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the opposite of ultralight
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David Hyde
the opposite of ultralight on 04/28/2014 21:12:30 MDT Print View

Been meaning to share this story.

About 10 years ago I was backpacking around Europe on my first trip there, lasting about 3 months. I was mostly sleeping in hostels, but I did bring a tent (about 4 pounds) with me as well as a way too heavy slumberjack synthetic bag. Plus, given time in urban environments, I had some street clothes, a fat guide book, other books, souveneirs, and well, I suspect my pack totaled around 30 pounds (I didn't have to carry more than a few hours worth of food or water at any point). Anyway, I was a spry 29 year-old and could do that sort of thing. I did manage to sleep in the tent, maybe 15 nights.

So I was on a slow Saturday train heading from Berlin to Amsterdam, having just encountered a car full of drunken soccer fans (of the losing team...yikes!) when I met this giant kid, 18 years old and looking for adventure. He didn't seem very bright.

He explained to me that he was "tramping" around Europe for the summer and could he join me? He further explained that he'd be going into the military in the fall and this was his last chance for fun. He said he didn't want to go, but his parents had "signed him up" when he was 14, and he now had no choice. I suggested he talk to his parents. He responded in a scary Schwarzeneggeresque tone that his "parents are dead." Yikes. Creepy guy. He would follow me around the next several days, but that's another story.

Anyway, his gear. He had recently spent his savings, maybe about $1000, on all manner of gear and a train ticket. He had a tent, HUGE, reminded me of my childhood, probably 25 pounds, a coleman or some such, with giant aluminum poles (the kind you put together with instructions and color coding). The tent had 3 rooms. He had an inadequate, cold but huge rectangular sleeping bag, numerous other "what?" items, but the best was his beverage bag. Larger than my entire backpack, he had a separate duffel bag filled with about 12 2-liter pop bottles with orange soda. He said it was his favorite drink and he might not be able to find it on the road. He asked me to carry it for him. Total gear weight, I'm guessing well over 100 pounds.

Short of specialized military gear, BEAT THAT!

So what's the least ultralight backpacker you've ever encountered?

Dena Kelley

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
"the opposite of ultralight" on 04/28/2014 23:06:07 MDT Print View

Well, besides myself before I learned about Ultralight...?

A couple years ago I was going on an overnighter with some gals from my Meetup group. One gal showed up, she had experience backpacking in the desert, but not Alaska. She had 3 gallons of water (25# all by itself) plus all her food was canned and she had a bunch of heavy cotton clothes. Oddly, her pack itself was a rather lightweight external frame pack and her tent was a pup tent (maybe 2 lbs) and she didn't bring a sleeping bag, just a military poncho liner. Two gallons of water she was carrying in her hands and one was in the pack, and that pack was unreal. I tried to talk her out of carrying the water because we were going to be hiking next to a creek the entire way, we had water purification methods with us, and we were camping by a lake. But she wouldn't budge. I'd estimate the pack was 60#, plus the 16# of water she was carrying in her hands. She ended up bailing out of the trip after walking about a half a mile.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: the opposite of ultralight on 04/29/2014 00:47:12 MDT Print View

I was doing a trip where there was no running water at all, and I would be there for four days, so I started off carrying four gallons of water, which would be around 32 pounds. The nature of the trip was photographic, so I had ten pounds of camera gear. Then food, shelter, clothing, a substantial backpack, and everything else brought the total up to 67 pounds. It it hadn't been for ultralightweight skills, I couldn't have done the trip at all.


Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: the opposite of ultralight on 04/29/2014 01:38:15 MDT Print View

I remember on another forum (i think it was a prepper forum) a guy talking about his time in the military when he jumped out of a plane and he was forced to haul 180 pounds for a short distance.

Edited by justin_baker on 04/29/2014 01:39:10 MDT.

Michael Gunderloy
(ffmike) - MLife
Boys will be boys on 04/29/2014 05:53:24 MDT Print View

We recently had a Scout backpacking outing that just made me shake my head a few times. My own gear is nowhere near ultralight yet, but a lot of our boys (especially, it seems, the Philmont alumni) are heavily into some sort of macho "I can carry more than you" mentality. Minimum of four full nalgene bottles plus a water bladder (in an area where streams are a quarter mile apart), full rain gear even though no rain forecast for the weekend, heavy bags, tents, etc.

My favorite was the boy who couldn't get everything INTO the pack and so strapped a separate runner's fanny pack, with two more liters of water in the side pockets, to the back of it.

Nathan Wernette
(werne1nm) - M

Locale: Michigan
be prepared on 04/29/2014 07:53:20 MDT Print View

sometimes be prepared and use common sense conflict with each other

eagle scout here, philmont alumni

I did too carry a really heavy backpack up and down the mountains at philmont. and i struggled! i had a lowe alpine bag that was HUGE like 90L!!! (wasn't mine, loaned)

but being in the boy scouts taught me to be prepared. which means to some.. bring everything!

Owen McMurrey
(OwenM) - F

Locale: SE US
Re: Re: the opposite of ultralight on 04/29/2014 08:45:36 MDT Print View

"I remember on another forum (i think it was a prepper forum) a guy talking about his time in the military when he jumped out of a plane and he was forced to haul 180 pounds for a short distance."

I'm not on any prepper forums, but may have shared that story somewhere online in the past. 'Course it may well have been someone else who had something similar happen. Miss the DZ, and have to haul your harness plus main and reserve chutes to a dropoff station. Really sucks when you're carrying 100+lb to begin with.

Somewhere there's a review with my name on it of the Dana Designs Astralplane Overkill exclaiming how "75lbs never felt so good!". That's what I used to use for 2-3 night trips...grille, camp stool, extra Carhartt canvas pants and jacket, ECWCS Goretex parka and pants, Steiner binoculars, issue intermediate cold weather sleeping bag, axe, etc.
Not *quite* ultralight, but I thought it was great compared to humping an ALICE pack!

