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#144735 - 01/12/11 11:00 AM It's not about the big three!
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1731
Loc: Napa, CA
From our blog:

Every backpacking book or website will tell you that it's all about the big three: tent, pack and sleeping bag. Get the very best of those, and the rest of your backpacking will be a breeze.

Well, we disagree. It's not about the big three. It's really about getting outdoors and on the trail. And if you are going to obsess about your equipment instead of hiking, you really are missing the point.

Sure, the big three are the main ingredients to your home on the trail. And sure, it would be wonderful to have the very best, lightest and latest version of each item. But it isn't a requirement. In fact, it doesn't really make a big difference.

Examples? OK. Some of our early equipment would never meet the standards of today's equipment geeks (even though it served us through some of the greatest trips we have ever taken!) A couple of full sized sleeping bags that weighed five pounds and didn't compress much smaller than an ice chest cost us about $40 each. A three-man Eureka tent that we originally bought for car camping and weighs nearly eight pounds and costs us another $150. And a pair of Eureka backpacks that we picked up at a box store for under $50 apiece.

Our total pack weights just for the big three were something like 17 pounds for P, and another 9 pounds for M. And that's without food, water, cook kit, or clothing. That sounds like a lot. But then again, when we left for a four day trip in Yosemite that covered over thirty miles in four days...the sutuff worked just fine, and we had a phenomenal trip! Our total pack weights were 35 pounds for P and 25 for M. And our total expenditures (including stove and water filter) were just over $420.

That's not unbearable by any means. We picked up a great aluminum pot for a buck at Goodwill, and that's also where we bought all of our fleece layers. And we left the skillet at home, and didn't bring our tuxedos...but we had all we needed, and that's all that really matters. Those are reasonable pack weights for most people, and if you can carry that, you can have some great adventures in the mountains, even if you don't own the latest ultra-light airskin equipment.

Do we still use that stuff? The answer might surprise you. Over the years, we've upgraded our equipment a bit. We picked up a couple REI Sub-kilo sleeping bags for under $200 each, and that cut almost three pounds off our packweight. And P made a little two-man tent that cut another found pounds of his load. But we still sometimes use the Eureka when we have a guest along, and it works just fine. And our packs? The same old ones we started with. They work just fine, thank you very much.

So now our base weights are lower. For the big three, M carries just six pounds, and P carries about nine. Which means that on a an eight day trip last summer over three 10,000 foot passes, our starting trail weight was 36 pounds for P and 26 for M--only a pound more than that earlier trip in Yosemite.

That was nice, but we could have done the same trip carrying the extra ten pounds between us.

And so can you.

So don't spend your life making constant upgrades to a kit you don't use. Get out there with whatever you have, and over time that equipment will take care of itself. If you REALLY want to look like a pro, it's always better to have older, well-used equipment on your back instead of brand new equipment sitting in your living room.

Always.

_________________________
balzaccom

check out our website and blog: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/home

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#144740 - 01/12/11 12:09 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: balzaccom]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
The Big Three is a game that was probably started by equipment manufacturers.

I hiked about 450 miles in BigSur and the Sierras using a 5 pound sleeping bag made of cotton, a canvas pack, etc and I never let the baseweight go over 20 pounds. Of course I cooked over a wood fire, but I had no tent, just a 8x10 piece of plastic - called it a ground cloth and when it rained I pulled half of it oveer me.
Jim
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#144744 - 01/12/11 01:42 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: balzaccom]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3889
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Good post!

None of my gear is super-duper, but I make due just fine with it and the real fun is in being there, not in the gear you bring.



_________________________
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"You want to go where?"



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#144745 - 01/12/11 01:48 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: balzaccom]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
Quote:
"If you REALLY want to look like a pro, it's always better to have older, well-used equipment on your back instead of brand new equipment sitting in your living room."


And if you want to BE like a pro (who cares what you look like in the woods ...), it's always even better to have the right mix of gear for the conditions at hand, whether older or brand new.

I'm certainly not inclined to take older gear out with me just to "look like a pro". I think that when we focus on how we look, there's too much risk of looking like some sort of jack-ass anyway ... and I can do that just fine without working at it. :-)

For me the right philosophy is one of balance --- on the one hand not putting down the good aspects and wisdom of the ultra-light movement, nor on the other hand of going gonzo to save the last gram of weight. I don't see why there need be any tension between trying to keep pack weight down vs. "getting out there" ?!? It seems like an invented argument, as I can't see anyone taking up the side of "better to buy new equipment than to go out and use it ...".

I certainly have no argument with the "Get out there" mantra. One doesn't need to wear Nike products to "just do it".
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#144748 - 01/12/11 02:17 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: BrianLe]
sjohnny Offline
member

Registered: 10/29/10
Posts: 185
Loc: Central Texas
I took the key part of that statement as the new gear being "in the living room" rather than on the trail.

In another one of my hobbies there are a great many people who go out and buy the newest flashiest gear and post pictures and "reviews" of it on internet forums but never really get out and use it. Then there are those who get what they can and get out and run the snot out of it. Good gear makes everything more enjoyable but if you wait for the absolute best before you go out and use it you'll never get out.

I'd say it's a matter of run what you brung but always be on the lookout to improve either the running or the what you brung.

