Jordan, Ryan Unfullfilled drams in the Western Artic. Backpacking Light, iss7 pg.53.2007

Disclaimer:. I do not care how much heat this brings, but this has been keeping me up at night, I felt as if I had to say something, even if I am only one voice.

Joshua Mitchell
(jdmitch) - F

Locale: Kansas
What the HE-double-hockey-sticks? on 08/05/2007 20:05:17 MDT Print View

??? uh...

John S.
(jshann) - F
; P on 08/05/2007 20:05:51 MDT Print View

That musta been some tainted Acapulco Gold you smoked right before you posted, cuz you be trippin'.

Edited by jshann on 08/05/2007 21:56:36 MDT.

Douglas McCoy
(dmccoy) - F

Locale: Spokane Wa
Not getting it on 08/05/2007 20:14:28 MDT Print View

R U guys not getting it? Do you not see my point?

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Ul & Mainstream on 08/05/2007 20:21:57 MDT Print View

I have to say I respect you for posting that....I disagree with you, but respect you.
I bet there are others on this site who feel the same way as you?
First, there was a light weight movment before this site existed. We all purchased books mags and memberships to learn about going light didnt we? I dont fear crowds of people in the backcountry if the word gets out because if people wanted to get there they would have already.
Nothings "pure" in my book but then Im a happy cynic and I dont think making money is evil.
The cottage industry will do well if we decide to continue to purchase from them when the stuff from china is on the shelves.

Edited by MAYNARD76 on 08/05/2007 20:24:28 MDT.

Douglas McCoy
(dmccoy) - F

Locale: Spokane Wa
Selling on 08/05/2007 20:32:06 MDT Print View

I know there was a light weight movement before this site existed. But my point is that when it flows into the mainstream of things, it then taints it for us. And quite frankly I feel that Ryans' book was released to mass media as a marketing ploy, and not a means to educate. That is what is upsetting me, that is what is tainting.

Douglas McCoy
(dmccoy) - F

Locale: Spokane Wa
Being Ul on 08/05/2007 20:34:41 MDT Print View

Being UL seperates us from "them" but when they become us, then what are we? When they can purchase "our stuff" at a mainstream store then we are no longer seperate.

Brian UL

Locale: New England
selling on 08/05/2007 20:45:40 MDT Print View

I dont know if I buy into the idea that marketing ( making a profit) and educating are mutually exclusive. After all, all teachers get paid we all want to make a good living.
Im begining to see that mabey you feel this movment is like a religous one, like Ryan is a preacher who should spread the word to save souls and not for profit?
Yes, the mainstream can screw stuff up- it often dosnt get it right but I dont think that people who love the backcountry even in an elitist way will disapear, that spirit will live on. After all- light weight backpacking is just a technique and bunch of gear, what your talking about (I think) is something different.

Edited by MAYNARD76 on 08/05/2007 20:46:56 MDT.

Richard Nelridge
(naturephoto1) - M

Locale: Eastern Pennsylvania
Ul & Mainstream on 08/05/2007 20:56:35 MDT Print View

I do not believe that Ryan Jordan is "selling out" as you are suggesting. He has been trying to educate hikers and backpackers and change the direction of the industry for some time.

The 2 big backpacking enterprises REI and Eastern Mountain Sports both have been adding lighter equipment to their lines because there has been interest in lowering pack weights and allowing people to travel further more comfortably. Additionally there are many of the smaller chains and individual stores that are now selling lighter equipment.

Some of the larger companies in the backpacking industry including the North Face, Patagonia, Montbell, Integral Designs, OR, Cascade Designs, and Golite all have introduced products in their respective lines that are lower weight than other products that they make. Additionally, these companies sell some of their wares at some of the larger chains and individual larger backpacking stores.

The backpacking industry is a relatively small industry and lightweight, UL (and to an even smaller amount the SUL) part of the community is relatively small. It is up to the public to decide for themselves as individuals along with the guidance from the bricks and mortar stores, books, magazines, on-line communities, etc. as to how much weight and items they wish to carry and how far they wish to travel.

There will always be a cutting edge cottage community that is trying to push the envelope, trying to allow the adventurous individual to try to travel further with less and with lighter equipment.

There are people such as myself, an aging photographer, that can only get out further to take photos with my 4 X 5 and other cameras with less and lighter equipment.


Edited by naturephoto1 on 08/05/2007 21:04:29 MDT.

