In another thread a member mentioned that some people poke fun at light backpacking. I was kind of surprised to hear this. I'm new to backpacking, but it seems like common sense to pack lite as possible as you carry it all on your back. Have you ever looked down upon for being an ultralight devotee?
Nope. Folks are either curious or oblivious, usually the latter. I have earned enough bad juju for my thoughts on encountering folks with pool chairs or frying pans dangling from their packs or lugging ice chests that I've probably earned some scorn, but I really have never encountered it.
Once you're two miles from the trailhead it's a different world.
Same here. To the "lookie-Lou" crowd who are just strolling in the woods for an hour or so, all backpackers look like folks carrying big packs and going into the "scary" part of the woods.
Once you get a couple of miles in, backpackers are more knowledgeable. I've had lots of questions about whether I'm just dayhiking, but mostly people are just genuinely curious about how I got my weight down. If they ask whether I've got enough safety margin, I explain what risk I'm willing to assume (because I judge it to be remote), and how well-built gear properly used eliminates the need for the just-in-case-the-world-ends stuff. I've had a few "I could never quit worrying if I tried that" responses, but mostly it's been genuine interest and a willingness to recognize that we all have different, equally valid, approaches to having a good trip. I can't remember any, "You're doing it wrong, how can you be so stupid" reactions. Of course, it helps if you're not projecting that attitude about their gear.
Loc: The State of Jefferson
Never had anybody dis me for the size of my pack. I have had people who were concerned for my safety and well being. Then I explain that my gear has all the functionality of a "normal" kit just not the weight of bulk. That usually draws more interest or sometimes disbelief.
I'm not exactly ultralight but I do tend to have the smallest pack on the trail 80% of the time. People question the pack size and sometimes my gear choices, like the alcohol stove or the gravity filter - until I start using them, then they ask where they can get one. I get a lot of incredulous eyebrow raising when I pull out the hammock, however.
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki
No not really. I probably deserve it but I've never gotten that vibe on the trail. I've been asked questions about where I'm going when I'm carrying a small pack, but usually most people who encounter me on the trail are just curious. When I stay in backcountry campsites with others I typically get at least one asking about what I have, because the hammock also usually attracts attention as well.
Have I seen that vibe in other forums? yes. but usually from the posers and the ignorant. Since I haven't ever encountered it on the trail my assumption is the vibe comes from non-backpackers hanging out in the forums pretending to know something
I have had a few negative encounters with other backpackers; mostly the "only a real man can carry a heavy pack" types. They tended to have been ex-military folks who can't conceive of being out in the wild without full logistical support and so they compensate by carrying it all with them, including body armor I think. For the most part though, the reaction I get is curiosity and interest and no negative vibes whatsoever.
Loc: Fredericksburg, VA
Never been looked down upon by BPers or BP-ludites. Then again I'm only settling into lightweight at this point, not ultra- or super- or extreme- or whatever light.
I do have folks just completely mystified about why I go out, about how I cook and sleep, and about my safety. Most of the safety concern has to do with me being a woman and going out solo, though.
One guy (very seriously) asked if I hike all day and then stay at a hotel in town at night! Another friend didn't understand about cooking until I brought my cookset, Brunton Talon, and fuel into work and showed him how it works.
Anyone who looks down on you for making individual, well-thought-out choices when it comes to BPing isn't worth your time anyway.
Why am I online instead of hiking?
Hmmm...that's an interesting take. I've never encountered any negativity on carrying less, especially from ex or current military. If anything they would much rather carry less themselves and prefer it to the usual 60-100lbs of stuff they have to pack because their packing list is trying to cover all realms of possibility. I don't know how many times I sat around with everyone else criticizing the packing lists they'd give us wondering why we're bring this or that.
But then everyone's encounters are different...
In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.-Aristotle
hehe - No - My Kelty is 6500 cubic inches. No one knows what it weighs. I never use stuff sacks so my jackets and sleeping bag expand to fill the space and they just swallow up any gear I dump on top of them. My pack is normally in the 18 to 25 pound category but it looks like I am outfitted for a month in the Sierras. I can snarl and say "Oh what a tiny wussie pack you have there sonny. Is you mommy coming down the trail with your food and gear"? So anyway hows that for on topic? Jim Actually I have on occasion stopped people to talk to them about whether they are prepared for what lies ahead based on their attire and apparent lack of gear. I have also been passed by extreme marathoners in Three Sisters Wilderness at altitude. Longhair and I were hiking out in a light rain almost snow whenwe were passed by this guy with just running shorts and a tee shirt and no water bottle or anything else and he was going to run around Broken top, a 25 mile run. It snowed that afternoon up there.
