Nov 19, 2005 at 2:12 pm #1217185
@awsorensenLocale: South of Forester Pass
Not to take anything away from this site but there is a realy good forum about this subj at backpacking.net.
I have below what the originator said and than the coments made on my behalf. I would also like to know what the opinion is over here since this site is much more dedicated to Ultra-lite
other than just light weight.
I haven’t browesed the forums lately but I wandered through REI this evening waiting to get into a resturant.
It occured to me with the advances in lightweight gear it might soon reach a point where there isn’t much advantage.
It would all depend on your level of fitness as well as the mileage and terrain ect. you’re covering but consider, would you really be able to notice the different between a 1lb baseweight (if such a thing existed) and 2lb?
I assume there is a line somewhere where the average person won’t reap much bennefit by further decreasing their base weight. (expect perhaps for bragging rights)
But of course our American “more is better” instinces will likely kick in at which point its perhaps even possible you will see the industry which as gone from the boy scout ‘everything but the kitchen sink always bee prepared’ mindset to the bare minimum mindset perhaps move back into where we are taking all sorts of crap again but still staying at a base weight of very light.
To that end its likely the real money over the next few years won’t be made by cottage brands releasing packs that are 1 oz lighter then last year but by making other luxury and useful items that have been reconstructed for the lightweight backpacker. I’m thinking of items that would now be considered perhaps a bit frivolous for the weight concious person like say a camp stool or the like but will perhaps one day very soon be completely accetable as you may be able to add it without making your base weight heavy enough to be a concern.
Gee, that’s funny that you were wondering through REI and It occurred to you with the advances in lightweight gear it might soon reach a point where there isn’t much advantage.
When I was in REI a few weeks ago, I was looking around and thinking, wow with all of these technological break throughs in lighting your load, why is everything in here so dang heavy?
Every piece of gear I looked at was some monstroserous thing that doesn’t even make since to me. People have seem to hit a stand-still with gear. For the size of the gear, it may have gotten lighter, but the pack size is the same.
This is why every person I saw at the store was trying on these HUGE 5000+ ci backpacks that may be technological but they still weigh 5-7 pounds.
5-7 pounds is what I try for my base weight year round, and I can manage to fit all of my gear and 3-5 days food in a 1550 ci pack that weighs in at under 4oz.
Thank God REI sells titanium!
Yes, the gear is out there to cover your theory about a minimalist stand point for someone who carries a 18 pound base weight pack and thinks, this wouldn’t be much different if there were only 9 pounds in the pack.
I you want to talk about ultra-lite backpacking being at a technological standstill, then you are wwwaaaayyyyyy off.
If I just purchased the gear I use and didn’t modify it to be the absolute lightest and still function, my base weight would about 8-10 pounds, (if I included switching out my homemade gear).
This would also mean that my pack would have to be around 2000ci to fit everything.
Then there are the true minimalist backpacking community that makes almost every piece of gear in their backpack because it CAN be made at least 2-3 times lighter than the way it is sold.
To be honest the real era of ultralite backpacking is just starting to come around.
There are hikers out there making gear out of Cuben material that has just come to the market for you or I to buy. They are making shelters that weigh 2-3oz and sub 2oz packs. Here I am in awe with my 10oz homemade tarptent and sub 4oz pack. The best part about this new era is that some of the gear is still in the works and hasn’t even been tested.
Hey, you may not think the best way of being happy is by having only an 18 pound base weight and to have it actually fit in a 5000ci backpack but 90+% of the people are out there buying the latest greatest and that’s what it is boiling down to and there thinking, (this must be that technologically most advanced light weight gear out there that everyone is talking about). The ultra-lite community has just caught and passed Ray Jardine, but the rest of the world still has a lot of catching up to do, (including the makers of the light weight gear).
When 90+% of the backpackers are going out with weights on their back like you’re talking about were the difference between 2 and 4 pounds doesn’t make a difference than I’ll agree with you.
If I ever cross by a backpacker with a sub 4lb base pack weight, they will most likely have on a pack that is smaller and less restricted than mine and you would also notice that he is passing me and has a bigger smile on his face.Nov 19, 2005 at 11:04 pm #1345505
In my opinion, yes, there is a point of deminishing returns.