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#144750 - 01/12/11 02:42 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: sjohnny]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
This is a great philosophical thread. It really is just about getting out there and discovering what works for you. I was lucky in a way to have my family start me out with gear, which I still have by the way. On my last trip I used my dad's old Kelty pack and frame. OK, so I figured out that the old frame doesn't work for me cause I'm 6'4" and my dad was 6'1". I still enjoyed the trip immensely. I'm using gear from the 60's up through the 00's. It typically takes me a long time to actually cough up and purchase something cause I am trying to see if it really is worth while.

sk

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#144757 - 01/12/11 04:34 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: balzaccom]
prussicnot Offline
member

Registered: 05/06/03
Posts: 124
Loc: Lynchburg, VA
Great thread here! I think there must be some folks like me who just like to see new fabrics, fasteners, systems, etc. I don't have to have the latest thing out there, but I thoroughly enjoy innovation and material science, as well as ergonomics. I have always been a tinkerer and a pretty serious one at that. Um, I just ordered a length of 7/64" Amsteel. I have no need, or project in mind - but I want to see exactly what are it's properties. Same goes for Spectra - a few years back I had to order some to see how it acted when wet, how much friction, etc. I had to get a Hennessey Hammock years ago just to see for myself. I recently bought a Nemo bivy/tent just to check out the air bladder support system. It won't see much use. I had to get some titanium just to see how it handled heat transfer. I hope to gain some sympathy for this sickness.
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"Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long." Ogden Nash

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#144760 - 01/12/11 04:49 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: prussicnot]
DTape Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 656
Loc: Upstate NY
The first post reminded me of the book written by Donald Trump, "The Art of the Deal". He began with a similar statement. Something to the effect of, Every other real estate book you will ever read will say the 3 most important attributes when looking at real estate are , location, location location. I will tell you right now, that is all bunk. The most important thing is the deal.

Anyway, to get back on topic... Way back when, many of us had external frame packs which can handle a heavier load quite well. When internal frame packs became the rage, many people didn't (still don't?) know how to pack them for optimum load carrying and thus needed to shed pounds in order to be as comfortable as we were with our vintage external frames.
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#144761 - 01/12/11 05:21 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: balzaccom]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
The Big Three (or Four, for those who want to include the sleeping pad) are definitely the easiest way to cut a lot of weight fast. They are, however, the most expensive way! They don't have to be, though--there are less expensive substitutes and ways to lighten the Big Three/Four you already have. Examples: (1) "surgery" on a heavy pack to remove a lot of unneeded fancy gizmos (in any case you shouldn't replace the pack until all the rest of your gear has been streamlined/changed/eliminated); (2) switch to a lightweight cheap tarp or maybe just get lighter stakes for the tent you have; (3) buy a 2 1/2 lb. 550-weight down sleeping bag for $130 (Campmor) to use for the 10 years it might take to save your pennies for a top-of-the-line down bag; (4) watch this forum and others for good bargains on used gear; (5) shop thrift, military surplus and big box discount stores, taking your postage or food scale with you.

It is important to remember, though, that the Big Three/Four amount to only half or less of your gear! I recently read a suggestion that if you want to reduce base weight to 12-14 lbs., half of that comes from your Big Four but the rest comes from everything else.

A big chunk of the "everything else" excess weight for many people comes from taking too many changes of clothing, taking items like sunscreen and insect repellents in their original containers instead of repackaging into small containers just the amount needed for the trip, taking too many duplicate items, or just packing stuff that "might" be needed but after a dozen trips has never been touched. The difference is that you're talking an ounce here and three ounces there per item, but all these ounces can add up to many pounds saved! The job is more complex than just spending $$$ on a lighter "Big 4," but it can be accomplished with far less expense. Besides, if you want a lightweight pack, you're going to have to go through this process anyway!

One problem with saying "Go ahead and go out with your 40 lb. weekend pack" is that some of us just can't do it! That's what happened to me after my knee injury, now 23 years in the past. I had to give up backpacking altogether until I discovered this new lightweight gear, mostly from the articles on the home page of this forum. I did start with the "Big 4," except pack, mostly because I was very dissatisfied with the items I had for reasons other then weight, but I had a relatively modest investment thanks to watching like a hawk for sales and closeout items. My pack even showed up on a closeout sale at just the right time!

Above all, though, concentrate on the unneeded/duplicate "non-Big-4" items. You may be able to save 5-10 lbs. right there, enough to enable you to enjoy backpacking even with physical ailments! Also, get out on "base camp" style trips where you're carrying the heavy pack only for a short distance. Base camping a couple of miles from the trailhead (and dayhiking from there) also is a good method for trying out your cut-back "everything else." If it turns out you eliminated too much, it's easy to bail out to your car!


Edited by OregonMouse (01/12/11 05:31 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#144765 - 01/12/11 06:34 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: OregonMouse]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Mouse brings up a good point, no matter how light those base items are, the real weight comes from everything else you carry. You have to carry fewer and lighter "everything else".

As an exercise, if you use a spread sheet, remove all but the "big three", then add what absolutely cannot be changed or left at home and then contemplate the rest. What would happen if you didn't take it? Do you have other options? Then add one or two comfort items back in and go for it.

