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#149476 - 04/21/11 04:53 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: Raiffnuke]
Kent W Offline
member

Registered: 10/15/09
Posts: 607
Loc: IL.
It is a matter of personal compromise and value? Some of us will use tenkra. I personally would rather carry a light weight nice fly or spinning rod. I also like a nice Camera! Bottom line what are we willing to carry. None of us are right or wrong, just opinionated! God Bless America, where we are allowed a Choice! Happy Trails!

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#149515 - 04/23/11 02:48 AM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: Raiffnuke]
MTvagabond Offline
member

Registered: 03/30/11
Posts: 43
Loc: Western Montana
Ya know, a discussion of weight means an examination of items in a pack. If weight is not a consideration, then I should be able to take anything I want, right? Well, I looked at everything I want to have with me, and it weighs about 200 lbs. But I can't carry 200 lbs. Does that mean I have to take weight into consideration? I want to get out there, but not without my 200 lb pack. Hmmmmm....
_________________________
...then we might find something that we weren't looking for, which might be just what we were looking for, really. - Milne

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#149521 - 04/23/11 11:50 AM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: MTvagabond]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2752
Loc: California
It is always about trade-offs and wants vs needs. Comfort on trail vs comfort in camp. Food as gormet vs food as sustanence. In most cases, more expensive gear to save weight vs cheaper gear that weighs more. I also think attitude has a lot to do with it. How much of your psychologic comfort (safety zone) is tied up with material things. Do you panic if you do not have "emergency" food or always extra water? Do you have enough experience to know your real survival needs? Are you able to fully engage in the wilderness 24-7 or do you need electronic gagets or reading material to stay engaged? One thing is for sure-- no matter what your age, size, sex or physical shape-- a lighter pack on your back will allow you to walk more comfortably and go farther each day. You may be "comfortable" with 50 pounds, but you will be MORE comfortable with 20 pounds. It is not All about gear be it big "three", "Four" or whatever. I think a good starting point is the old rule of thumb "1/3 your lean body weight" . Then with experience you can begin to cut that down. Whether you ever become an "ultra-light" backpacker is an individual matter.

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#149526 - 04/23/11 03:39 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: MTvagabond]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
I know what you mean MTvagabond, it's hard to not want to bring the message chair on trail. After a looooong day on trail, plug it in...ooops! Forgot the solar charger! grin Would be nice though.

From my experience, it boils down to the goals for the trip. Is it just to have fun and go fishing, or is it to get from point A to point B. How much time do you have? What kind of terrain are you going over? What kind of potential problems do you expect? Have you been there before, or are you using a guidebook or some other source of information? How much experience do you have? These are the kind of questions I ask myself and sometimes it does not lead to the lightest pack in the world. But in my mind I feel comfortable and ready to do what I want to do.

When my son was in boy scouts, their first troupe backpack was an overnite peak bagging trip to Whaley Peak East of San Diego. This was a November desert trip and even though the peak is covered in pinions, water is pretty scarce up there. So my goals for the trip were very simple; to make sure the boys had fun (even though I wasn't the leader), and to make sure everyone stayed out of trouble. No rain forcasted so I used my poncho setup to sleep in a very comfortable sandy spot. Everything else was stripped bare so that I basically carried 3 gal extra water, extra snack food, and my desert first aid kit. I didn't tell them I was going to bring the extra water and snacks, but they were gone by the time we got back to the vehicles the next day.



Edited by skcreidc (04/23/11 03:42 PM)

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#149527 - 04/23/11 04:50 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: wandering_daisy]
billstephenson Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3890
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
W_D, that's a great summery of the issue.

As I've mentioned before, I always bring too much food, and I always bring my GPS, spare batteries, 3 sources of light, and my cell phone. The truth is, I really don't need all of that. More than anything, like you said, most of it provides a level of comfort, and some entertainment, but in truth, not much more than that.

For me, learning to resist the urge to toss in a few more gewgaws just before I zip my pack up has been incredibly difficult.

Maybe a good way to learn to go lighter would be to do a one or two nighter, at someplace familiar, with just the absolute bare essentials to see how you do. A sort of "Crash Course" if you will.

With that in mind, it would seem that, by definition, "Ultralight" would be nothing more than the bare essentials.