You DO reach a point where your not getting any genuine value out of your uberhyperultramegalight gear, and your just lightening your gear for the sake of having the lightest load. Theres no actual benefit to it being lighter.
The average person cant tell the difference between a pack that weighs 10 pounds or 12 pounds, and Ive never met ANYONE who could tell the difference between 5.5 pounds and 6 pounds on their back. Weight differences in this class are functionally trivial. Any performance gains are, at the best, psychosomatic as such slight weight variances are easily compensated by basic PEL (perceived effort level) whereby things like walking form have more effect on your physical expenditures than such minute weights.
Maybe the guy passing you with a big smile on his face is passing you because he has excellent technique and is happy with the gear he has, not spending his hike trying to figure out how to shave a gram off of it.
(Note: The above is all just opinion based upon my own experiences. Please, if your offended that I dont find gram counting to be an exciting activity, feel free to take a deep breath and remember its not directed at you)Nov 22, 2005 at 12:56 pm #1345715
Well, obviously differences between 5 and 5.5 lbs. will not be felt, but I’m sure I’d notice the difference between 4 and say 8.5 lbs., esp. if climbing.Nov 22, 2005 at 2:01 pm #1345720
@scottalanpLocale: Northern California
It would seem to me that most of the folks who shop REI are enthusiastic about the outdoors, but may not be into any one activity as a lifelong endeavour. It seems to be a good starting point for a wide variety of people. The one close to my home, as I am sure most are, devotes at least as much space to clothing as it does equipment…which shows you where their average consumers’ proirities lie. Soccer moms who want to look cool at the gym or a boy-scout troop leader who needs dehydrated food for a trip are more common than folks who frequent this site. Obviously not a good place to get a read on the average consumer who is looking to incorporate light-weight gear into their life…as an on-going endeavour.
I have yet to cross paths with anyone (on the trail) who was out for a night with a 4 pound pack. Young folks especially just don’t feel the pain of 35 pounds as much. But it is those young people who stick with the activity that start to realize the advantage of being lighter as they age. Since I resumed backpacking 6 years ago, after a decade of in-activity, my pack weight for a 5 day trip has gone from 45 pounds to 25ish. Still a long way from ultra-lightweight…but I am moving along the paradigm and becoming more comfortable without gadgets for gadgets sake. And trust me, the lighter I get, the more my knees and feet notice. And I think it will take many more years of weighing any of my current items usefulness versus the cost to improvement ratio as I swap/upgrade. The whole concept of diminishing returns does not apply to me…and I would guess very few others who frequent the site. It assumes that you are already at 5 to 8 pounds…have everything 100% streamlined and would be doing something like boring-out match stick handles or something.(and if that kind of thing makes you happy, so be it.) But if you can finally decide to leave the 3 pound tent behind in the face of thick masquitos or torrential rain (which I can’t as of yet) in favor of a 14 ounce tarp…that is not a diminishing return.
The only other thing I would add is that the single factor that has contributed to my increased well-being and happiness on the trail since starting back 6 years ago is really focusing on nutrition and hydration. I would happily carry an extra 10 pounds up the trail from Hetch Hetchy to Beehive Meadow in the heat of a July day if I had to choose between that or not having a few Goo’s and proper electrolytes. The first time I did this hike I had only 2 liters of water and hit the wall about 1 mile from the destination. 10 extra pounds seems like nothing compared to just trying to walk when your body is shutting down. So to that point…any focus on weight alone is a “diminishing return” if you don’t spend as much time on keeping your body in shape!Nov 22, 2005 at 2:16 pm #1345721
Good points, one and all. I think you CAN reach a point of diminishing return. The issue seems to be, HAVE WE. In an absolute sense, we may have. I maintain a set of “theoretical” backpacking kit lists. They range from 3 lbs up to about 30 lbs. I don’t have the money to buy all this equipment, or I would (well, if my wife let me live long enough). Anyway, I try to stay abreast of what’s out there.
The interesting thing is that from about 5 lbs up to about 15 lbs, the only real difference is the level of comfort I would bring along. I use the term comfort loosely, and translate that as a bigger tent, bigger pack, warmer sleeping bag, thicker sleeping pad, etc. As always, that “comfort” is bought at the price of a heavier packload. (Which, curiously, ought to be translated as less comfortable.) At 3 lbs, I would use a tarp and bivy. At 5 lbs, I would bring a tent. At 9 lbs, I would bring a larger, warmer sleeping bag. At 11 lbs, I would have a more comfortable pack. (Made necessary by the other increases in “comfort” that I’ve added.)