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

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#144775 - 01/12/11 09:44 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: balzaccom]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
To me, the big three has always been backpack, bag, and boots (the big B's). I backpacked and climbed for over a dozen years before I owned a three season tent. If the three B's work for you and keep you comfortable, weight and cost are relatively insignificant. Consequently, you will get plenty of trail time.

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#144789 - 01/13/11 09:22 AM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: balzaccom]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
Great post!!! It's first and foremost about getting out - gear is merely the means to an end.

Hi, I'm Glenn, and I'm a gearaholic. It's been almost a week since my last purchase...

And that purchase was a stainless steel pot, an experiment. In the past, I've gone through a lot of gear - I've been the guy out on the trail with all the latest-and-greatest, shiny new stuff. Not because I wanted to achieve a particular look, but because, for me, playing with gear became something of a sub-hobby (and I was fortunate enough to be able to indulge myself.)

However, after flirting with light weight as an ends unto itself, I'm starting to slide back to the overall concept of convenience and comfort. I'll never return to my 45 pound weekend loads; like OM so aptly says, I'm old enough that I just can't do that anymore. But I'm thinking that I may end up preferring the heavier Hubba to the Carbon Reflex, Prolite Plus to NeoAir, and so forth - resulting in a load of 23 pounds instead of 20 for a summer weekend.

In the end, though, it is about getting out there - and where "there" is, isn't as important as getting out. Sure, we all love the Isle Royale, Yellowstone, CDT, or AT "big trips." But, we can lose a lot of valuable time sitting at home dreaming about those places. (I'm as guilty as everyone else on that score.) It's better to go to that "boring" little state park, half an hour from home, than to go nowhere. Several times, I've grudgingly done that when a trip to the AT, a day's drive away, fell through - and sure enough, something happened at the lowly state park that wowed me: I'd get within 15 feet of a buck with a creek gurgling between us, or walk through a flock of 300 geese sleeping on the public swimming beach on a crisp, clear January morning - or come across the snow-covered fresh carcass of a young doe that had clearly succumbed to starvation in the last 48 hours, and suddenly realize that, if we're going to hunt the natural predators to extinction, we also have a duty to step in to manage the herd to prevent the cruelty of overpopulation and starvation. (Not a particularly elegant solution, and one open to abuse, but it did change my perception of hunting and hunters.)

So, what about all the "old" stuff that gets set aside by the dabbling in the latest and greatest? In my case, a lot of it has ended up on someone else's back (a couple of nieces, a nephew, my son, some of my old Scouts, and some new friends), letting them get on the trail a bit sooner than they would have otherwise. Until it ceases to function, the age of the gear is irrelevant; I've had great trips with all manner of gear.

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#144792 - 01/13/11 09:33 AM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: Glenn]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1731
Loc: Napa, CA
Lovely post, Glenn. Thanks
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balzaccom

check out our website and blog: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/home

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#144802 - 01/13/11 01:10 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: balzaccom]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2752
Loc: California
It is about getting out there AND being safe. In a lot of backpacking environments, so-so gear is just fine. However in some environments, like winter backpacking, you better be sure that old stuff works! Just as important, are your skills. Often, you are better off updating your skills, instead of your gear. For example, there is nothing more humbling and informative than camping out in your backyard in a raging storm! You may find that the beloved old tent leaks after several in the downpour. And all of us could get a lot out of an orinteeriing class or how to use our trekking poles most efficiently (REI offers lots of free classes). You are never too experienced to learn more or practice a skill.

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#144813 - 01/13/11 04:01 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: balzaccom]
arcane Offline
member

Registered: 05/24/10
Posts: 21
Loc: WV
Good Post!

It's true that getting out there is more important than acquiring the lightest equipment available.

Hindsight is 20/20 though and I wish I had known about this site before I acquired my big 3! My big 3 weigh in at 15 lbs, and I know I could have found a lighter shelter and pack for around the same amount of money that I spent.

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#144887 - 01/14/11 09:12 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: OregonMouse]
Tango61 Offline
member

Registered: 12/27/05
Posts: 931
Loc: East Texas Piney Woods
OregonMouse said:

Quote:
watch this forum and others for good bargains on used gear;



Oh so true! I just picked up a used Marmot Aguile 750fp sleeping bag for $85 from someone I trust to take care of their gear.

I still may get one of those Campmor bags to modify to a quilt.
_________________________
If you think you can, you can. If you think you can't, you can't. Either way, you're right.

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#144918 - 01/15/11 02:23 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: Tango61]
phat Offline
Moderator

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

A lot of the "everything else" comes from *experience* - and that you only get by going out.

One of the biggest things I found saved me weight waaay back when when i started using them was my alcohol stove - but the weight savings was really *NOT* so much in the stove and fuel, it was that when I started using that, I started changing the kinds of food I took, thinking more carefully about menu, quantity, and how and what I cooked - doing FBC cooking, and finding meals I really liked that were actually that easy to make. The result was a lot less cooking gear, a lot less miscelanny, and lighter food.. Those savings (in addition to the stove and fuel weight) made for a big savings in my pack. Of course the food difference didn't count in my "base weight" either smile

