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#137676 - 08/15/10 03:46 PM lite philosophy
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Quick - without mentioning any gear, what is lite philosophy? thanks Theres lots of lite lists, and lite gear, but do you think there is a lite "philosophy" which allows you go lighter? Perhaps meditating to allow you to walk down the trail without actually touching it(?), but short of that about the only things that I can come up with, and I may not agree with them, are:
Lighter is safer.
You're less apt to be injured with a light pack.
You can go further with a lite pack.

Again besides these I could add "multiple use items" are lighter, but for instance my Gerber multi tool weighs 7 ounces, but I have a 3 ounce pair of needle nosed pliers and a 1.8 ounce gerber LST knife that provide those functions that I might need the "multi purpose" tool for and each is a more specialised tool than the multi tool. So I personally use the idea of finding a single item that completely covers a particular usage need.
The last thing I would say is that your brain becomes more multi purpose with experience and you might learn about capabilities of some of your gear that you never suspected. A truely generic item would be great, but would a tooth brush, pocket knife, butane lighter, first aid kit, hat, and gloves be able to hold enough water? grin
Jim
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#137677 - 08/15/10 04:09 PM Re: lite philosophy [Re: Jimshaw]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
I'm not at home, so I can't look it up, but I think Colin Fletcher expressed a light philosophy as far back as the original Complete Walker, in the 70's (?):

Take only what you need.
For what you need, take the lightest item you can find that will still do the job reliably.

Or something along those lines.

I think his corollary was something like, "Price be damned." I know he always commented that his car was a rambling wreck (or maybe a Rambler wreck, for all I know), but that he never stepped away from the trailhead with less than the best item he could afford - even if, a few times, it meant gulping hard and forking over the cash. He didn't mean you could buy your way to a light-and-right pack, but rather than settle for a second-rate item simply to save a few bucks, you're better off buying the best you can afford, or maybe even one step better. (I've tried really hard to follow that advice.)

My own part of the light philosophy is not to become too attached to stuff. By that, I mean don't try to replicate your life at home out on the trail. You don't really need to stay connected (lose the cell phone-internet-computer wireless thingy), and you'll survive a weekend without your iPod music fix. GPS is even arguably optional. But there's more. Give up the mandatory coffee, tea, or cocoa fix every morning, and the three hot meals a day (one is plenty.) Once I realized that I didn't need a hot beverage every meal, nor hot breakfast, I eliminated nearly a pound of coffee, tea, and cocoa mixes and half a pound of cookware from my standard weekly load - and found it somewhat liberating to be able to get up, pack, and get going while munching on that breakfast bar.

I even quit taking a camera, and found that I made lighter (and more permanent) images in my mind, because I paid closer attention.

That's the short form on how my own, personal light philosophy developed.

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#137680 - 08/15/10 06:15 PM Re: lite philosophy [Re: Glenn]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Thanks Glenn,
Hey I'm thinking of ol Colina and for all the "take only what you need" he was the father of the modern 60 pound pack. I think the philosophical part revolves around "need". Your needs are far simpler than Colins, and remeber for all of the "take only what you need", his philosophy was to have everything that "might" be handy along. You leave out what "might be handy" for what "you presume will be required" and thats the "lite philosophy I guess"?
Jim
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#137683 - 08/15/10 07:46 PM Re: lite philosophy [Re: Jimshaw]
DTape Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 654
Loc: Upstate NY
As a fellow Adirondacker, I always liked George Washington Sears' (aka Nessmuk) philosophy. He wrote in the late 1800's "Go light; the lighter the better, so that you have the simplest material for health, comfort and enjoyment."

more: http://www.zianet.com/jgray/nessmuk/woodcraft/chapter01.html
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#137697 - 08/15/10 10:27 PM Re: lite philosophy [Re: Jimshaw]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
He certainly was the father of the 60 pound pack - but that's when packs weighed 5 pounds, tents weighed 8, and pots were stainless steel. In his later books, the 60 pound pack became 30 or 40 (he spoke of the "evolution" of gear) - and he cut his kitchen back from 2 pots to 1, and so forth.

However, he did take a lot of "what might come in handy," including writing materials and spare clothing. I'm not entirely sure, though, given some of the conditions he describes for his trips, where "might come in handy" stopped and "it's not unreasonable to expect to get snowed in for a couple of days in the mountains" started. (Your concept of "mission hardware"?)