The point to be made here is that this type of equipment, by and large, isn’t what REI is selling. REI has become a fashion store that sells some backpacking equipment. They are not, nor (I believe) do they want to be on the cutting edge of the lightweight revolution. That is best left to specialist outfits such as BPL. But, if the lightweight revolution is ever to become mainstream, costs are going to have to be controlled better than weights. The cutting edge 3 lb backpacking kit I mention costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,200. In fact, I find that most cutting edge lightweight equipment runs from $10 to $30 per OUNCE! I think I know why you almost never see inner-city boys out backpacking. And why there are special charities begging for old used equipment to be donated to these groups. And, not coincidentally, why most Boy Scouts don’t go ultralight.
A separate issue is the one of comfort. That same 3 lb kit is not one that I would use even if I was willing to spring the cash for it. Not comfortable enough. I’ve reached the point (read: age) that I want to be comfortable when I go backpacking. I’m willing to invest in a Stephenson’s Warmlite 3R tent (both financially, as well as the extra weight involved versus, say a Tarptent) so that I have extra room and the ability to close up completely. I also can’t stand mummy bags, so I’ve invested in a large Exped insulated mat / Speers down quilt combo. In other words, I’m willing to haul around some weighty equipment (hey, all things are relative) just in the hopes of getting a better night’s rest. But I STILL look high and low to find the lightest example of each piece of equipment.
And, I suspect most people are like that. Given a choice between comfort in camp, versus comfort on the trail, most will choose comfort in camp, as long as it doesn’t come at too high a price (both weight and financial). I think this, because most people get into the back country to see what’s there, not to see how many miles they can cover.
So, do I want everyone to be super ultra duper dee light? Sure, that would be nice. But it’s not going to happen anytime soon. Do I want manufacturers to continue to take weight into consideration when they design equipment? You bet. The less it seems like weightlifting or torture (your choice), the more likely people are to get out into the backcountry. And that will have all sorts of beneficial side effects.
But that decreased weight is going to have to be accompanied by a decrease in cost if this is to become the new mainstream.Nov 22, 2005 at 2:39 pm #1345726
Ben 2 WorldParticipant
@ben2worldLocale: So Cal
We often focus on the effect of gear weight reduction. But isn’t that just half the equation?
Our bodies need weights to increase strength and endurance! For that reason, I tend to take the middle road.
I shudder whenever I hear ULers advising TEENS to buy all UL equipment and super comfy aircore sleeping pads! If young people start off carrying the lightest and using the most comfortable gear, will that still feel light to them? What will they do when they hit 60?
Now, I am not a sadist and wouldn’t advice a kid to haul 65-70 lbs. simply because that would be a sure way to kill off backpacking.
But I really think kids (particularly the older teens) should build up their strength and endurance by carrying reasonable weights that they can handle while still enjoying the challenge! Later on in life, they can cut down on weight and pick amongst the soft and the light, as appropriate.Nov 22, 2005 at 2:47 pm #1345727
REI is not focused on “superultramegalight”, however its no slouch on having good light to ultralight gear.
Golite, Snow Peak, Marmot, Sierra Designs, Granite Gear, Jetboil, PolarPure, Trangia, etc etc etc….
No, your not going to have some featherweight bag, but you CAN go into REI, plop down the cash, and walk out with a more than respectable collection of GOOD UL gear.
Why hate the REI?Nov 22, 2005 at 3:11 pm #1345729
I’d like to challenge the idea that UL gear is more expensive. One of the things that really surprised me when I started getting into lighter gear is that it’s actually cheaper, on the whole, mostly because it’s less complex.
Consider the price of a tent vs. a tarp. Even the most high-tech tarps are dirt cheap by comparison to good quality tents. You can easily get a good UL backpack for under $100. Try finding a good 5 lb pack for that price. The lightest rainwear is cheaper than heavier Gore-Tex jackets by far. Many alcohol stoves are so cheap the price is almost negligible compared to a canister or liquid fuel stove. Plus, lightweight backpackers just bring less stuff. To pervert a quote by Ray Jardine, “When you eliminate an item from your pack, you reduce its cost by 100%”. Also, lightweight gear can be homemade more easily than complicated heavy gear, giving us the option of producing gear extremely cheaply.