That would only include:

Pack
Sleeping bag
Shelter
Food
Basic Mess-Kit
Basic Toiletries
Med-Kit

The above list items can be broken down into their individual elements, but I suspect that if I insisted that everything I bring must be essential to that list, and only what I'd use or need, I'd drop a LOT of weight from my load.

If I'm someplace I'm familiar with, I don't really need a map and compass, and I sure don't need a GPS, camera, or cell phone. If there is decently clear water available I don't need a filter. If I can make a fire to boil water and cook I don't need a stove or fuel. Since it's a short trip I don't need a change of clothes.

The point of all this is, it wouldn't really matter if my gear was expensive, state of the art, ultralight stuff, or the same old cheap stuff I already own, by definition, I'd still be going "Ultralight" with what I have on hand.

Since I've yet to actually do it, I'm sure I'd learn something if I took that trip. I'm pretty sure I'd find I could go stay longer by just adding more food, and comfortably go further with just a map. I'm not at all sure I'd be missing anything though. I'd have to take the trip to find out...

_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



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#149531 - 04/23/11 06:24 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: billstephenson]
MTvagabond Offline
member

Registered: 03/30/11
Posts: 43
Loc: Western Montana
I really like your definition of "ultralight" Bill, but it will probably cause quite an uproar. I'll have to remember when I'm carrying my essentials and my kid's essentials that I'm an "ultralight" backpacker smile.
_________________________
...then we might find something that we weren't looking for, which might be just what we were looking for, really. - Milne

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#149532 - 04/23/11 07:00 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: MTvagabond]
thecook Offline


Registered: 10/03/08
Posts: 541
Loc: Minnesota
What are the bare essentials? It depends on how much travel you want to do. Many years ago in scouts I took the wilderness survival course. We had to spend a night in the wild with just a knife and a blanket. We had to construct shelter, a pot for getting water and cooking, and build a fire. Those three tasks took most of a day. So I could survive with just a knife but I wouldn't get very far. For travel, I'd need more "essentials".
_________________________
If I wouldn't eat it at home, why would I want to eat it on the trail?

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#149534 - 04/23/11 09:19 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: billstephenson]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
Originally Posted By billstephenson


Maybe a good way to learn to go lighter would be to do a one or two nighter, at someplace familiar, with just the absolute bare essentials to see how you do. A sort of "Crash Course" if you will.






Get involved with SAR and you will learn a lot about operating with just bare essentials....

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#149541 - 04/24/11 12:50 AM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: thecook]
billstephenson Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3890
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Originally Posted By thecook
What are the bare essentials?


Well, for backpacking, as opposed to survival, I think the outline for a list I gave covers it, but certainly with some flexibility allowed because, you're absolutely right, it depends on the trip.

Still, I believe that even more than what gear you have, being ultralight has to be a matter of knowing what is not essential. I'm still learning that.

I suppose it's quite possible to carry 50lbs of "Ultralight" gear for a three night trip, but you really wouldn't be backpacking ultralight if you did.

For example, with backpacking in mind, a big knife, even if it is ultralight, is really not essential, and that's more to the idea I'm getting at.

Another example; I always carry the clothes I'm wearing, the clothes I sleep in, and a change for those I'm wearing in case I get wet. But, I know I could make due with what I'm wearing for a week, and if I got wet I could change into my sleeping clothes while I dry out my hiking clothes. Even if all my clothes were hi-tech ultralight stuff, I could still do this, but I haven't yet, and that really gets back to the point that W_D made.

That change of clothes has provided me only with the comfort of knowing I had them, but in truth, they have been entirely unnecessary for the trips I take.

If I made a point to complete a "Bare essentials" exercise I might quickly gain the level of comfort I need to bring less as a matter of practice, while still bringing everything I want and need.


_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



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#149545 - 04/24/11 02:30 AM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: billstephenson]
MTvagabond Offline
member

Registered: 03/30/11
Posts: 43
Loc: Western Montana
I think you've taken this discussion to a whole new level Bill. The original idea of this thread is that "weight should not be a consideration for backpacking, so just get out and hike with whatever you have." I've responded to this already, with my argument (and others) that there are circumstances where weight necessarily is a factor for some people, depending on their situation.

