Backcountry Forum
Backpacking & Hiking Gear

Backcountry Forum
Our long-time Sponsor - the leading source for ultralite/lightweight outdoor gear
Backpacking Forums
backcountry gear

---- Our Gear Store ----
The Lightweight Gear Store

Bivy Bags
Sleeping Bags
Sleeping Pads
Snow Sports
Winter Kitchen


Avalanche Gear
Hats, Gloves, & Gaiters


Ultralight Backpacks
Ultralight Bivy Sacks
Ultralight Shelters
Ultralight Tarps
Ultralight Tents
Ultralight Raingear
Ultralight Stoves & Cookware
Ultralight Down Sleeping Bags
Ultralight Synthetic Sleep Bags
Ultralight Apparel

the Titanium Page
WM Extremelite Sleeping Bags


Sleeping Bags


Ropes & Cordage
Protection & Hardware
Carabiners & Quickdraws
Climbing Packs & Bags
Big Wall
Rescue & Industrial






Men's Footwear
Women's Footwear


Mens Apparel
Womens Apparel


Black Diamond
Granite Gear
La Sportiva


Top Brands
All Brands

 Backpacking Equipment 

Sleeping Bags
Water Treatment

 Backcountry Gear Clearance

Topic Options
Rate This Topic
#136071 - 07/11/10 07:17 PM #3,000 Why Camp?
Jimshaw Offline

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3939
Loc: Bend, Oregon
This is my 3,000th post to this group.

Why do we camp and how does that affect what we carry? Often in response to query posts we ask people where they are going and what time of year because with experience we have learned that you carry completely different stuff to do different things in different places under different conditions. You may be a big city dweller, who has never camped and is hearing the Call of The Wild, or you maybe extremely experienced, yet there is always a reason for packing up and driving to the Hinterlands. Perhaps your purpose is simply to go someplace beautiful and quiet to commune with nature. Sooner or later there will come a specific reason for going and that activity will require what I call mission hardware. That hardware may as simple as a camera or as heavy and complex as full climbing gear. Your mission may require you to carry climbing shoes, stream crossing shoes, or camp shoes or down booties – Tevas? – and without that extra gear you can’t do whatcha came fer. Suddenly that really tiny light pack not only isn’t light anymore, but its also too small to carry the mission hardware in addition to your other gear, AND it was never designed to carry the weight.

So why we camp must be the driving force behind gear selection. Those trying to amass gear will have a lot of trial and error to find what works for them, and those who already possess truck loads of gear will have to choose which is appropriate. I carry a large percentage of bombproof rugged gear (that I know will not fail in extreme), yet I balance that with lightweight gear that can fail if it wants to because the really important gear is very rugged.

As has been pointed out, you can camp with nothing at all, as little as a sleeping bag and a water jug, or as much as you can carry, but every item that you take has a reason for being along. The things we carry gives us “capabilities” and why you camp determines which capabilities you require.

If the preceding is hard to follow then simply ask yourself “who am I and what do I want to do in the wilderness?” Our Oregon Mouse is an elderly lady who loves to get out, is almost as tough as nails, but if she had to carry anything besides the absolute minimum gear it would keep her home. She makes an intelligent trade off with each and every item that she carries, but if you do not have the same physical limitations that she has, then you should decide what to take based on your own self. Maybe you don’t exactly jog at altitude and want to take it easy and have fun and the ultral light concept has caught your attention. It’s a great way to go especially if you have limited stamina under load, but you may be tough as nails and enjoy carrying an extra gallon or two of water just to get a better workout, or you may be a hunter with a gun, ammo and a Ľ moose on your back. I find it very hard to go into back country for multiple days with ropes and technical climbing gear and food and having a pack under 45 pounds. If you will need 45 pounds of stuff, do not buy a UL pack. (that 45 pound pack may have a base weight of 16 pounds by the way.) Do not get stuck on base weight, its what you have to pick up and carry that counts.

Sometimes I carry night vision gear, climbing gear, ice tools, crampons, or a rock hammer, or climbing shoes. Sometimes the mission is gourmet cooking and requires 20 pounds of food for 2 people for 3 days. If you intend to carry wine bottles, do not buy a small pack. If you intend to scramble off trail through brush, do not expect really light gear to be made of tough enough fabric to survive. If you go where your life depends on your clothes not failing carry bombproof clothes. My own theory includes bombproof clothes, a rugged stove, and rugged tent. Everything else can fail.

If you haven’t read between the lines: When listening to advice on this or any other forum ask yourself “Does the person writing to me have the same physique and reasons for going as I do and how much does their wise advice actually apply to my situation?” You may not need poles or you may not mind sleeping on a gravel bed without a pad.

In closing, there are some that think a one size fits all, take the least, is the way to go. Others disagree and each person will have to actually go out and experiment to learn what works for them, regardless of how good of lists they started out with. Later you will add other items and discard some and every time you camp you may carry a different set, which is just to say that there are a lot of ways to do things right and many more ways to do things wrong. We can only help get someone into the ballpark so to speak.
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

#136077 - 07/11/10 09:00 PM Re: #3,000 Why Camp? [Re: Jimshaw]
DTape Offline

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 662
Loc: Upstate NY
Good post Jim. Worthy of #3000. And for all of those who have not heard the "Call of the Wild"...