The other thing that reaaaaly comes from experience is clothing and how you use it. Geting clothing to the level of the right amount for safety and comfort, yet not packing your entire dresser - is something that comes from experience, and thinking about how you use it. Some of it also came as I lighened my pack. Why? well, I changed how I was *doing* things. With a heavy pack, I would hike a short distance, stop, and spend a lot of time in camp. I therefore took a lot of clothing to "sit around in" and enjoy camp even in awful weather. With a lighter pack, I enjoy the walking, and really, I'm in camp to sleep. I now take clothing that I hike in, and clothing I rest in, but I don't worry about "sitting around in foul weather" - if it's that bad, I tuck into the tent in my sleeping bag. I don't need to "sit around" in weatherproof clothing. The trouble with "righsizing" your clothing is that going too light can be dangerous. so really, it's all about getting that experience in bad weather conditions in and knowing what you need.
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Any fool can be uncomfortable...
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#144931 - 01/15/11 08:16 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: phat]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1731
Loc: Napa, CA
Great post, Phat. I agree--nothing reduces your pack weight like carrying it, with everything inside, for a few years...!
_________________________
balzaccom

check out our website and blog: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/home

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#144984 - 01/16/11 06:42 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: phat]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
Quote:
"I now take clothing that I hike in, and clothing I rest in, but I don't worry about "sitting around in foul weather" - if it's that bad, I tuck into the tent in my sleeping bag."


Ditto. The tricky bit for me comes when I go on trips with others; I'm pretty used to my approach, so unless I pause and really think it thru it's easy for me to bring too little clothing to be comfortable for adapting to some other group process.
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#145199 - 01/20/11 07:59 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: balzaccom]
Samoset Offline
member

Registered: 07/04/08
Posts: 429
Loc: Newnan ,GA
i have to agree totally my first big three was a 8x10 utility tarp, a micro-plush blanket and diy pack made from a mesh sack . which was actually about 5lbs lighter than what i carry now. i got some strange looks in the woods but always stayed dry warm and have seen alot of mountain sides with that (recycled "FREE") setup. But now thanks to a self proclaimed gearaholic i nolonger daydream about the gear i need to buy. as much as the places id like to go. Thanks Freind

SAMOSET
ps. now i just need to get out there
_________________________
Some peopole live life day by day. Try step by step.

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#145246 - 01/21/11 02:49 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: balzaccom]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2752
Loc: California
We all love rankings of the "top 3" or "top 10" or whatever. All our backpacking gear and skills are inter-related and have lots of feedback responses. If you have poorly performing "big 3" your first trip may just be so miserable that you are hesitent to repeat the experience, or worse, get seriously injured. Your "big 3" can be the best on earth, yet if you do not have the skills to use them properly, you may be miserable, and, guess what - not go out again. Every piece of gear I take out is important, otherwise I would not take it! The beginner needs to learn what is important (and necessary) and what can be left home. And this "list" is different for each environment we backpack in. A few have related how they started out with make-shift gear. You probably were in a fairly benign environment and lucky (also helps to be stupidly young and invincible). Paul Petzoldt climbed the Grand Teton as a 16-year old in cowboy boots and with only a pocket knife. He made it back, just barely. He hever "boasted" about that as "getting out there". Rather he recognised it for what it was - stupid and he was lucky to be alive. He never went ill-equipped on a climb again. Nature has her own rules; those with too much huburis sp?? may get stung or may luck out - for a while. Be safe.

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#145249 - 01/21/11 03:11 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: wandering_daisy]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
Good point - and one I assumed was implied (thus proving that what they say about you, me, and assuming is correct.)

I agree that skills and gear are interrelated, and that both have to be evaluated as part of the planning process for any trip. Again, I think many of us have been at this so long that it's second nature to do so. I know I did recently, when I decided not to go on that trip into snow and cold that I determined was beyond the practical limits of the gear I'm using - even though it was an area I've been to a few times, using the same "big 3", but in more moderate conditions.

I guess that when I think about using make-shift gear, I think in terms of two types of people: very experienced folks, who know the limits of such gear, and like it because they enjoy the minimalist aspect, or sticking to a budget (or, in a few cases, very experienced folks who couldn't afford to get out otherwise.)

However, all of those folks at some time fit into the other type: the new hiker. I know that my first few backpack trips (with the plastic-coated tarp, cotton bag, and Sterno stove) were purposely taken in the summer (thanks to advice from another hiker.) Now, for the new hikers I'm associated with, the gear takes a back seat to ensuring that they start with trips that are within their capabilities. Having done that, I can compensate for any gear limitations: if they can't spend much money (or don't want to until they know they'll like it), they can borrow some of my gear and supplement with Wally World tarps, sleeping pads, etc. I'll simply ensure that we don't take our first trip in cold, rainy weather, or try to do high mileage days in tennis shoes and 30-pound packs; I'll design it to be one they can enjoy and feel competent with, so they'll want to go again. (Then I take them to the local outfitter, where the rows of shiny and new lure them to the Dark Side.)

Thanks again for reminding us of a very basic assumption that needs repeating every so often, not so much for our own sakes as to keep us from accidentally encouraging someone to do something foolhardy.

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#145267 - 01/21/11 06:12 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: wandering_daisy]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
The one thing in common that I have seen in outdoor accident victims is inexperience, and often a goodly amount of hubris, but mostly, just plain ignorance of the environment into which they were entering. And yes, by golly, i was once one myself; I was very fortunate.