I'm interested in your idea of defining "ultralight" backpacking as carrying only what is essential. I agree in principle, but I still think it's not going to serve as a one size fits all philosophy. And I don't think it's just about the differences in the trip.

Last year I worked our gear list down to what we believed was "bare essentials." Of course, on a group hike, agreeing on what is "essential" is a matter of compromise. But we did pretty well to cut out a lot of weight. Unfortunately, my shoulders still hurt at the end of the day, which is why I keep looking at other areas to cut (short of spending a lot of money on new gear).

But if a person narrows down a bare essentials list to the one you outlined, it still skirts the issue of the weight of those "essentials." My essentials, building on what I already own, are pretty heavy. I still hike with them, carrying most of the weight of my son's gear as well, and I still have fun. But I know if I wasn't physically capable of carrying this much weight I'd have to start looking at spending money on the big three, for a start.

I know I still carry items that I would consider non-essential, which is where the idea of trade-offs that Daisy mentioned come into play. But I don't think I could really consider myself even a light backpacker if I stuck to a list of essentials, based on the gear I have. My gear serves me well, and I like what I have, but I see advantages to having lighter gear.

Personally, if we're talking about definitions of "ultralight," I propose the following questions:

1. Does the weight of my pack cause me physical pain?
2. Do I limit my trips because of the weight of my pack?
3. Do I have to leave my pack behind to explore anything off the planned route?
4. Do I obsess about the weight of my pack?

I guess if a hiker could answer NO to all of these questions, I don't see why they are any worse off than anyone who considers themselves an "ultralight" backpacker because of some high-tech gear list (no offense Glenn). It's a little more involved than just a list of bare "essentials," but I do think that's a good start.
_________________________
...then we might find something that we weren't looking for, which might be just what we were looking for, really. - Milne

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#149548 - 04/24/11 07:48 AM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: MTvagabond]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
None taken, MT. I think your first three questions get at the heart of the thing; they nicely flesh out the thought "Hike your own hike."

Actually, I don't consider myself an ultralight hiker - I'm still a good 5 or 10 pounds north of that, if you go look at the Backpacking Light website. I'm more of a "very light" packer. But that's only because, a few years ago, I began answering question 2 "yes," and for the last couple years, question 1 would be a "yes" if I were still carrying 45 pounds for a weekend.

Your fourth question is a bit more problematic. All ultralighters will answer "yes," but not everyone who answers "yes" is an ultralighter. (For me, chasing the latest and greatest is a chosen "sub-hobby"; I've never cancelled a trip because I didn't have the latest and greatest. It's just been fun to do between trips.)

Perhaps a fifth question would be, "Do you think anyone with a heavier pack than yours is doing it wrong?" I've never (I hope) taken that attitude with anyone - there's a lot of ways to backpack, and in the end, if you've got adequate gear to keep you warm, dry, fed and otherwise safe (and the knowledge to use it), none of them are wrong.

Good post.

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#149550 - 04/24/11 09:30 AM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: Glenn]
DTape Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 656
Loc: Upstate NY
I am not one to think in "labels". Defining lightweight vs ultralightweight and whatever the next iteration becomes does nothing for me personally and serves only to pigeonhole people artificially based on some arbitrary definition.
_________________________
http://ducttapeadk.blogspot.com

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#149554 - 04/24/11 10:30 AM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: DTape]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
"The important thing, then, about running your tight little outdoor economy is that it must not run you. You must learn to deal with the practical details so efficiently that they become second nature...you leave yourself free to get on with the important things - watching cloud shadows race across a mountainside...or sitting on a peak and thinking of nothing at all except perhaps that it's a wonderful thing to sit on a peak and think of nothing at all.

"...Naturally, your opinions on equipment and technique must never fossilize into dogma: your mind must remain open to the possibilities of better gear and to new and easier ways of doing things. You try to strike a balance, of course - to operate efficiently and yet to remember, always, that the practical details are only a means to an end...

"...You'll discover as the years pass that walking becomes a beautiful, warm, round pumpkin that sits upon a shelf, always ready to be taken down...It wouldn't be the same round and personal pumpkin, of course, if you hadn't grown it yourself...And it's always sitting up there on the shelf - that big, beautiful pumpkin - just waiting for you to wave the wand and turn it into something much more magical than a carriage."

Colin Fletcher, The Complete Walker, all four editions.

