Forum Index » Editor's Roundtable » The Grocery Sack Grows Up: A Genealogy of the Modern Ultralight Backpack


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Matthew Black
(mtblack)
Re: Re: The Grocery Sack Grows Up: A Genealogy of the Modern Ultralight Backpack on 04/09/2014 22:03:31 MDT Print View

Nick,

My copy of The Thousand Mile Summer lists 1964 as the original publication date.

I am not familiar with many of the companies presented in the original article or your post. I do know that my father purchased a Wilderness Experience frameless pack between 1978 and 1980. It was 1000 denier Cordura and comprised of two vertical channels for the main pack bag with a separate sleeping bag compartment. It had leather lashing tabs and included two external pockets secured with webbing and slider buckles. All hardware was metal, the waist belt wasn't padded. I haven't seen any reference to this type of pack in any article although it was presumably inspired by other experiments or trends at that time.

I carried it on a Yosemite trip in 1986 and it worked well enough. Don't recall specifics about the pack's carry comfort or fitness for use. I do remember blisters from a pair of Vietnam era leather combat boots that I wore incessantly and of course I wore jeans and a cotton t-shirt throughout the trip.

Backpacker ran a hike off between a UL proponent in the '90s in addition to the article listed for 1982. Regretfully I don't have the reference as I came across it reading every issue of Backpacker scanned into Google's maw several years ago at a job I wish to forget.

The only reason for bringing it up is that regardless of what one may think of Ray Jardine as a person he has had an indelible impression upon lightweight backpacking. He may have simply been in the right place at the right time, but his writings were most likely to turn up in a search for lightweight backpacking in 1997 or later. Go-Lite was formed after discovery of his writing. Gossamer Gear is also largely the result of his writing. He has had a tremendous impact on lightweight backpacking and it is unfair to simply dismiss him.

Edited by mtblack on 04/10/2014 00:37:05 MDT.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
backpacker mag article on 04/10/2014 07:50:08 MDT Print View

"Backpacker ran a hike off between a UL proponent in the '90s in addition to the article listed for 1982. Regretfully I don't have the reference as I came across it reading every issue of Backpacker scanned into Google's maw several years ago at a job I wish to forget."

I remember this article well!


And here it is :
http://www.backpacker.com/june_1998_feature_gear_ultralight_controversy/articles/819

I remember this article because the lightweight backpacker was a big, burly guy vs the little guy who was loaded down. The lack of photos really misses some of the joy in the original article. :)

The lightweight guy's method was not so much about the gear he took but the gear he DIDN'T take and his minimalist approach. Something we tend to forget when going light esp in he past five years.

"But there are those curmudgeons among us who are irritated-insulted, actually-with how high-tech the backpacking experience has become. All the fancy gear, they contend, insulates and distracts you from the purity of nature. In a nutshell, they believe the gearheads are missing the point."

What was written in 1998 seems to apply to 2014. :)

Edited by PaulMags on 04/10/2014 07:52:35 MDT.

Matthew Black
(mtblack)
Re: backpacker mag article on 04/10/2014 10:08:28 MDT Print View

Thanks, Paul. That's the one. I drank a lot of Instant Breakfast after reading that then decided that pop tarts are the way to go since I like hot tea in the morning and only have the one pot/bowl with me.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: backpacker mag article on 04/10/2014 10:44:28 MDT Print View

Good stuff folks, I appreciate it.

Mags, I recall that article as well. I was actually a Backpacker subscriber back in high school, and that article had me all psyched to go take my blue K-Mart tarp and TNF school bag backpacking.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
Archive is online on 04/10/2014 11:08:40 MDT Print View

The archive, with photos, is online:
http://bit.ly/1kvRBBi

Pg 52: Modern Man vs Mad Dog

Besides the amusing photos, there is a chart for gear and weights (with food, water and fuel included).

I remember reading this not too long after I did the AT in my leather boots, wearing a 5500 CI pack and using a whisper lite.

Things started changing...

Edited by PaulMags on 04/10/2014 11:09:54 MDT.

HK Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
"Modern man vs mad dog" preceded by "Less is more" on 04/10/2014 11:24:32 MDT Print View

I remember the Mad Dog article but there was also another BP article earlier in the 90's by Mark Jenkins "Less is More, (April 1994, p. 75) kind of all over the place, plus another somewhere about "fast packed" the Gore mountain range in Colorado due to time/work constraints.


ed: names

Edited by hknewman on 04/10/2014 20:12:18 MDT.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
Fast Packing article on 04/10/2014 13:12:25 MDT Print View

Scary how I remember all this crap....

The Gore Range one was by M.J Fayhee (now one of the main writers at Mountain Gazette: http://www.mountaingazette.com/

Currently he is based out of Silver City, NM.

The BPer Mag article can be found here:
http://bit.ly/1kOm1KX

OCt 1996, p71

I was just starting to backpack then. As with anything I tend to like, I dive deep. Read, research and immerse myself into quite a bit.

I read Backpacker Mag religiously in those first years of backpacking. So those early readings are really seared into memory.

Neat to see the nascent version of today's lightweight backpacking in those earlier articles.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: The Grocery Sack Grows Up: A Genealogy of the Modern Ultralight Backpack on 04/10/2014 19:41:56 MDT Print View

"My copy of The Thousand Mile Summer lists 1964 as the original publication date."

Matt,

That could very well be the publication date. I am 3,000 miles from home and cannot check my copy.

I did read about it in 1959. Thinking back, maybe it was in a newspaper or magazine. I seem to remember Fletcher wrote a series of articles while doing the trip -- it is how he financed all or part of the trip.