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#148966 - 04/07/11 02:33 AM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: OregonMouse]
MTvagabond Offline
member

Registered: 03/30/11
Posts: 43
Loc: Western Montana
Some are born to weightless, others have weightless thrust upon them...

I understand what Mouse is saying about circumstances dictating whether or not to go lite. Personally, I've never been a light backpacker. I've never really even had an interest in being a light backpacker until a few years ago. I was raised to stuff whatever I could into an external frame pack and walk until I dropped. Of course, as a teenager, the 70 lb pack I hauled on a three day, 30 mile trip didn't really bother me too much (I'm 5'7 and have never weighed more than 135 lbs). This isn't machismo or bragging, I just figured that was what backpacking was because that is what I learned. My philosophy over the years didn't change much- I have gear, I love to backpack, I "handle" the weight, why would I need to change my attitude toward backpacking?

Now, I have a wife with a bad knee, a young son who hasn't been able to carry much weight the last few years, a tight wallet, and a genuine desire to get out there!!! We actually took several years off from backpacking after our boy was born, mostly because we lived in the desert for a while and I was a little intimidated by desert camping (we hiked all the time, just not overnight). Anyway, after moving back to more familiar surroundings, our first overnight backpack trip was exhilarating. We had a great time, but were way overloaded. For our first extended trip, I tried to reduce our weight (carrying all of the kid's heavy gear on our backs), and we had a great time camping, but only a moderate time hiking.

Last year, before our big hike for the year, I decided to investigate ways to reduce weight from the pack. I laid out everything we took the year before, and started to cut. I set aside all sorts of things that really weren't needed or we could substitute for cheap with something lighter. We invested in some lighter cookware, lighter clothes (my first time ever not hiking in jeans- like wearing boxers the first time), and a food dehydrator. Overall, I estimated that we cut 20 lbs from our total pack weight just by focusing on things that were not the big three. We were still heavy, but better considering we still decided not to have our son carry much more than water, raingear, spare clothes, and a book.

Of course, now that I've got the bug for hiking light, each year will be a little better. Ironically, our budget isn't going to allow for the adults to get much new gear this year, but we've already reduced our pack weight by getting our son gear that he can carry himself. We bought an REI Lumen bag for kids to replace the full size Nebo bag his grandparents bought him (OK- how could I not pack a free sleeping bag?). He can carry his own bag, pad, water, clothes, and misc. toys and still keep the weight around 10% of his body weight. And it's weight I don't have to carry. We're talking about getting our first down bag to replace the old North Face bag I've had since I was 12 (that was almost 4 years ago in dog years). Basically, I know the weight of my pack this year would be a joke among members of this forum, but it will be lighter than last year. And next year, even lighter.

Essentially, I feel like lightweight backpacking has been forced on me because of my family situation, and I'm grateful for it. My goal is to lighten our "adult" pack equipment to compensate for the added weight of our son. Then, when it's just the two of us, we'll be packing at a weight I never realized would be safe or enjoyable.

I guess my point here is that I agree with Mouse that some people don't have a choice but to go light or ultra-light, depending on their situation. As I learn more, I see obvious benefits in reducing my pack weight, but I'm not sure I'll ever get to some of the weights as others on this site. Honestly, if I knew I could keep my pack weight to 40 lbs, my wife's to 25, and my son's to 10 this year I would think that was light, relatively. Overall, however, I think the desire to get out there is the constant around which all of us little hiker-variables revolve. I do think there is a great deal of work that can be done on everything but the big three- until you've reduced all but those.

Maybe one of these days I won't feel embarrassed to post my gear list on this site, but until then I'm going to keep cutting where I can. Until then, I'll keep hiking.

_________________________
...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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#148971 - 04/07/11 10:13 AM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: MTvagabond]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
If you're embarrassed to post your gear list, the rest of us are doing this wrong. The reason to post a gear list is to receive advice, usually in response to a particular question; it shouldn't be about judgments of "you're doing it wrong."

If your gear lets you do the trips you want to do, allows you to stay warm, dry, and well-fed, and you're willing to carry it, then there's nothing inherently wrong with it. Could it be lighter? Probably. Are you taking "too much"? You may be taking more than I would - but that may not be "too much" for your needs.

If you post your list and ask how your load could be lightened, you'll get all kinds of suggestions on what to replace with lighter versions as well as what not to bother taking. You can take those suggestions, or reject them - it's your judgment about your own needs that controls.

You pretty much hit the nail on the head regarding "light hiking": a reduction from 75 pounds to 40 pounds is going lighter - significantly lighter. You may never be able to - or even want to - reduce your load to 15 pounds. The reasons why (be it affordability, preference, or style) don't matter; it's about getting the lightest load that is right for you.

So, please, never feel embarrassed. We're supposed to all be in this together, helping one another - not trying to prove that Our Way is the only Right Way.

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#148979 - 04/07/11 04:56 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: MTvagabond]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3889
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Great post!

For me, getting "Light" has been a kind of long process that's still in the works. It's never been an issue of money really, because I don't have any, it's been more about being patient for really good deals, taking it one step at a time, and learning from others.

My "Big Three" are not at all expensive, but they are pretty light. It took me several years to get to that point, but not a lot of money. Lately, I've focused on food and clothing. Not buying new clothes, but selecting what's best from what I have for the trip I'm taking. I finally spent the time to make a "Cat Stove" and learn more about lighter weight food, and plan what I'd eat better. I've always carried way too much food. The last few times I only carried a bit too much. I still carried way more fuel than I used though.