I couldn't have said it better myself.

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#149731 - 04/28/11 10:43 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: billstephenson]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
sometimes I go on a primative camping trip, but just for fun, people can pack a virtual pack on excel for a primative camping trip just to see what it might weigh.

First off - actual primative living requires a great deal of skill and a full time investment in hunting and gathering, BUT just for fun, lets pack a primative pack.

Remove everything that didn't exist as a concept 500 years ago. Now if you take the California indian Ishi - he had pots and bowls, fire skills and kit, a knife and flaking knowledge to make tools and arrow heads from rock. He had a cloak of sewn bird wings.

So anyway you could take a pack, tent, down bag, down jacket, leather "cord" for hanging your food, a stone knife, a flint fire starting kit (or any kind), maybe a boda bag for water, light weight foot gear, and otherwise leave everything else at home and go naked, now tell me how heavy that pack would be.

Its snowing here.
Jim
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#149754 - 04/29/11 02:36 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: DTape]
billstephenson Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3890
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Originally Posted By DTape
I am not one to think in "labels". Defining lightweight vs ultralightweight and whatever the next iteration becomes does nothing for me personally and serves only to pigeonhole people artificially based on some arbitrary definition.


Okay, I've been giving that some thought...

I agree that we shouldn't strive to label ourselves as a certain class of backpacker, but I think it's worthwhile to discuss different styles and approaches to backpacking, and to try and provide a descriptive definition of them. It serves a purpose because these different approaches are appropriate for either specific conditions or learning different techniques.

I can go "Primitive" as Jim suggested, just for the fun and experience of trying it, but even if I do that occasionally it serves no good purpose to label me as a "Primitive" backpacker, nor any good purpose to limit the definition to just the one Jim has described. There can be many different approaches to the style, and we can all practice it.

I can also go "Ultralight" to see what I can learn from the experience, as I tried to point out. But as I've defined it, it has more to do with limiting what I choose to take from the gear I have on hand, and little or nothing to do with what it weighs or costs. Using plastic utensils would be just as legitimate as titanium, for example, as Jason Klass has pointed out in some of his comments. Bringing three knives, one for eating, one for defense, and one for cleaning my fingernails, would not be true to the definition however, just as bringing a GPS would not be true to the definition of "Primitive".

Now, if I found a particular style suited me best, I might, for example, call myself a "Primitive" backpacker when someone ask me about the subject, but what airs could I put on because of that? It's just a personal preference.

If I were backpacking "Very Light", bringing only the lightest gear available, and all the latest gadgets, and I ran across Jim out in the wilderness, would he feel inferior? I doubt it. Should I? I see no reason to. If I put on airs Jim would simply dismiss me as a jerk, but if we sat down together and compared styles and experiences, we might both learn something of value.

So, as a backpacker, it would behoove me to learn as much as I can from all these styles of backpacking and be open enough to try them in their purest form, whatever that may be, and to be flexible enough to blend them as appropriate for whatever trip I might take.

As a backpacking community, it behooves us to learn and share what we can from all these different styles. In fact, this is what brought me here in the first place.

It has been my intention to apply what I learn here about lightweight backpacking and ultralight gear to hiking with a pack animal, and to share that experience with others here.

In my opinion, hiking with a pack animal is also a style of backpacking. In fact, this is one of the oldest styles of backpacking when considered in this light. So old it has been considered obsolete, as far as backpacker's are concerned, for so now long it's not even defined as such by the sport anymore. But, in my opinion, it's been their loss (or gain if you consider that we actually took the pack off the animals back and strapped it to our own wink.

We've ignored it for so long now that if you apply all the innovation to backpacking gear since then, and the latest innovations in equine tack, to an "Ultralight" pack animal, you find a vast array of new opportunities for the sport.

Consider, for example, the potential for the innovation we've seen in the past decade on human kinetic energy devices to charge batteries. Now, put one of those on a pack animal. While we're at it, make one that purifies water as well.

If the community could learn to accept it as a definition for a style of backpacking, suddenly "Backpackers" everywhere can take advantage of these opportunities. If that happened innovation would explode. I'd like to see that happen.