Edited by Jimshaw (05/22/0904:53 PM)
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.
You might get asked if you have everything....but mostly what I get is that look and then a comment of how they wish THEIR pack weighed less.
A couple years ago we met a couple guys with massive old school packs. They were hiking on the PCT from the Wa border to as far north as they could. They did 7 miles a day, give or take. Their packs were 50-60 lbs at least. They saw us 3 ladies first, with 40L packs on - and when they saw the men coming behind us with the same size packs, they were shocked. They had assumed that we had men hauling the gear. (Like THAT happens)
But never looked down at. More envious than anything. Oh sure you hear snide comments about how "UL'ers mooch stuff" but when they see how you have everything you need it shuts them up.
Freezer Bag Cooking, Trail Cooking, Recipes, Gear and Beyond: www.trailcooking.com
Being "looked down on" seems to be an internet phenomenon. When you have folks bragging about how much they spent to drop 3 ounces of weight, it can be easy to pass judgements, especially when the poster seems to only take the gear out maybe two weekends a year.
But out on the trail, it's just never been an issue.
If you spend time watching the baiting, trolling, and bickering on WhiteBlaze, you'd think the Appalachian Trail was the ultimate haven of hate and discontent in the universe. But much of the bickering is from people who already know each other and enjoy bickering. And once you hit the AT, all the vitriol is long gone. It just doesn't exist out there.
So if you feel looked down on, hit the trail. Problem solved.
Most of the silly comments I have had related to my "ski poles" and usually made not too far from a car park... At camp often particularly "old timers" will comment about the size of my pack, including remarks about how "small" my 60 L version is... Common comments are about how my Contrail is not good enough for the situation, from folk that have never slept inside anything like that ( having their 6-8 lbs 4 season tent pitched nearby) including the morning after. Sometimes I wonder how I survive ( and very comfortably...) The ones that I pass before reaching camp tend not to find my gear too silly. But I don't see any gear being "best", to me whatever folk use is just another option. Franco And I second the comments about WB...
Hi, I'm new here so if I make a mess of this, bear with me OK?
As a kid I used to 'Treklite'. A blanket with kilt pins to make it into a sleepsac, firstname.lastname@example.org green plastic for a tarp, a 9" sawblade, my Granfer's old army knife, an tin can with holes in as a stove, two smaller cans to cook and brew tea in and a school rucksack. I was 11 when I took myself along the Peak district in England alone. I'd find a tree with a couple of straight-ish branches for the tarp poles and I'd cut dead wood along the way. I did have a leather sling, (not a slingshot) which I'm still good with. I got sick of rabbit and squirrel! OK, England has no wolves, bears,etc. so I wasn't in danger, but I went with MY camping gear, the above. That kit served me for three years and served well. Then I discovered girls! Weird creatures 14 year old girls were, they didn't seem to enjoy tramping along looking for birds nests for the eggs or laying lines for fish. But they brought other diversions to light.
Lite is always best. The folks that are derogatory or derisive are missing the point. 'Real men' don't carry everything, Kalahari bushmen don't, do they? If I need the kitchen sink then I'll stay home!
Loc: Southern California
I don't think I've ever had someone look down on me. I do get the "you're out here all by yourself?" comment a lot. I usually reply "I've got the dog to keep me company." People seem incredulous I would hike miles into a wilderness without a friend along to bail me out if I got into trouble.
My blog on politics, the environment and the outdoors: Haiwee.blogspot.com
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Have you ever looked down upon for being an ultralight devotee?
No, but I have for not being one. I have little or no super hi-tech gear or outer wear with logos branded on them and I always carry an old stick instead of "Trekking Poles". And lot's of times I wear denim jeans or overalls. But I have reasons for all that.
I wear the heavy denim when I know there is little or no chance of rain and I'll be bushwhacking where I know there will be lots of thorny bramble undergrowth in the forest. This is the case most of the time. I wear dollar store nylon zip-offs when it's not.
I use a stick instead of trekking poles because I like having one hand free and I hold the taller stick (staff) out in front of me to move branches and brush out of my way when bushwhacking and to help keep balance when making creek crossings on slippery rock.
I wear mid-hiking boots, not low-cut hiking shoes. Again, off trail I find that I don't get debris in my boots and do with low cut shoes.