So I'm down to shaving ounces here and there now. To do that I have to pay close attention to what I didn't use or need.

For me, getting lighter on the cheap, and learning make some of my own lightweight gear has been a lot of fun. But I've never NOT went because I didn't have what I needed. I've always took too much instead blush
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#148984 - 04/07/11 06:43 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: Glenn]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
It's not like there is a Holy Book, divinely inspired, of Lightweight Backpacking. I want to assure you that the rumor that Oregon Mouse and Wandering Daisy have taken vows in the Lightweight Church are absolutely false; nor is Trailrunner the Archbishop.

it is always interesting to see what each of us will carry; I often say either, "I don't need that," or else, "I would always carry XXX, how can he get out there without one?" You often get a nice idea of something different that just might work for you.

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#148990 - 04/07/11 07:18 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: oldranger]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Nothing holy at all (despite what you may read on another site)! laugh However, having a light load makes backpacking a lot more enjoyable! Which is the whole idea--to enjoy this wonderful activity!
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#149002 - 04/07/11 10:39 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: oldranger]
MTvagabond Offline
member

Registered: 03/30/11
Posts: 43
Loc: Western Montana
Thanks for the vote of confidence all thanks . I really would like to benefit from the experience of everyone here, and I look forward to some constructive criticism when I do decide to post my gear list.
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...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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#149005 - 04/08/11 12:57 AM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: MTvagabond]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1731
Loc: Napa, CA
I do want to stress that OM and the other posters have captured the essence of my original post. If you spend all of your time worrying about what equipment to take, you'll never get out on the trail. Use what you have, learn from others, and whatever you do, get out there and hike!
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#149006 - 04/08/11 01:32 AM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: MTvagabond]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Don't feel bad; I haven't posted mine, either. It's not light enough for Backpacking Light (they're really nit-picky over there), trying to format it from Excel to post on this forum is almost impossible, and I haven't found anyplace else appropriate that I can post it for free. My base weight (everything but the variables of food, water, fuel) is 13 lbs. with fishing gear, 12 without, and I can live with that.


Edited by OregonMouse (04/08/11 01:34 AM)
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#149007 - 04/08/11 02:00 AM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: balzaccom]
MTvagabond Offline
member

Registered: 03/30/11
Posts: 43
Loc: Western Montana
I did my best not to digress from the original post (which was very well done). The main point of my post (which I may have understated, but didn't ignore) is that I DO get out there, and I always have, regardless of my gear. I pack what I want from what I have and I go. I wanted to emphasize, however, that backpacking is not a uniform experience where just anyone can strap on a bag and head for the hills. You introduced the idea of gear into the original post, regarding the big three as a contrast for your main idea, and I think discussions of gear in the context of this forum are certainly not out of bounds shocked . I was mainly writing in support of the idea Mouse raised regarding a genuine need for some people to take gear into account. If I couldn't "get out there" with a heavy pack, I'd have to start looking for alternatives. Right now, I'm looking for ways to deal with carrying the added weight of an extra person in my pack, so I think gear still plays a role.

I reviewed what I wrote initially, and I believe I adhered to the idea in the original post. Unfortunately, a stray thought resulted in a couple of responses to my post regarding gear (which I still appreciate greatly, since I was starting to wonder if this forum would be useful for me). I was writing to continue on an idea that OM brought up, not to dwell on a gear list.

What I am trying to say is that the "essence" of your original post opens up a lot of other questions (like safety and skills, as Daisy mentioned). If we ignore the concept of gear, your original post ultimately says "go hike regardless of your physical, emotional, financial, or otherwise situation." These aren't issues to be ignored.

If it helps to get this back on track for those who only respond to the last sentences of a post, I think anyone with a desire to experience the outdoors should find out what it takes for them to realize that dream, regardless of their pack weight.

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...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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#149008 - 04/08/11 02:06 AM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: OregonMouse]
MTvagabond Offline
member

Registered: 03/30/11
Posts: 43
Loc: Western Montana
This isn't the place for this discussion, but I'm really curious about you 1 lb of fishing tackle. Right now, tackle is kicking my butt in terms of weight. Ballsac is going to have a fit for me even mentioning this in this topic, but I'd really like some ideas. Maybe a different topic?
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...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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#149009 - 04/08/11 02:18 AM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: Glenn]
MTvagabond Offline
member

Registered: 03/30/11
Posts: 43
Loc: Western Montana
To Bill, Glenn, and Ranger, thanks again for your reply to my post.
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...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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#149013 - 04/08/11 09:36 AM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: oldranger]
chimpac Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 148
Loc: alberta,can.
Originally Posted By oldranger
It's not like there is a Holy Book, divinely inspired, of Lightweight Backpacking. I want to assure you that the rumor that Oregon Mouse and Wandering Daisy have taken vows in the Lightweight Church are absolutely false; nor is Trailrunner the Archbishop.


There might not be a Holy Book but there are faithful believers.
It is important that the faithful be on gaurd and not listen to heretics.