If I could rent a burro to carry my gear, filter my water, and charge my batteries, on a 40 mile long trail in a NF, I'd do it. I'd do it right now and I would love it laugh

_________________________
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"You want to go where?"



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#149761 - 04/29/11 05:53 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: billstephenson]
aimless Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2862
Loc: Portland, OR
If I could rent a burro to carry my gear, filter my water, and charge my batteries, on a 40 mile long trail in a NF, I'd do it. I'd do it right now and I would love it

With pack animals, if you rented one, most of us would be better off renting the wrangler who owns it, too. Not only would a rented burro know you were not its owner, but many burros would immediately start testing you to see what it could get away with. Then there are all the nuances and subtleties of loading and unloading pack animals.

No, my sense is that pack animals require as much commitment as owning any animal. You can't just dip a toe in those waters, you have to jump all the way in.

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#149765 - 04/29/11 10:29 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: aimless]
billstephenson Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3890
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
You're right, most backpackers now would not know much about handling or packing a pack animal anymore. Considering the nature of the sport, and the long history of using burros as pack animals, that, in and of itself, is both a bit odd, and a bit sad.

It wasn't that long ago that renting pack animals here in the States, especially out West, was common. I think it went out of style with the advent of backpacking becoming a sort of popular sub-culture. But modern backpacking, as we know it know, is still an offshoot of using pack animals for backcountry travel.

I'm pretty sure there are still places in Europe that you can rent burros for hikes. You can even rent them for day hikes, if I recall correctly.

I don't know much about llamas or goats as pack animals, but burros are low maintenance, very mild mannered, and not at all hard to control. They love to hike with people and they don't spook like many horses I've been around. Their reputation of being stubborn is pretty much exaggerated too.

Now when you combine using mini burros with ultralight gear, it's quite different than it was when using pack animals was last common here. You have a much smaller animal that is much easier to control, and really, much happier to be there with you, and you can bring all the gear it used to take a truly stubborn Missouri Mule to carry. It may be fair to say it is an entirely new "Style".

To bring this a little closer to the original topic, I wouldn't NOT go if I couldn't own or rent a pack animal, but I'm sure there are people who did stop going into the backcountry when they could no longer rent them, and people who don't go now because they can't rent them. That's something important to consider too. It's the same thing that leads many people to lightweight backpacking, but if that doesn't work, for most of us, that's the end of the trail.

I know there are backpackers who really don't like being on the same trail as horses and pack animals, but all things considered, using smaller pack animals addresses a lot of what they don't like, so, just like learning how to go "Primitive" or "Ultralight", it's probably worth learning more about if you have the opportunity. It could actually be the difference between being out there someday, or not.

The problem right now is, there are no outfitters that rent them, and not many people can own a burro, so there is little opportunity to learn about it. Until that changes, it will remain a style that only a few can experience or benefit from.

It would be nice if it does change though. Considering the historical time frame of backpacking as a sub-culture, being fully embraced by the baby-boomer generation that left pack animals in their stalls, and the current graying of us baby boomers, it would seem to be a logical place for it to go. A full circle, so to speak.

But perhaps I over think it.
_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



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#149769 - 04/30/11 05:54 AM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: billstephenson]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
Becky the Fire Mule taught me a lot about backpacking with animals - long ago during my first summer job with the NPS at Saguaro. Two of us responded to a small fire to relieve the initial attack crew and we took Becky along to help carry the gear we needed. It was an interesting trip - about fifteen miles mostly off trail through reasonably rugged country.

After a day putting out the fire, we packed up Becky and our selves and continued on down to headquarters. About 10PM we hit the circular drive through the Saguaro forest, which we learned was a local lover's lane.

Imagine the consternation we aroused, two really dirty guys and a laden mule, rising out of the desert like an apparition in some cheap horror movie. We were the Lost Dutchmen, reincarnated. Our mission in life was to disrupt many romantic trysts, which we did as engines roared to life and tires peeled.

We finally reached the headquarters, where we tied Becky to the flagpole and sacked out. Living up on the mountain, we had no idea where anything was. The Chief Ranger finally found us and took us in for the night.

Becky was patient, but after all, she was a mule. It didn't help that somewhere along the way, we managed to lose her saddle blanket. Caring for stock complicates life, and generates route finding problems that don't exist for humans. Most of us these days simply don't have the expertise and experience, a lot of which is needed to care for the animals that will take care of you.