Douglas McCoy
(dmccoy) - F

Locale: Spokane Wa
Religion on 08/05/2007 21:09:08 MDT Print View

No I am not suggesting Ryan is a leader of a religious movement. But I like the fact that I buy gear from niche markets, make it myslef, or it is a mutually online exclusive item. I get upset when the masses are able to purchase it from a general outdoor store. I feel as if they are infringing upon my world. I am all about educating (that is what I do) but I just feel like we are special, and that "specialness" is getting over run/taken away some how when I see such items that I have mentioned in general stores. And of course all the other things I have said still remains

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Co-option on 08/05/2007 21:18:48 MDT Print View

Welcome to Post-modern society! Co-option is inevitable. The things you talk about can still exist if people decide they care about them. Main stream stores can carry made-in-china UL gear but you can still decide to purchase from the cottage industry. Look at the organtic food movement people decided to pay more and seek out genuine organtic food over what the main stream sells. The same will be for this movment. The Avant-guard makes way for every one else, its just the way it is. Others may carry UL gear but so what? Yours will be "made in a garage in Utah"

Douglas McCoy
(dmccoy) - F

Locale: Spokane Wa
small markets on 08/05/2007 22:30:09 MDT Print View

True, but wil my Utah graged based company that I buy from be able to still be in exhistance if said other UL companies get so large that now the populus is frequenting their store because they picked up a book with said gear items mentioned in it directs them to an already large "gear store" this trend will undercut the small companies. Look I get just as upset when such companies as Moosntone, Montrail, the once good name of North Face. get bought out/sell out.

Scott White
(sdwhitey) - F

Locale: Smoky Mountains
UL & Mainstream on 08/05/2007 23:04:01 MDT Print View

I believe a good idea is a good idea. That is why you and I are able to sit at home and type these little messages that can be viewed by people all over the world. The personal computer was a good idea and it caught on.
Unfortunately for you, UL is a good idea. If going UL was a wretched, miserable activity then you would not have to worry about Ryan's book selling at REI. However, if UL backpacking is a more efficient way of traveling in the backcountry than carrying a heavy pack then the idea is going to catch on. You can't keep it a secret. You can't stop progress. As more and more people want these types of products more and more companies will be willing to supply them.
I first learned of UL backpacking after I stumbled across Ryan's book at a mainstream corporate store, Borders. I am very thankful that I found it. After reading it I began to do alot more research of my own online. I am now a supporter of cottage industries and have learned to make some of my own gear.

Its sad to think that someone like you would look down on someone like me as an intruder in "your" backcountry.

I understand your point of view but I think you have some misunderstandings about basic economics. I also think it is a little selfish to think that you or "we" (as in all UL backpackers) should have exclusive rights to certain backcountry areas.

Edited by sdwhitey on 08/05/2007 23:13:53 MDT.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
Ul & Mainstream on 08/05/2007 23:32:46 MDT Print View

Uh... took me a while to craft a reply that did not sound insulting or condescending.
Doug, don't you see that REI is one of the best places to convert people to lightweight backpacking? If Dr. Ryan could also get the book in the 'camping' section of the real Wal-Mart that would be great also.
Or would you rather the book was only sold to say.. current Ultra-light-weight hikers? What's the benefit of that?

Anyway, I respect you for posting what you believe in. Since you like the elitist qualities of UL hiking I guess you will not be converting anyone else? However I, and many other members will continue our efforts.

Douglas McCoy
(dmccoy) - F

Locale: Spokane Wa
Teaching others on 08/05/2007 23:51:57 MDT Print View

On the contrary I actually teach people the ways of LW/UL and am begining to develope seminars on it. But that is the point, people ask on the trail or ask me in passing, and I show them hands on. I direct them to varius cottage stores, to include this one. But they are learning trail lore, and are being shown how to use it and the gear. They are not reading it from a book(and yes I have promoted Ryan's book but via this site), and then being able to buy gear at a mass media marketplace (I.E. a store bought outdoor experiance) they are having to learn just as we have had to learn. For me UL/SUL and its methodology has become a lifestyle and not just a gear selection of how I go bacpacking. It has transended into my life, to where I apply its treatise and style to every aspect of my life, thus cutting out alot of the crap in my life. But it is a learned methodology.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Ul & Mainstream on 08/06/2007 06:25:09 MDT Print View

Since when is exclusivity a virtue? NOT that the Thread originator claimed DrJ was creating a "religious" movement of sorts, but the attitude, if i understood one aspect of your Post correctly (which i may NOT have and if this be the case, please accept my sincere apologies), now, where was i...

...oh yes...but the attitude of exclusivity that you suggest is often found in a "Cultic" mind-set or mentality.

exclusivity and similar terms, give one a sense of power, prestige, or self-worth to posess something (whether it be knowledge, position, or possessions) that others lack.

i'd prefer a giving, caring, and sharing spirit. a story from a long time ago has the protege of a very famous leader running to him and complaining that others are exerting some influence for the good of those who were led by this great leader. the protege was concerned that his leader would lose some influence. since the others were pulling along the same lines as the leader, the leader told his protege, "Were that all of the Lord's people were prophets!". The point being, if only there were MORE than just the few that the protege observed. If only ALL were as the leader was, it would be better for ALL even though it would make the Leader's position unnecessary. Now, there was someone with good self-esteem and a humble spirit!

There are some things bigger than ourselves and some missions greater than our own part and so served by having more "prophets", so to speak.

NOLS has added L/UL instruction to their curriculum. Is this to to be vilified? Someone can now go to NOLS instead of to me for such instruction. Is this a bad thing? I, for one, don't see it as such.

I would apply the same fundamental principle to this Thread as well.

well, i'm slower than Brett in crafting good reply, so i'll keep the rest of my thoughts to myself.

of course, in the back of my mind after reading the first Post was that it was some form of Satire or comedy. Maybe it wasn't meant to be taken literally? Don't know.