Bob Steele
(bobsteelephoto) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Sierra (Aspendell)
Re: the opposite of ultralight on 04/29/2014 11:39:29 MDT Print View

A couple summers ago day hiking on the Piute Pass trail, we ran into this old timer carrying an old school external frame "Kelty" type of pack. But, one apparently wasn't enough, so he had another nearly identical frame pack somehow stacked on top of the first. His stacked packs must have projected in the air about 8 feet above the ground... And I guess those two packs didn't hold enough stuff as he had plenty of other junk hanging "Jed Clampett" style from the outside. To this day I still kick myself for not getting a photo...

Nathan Wernette
(werne1nm) - M

Locale: Michigan
opposite of that on 04/29/2014 11:51:27 MDT Print View

I have a story opposite of that. My wife and I ran into an old guy up at pictured rocks hiking the opposite direction of us (that god)

He had with him a bandana and a walking stick. He said he spent the night at the campsite (where we were headed) and was going down to the other campsite (which ever one we had come from)

The thing is...the campsite where he came from, and where we came from had no way to be accessed except by hiking from another campsite....

additionally, the bugs were so bad that week. and when he turned around to keep heading down the trail his back was COVERED in black flies... it was probably the craziest thing we saw that week.

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: the opposite of ultralight on 04/29/2014 13:00:34 MDT Print View

somewhere on this site there's a similar thread - complete w/pics of a few "non-UL" people. Great stuff just don't have time to find it.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Re: the opposite of ultralight on 04/29/2014 13:33:31 MDT Print View

Here's an overloaded guy I saw at the Atlantic Creek campsite at GNP in 2012:

Chris and Carley

Chris was carrying his girlfriend's pack, as Carly had a serious blister on her foot and couldn't carry anything. It was just 4 miles back to the trailhead. Nonetheless, Chris earned lots of gallantry points for his efforts.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: the opposite of ultralight on 04/29/2014 15:41:29 MDT Print View

In Lyell Valley (Yosemite) one time I saw a guy carrying an enormous pack, must have been 80L+, and in addition, attached to the pack, on both sides of the pack, were something like child car seats, and in each car seat was a kid, each of which appeared to about three or four.

I wish I had taken a picture of that, but as usual I'm sure at the time I didn't want to be intrusive, and only later realized I wished I had one.

Edited by millonas on 04/29/2014 15:44:08 MDT.

David Hyde
Re: Re: Re: the opposite of ultralight on 04/29/2014 17:42:50 MDT Print View

'and in each car seat was a kid"

Wow. That's pretty amazing. Yes, I wish you had a picture.

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: the opposite of ultralight on 04/29/2014 19:30:09 MDT Print View

Oh here's one:

In 2010 on the Pinhoti in Alabama, we came across a scout troop that were spread pretty far apart. One by one, these young boys (several anyway) literally had packs larger than the boys themselves. Some were really struggling. Sad and funny at the same time.

About 1/2 mile after the last scout, we met two men (scout leaders) with packs. They were carrying, on a long stick, a fully loaded, large (70lb?) pack. We couldn't figure it out....Then, a few minutes past them, a LARGE, heavily sweating, grown man said hello. He was wearing full denim overalls, flannel shirt, & heavy construction boots.

Poor guy - he was friendly but suffering. I felt bad for him and the others, and wondered if they had any sort of pre-hike shakedown.

Frank T

Locale: San Diego
Re: the opposite of ultralight on 04/29/2014 19:49:35 MDT Print View

Well I can't beat 100 lbs but I carried about 75 for a weekend trip with my two young daughters (6 & 8). They had day packs with a few items but I carried almost everything.

On the way back it felt heavier than on the way in. Apparently they found some "pretty rocks" and guess whose pack they went into? Yes, we left them in the forest.

I did see a guy hiking in Yosemite with a fully loaded expedition pack AND cradling a large bear can with both arms.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Re: the opposite of ultralight on 04/29/2014 21:30:35 MDT Print View

White Mountains AMC Hut Croo guys and girls do 80+ on a fairly regular basis on packboards. 100lb load is a right of passage for them.

Lance Marshall
(Lancem) - F - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: the opposite of ultralight on 04/29/2014 22:05:41 MDT Print View

Met this backpacker between Tuolumne Meadows and Glen Aulin. He was a big man with a bigger pack. His 'service dog' had a pack too!

Heavy packer

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: the opposite of ultralight on 04/29/2014 22:53:42 MDT Print View

Nice! My favorite species of "opposite of lightweight" - ones with a lot of stuff hanging off. Those are some serious 'biners too! Might be the camera angle, but looks like the ship is listing to starboard at bit.

Edited by millonas on 04/29/2014 22:56:48 MDT.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: the opposite of ultralight on 04/30/2014 07:07:16 MDT Print View

You can't help but wonder what's inside since everything you need seems to be outside.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
the opposite of ultralight on 04/30/2014 07:59:55 MDT Print View

My first backpacking trip, I had a Rambo-type survival knife (for the wilds of New Hampshire!), a large cook pot with a large plastic handle grabbed from the family kitchen, enough canned goods to stock a 7/11, an old external frame pack and some old synthetic filled sleeping bag I had left over from my Boy Scout days. The crowing point was a one-burner propane stove that used the 1 lb green propane tanks. I still have this stove and use it for trail head bivies.

I stumbled a lot that first season of backpacking. Learning as I went a long, swapping in and out gear and generally not exactly smoothed and polished in my outdoor skills.

I suspect I did not look much different than some of the photos above. :)

Edited by PaulMags on 04/30/2014 08:01:20 MDT.