The bottom line for me that summer, after working with Becky and Willie Caballo, was that basically I was a hiker and not a rider.

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#149774 - 04/30/11 12:41 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: billstephenson]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
Quote:
If I were backpacking "Very Light", bringing only the lightest gear available, and all the latest gadgets, and I ran across Jim out in the wilderness, would he feel inferior? I doubt it. Should I? I see no reason to. If I put on airs Jim would simply dismiss me as a jerk, but if we sat down together and compared styles and experiences, we might both learn something of value.


I would have to agree with you there. I would also have to say I have NEVER run into anyone who looked down at me or put on airs on trial (or off-trail for that matter). One of the things I have very much appreciated about being in the backcountry besides just being out there.

I did have one trip where I was the defacto leader. My philosophy about group trips is the group is supposed to act as a team. So when one guy was acting a little weird about being able to carry a lot of weight, I said good and loaded him up cool. We shifted the weight the second morning of the trip more evenly. That kind of stuff just doesn't matter.

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#149775 - 04/30/11 12:56 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: oldranger]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Bill,
As has been mentioned, having a pack animal requires a full time commitment, as unfortunately you cannot simply turn off the switch when ya park it. I wanted a pack llama, but a pack animal, be it llama, goat or equine must be conditioned for packing and just any burro in the field can't simply be taken camping. Their feet, physical conditioning etc must be kept in shape for packing just as a human. Feeding and daily training walks etc is lot more work than throwing your gear on your own back on the occasions when ya use it. Its almost like - well now that you have a burro, will you train it to pack?

I have to fully agree with you about the camping labels. After all what we are discussing here is hiking in the woods and sleeping on the ground (or a hammock) and cooking over a spirit burner. As John Long said in reference to rock climbing "Remember this is just rock climbing, its not rocket science and we aren'y trying to save the world." Get over it - you are not special because your (the larger Your) pack weighs less, its just a challenge and should remain a personal challenge.

Bill I would be so intimidated if I ran into you and your pack was smaller than mine... Actually since I always carry my 6500 inch Kelty White Cloud, my pack is larger than everybodies - BUT WAIT, does it also weigh less????? oh man that stretches my brain - but there are people who make a living selling to people who want to be UL. It warps their brains to pick up a loaded pack 4 times bigger than theirs that weighs about the same or less.
Jim
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#149776 - 04/30/11 01:03 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: Jimshaw]
aimless Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2862
Loc: Portland, OR
I have not the slightest doubt that Jim's kit is mind-blowing, if only because it is the result of unique opportunities coupled with deeply thought-through refinements. However, it is unlikely that any of us will ever be able to follow in Jim's exact footsteps, no matter how slavishly we wished to follow his example, because the Kelty White Cloud pack was a one-of-a-kind product and practically unobtainable today.

I wish some niche manufacturer would get permission from Kelty to duplicate its design and put it back on the market. When it was in production the first time I knew about it, but couldn't afford it. I could afford it now.

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#149777 - 04/30/11 01:33 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: aimless]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
Whew! Got 100% distracted by family during my last post...kinda drifted. What happened to Kelty? Why aren't they making the White Cloud now? That is a sweet pack.

Oh yea...People use to rent mules all the time to go into the southern Sierra. My dad used to do that as a kid (he would take his mom into the Sierra) and I was taught how to work stock myself as a kid. I am also sure I remember very little little now as I haven't done it for 30+ years.


Edited by skcreidc (04/30/11 01:38 PM)

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#149779 - 04/30/11 01:58 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: skcreidc]
aimless Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2862
Loc: Portland, OR
As for the answer to the question, what happened to Kelty, this brief company description from a financial website provides a couple of clues:

"ARP's brand names include Kelty, Royal Robbins, Sierra Designs, Slumberjack, Wenzel, and ISIS. Its products are sold through sporting goods stores and outdoor specialty stores, as well as through mail order via brand websites. ARP is a division of women's apparel manufacturer Kellwood Company, which in 2008 was purchased by private equity firm Sun Capital Partners (SCP)."

When a "private equity firm" buys a company the results are rarely pretty. Product quality almost always nosedives, innovations are aimed solely at increasing profits, and companies are often gutted for cash flow before they are resold as a shell of their former selves.