All that said, more often than not when I encounter hikers on the trail that are outfitted to the nines with expensive logo emblazoned gear that looks like it's straight off the showroom floor they look at me with that, "Oh my God, here comes an ignorant hillbilly" and you can see the disdain in their eyes and demeanor gushing out of them.
For awhile, I returned the disdain and considered them "Posers" because they never go off the trails and they make a point to display their disdain for locals before ever saying or hearing a word from them.
After considering further, I now commend them for getting out and hiking. I suspect that we locals just don't look any hikers they've seen in "Backpacking" magazine and that probably scares them.
It's true that we locals can get to looking pretty ugly after even just a few days of bushwhacking around in the forests like we do. And I can't blame urbanites for being ignorant. They don't know the local culture and they've seen so many scary movies they can't help but associate us with axe murderers.
And I've had a few hillbillies come into my camp late at night a few times that were even uglier than me, and scarier looking too. And I can suppose that to an urbanite they might appear crazy. But all they ever wanted to do was share some liquor and tall tales.
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Nah, I'd say it's probably more hollywood that scares them.
That classic old clip has kept our area, even though it's not about the Ozarks, from being overrun like Oregon and Washington with Californians more than anything else.
They just started coming here in `07-`08 and then the real estate bust hit.
I think they need to re-make that movie here on one of our float streams and use new crazed meth-headed hillbillies to fill in the standard old hillbilly parts
The timing would be good because we don't have many meth-heads anymore, but we still have the reputation for them. In truth they were never really scary though. They were all too scrawny to be much of a threat to anyone. But man, talk about ugly, they sure did fit that bill.
Never been looked down on that I know of. But funny response once. I was Northbound on the AT, very early on, when a guy with a German accent passed me southbound as I was taking a break. Just after passing, he looked back and asked "how far are you going?" I answered that I was hoping to make it to Main. "But dat ist a daypak!" We both laughed cause his wasn't much bigger. Mine was 40 liters, so not tiny. Turned out he was hiking with family, exchanging keys at noon most days. And as far as bumming things, a few weeks later one of my Aquamira bottles sprang a leak at a spot where I didn't trust the water and he purified for me. Still later, in New Hampshire, I was able to help one of his family. We all made it to Maine.
Bill Sephenson. You mentioned people seeing BLACK panthers in the Ozarks (another thread) I grew up in NW Arkansas, and we were used to the howling, and brought in the goats, but no one I ever met had actually seen one.
Also giggling about Californians coming in. When I was a kid, all cars had California license plates, cause the only way anybody could get cash money to buy a car was to go to California to work in the aircraft factories. Many stayed. Sounds like it's payback time.
Loc: Portland, OR
"But das ist a daypak!"
The first time I ever saw an ultralighter was in 2002. I was just coming out of a four night trip in the Wallowas, late in the day, carrying about a 35 lb. base weight in my external frame pack, when who should I see going up the trail but a guy in tights, carrying about a 25L pack. From the time of day and how he was hiking, I knew he was planning to stay out the night.
I am sure my eyebrows raised and I looked very surprised as he passed me and I said howdy to him. But I clearly recall thinking, "I sure as heck hope that guy knows what he's doing," because it had been below freezing each night I was out.
I also recall trying to figure out what his equipment must be like and deciding he was going to bivy for one night only, with the barest of bare necessities. By the next summer I had cut my own base weight by a dozen pounds and I understood a bit better where that guy was coming from. I still don't ultralight, though. My base is just around 18 lbs.
At least in my case, for about 4-5 years I used for the most part a 30 litre MEC daybag as my extended weekend warrior pack. I wouldn't say I was ultralight, just decently lightweight. I usually only strapped my blue foam pad on the outside middle. I'd get some strange looks at the "daybag", especially when I was out for 4-5 days which was about the max I did with it.
Now I typically carry a GG virga - what I carry hasn't changed other than the blue pad is on the inside and everyting inside it. - which makes it look decently bigger enough that I don't get many more strange looks.
One. . . friend didn't understand about cooking until I brought my cookset, Brunton Talon, and fuel into work and showed him how it works.
In today's world, you're lucky that with their naivete that they didn't mistake your isobutane cannister for a 'bomb', evacuate the building, put it under lockdown, bring in the mobile command unit, put snipers on nearby rooftops and shout at you to come out with your hands up. Your episode could have provided fodder to fill between at least a half-day's commercials on CNN.