The one general exception is sleeping bags: a good, UL bag is cripplingly expensive. Even here there are cheaper options though: Fanatic Fringe sells a lightweight Polarguard sleeping quilt for $140 or so, and you can make your own with one of Jardine’s kits for about $30 I think.
So we can add another advantage to lightweight backpacking: price.Nov 22, 2005 at 3:19 pm #1345732
@ryanfLocale: Mid atlantic, No. Cal
I agree with some of Benjamins comments, I think that teens should go as light as posible, but still challenge themselves with more miles per day.
the kids carrying 50lb packs can only walk 10 miles a day compared to me going 25 a day with a 4lb pack.
but when you stay with 10 miles and a light pack you have accomplished nothing, just wasted money.
when it comes to expensive ul gear, I dont think there is any. because even a down sleeping bag you can make for under a 150 dollars. and stoves for about a dollar, and anythng else for under 50Nov 22, 2005 at 3:44 pm #1345734
@bugbombLocale: South Texas
I think the point of diminishing gains comes when your gear is so ultralight that you have to pay more attention to it than you would if it was slightly heavier.
My hope in my hiking and gear-making is that my gear won’t get in the way of my wilderness experience. If it’s too heavy, it gets in the way because I dread the hills. If it’s too light or if I leave something home, durability and comfort (mostly warmth) become detractions because I’m either worrying about my gear (thinking about my gear! On the trail!) or I’m miserable (shivering in a too-light/soggy sleeping bag). Now, if I’m aiming for a specific challenge (going tarp-less, or carrying all my water for a weekend), that’s one thing. But if I’m just going out to enjoy hiking, I try to balance weight and convenience. I realize that “fun” is interpreted differently by different people, but if I make a bad gear decision that makes for a miserable trip, I have to wait sometimes 4-6 months before I can really hit the trail again.
I think that one thing that made me realize that Ray Jardine (almost typed RJ, then realized the potential confusion with our other illustrious RJ, Ryan Jordan. Coincidence? I think not… ;) ) didn’t present a realistic model for me was that he was, for lack of a better term, a “lifestyle hiker.” He may have spent more time on the trail than off, and he was on for months at a time. This made certain of his decisions more logical for him than they would be for me (see an old BPL thread on trip length as it relates to finding the baseweight “Sweet Spot”).
That was a bit more of a ramble than I intended, but I think that there are a number of factors that come into play when I’m weighing, literally and figuratively, the merits of my gearlist. I don’t honestly know that for a weeklong trip I could tell much of a difference between 10 and 15 pounds on my back – maybe I’m just not super sensitive. Hopefully, one day, my trips will be more frequent, and I can take greater practical risks (part of the fun, no?) with my gear without having to risk making my once-a-semester trip one with regrets. That time in the mountains means too much to me to squander it fiddling and complaining. With a 7-pound base weight, I don’t worry about a thing, rain, snow, wind, or water. With a 4-pound base weight, there’s less margin.
Better a bad day on the trail than a good day off…
Any “behavior modification” advocates care to chime in? Anyone else feel the same way (rather risk extra weight than risk ruining a much-anticipated and much-needed trip)? Like I said, I look forward to the day when my adventures are more frequent.
BenNov 22, 2005 at 4:04 pm #1345735
@ryanfLocale: Mid atlantic, No. Cal
I belive that the greatest comfort comes from a light pack.
but you dont need to give up comfort to golite.
Hammock camping is a great comfort and you can still go SUL.