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#149783 - 04/30/11 02:29 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: Jimshaw]
billstephenson Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3890
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Well, for starters, here's an old story (I think it's pretty much a true account) about a guy who rents a donkey for a hike in France. It won't do much to convince you of my position, but it's a good read...

Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes

But, to be perfectly honest, I think it's more a lack of knowledge on the matter that perpetuates some of the beliefs outlined in some of the comments on the subject here than what the realities of the matter are, and of course, old stories don't help wink

As I previously mentioned, backcountry outfitters did, not that long ago, rent pack animals here in the U.S. It was they that maintained the full time commitment, not the renter. Those animals were quite used to their routines, and required little from their renters to perform them.

Of course, riding was also a much more common skill back then too, but I am not talking about riding, I'm talking about leading a miniature donkey, a true Sicilian burro, which really cannot be compared to leading a horse, or mule, or even a full sized donkey.

Miniature donkeys have a temperament that is quite different than the other pack animals most are familiar with. Leading one is about the same as walking a well mannered dog on a leash.

Donkey's don't wear horseshoes, they don't founder like a horse, they are not near as prone to colic. And, in truth, keeping a mini donkey requires about the same commitment as having an outside dog or cat.

Of course, all this used to be common knowledge to backcountry travelers, and really, it was only lost in the past couple of generations.

"well now that you have a burro, will you train it to pack?"

Burros love to carry a pack. Let's remember, they have several thousands years of select breeding for just that purpose. Training one to do what comes natural to them doesn't take much effort or time. It's comparable to training a Golden Retriever to swim.

For me, the tough part was learning how to make a pack saddle and harness. No one makes them for little burros anymore. You can't buy one. Luckily, I found a guy in Australia that had written a book with detailed instructions and I bought a copy of it and made one for Lewis. As a bonus, his designs were created with lightness and strength in mind and can truly be called innovative as compared to how traditional pack saddles are still made for horses, mules, and donkeys.

So, to answer your question, Lewis has been "Trained" to pack, if you can call what I did training him.

What I did was fit him with the pack saddle I made for him, fill two "Panniers" (two Jansport daypacks), and attach them to the saddle, grab his lead rope, and start walking. So far, we've only hiked the hollow below our house. But that hollow is typical Ozark Mountain country and it provides lots of room to bushwhack around in.

Since that first time, whenever Lewis sees me get out his halter and packsaddle he comes to me and waits to be saddled up. For him, this is a really big treat.

Clark is a different story. He has had a tender back since birth. The woman I bought them from told me this, and told me it was uncommon. The main reason I took Clark is because he and Lewis were already fast friends and burros are herding animals and do much better if they have a buddy to hang out with, and she practically gave him to me for free.

But Clark does carry a small pack that I've fashioned out of a canvas saddle bag meant for use on a western style horse saddle. When we hike I put the burros' grain, treats, feed and water bowls, and some water for them in it. He likes that just fine, but he doesn't seem to like a saddle and full harness much. I do think he could get used to one if I spent a little more time working with him though.

The reason I haven't taken Lewis on the trail yet had to do with transporting him. I sold our big gas guzzling Ford Expedition that we used to pull a horse trailer with when we had a horse. My little Suzuki Samurai, with it's 1300cc engine, can't pull it safely. I'd intended to get a Ford F-150 with a six banger to pull it, but just couldn't ever spend the money and hated the idea of paying for insurance on another car I'd seldom use.

This past winter I was whining about that to my wife and she asked why I didn't just modify my little utility trailer, that I do pull with my "Sami", to haul the burros. I had never thought of that, but its sure got my gears turning now laugh

_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



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#149787 - 04/30/11 04:06 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: billstephenson]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
Again with the Gutenberg Project. You find some real gems there don't you Bill.

"The journey which this little book is to describe was very agreeable and fortunate for me. After an uncouth beginning, I had the best of luck to the end. But we are all travellers in what John Bunyan calls the wilderness of this world—all, too, travellers with a donkey: and the best that we find in our travels is an honest friend. He is a fortunate voyager who finds many. We travel, indeed, to find them. They are the end and the reward of life. They keep us worthy of ourselves; and when we are alone, we are only nearer to the absent."

I will have to finish it later...always liked Robert Louis Stevenson. THANKS AGAIN for posting Bill!

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