"Have you gazed on naked grandeur
where there’s nothing else to gaze on,
Set pieces and drop-curtain scenes galore,
Big mountains heaved to heaven, which the blinding sunsets blazon,
Black canyons where the rapids rip and roar?
Have you swept the visioned valley
with the green stream streaking through it,
Searched the Vastness for a something you have lost?
Have you strung your soul to silence?
Then for God’s sake go and do it;
Hear the challenge, learn the lesson, pay the cost.
Have you wandered in the wilderness, the sagebrush desolation,
The bunch-grass levels where the cattle graze?
Have you whistled bits of rag-time at the end of all creation,
And learned to know the desert’s little ways?
Have you camped upon the foothills,
have you galloped o'er the ranges,
Have you roamed the arid sun-lands through and through?
Have you chummed up with the mesa?
Do you know its moods and changes?
Then listen to the Wild -- it’s calling you. ..."

Call of the Wild by Robert Service continues...

#136082 - 07/11/10 11:22 PM Re: #3,000 Why Camp? [Re: DTape]
OregonMouse Online   content

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6560
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Congrats on post #3,000, Jim! And thank you for the kind words, although I don't consider myself that tough! For one thing, I need a really comfortable air mattress, and every year I need a little more cushioning. I suspect that my 2.5" thick POE insulated air mat is going to get too thin in another year or two! I also need a lot of warmth at night, so none of this trying to endure in a 30* F bag with extra clothing! That's why my base weight runs 4-5 lbs. more than those UL folks over at Backpacking Light! (Of course I include a number of things they leave out, like fishing tackle and a camera!)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

#136099 - 07/12/10 12:23 PM Re: #3,000 Why Camp? [Re: Jimshaw]
finallyME Offline

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
Great points Jim. My mission generally involves taking my kids with me, which also means carrying some of their things. So far, I have only taken my oldest son. Next year, my second oldest son turns 4 1/2 and is the same age that I first took my oldest son. So next summer I plan to take an 8 year old and a 4 1/2 year old. I am thinking of modifying my old external. At least both of them will be able to carry their sleeping bag.
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.

#136123 - 07/12/10 04:01 PM Re: #3,000 Why Camp? [Re: Jimshaw]
billstephenson Offline

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3915
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Wow, that's a lot of posts!

And a great poem too DTape!

I certainly agree with your conclusion that "We can only help get someone into the ballpark."

I know a lot of people that would never head out into the wilderness, and others that have tried it, and hated it. But those who do hear "The Call" deserve whatever experience we may offer for the asking.

Jim, you have been very generous.

Thank you...

"You want to go where?"

#136315 - 07/14/10 10:36 PM Re: #3,000 Why Camp? [Re: Jimshaw]
DJ2 Offline

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 1348
Loc: Seattle, WA

Thanks for your contributions. You have a lot of info and the courage to share and take whatever comes in response. That's the sourdough starter discussions like these need.

#136369 - 07/15/10 05:44 PM Re: #3,000 Why Camp? [Re: DJ2]
MarkNM Offline

Registered: 05/03/10
Posts: 141
Loc: Pompton Lakes, NJ
Nice man...

I agree its what you want to get out of the experience and what you can handle...I often take alot of heat on my 85L TNF primero pack...but guess what I can handle it and enjoy its space holding my hopefully uneccesary extras...but i feel safer and enjoy my camping that much more

keep on posting...i usually agree with you and sometimes get adice...sometimes
I do it because I also helps that you are not there...

#136372 - 07/15/10 06:56 PM Re: #3,000 Why Camp? [Re: MarkNM]
Jimshaw Offline

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3939
Loc: Bend, Oregon
I've found that ya just can't say anything and make everybody happy. But then we're all different. I accept that we are all different and have different experiences, desires, fears, etc. So ya know what? I try to write things to start discussions and sometimes they turn less than polite, but then I keep in mind: This is a forum. Not everyone comes here for the reasons that I do. I found that I was duplicating between here and my blog site, so I decided to just write to you guys. I know I get a lot of readers and if only one or two is ticked off at me at any one time - thats better than any politician ever did. And again, I do my very best to offer advice based on my opinions and experience, when people write in seeking advice, but if I am generating a new thread I intentionally write things that make people write back - good or bad or just another opinion. Its a human thing to attibute your own motivations to others, its called projection. Angry people project anger, or assume that everyone else feels the same way. There are those that I simply ignore - theres an "ignore this person button", try it if you don't want to read my stuff, otherwise, go start your own thread.
Jim smile
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.


Shout Box

Highest Quality Lightweight Down Sleeping Bags
Western Mountaineering Sleeping Bags
Lite Gear Talk - Featured Topics
Pullover vs Zip Rain Jacket
by 4evrplan
09/13/18 05:12 PM
Multitool or knife scissors or dedicated scissors.
by SJS
08/29/18 09:32 AM
Sawyer and Platypus Threads Not the Same
by Bill Kennedy
04/11/18 09:19 PM
Backcountry Discussion - Featured Topics
Donnell Fire in the Sierra
by balzaccom
09/10/18 08:51 PM
First trip with Bear Vault 500..not enough space!
by willie1280
08/17/18 08:10 AM
Leaving a Mark
by balzaccom
07/10/18 09:32 PM
Make Your Own Gear - Featured Topics
Featured Photos
Breakneck Ridge, New York
May 2012 Eclipse, Lassen Park
New Years Eve 2011
Trip Report with Photos
Seven Devils, Idaho
Oat Hill Mine Trail 2012
Dark Canyon - Utah
Who's Online
0 registered (), 34 Guests and 0 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Newest Members
Korak, brucegrimes, Simon Eklöv, MrShelley, Bahy
12640 Registered Users
Forum Links
Site Links
Lightweight Gear Store
Backpacking Book Store
Lightweight Zone
Hiking Essentials

Our long-time Sponsor, - The leading source for ultralite/lightweight outdoor gear:

Backcountry Forum

Since 1996 - the Original Backcountry Forum
Copyright © The Lightweight Backpacker & BackcountryForum