I can sleep in any conditions comfortably, I hope this advantage dosent leave as I get old, because I have a great time whenever I go out, and never regret the weight savings of a thin foam pad and tarp.
and I dont sleep in a hammock :-)
now that my pack weighs nothing, the challenge is npt carrying a heavy pack, it is walking up to 30 miles a day.
when you go XUL your challenge and attitude changes tword backpackingNov 22, 2005 at 4:13 pm #1345737
@kennyhel77Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
I think that whatever works for you do it. I have a bad back and need some comfort for sleeping. My sleeping pad is inflatable and weighs in at 18oz. Not exactly ultralight. But… I have a base weight of 12 lbs. and for a weeks hike I top out at 20 lbs. I sleep well because the most important piece of gear besides my mind is my sleeping bag. This is my ultimate protection against the cold. I have been in some wonderful storms in The Sierra’s where is has snowed, rained, and had some high winds. No worries because I was warm. Hike your own hike.Nov 22, 2005 at 8:59 pm #1345762
@scottalanpLocale: Northern California
For me, the biggest insight into the gear weight advancement question is how intrinsic it is to long-distance hiking…and how regardless of technology or scientific advancement…the general personal profile of the enthusiasts drives the goals and the desires…and probably will not change in a major way for 100 years or more.
It probably is just babble, but if you stop and think about who you are and why you hike, it stands to reason that there will be someone just like you in the future.
Whether it is the younger person whose prestine body does not know the pain of overuse/abuse and whose highest needs are fulfilled by walking some total mileage number that resonates with a sense of “world-class” and finds an identity in striving for that. Or the slightly older person who has figured out a few tricks to compensate for some ailments, but still likes a challenge and doesn’t mind a little suffering…Or the even older person who now goes out really just because they realize the weather is nice, and they may not have the option to do this forever…and whatever the mileage or the weight they just want to appreciate the experience.
Again…it’s just babble and an over-generalization, but it is very evident and encouraging to know that some people will push the envelope with fragile equipment and long mileage…and some will find a balance somewhere else. For me, this reminds me not to judge anyone for their style…and also for as long as they come up with new lighter equipment there will be people in the future who will have reasons they don’t need to buy it.
And just for the record, I shop at REI…but if I were starting over…I don’t think I could buy any one of the 3 major components of the equipment basics there…with the exception of maybe the bag. The selection of backpacks is the most glaring case where the selection of lightweight packs is minimal if non-existent.Dec 5, 2005 at 8:33 pm #1346574
@awsorensenLocale: South of Forester Pass
Thank’s for all the great feed back.
Please don’t think I have something against REI. It’s the only backpacking store I know that carries 90% of the gear that 90% of the people are looking for.
I’m also glad to see that everyone got off topic on comfort vs weight, weight vs mileage, and cost vs weight instead of beating the principles to death.
As far as comfort goes, I never attempt to jeopardize comfort for weight.
As far as price goes, that’s hard issue to debate. Now that I have my base weight down to sub 5, I’m very satisfied where I am at. If someone else wanted to purchase all the gear on my list, yeah it would cost less than heavier gear, but the price it took to get there sure would be a heck of a lot more. It took what seems like forever, (about a year in a half to get from just over 9 lbs to sub 5.
Here’s just a little example.
Bought a pack, messed with it, ruined it, bought another pack, didn’t like it, (wife‘s now). Made a pack, too big, didn’t work. Made a new pack, ditched it for a different version and then improved it also making it lighter by using different gear. LOVE IT..
The above was about 8 months of tinkering and a lot more money than any expensive bag costs at REI.
The good thing is, once you’ve done it once the right way, it’s very easy to reproduce with the same results. After repeating this process for almost every major piece of gear, it all equaled out to a 4 pound loss.
Worth it? Definitely! I would do it again in a heartbeat. But then again not everyone enjoys such pleasure.
Of course what I believe is the ultimate advantage of making most of your gear is, total customization and person fit. On top of that, having what I didn’t believe was possible of fitting 5 days of supplies into a 4oz 1550ci pack that is padded and fits better than any other pack I’ve ever tried makes me wonder why everyone isn‘t doing it. The difference between a 3000+ci pack and a 1550 is almost uncomprehensible.
My biggest aid in getting to sub 5 was the balloon bed. I made a 6 balloon version with a solid floor, but just 3 one inch pieces going over the top to hold it together. I find the 6 balloon version works soo much better than 5 because you have a center area where your spine is. Total weight – 1.5oz and it folds up to the size of a computer mouse.
I’m now working on a 2 balloon version that fits snug along just the sides of your body, (back sleeper) and tucks under your head . If I can get it work, the total weight will be 0.8oz and it will fold to the size of a D-cell battery. Why so light? Because even at 0.8oz it will still be just as comfortable as a 10oz Bozzerman Mat, but 12 1/2 times lighter and more compressible.