But I think, yes, my philosophy is "take what might be required" and "don't worry about what might be handy." I've also found that the less I take, the freer my mind to take in the country I'm passing through and to just let my thoughts flow. I actually end up feeling "footloose" with the light pack I carry now.

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#137700 - 08/15/10 11:23 PM Re: lite philosophy [Re: Glenn]
Paul Offline
member

Registered: 09/30/02
Posts: 778
Loc: California
Originally Posted By Glenn


Take only what you need.
For what you need, take the lightest item you can find that will still do the job reliably.

Or something along those lines.



That's very close to the attitude I take toward going light - though I'd be reluctant to call that a philosphy. And the real trick with those ideas is that for both steps, you have to make judgement calls. What do you really NEED? and having decided that, what is the level of reliability you will accept? Both leave a lot of room for variations, and one person's decisions may not match another's. But it will head you toward reducing your load. Someone else's load may be heavier or lighter, for the same place and expected conditions, due to their different "needs" and perceived risk level, and their attitude towards reliability.

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#137704 - 08/16/10 06:51 AM Re: lite philosophy [Re: Paul]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
You're absolutely right: it's all about judgment calls. But that's the great thing - there's no inherently "right" answer, and we all get to make our own judgements, weighing in whatever factors we want.

In my own case, I'm currently carrying about a 15-pound base load (before food, water, and fuel.) A few years back, I decided to see how light I could go, and got some stuff from Gossamer Gear, Six Moon Designs, Tarptent, and some other cottage makers. I got to the magic 10 pound load. However, my own personal findings were that I had cut "muscle" for the last 5 pounds. The stuff was not as convenient or comfortable in my hands, and I eventually backed away from it, reverting to my 15 pound laod.

Was there anything "bad" about the 10-pound components? No, not a thing. In fact, others on these forums carry loads that light, with gear from those manufacturers, and are just as pleased as I am with my choices; they find the level of comfort and convenience they like.

And that's what everyone does. My 15-pound pack may not be as light as theirs, but it's still far lighter than the 30 pounds I used to carry.

Maybe that's the other part of the light philosophy: measure your own progress against where YOU were, and not where others are now.

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#137707 - 08/16/10 09:34 AM Re: lite philosophy [Re: Jimshaw]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1143
Loc: Washington State, King County
Jim, I think that in your initial post here you were going after something more akin to (not equipment-specific) "benefits of lite" rather than a more generic "philosophy", i.e.:

"Lighter is safer.
You're less apt to be injured with a light pack.
You can go further with a lite pack.
"

For me the benefits include that going lite can be safer. Less stuff also means it's easier to find and keep track of the things that you do have (!).

Being a little closer to the edge of comfort and safety perhaps also makes a person a little more in tune with their environment, i.e., rather than trying to brute-force solve all safety and comfort issues, the lite hiker is a bit more inclined to pay attention and finesse his or her way to comfort and/or safety.

Along the line of your comment about going farther with a lite pack, I'd say that a person can do more miles with the same effort level, or do the same miles but enjoy them more.

If we talk only in terms of comfort and safety, I guess I'd say that rather than a "compromise" to comfort and safety, a (significantly) lighter pack sort of shifts our inevitable comfort and safety trade-offs to a different center. Comfort shifts from camp-focused to trail-focused --- I'm more comfortable walking with less weight on my back. Safety shifts from "being safe through having gear to cover every contingency" to a combination of "safer through experience, knowledge, common sense, and enough gear" plus "safer because the pack is less likely to overbalance you or slam you into the ground so hard if you do fall".
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Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#137722 - 08/16/10 07:47 PM Re: lite philosophy [Re: BrianLe]
sabre11004 Offline
member

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 513
Loc: Tennessee
I never set out on a trek thinking that"well my pack has to stay under 20 lbs. I pack my pack according to where I am going and what I will be doing and what time of the year it is. Sometimes it will be 20 lbs. but then others might be 40 lbs. again, just depends on what I may be doing, when I am going and what kind of weather that I might encounter. awesome
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The first step that you take will be one of those that get you there 1!!!!!