Edited by chimpac (04/09/11 08:12 AM)
Edit Reason: spell

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#149020 - 04/08/11 10:56 AM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: MTvagabond]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1731
Loc: Napa, CA
Originally Posted By MTvagabond
This isn't the place for this discussion, but I'm really curious about you 1 lb of fishing tackle. Right now, tackle is kicking my butt in terms of weight. Ballsac is going to have a fit for me even mentioning this in this topic, but I'd really like some ideas. Maybe a different topic?


I take about 20 ounces of fishing equipment---that includes an 8.5 foot fly rod and reel, and a selectiong of flies. Other than leaving the rod or reel at home, I don't think I can get that weight lower.

And just and FYI--Balzac was a French novelist...:^)
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#149055 - 04/08/11 08:56 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: MTvagabond]
Steadman Offline
member

Registered: 09/17/09
Posts: 510
Loc: Virginia
MTvagabond

There are other parents here in your situation; I'm just one of them, and learning from all of these other wonderful people. I'd love to see your gear list - it might save me some weight when I'm taking kids out this summer.

Steadman

PS - My list, with feedback, is posted as "Summer backpacking list (with kids)" in the kids forum. I've taken several of the suggestions (bowls are going to be margerine tubs, and lori was right - I'm carrying extra stuff sacks...)

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#149087 - 04/10/11 01:31 AM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: balzaccom]
MTvagabond Offline
member

Registered: 03/30/11
Posts: 43
Loc: Western Montana
Sorry to be a little defensive in my last few posts (influenced by a few local brews). Anyway, my apologies to the french novelist.
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...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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#149088 - 04/10/11 02:43 AM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: balzaccom]
MTvagabond Offline
member

Registered: 03/30/11
Posts: 43
Loc: Western Montana
Going back to the main idea, you're basically saying that weight is not a consideration in terms of enjoying the experience of backpacking. I've always had an enjoyable time backpacking regardless of the pack weight, just because I was "out there". But as I start to lighten my load, I know I enjoy it even more.

The idea that anyone would not get out just because they don't have the lightest gear is just silly. I mean, no one who REALLY wants to go backpacking would not do it just because they didn't have the coolest gear. I've had great trips with heavy loads that were only a few miles. I've also had great trips with heavy loads that were very long. The hike part itself is always less enjoyable than the camp time.

It's not so simple as just "getting out." I think the trail versus the camp time is also a major consideration. For example, my wife is a convert to backpacking. When we first started dating, she loved car camping but had no experience with backpacking. I helped her get some gear and she loves it now. But she will always be a car camper at heart. Our trips are pretty truncated in my mind, but I'm happy she still goes with me. In this sense, just getting out there is probably good enough.

The difference between just "getting out there" and hiking light is one of aesthetics. The more weight I drop, the farther I can go, and the more I can experience. I can get out there with the car campers every weekend, but I won't have the wilderness experience I would have backpacking. I see a lot packing heavy, but how much more could I experience packing light?

The real question here is, what are your priorities? Do you want to hike 15 miles per day to reach an amazing piece of landscape, or do you want to hike 5 miles and camp for a day or two? Both can be enjoyable, but the gear choice is different. It's all about your goals!!! The big three aren't such a factor for shorter trips, but play a part in planning for longer trips. It's too simplistic to suggest a one-hike-fits-all kind of model.

Anyone who wants to hike would not let their gear collect dust. But the gear in question and the trip details might determine where or when they use it.
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...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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#149090 - 04/10/11 11:24 AM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: MTvagabond]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
My fishing tackle (weights in ounces):

Tenkara Iwana rod 2.8
Line, tippet, flies, dry fly dressing 3.0
Frying pan, Evernew Ti nonstick 16 4.1
GSI Micro-Spatula 0.3
Plastic bag for fry pan 0.3
Seasonings for cooking fish 0.1

This is actually about 11 oz. However, if you add in the extra cooking fuel (just in case I catch anything to cook laugh ) and a little extra olive oil for frying, a pound is about right.
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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#149107 - 04/10/11 11:44 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: OregonMouse]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1731
Loc: Napa, CA
I love that post OM!

I take a full-sized fly rod (because for me, half the fun of fishing is casting...) and reel. BY the time I add a box or two of flies, that gets me up to around 20 oz.

But I don't take the pan! If I keep fish, I use the old alder shoot method, and roast them over a fire. Which is why I don't do that very often. My wife wishes I would keep more...

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balzaccom

check out our website and blog: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/home

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#149120 - 04/11/11 03:44 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: balzaccom]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Casting with a Tenkara rod is a lot of fun, and takes a lot of practice! I'll never go back to the old rod and reel.

I'm very often camped where fires are not allowed, which is why the frying pan.
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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#149137 - 04/12/11 02:26 AM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: OregonMouse]
MTvagabond Offline
member

Registered: 03/30/11
Posts: 43
Loc: Western Montana
It would take some getting used to (never fished without reel). I'm curious if you fish lakes with this rod? I had to teach myself to roll cast because most of our destination points involve lakes with little room for a back cast. It feels like it takes a heavier rod for this. Do you use this for lakes, or just streams?
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#149140 - 04/12/11 08:37 AM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: MTvagabond]
Paulo Offline
member

Registered: 01/27/11
Posts: 158
Loc: Normally Pacific Northwest
About the Tenkara, I got Jason Klass to do a 101 on the subject for my blog. He covers what type of conditions it is best suited for:
Tenkara 101
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#149158 - 04/12/11 03:16 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: MTvagabond]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I've tried it on lakes but not streams (in my area, stream fishing is catch-and-release only, and I don't do that). So far I haven't caught anything. If, as planned, I get to the Wind Rivers this summer, I'll be fishing both lakes and streams (I prefer streams) and will undoubtedly catch something. I'll report back in the fishing section.