These are the reasons that I believe that we have not hit a point of diminishing gains.
Yeah, maybe I can hike 25-30 miles a day. Even if I don’t, the possibility is out there, but it’s not for all of the unwilling.
The bottom line is I don’t enjoy lugging around 20+ pounds of gear and trying to get 12 miles down the trail by dark. That’s not getting close to nature. It doesn’t matter how strong you are, it’s what ever works for you, but good luck on getting same experience I will. I guess the reason someone really thinks they need a heavy pad is that after carrying around that pack all day, your back is killing you…Aug 13, 2009 at 11:26 pm #1520794
I've made two complete spreadsheets..
The first is 4.5lbs baseweight, the priorities of this are in order: weight, durability, comfort.
(Poncho tarp, bivy)
The second I have is about 7.5lbs with the priorities being: comfort, weight, durability.
(hammock, huge tarp, underquilt)
How much of an actual effect does that 3lbs have? Would the better nights sleep make up for carrying the extra weight during the day? Does the enjoyment I get out of carrying 3 less pounds overcome the enjoyment of being able to be comfortable while not walking?Aug 14, 2009 at 7:50 am #1520839
@kieranLocale: Seattle, WA
Hi all – I'm kinda new here, been lurking for a while, but this thread intrigues me enough that I must come out of my shell :)
You need to look further – consider weight like your checking account balance – eventually we'll be at the point where the weight load for backpacker will be negative. How? Well, the defense contractors are developing exoskeletons, and already have rudimentary working models that will allow a test subject to carry a couple hundred pounds for a full day without feeling the effects. If you're not familiar with the concept, it's essentially a metal frame that has joints like your legs and hips, you strap a load onto the "back" of it, and it's computer senses your movements and sends signals to hydraulic lifters to handle the load. So imagine if you will, a day when you can bring the comforts you desire, and climbing to the greatest peaks you could dream, all the while hardly breaking a sweat.
The model I've seen would be incredibly non-intrusive, while giving you amazing hauling abilities. On the one hand, it would be very very cool. On the other hand, it would totally suck because then only $$$ would separate the hordes of crowds from every remote place.Aug 14, 2009 at 8:19 am #1520843
There is one point I have not heard about this subject yet.
I read pack weight comparisons, shelter weight comparisons, etc, but within all this, especially our lightweight community here, I have yet to hear the point of knowledge.
With the lightweight gear comes a requirement of lightweight knowledge and the average have-to-have-the-best, can’t-spend-the-time-learning-what-I-really-have type customer has no patience to learn how to actually use UL or SUL gear before they buy it. Take the average Joe-Blow customer above tree line in questionable weather with a Cuben tarp and you have a recipe for disaster.
REI has made great strides in moving towards the lightweight minded, but still do not come close to the superior SUL cottage industries because of the lack of knowledge to the general public. The knowledaghle will seek out the MLDs and the BMWs.
All this is my humble opinion and based on my own experiences. I started with a Gregory Whitney for crying out loud. 7.5 pounds dry, a Sierra Designs PG3D bag (3lbs, 11oz), and a Sierra Designs Omega (7.5 pounds with stakes); a total OVERNIGHT pack weight of a scant 42 pounds. All this weight equaled me not knowing what the hell I was getting myself into. Now my fall base pack weight is less than six pounds because I know what to do in most situations in the areas I backpack with the minimalist gear I take.
I don’t know if all this gobily-goop I just wrote is even relative, but it seems it is to me. The lighter you go, the more you need to know and the general public is just simply not up to snuff. (That sounded elitist, but I am sticking with it) :)Aug 14, 2009 at 8:41 am #1520844
@nerdboy52Locale: "Alas, poor Yogi.I knew him well."
IMO, we reached that point a long time ago. For example, I just finished a three-day jaunt with 11.5 pounds on my back. The main "burden" was my 1.5-pound Contrail. I could have shaved a few ounces by switching to a spinnaker tarp and bug bivy , for example, but I would have had to sacrifice a bit of comfort to do so, and it will be awhile (I hope) before 11.5 pounds seems like a burden.