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#137729 - 08/16/10 08:37 PM Re: lite philosophy [Re: sabre11004]
gorge_medic Offline
member

Registered: 08/06/08
Posts: 131
Loc: Kentucky
My philosophy is similar to Sabre's...my goal for every trip is to take the lightest and most compact set of gear needed to keep me safe and comfortable for that trip. The pack I take for a quick weekend trip is far lighter than the SAR pack I keep packed for technical rescue missions, but all the same rules apply. The only difference is the trip I go on with SAR requires more gear to keep me safe and comfortable (plus the fact that I'm keeping someone else safe and comfortable too!).

Having just reread Ed Viestur's "No Shortcuts To The Top", I found it a little interesting at first that he referred to his 45-pound pack going up Everest as "super-light". It's definitely a lot more weight than most of us carry for a trip. But considering the gear needed for the environment of Everest, it's not unreasonable, and Ed's tactics (wearing clothes to bed, taking along a 0 degree rated bag to supplement clothing, and using the bag quilt-style with his climbing partner) sound a lot like the techniques a lot of UL'ers use! Referring back to Jim's original post, when I look at gear lists that's really what I see: not this bag's weight vs. that bag's weight, but the techniques someone is using to stay safe and comfy, and looking for insipration of what I might try to see if it meets MY definition of "safe and comfy". UL hiking, like alpinism, seems to be a very personal pursuit.

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#137731 - 08/16/10 10:28 PM Re: lite philosophy [Re: gorge_medic]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
g.m.
Funny you mention alpinism. Alpinism was maybe the original UL. Obviously "heavy" UL, but none the less, for a long time alpine climbers have worn all of their clothes without removing any, for an entire trip, with a sleeping bag for bivouacing in, a water bottle and some snack food. The rest of the 45 pounds was ice axes, ice screws pitons etc, what I refer to as "mission hardware".

Now days I just put what I need into my pack and carry it regardless of what it weighs. The summer I went 450 miles I never let the base weight go over 18 pounds.

I think the philosophy of not carrying the items you never use, regardless of what they are, has been the final concept which has brought my base weight down. That and the concept that I was at one time willing to spend $10 per ounce to lighten the gear.
Jim
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#137739 - 08/17/10 09:06 AM Re: lite philosophy [Re: BrianLe]
ringtail Offline
member

Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 2296
Loc: Colorado Rockies
Originally Posted By BrianLe

For me the benefits include that going lite can be safer. Less stuff also means it's easier to find and keep track of the things that you do have (!).

Being a little closer to the edge of comfort and safety perhaps also makes a person a little more in tune with their environment, i.e., rather than trying to brute-force solve all safety and comfort issues, the lite hiker is a bit more inclined to pay attention and finesse his or her way to comfort and/or safety.


Well said Brian. goodjob
_________________________
"In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not."
Yogi Berra

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#137847 - 08/20/10 03:00 PM Re: lite philosophy [Re: Jimshaw]
Spock Offline
member

Registered: 01/10/06
Posts: 679
Loc: Central Texas
The wild is freedom; backpacking is the means to enter that realm of freedom; packing light liberates the body and mind to become emersed in the wild.

Maybe fewer words: Packing light liberates the body and mind from the encumbrances of things so the wilderling can become emersed in the freedom of the wild.

Better


Edited by Spock (08/20/10 03:01 PM)

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#137852 - 08/20/10 04:23 PM Re: lite philosophy [Re: Spock]
GDeadphans Offline
member

Registered: 12/26/08
Posts: 382
Loc: Maine/New Jersey
Originally Posted By Spock
Maybe fewer words: Packing light liberates the body and mind from the encumbrances of things so the wilderling can become emersed in the freedom of the wild.Better


goodjob
_________________________
"To me, hammocking is relaxing, laying, swaying. A steady slow morphine drip without the risk of renal failure." - Dale Gribbel

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#137855 - 08/20/10 06:06 PM Re: lite philosophy [Re: Jimshaw]
Claus Offline
member

Registered: 04/19/10
Posts: 56
Loc: Central Iowa
KISS maybe? Keeping it simple already cuts lot of necessary stuff and weight.