Edited by OregonMouse (04/12/11 03:17 PM)
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#149161 - 04/12/11 04:21 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: Paulo]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3889
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
That's pretty cool!

I have a pretty old collapsable fly rod that appears to be designed to use as a sort trekking pole when it's collapsed. I don't remember how I wound up with it, but it looks to work on about the same principle as the Tenkara type.

I'll take a closer look at it. I'm sure it must weigh more than the one Jason used for your review, but it's still kind of cool.

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#149203 - 04/13/11 10:18 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: OregonMouse]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
I grew up fishing with a cane pole about 16 feet long with a piece of monofiliment tied to it. A tenkara rod is essentially a high tech cane pole. Its a good meat collecting rod especially with a bobber worms and a boat. With all due respect to OM, who loves her rod and what it does for her - I don't really call that "fishing" [I am an acknowledged purist OK?], although I do use the same techniques with my fly rod on tiny streams, I can also put a fly MUCH further out than you can without a reel.

My sage 8 foot 4 weight rod weighs 2.2 oz and my reel weighs 5.7 oz with spool line and tippet. Flies wouldn't add another ounce, but I would most likely add line nippers and tiny hemostats which would put me pretty close to OMs 11 oz. Notice that neither of us are adding the weight of a rod tube...
Jim


Edited by Jimshaw (04/13/11 10:20 PM)
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#149205 - 04/13/11 10:28 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: Glenn]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Going light means having the experience to know what you'll need. But if you think you need to buy ultralight gear in order to go light, you are wrong. You can replace each and every piece of your current gear with a lighter piece and go lighter, OR you can simply leave half of what you normally take at home, and go lighter with no additional cost. Before blowing me off here - I haven't bought a significant piece of new gear in ten years and most of my gear is 20 to 30 years old. And I can still go out with people with lighter tiny packs, lighter stoves and lighter sleeping pads, and my pack still weighs less than theirs.

Sometimes I have heavy "mission gear" when I'm going on a trip for some specific purpose - be it night vision gear or a heavy camera, but without the gear there would be no purpose for the trip. But people bring all kinds of silly stuff because they think it will make their trip more enjoyable. Hey an ipod isn't too bad, some of the things people bring along have no real purpose for being there.
Jim
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These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#149305 - 04/16/11 04:14 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: MTvagabond]
Keith Offline
member

Registered: 01/04/02
Posts: 1664
Loc: Michigan's Upper Peninsula
Quote:
I guess my point here is that I agree with Mouse that some people don't have a choice but to go light or ultra-light, depending on their situation.


I'd like to point out an additional value of going lightweight -- or at least "low volume" -- which amounts to about the same thing.

You save space in a car on trips. This can be significant. With at one point, 5 kids, we didn't have lots of extra room. We saved money by car-camping on trips instead of usually getting a motel. If we had owned conventional gear, there would have not been enough room in the vehicle. Either we would have had to spend the night in a motel or it would have taken a bigger (and more expensive) vehicle whose space would have been unused most of the year.

I understand, if you don't have the money, you have to work within those parameters. But if you do travel, then money which would be allocated to motel time or car size can be devoted to compressible, lightweight gear. I believe we saved in the low thousands of dollars over the time we had kids.

You don't even need a lot of kids for the car size savings to be realized. Perhaps a compact would be usable instead of a mid-size or a mid-size instead of a SUV/Van.
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#149459 - 04/21/11 07:08 AM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: balzaccom]
Raiffnuke Offline
newbie

Registered: 04/20/11
Posts: 6
Loc: North Adams, MA
I couldn't agree more. It is not about the weight, it is about getting outdoors and enjoying nature. So, just use what you have and go out and have fun.

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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....
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...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
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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 Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3889
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...

_________________________
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"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 Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3889
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.


_________________________
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"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.
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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 Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3889
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

_________________________
--

"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 Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2861
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 Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3889
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.
_________________________
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"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 Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2861
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 Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2861
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 Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3889
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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#149854 - 05/02/11 08:11 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: billstephenson]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Just as some background on Stevenson's "Travels with a Donkey." I visited the Cevennes in 2001 and hiked several short stretches of the "chemin de Stevenson," the route that Stevenson traveled. You can even rent a donkey to do the route. I saw one hiker with donkey, but of course I was on a crowded road with no place to park to take a picture. Most of the area is pretty un-touristy; the vacationers I met there were all French.

The Cevennes are still quite wild and are probably the only national park in the world that still allows livestock grazing. This is done to preserve the ecology of open meadows that has been there since Neolithic times. If left ungrazed, the area would quickly revert to thick forest.

_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#149858 - 05/02/11 09:19 PM Re: It's not about the big three! [Re: OregonMouse]
Kent W Offline
member

Registered: 10/15/09
Posts: 607
Loc: IL.
"You can Ride They Donkey to The Top Or You Can Ride This! The Price Is The Same" Ron White! Sorry had ta say it!

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