Douglas McCoy
(dmccoy) - F

Locale: Spokane Wa
Point taken on 08/06/2007 07:41:37 MDT Print View

I see you (all/everyones) points, but I guss I would have rather seen Ryans book in a library than at REI. When I started my UL quest I started on my own, then library and then the internet, not some box store, They are the ones that made me heavy to begin with. And I am not just soley talking about Ryans book. To put it another way, would you rather buy a quilt from JRB or from a general outdoor store, would you rather buy a stove from Mini Bull designs, Mogo, white box or from REI, would you rather by a pack from Brian, Joe, Grant/Glen, Ron, or the same one from EMS, you get the point. When things start going main stream, then it begins to compete with the playing fields, and eventually will snuff out the little guy because he can no longer compete. I feel that the varius items I have seen at REI is the opening of Pandoras box. I am all about educating and love to talk to people on the trail about there gear (or to anybody who will listen). But I definitly (because at one time there was no product available) do not send them REI (there big enough). I send them to the various cottage industries that are out there. But if they (the people on the trail & others) are able to now go to REI and get the gear I suggest and not said cottage industry where does that leave the cottage industry? It leaves it behind, they then become a scene in a movie of an abondonded ghost town.

Edited by dmccoy on 08/06/2007 07:47:01 MDT.

Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: Ul & Mainstream on 08/06/2007 08:31:31 MDT Print View

It seems "The Man" has caught wind of our little club here and has taken an interest. I for one am glad. I engage in UL not to live a "lighter lifestyle" or because it makes me feel more elite, but because its fun for me. I can get away from all the people that take life way too seriously and just have fun ambling through the woods or seeing neat places. A lot of times I go by myself because very few people in this area go backpacking because they don't like carrying all the gear that they see as 'required.' If a few of them pick up a book at REI and see that they don't need all that 'required' stuff and consequently take up UL that's fine by me. I don't care how someone finds out about UL, whether it be through me, the internet, or a book they picked up at a store, what's important is that we are growing. I would love to have a companion on my outings or even see someone else.
I highly doubt Ryan was thinking about 'selling out' when he agreed to let REI carry his book. Just like with NOLS, he saw an opportunity to spread the 'word' of UL and took it. Sure he stands to make a little more profit from the deal than I do but I'm not going to harbor any ill feelings towards him for it.


John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Point taken on 08/06/2007 08:41:05 MDT Print View

Doug if you want to see Ryans book in a library, go buy one and donate it to the library.

Joshua Mitchell
(jdmitch) - F

Locale: Kansas
Exclusivity =/= Virtue, neither does mainstream destroy Niche on 08/06/2007 09:33:54 MDT Print View

As PJ stated above, trying to maintain exclusivity is rarely a virtue.

Besides, Doug, are you actually saying that, once lightweight gear is available in 'big-box' outdoor stores you intend on shopping there? You realize, you don't HAVE to, right? Neither does anyone else.

Free Market Society is exactly what has allowed the cottage industry to prosper in the US. You can't bite the hand that fed you. Getting mad that more of the population has more choice and decides to make a choice that you would prefer they not make (to buy at big-box rather than cottage) is somewhat hypocritial. Did you ever try to, or want to, buy the Walmart $1/sqyd Sil-Nyl for homemade products? Same thing.

I don't believe that the appearance of LW gear in 'big box' outdoor stores is going to 'squeeze' the cottage industry. Can it slow their growth? Yes. But wipe them out? No, not when there are LW/UL "Loyalists" that will continue to keep them in business.

Realize that my using the term "Loyalist" is, in my mind, a very positive one. Just like I prefer to eat at non-national-chain restaurants, I prefer to get my coffee at local establishments, I prefer to buy my gear from cottage manufacturers. I like buying from someone I know, or can get to know, or get's to know me.

Now, realize that there is a limit... if BPL is selling the same spoon I can get at my local shop and BPL is selling at twice the price. Well, maybe that's not an item they should be carrying (and the beauty of the free market is that they can choose to NOT carry it).

However, when it comes to the truly great pioneers of LW gear, I don't think ANY major corporation is going to overtake them. MLD's tarps, TD's caldera cone, BB's gorgeous woodstove, BMW's or JRB's quilts. None of the big guys are going to want to take the risk of that bleeding edge, they have to maintain a certain 'durability' if they want to sell to the larger markets. Additionally, I don't think these guys will ever be able to sell into major chains. Don't get me wrong, I would be tickled pink if they could. However, there is a HUGE cost in keeping inventory, proper forecasting, returned products, that I think they simply will choose not to take upon themselves.

Basically, I don't think it's all that big of a deal. Books are something that you can sell a lot of with very little risk cost based on the chain you sell them through. Now, if BMW started selling Cocoon gear at REI... well, at that point I would either call Dr J brilliant (because he would have solved the cottage gear logistics problem) or stupid (because he'd be taking a huge risk that might destroy his company). But a book? Phsst... book's are nothing.