I know, it's not an elegant or philosophical answer. But I only pack light for practical reasons and because I'm lazy and weak. wink
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Please feel free to disregard my opinion.
http://adventurelaus.blogspot.com

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#137857 - 08/20/10 08:32 PM Re: lite philosophy [Re: Claus]
GDeadphans Offline
member

Registered: 12/26/08
Posts: 382
Loc: Maine/New Jersey
Honestly my light philosophy is to lighten my load so my body doesn't ache. I was born with hip displacea, my grandpa walked with a cane in his later years, and my mom just got done with a series of hip replacement surgeries. Lucky for me the doctors caught it when I was born and I was in a cast for the first 6 months of my life. Hopefully that cured it, but I go light so I dont put a lot of stress on my hips, JUST IN CASE. Before I started going light, and subsequently when I first started backpacking, I had probably a 40lb pack base weight. Just guessing, I didn't weigh then. I remember my hips would kill me and all I could think about was surgery and canes! I am certainly not giving up backpacking, so I slowly bought new gear, light to UL, and I got my pack to a comfortable 15 lbs base weight and dropping.

These forums and all you folks with so much knowledge has helped me so much! Like the alcohol stove idea, quilt idea and all the other do it yourself alternatives that got my gears churning. I love it. When I hear of ways to have functioning light weight gear, yet cheap, I can't help but indulge. Thanks to all of you! Much appreciation!

thanks
_________________________
"To me, hammocking is relaxing, laying, swaying. A steady slow morphine drip without the risk of renal failure." - Dale Gribbel

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#138685 - 09/12/10 08:48 PM Re: lite philosophy [Re: Spock]
Zalman Offline
member

Registered: 10/25/09
Posts: 97
Loc: Olympic Peninsula, Washington,...
Originally Posted By Spock
Packing light liberates the body and mind from the encumbrances of things so the wilderling can become emersed in the freedom of the wild.


Dead on, Spock.

My philosophy is "Don't Fear Boredom". Meditation is useful, Jim, not for levitation (necessarily), but as a nice ultralight replacement for that Hemmingway novel, ipod, comfort beverage, etc.

And speaking of comfort, while packing for comfort is essential (why be miserable?), it's been my experience that personal comfort requirements can be conciously altered. That is to say, the body that sleeps on hard ground long enough, eventually derives the same luxurious comfort from it as a princess from her featherbed.

How's that for philosophical? crazy
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It's easy to be a holy man on top of a mountain.
-- Larry Darrell

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#138689 - 09/12/10 11:09 PM Re: lite philosophy [Re: Zalman]
JAK Offline
member

Registered: 03/19/04
Posts: 2569
I think this is a lite philosophy.

Using your creativity and innovation to find solutions, from what is available or from your own design and fabrication, in order to achieve certain function and performance, that is an essential part of the hiking experience. As modern day hunter-gatherer-nomads, we should not be so exasperated when we walk into an outfitters, and discover once again that 99% of the stuff is useless or unsuitable, and that some of the local fauna are hostile. Should we be surprised? Should that deter us? No. In the woodlands, is every tree and plant perfect for our immediate needs, if we need a small fire, or walking stick, or cup of tea? In the hills, is every crevice a perfect shelter, or platform for cooking? Is every stone a whetstone to sharpen our best blade? Nonsense.

The woodlands and hills have tought us better, and taught us well. That this is just the natural way of things. This is as it should be. So we adapt. We innovate. We test. We look for things in odd places. We are ever alert, and critical, but respectful of our surroundings and our fellow creatures. Everyone is just trying to make their own way. And we are stronger for it. The weak. Well, the weak fall away, and give their song to the wind.

Here's to all the ungulates,
Some odd toed, but most just nuts.
Scraping a living on roots and snails,
Walking through life on their fingernails.

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#138690 - 09/12/10 11:41 PM Re: lite philosophy [Re: JAK]
JAK Offline
member

Registered: 03/19/04
Posts: 2569
Monition

A FAINT wind, blowing from World's End,
Made strange the city street,
A strange sound mingled in the fall
Of the familiar feet.

Something unseen whirled with the leaves
To tap on door and sill.
Something unknown went whispering by
Even when the wind was still.

And men looked up with startled eyes,
And hurried on their way,
As if they had been called, and told
How brief their day.

- Sir Charles G.D.Roberts

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#138694 - 09/13/10 01:00 AM Re: lite philosophy [Re: JAK]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

My only lite philosophy has been in my signature on this board
for a long time.

smile
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