However I know I read it or an article in 1959. It was during the week I was at the LA Coliseum when a young Koufax struck out 18 S.F. Giants and Wally Moon won the game in the bottom of the 9th with an opposite field home run over the big fence in left field. I had never backpacked, but I was intrigued with the concept.

Matthew Black
(mtblack)
1959 on 04/10/2014 20:12:28 MDT Print View

Nick,

I can imagine why that would stick in your memory.

I found references to field reports from Colin Fletcher published in the San Francisco Chronicle for 1958. Time to start digging through newspaper archives.

Aaron Patt
(apatt_tm) - MLife

Locale: Southern NH
Internal stays.... on 05/10/2014 17:28:27 MDT Print View

I thought this article was very interesting. I was hoping that the discussion of the internal stays, wedded to the hipbelt would get some more comments. Despite the discussion of the latest fabrics, its the load transference that interested me most. I started backpacking longer distances in 1980 with frame packs. The memory of the aluminum "lightweight" frames that I wore and the transition to internal backpacks is still with me. Back then we compared the weight of these different carry methods (and costs) a lot while on trail. When UL became accessible I tried a version of the grocery sack and didnt appreciate the shoulder soreness. Being a person that doesnt fare well with (mainly) shoulder only carry, I have moved away from UL 'sacks' that don't transfer weight. If someone were to do an article that focuses on the internal stays (or point me to one thats been done recently) and their nuances, I would appreciate it.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: Internal stays.... on 05/10/2014 17:51:35 MDT Print View

A few suggestions on UL suspension systems:

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/paradox-evolution-review-chenault.html#.U266VC_eO98

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/hyperlite_mountain_gear_porter_pack_review.html#.U266ti_eO98

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/how_packs_work.html#.U2661C_eO98

Those three have links to older BPL articles going back over a decade which all together should provide a reasonably complete treatment of the subject.

outdoors *
(outdoors) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Arc Blast/Cuben Haters on 05/26/2014 06:25:50 MDT Print View

Seems most of the Cuben haters have never picked the stuff up and used it. Yes it is $$. I have never bought a pack and expected it to last 10 years or even 5. Its laughable that most on this forum are not thru hikers and will never put to the test as what Joe from Z Packs says. "Good enough for one thru hike, but most people don't so it should be good for many years of usage."

Do you throw your pack on the ground at a rest?

Use it as a sled to down scree?

Most of us carry a mini roll of duct tape. Use it if you get a hole and stop crying.

Arc Blast in tow. No holes. Do I take care of it. Yes. Am I a weekend warrior NNSFS? No

We all have bias in life. Some times it is so easy to spot in a review, then claim it does not fit into my hiking style, or claim you are free climbing granite all day with your pack on.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Arc Blast/Cuben Haters on 05/26/2014 07:42:28 MDT Print View

^ Wow. OK, feel better?

Bob Moulder
(bobmny10562) - F - M

Locale: Westchester County, NY
Re: Arc Blast/Cuben Haters on 05/26/2014 09:14:32 MDT Print View

What is amazing is that when ANY Zpack gear is FS in the Gear Swap forum it is snapped up literally within minutes.

So, there are plenty of Zpack aficionados out here.

Order wait times are another indicator.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Arc Blast/Cuben Haters on 05/26/2014 09:38:57 MDT Print View

Nm

Edited by FamilyGuy on 05/26/2014 18:17:11 MDT.

Bob Moulder
(bobmny10562) - F - M

Locale: Westchester County, NY
Re: Re: Re: Arc Blast/Cuben Haters on 05/26/2014 16:57:51 MDT Print View

'Lots' relative to what? Also plenty of WTB for Zpacks gear... Why is that? People are selling all kinds of other nice gear... why is that?

However, it appears that recently some people are simply upgrading, say from a Hex Twin to a Hex Duplex. There were a couple of people who wanted to trade or upgrade simply for the new camo material that just became available.

But, getting back to facts, which of my statements was incorrect?

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Arc Blast/Cuben Haters on 05/26/2014 17:34:46 MDT Print View

NM

Edited by FamilyGuy on 05/26/2014 18:18:07 MDT.

David Drake
(DavidDrake) - F - M

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Re: Re: Re: Arc Blast/Cuben Haters on 05/26/2014 17:57:36 MDT Print View

You know, Dave, I've been on BPL a few years now, and have learned a thing or two from your comments. But more often than not, your attitude kills it. I've looked around on Backpacker.com, and your M.O. there seems pretty much the same.

What is it with you? Are you this aggressive and rude in real life? Or do you only feel comfortable behaving like this online?

outdoors *
(outdoors) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Gear Turnover on 05/26/2014 18:06:28 MDT Print View

Sold a Duplex to buy a Duplex. Wanted camo. Sold at full price. Threw in a ground sheet for good karma.

Gear turnover is gigantic in this business. If it wasn't you would not see this website, and about 3/4 of companies you depend on to craft your outdoor wares. If one thinks all people care about is the lovely outdoors, then I start laughing. Gear junkies unite.

Doesn't mean it is all bad or good gear being sold. I also don't think you will ever see in Gear Swap. I hated it, piece of junk now buy it from me.

Again I say how many have really put on a Cuben pack or slept in the tent, that tend to poo poo it all the time?


Really on the feelings part. I feel like I am talking to my second grade son. Lets keep it to a higher level than that.

Bob Moulder
(bobmny10562) - F - M

Locale: Westchester County, NY
Re: Re: Re: Re: Arc Blast/Cuben Haters on 05/26/2014 18:18:18 MDT Print View

"Have I hurt your feelings? LOL."

Pretty sad, Dave.