The technology has pretty much carried us as far a we can go. Any further reductions will have to come at the expense of minimal comfort. This is, after all, supposed to be fun!
StargazerAug 14, 2009 at 8:49 am #1520846
Well, this thread hits on the Reason for going UL or SUL in the first place.Aug 14, 2009 at 10:35 am #1520868
I think the technology that allows a 3oz backpack to be made is great. But where I think we are headed is to make these lightweight materials more durable. Image one of the Blast packs with the durability of Cordura.Aug 14, 2009 at 11:11 am #1520878
@nerdboy52Locale: "Alas, poor Yogi.I knew him well."
"I think the technology that allows a 3oz backpack to be made is great. But where I think we are headed is to make these lightweight materials more durable. Image one of the Blast packs with the durability of Cordura."
I think we're already there as far as low-weight and durability are concerned. A Fanatic Fringe Alpine Trail BP weighs 6 oz and is just as durable as my older Granite Gear BP at almost 4 pounds. I'm sacrificing no comfort in camp and the walk is made considerably more comfortable on the trail. Given the opportunity to resupply every 4 – 5 days, you can have the relative comfort of a real, bug-proof tent, a one-pound 30-degree sleeping quilt, and sufficient food and water, and still come in at under 12 pounds.
I'll grant you that the extreme adventurers among us want to go farther and faster, and every oz. counts to them. But for the average AT through hiker or the weekend warrior, a durable 12 pounds is PDG, and the law of diminishing returns starts to kick in in a serious way.
StargazerAug 14, 2009 at 12:28 pm #1520904
So Aaron and other record attempters, I assume you skipped the bear can on your unsupported record attempts. Did you just ignore the regs and hope for the best, or work it out with the rangers or what? Just trying to understand how you get so light.Aug 14, 2009 at 4:53 pm #1520969
Actually, most of the JMT does not require a bear canister (yet…), and a fast-and-light hiker could traverse the canister-required areas, perhaps sleeping at existing bear lockers within them, without violating storage requirements. The longest canister-required stretches are Happy Isles-Tuolumne and Tuolumne-Reds Meadow, both less than 30 miles. The other major canister-required zone–Woods Creek to Forester Pass–has several bear boxes along the way.Aug 14, 2009 at 7:14 pm #1520992
@mpopovLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
You can get a specific permit for travelling from bear box to bear box. I believe this is what Mark Davis used on his unsupported attempt.
This is the link to all 137 bear boxes in the Sierra Nevada region:Aug 14, 2009 at 8:09 pm #1521008
@mpopovLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Very interesting topic, and good discussion.
No, the point of diminishing returns has not been reached (in my humble opinion) it will never be reached because of evolution of materials, technology and production techniques. Just like when you think you got the most powerful and up-to-date notebook on the planet (very expensive), half a year later there's twice as powerful notebook out there and twice as cheap.
Technology evolves and so is the lightweightness of backpacking. Until I see the negative weight load (helium-filled?) I don't believe we have reached the point of diminishing returns.
I agree though that there's a point of diminishing returns of comfort and durability right now. You just can't go out with a sub 3 lbs base weight and be comfortable in the camp. Nor can you just thrash your gear around.
The lightweight gear is made for one purpose – going fast, light, and long. I see the trip announcements here and wonder – boy, if you really want to hike 6 miles out to spend the night just to hike out back… is it really worth it or is it just a chance to show off each other's pieces of cuben/titanium/carbon fiber thingies?
"I think this, because most people get into the back country to see what’s there, not to see how many miles they can cover."
If you are getting in backcountry to see what's there, you see what's there by covering miles. This is why UL gear is your friend. But if you just want to hike out for some 6-10 miles – you don't need UL. Unless, of course, there are some physical limitations or medical problems. 10 miles out – might as well stay comfy, make a fire and do some fishing.
I had just as much fun lugging 76 lbs pack on the main Whitney Trail to spend two beautiful days at Trail Camp(little sweat, little workout, no regrets, all smiles) as I had running the same trail with 1.5 lbs total weight, including water (feels good to run, no weight, no regrets, all smiles) to just move fast and to see the constant change of scenery for almost 20 hours.
Isn't that what UL is for? Dynamically seeing more, and not being "comfortably" stuck in a static scenery?
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.