Nov 10, 2010 at 5:51 pm #1265351
@ikeLocale: Central Michigan
Ryan Jordan once posed the question "Why ultralight backpacking?" Does our participation in the sport shape who we become, or does our involvement reflect who we already are or want to be? Nature vs Nurture?
For most of us,I suspect it is in our nature. A willingness to exist on the lunatic fringe, to accept a little suffering as part of the package, to add meaning to the experience by overcoming adversity (cold, fear, hunger, fatigue, pain), to push the boundaries of possible, and to plan within tight margins.
But maybe UL backpacking is shaping me too. Since becoming a gram counter, I've found myself lately going through my clothing, library, and other possessions, and donating heavily to goodwill. Anything I haven't used in a year gets scrutinized. If it lives in a box in closet or attic, it's almost certainly gone. Having less and living more simply seems more appealing now. If I can help someone else in the process, all the better.
Anyone else find UL creeping into daily life?Nov 10, 2010 at 6:33 pm #1663028
@dan_quixoteLocale: below the mountains (AK)
I have 50+ cotton t-shirts accumulated since I was 11 (I know I have at least one from then, 14 years ago). After steeping myself in UL backpacking ideology all summer, mostly through this site, I began the slow whittling process and will begin on the 7 years worth of collected shoes and pants I never wear.
I still can't pass up a good deal, though. =)Nov 10, 2010 at 6:39 pm #1663031
@creachenLocale: East Bay
UL Backpacking has not creeped into my life it has changed it for evermore..Ditto on everything you said on the first post…I have gotten rid of so much stuff over the years-big and small and alot of donations also..I moved alot in my 20's and early 30's thus accumulating a lot of junk and stuff–Less is more is no joke. The simplicity of a long backpacking trip-taking only what you need to get by- really has permanently creeped into my day to day life..Live with in your means and be happy….Nov 10, 2010 at 8:20 pm #1663061
@biointegraLocale: Puget Sound
For me, philosophically, UL came from the inside out, in a peculiar kind of way:
" …Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." (From the beginning of the 12th Chapter of the book of Hebrews in the Bible)
As it plays out in my life, "UL" and "Leave No Trace" backpacking (in approach and practice) are natural extensions of the philosophy that I live by, which is contained in or deduced from the Bible, which is in turn probably best summarized in the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms.
From classic 17th century literature, John Bunyan's A Pilgrim's Progress, begins the complementary allegorical backpacking scene quite appropriately:
"As I walked through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a
certain place where was a den,  and laid me down in that place to
sleep; and as I slept, I dreamed a dream. I dreamed, and behold, I saw
a man clothed with rags, standing in a certain place, with his face
from his own house, a book in his hand, and a great burden upon his
and later on in the book…
"and the very sight of
him made my burden fall off my back; for I groaned under a very heavy
burden, but then it fell down from off me."
In a nutshell, Bunyan again says it well:
"Up this way, therefore, did burdened Christian
run, but not without great difficulty, because of the load on his back.
He ran thus till he came at a place somewhat ascending; and upon that
place stood a cross, and a little below, in the bottom, a sepulchre. So
I saw in my dream, that just as Christian came up with the cross, his
burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and
began to tumble, and so continued to do till it came to the mouth of
the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more.
Then was Christian glad and lightsome, and said with a merry heart, "He
hath given me rest by his sorrow, and life by his death." Then he stood
still a while, to look and wonder; for it was very surprising to him
that the sight of the cross should thus ease him of his burden. He
looked, therefore, and looked again, even till the springs that were in
his head sent the waters down his cheeks."Nov 11, 2010 at 3:03 pm #1663301
spelt with a tParticipant
@speltLocale: SW/C PA
I went the opposite direction. Cleaning out and simplifying my life (a task still in process) led me to an interest in backpacking and ultra/light seemed to be the way to go. I have too much *stuff*. It was eating at me. Of course, now I'm buying backpacking *stuff*, but it's a drop in the bucket compared to what I've gotten rid of already (and I'm only maybe 2/3 done with the purge).Nov 11, 2010 at 4:08 pm #1663313
@leighbLocale: Northeast Texas Pineywoods
I started to downsized about five years ago (before I go into backpacking) I live in a 1000 sq ft house, less to heat/cool,clean,lower taxes;drive a Toyota Matrix, it's big enough to carry all my hiking and paddling gear.
I think most of us live with too much "stuff". I have to say though,since seeing the "lite", I have become more obsessive about it. I go through my house about every 6-12 mos. culling anything I don't feel I need any longer,and donate it to local charities,library,etc.
I have become a firm believer in less is more…more liberating, for me anyway.
I'm also more aware of what I spend money on….I will spend $100 dollars on down booties, but buy something to wear to work from the thrift store. It's all about priorities :)
LeighNov 11, 2010 at 7:54 pm #1663356
@ryanLocale: Northern Rockies
I love existing in the lunatic fringe because it makes for good stories and a life lived with vigor.
But by itself, it's not enough.
I think UL has a lot more substance than just being "lunatic" and will say wholeheartedly that it has had a huge impact on other areas of my life, including how I organize my home, the amount of stuff I own, my business operations, etc.
I do NOT exist in the fringe when it comes to consumerism but I LOVE the challenge of owning as few consumer goods as possible, and I get real satisfaction from throwing stuff away, FreeCycling, and donating to Goodwill.
I have a dream to live in a Tiny Home and I am married the right woman so I know that I can live with her for long periods of time in a small space. However, I'm not convinced she's married to the right man to know that she can live with me for long periods of time in a small space :)
The most satisfying philosophical component of ultralight backpacking that I like in the rest of my life is a clean, simple, and uncluttered design aesthetic. It affects my consumer buying decisions as much as performance and features, and it impacts how I elect to organize much of my life.
For example, I'm at my most creative when I write when I have my Macbook on my wood kitchen table with natural light streaming in, and nothing else. I have to remove the placemats, the napkin holder, and the bills due and make sure the table is completely clean, and all the room lights off, before I can really feel that freedom to write well.
Every single day I am committed to removing at least one object from my possessions. I've been doing it intentionally now for several months. If I buy something new, then I remove two items. It was hard at first, but now it's easy. I sometimes get rid of something big (I freecycled a car last year). Most days it's something small (a mechanical pencil in the pencil holder that no longer works). It takes the pressure off having to feel the need to purge vast quantities of possessions at once (although when I do have time for that, it's quite satisfying), and reminds me every single day how fortunate and blessed I am to have the option to make choices about my possessions. This, in turn, has given me a softer heart for those in need, and has radically transformed my heart towards one of gratefulness and away from a spirit of complaining about not having what I want or think I need.
The ultralight philosophy is a beautiful thing.Nov 11, 2010 at 8:09 pm #1663363
The UL mindset can really change you radically.
At the age of 50, thanks to a UL mindset, I finally decided to get circumcised to lower my "base weight". I insisted on titanium surgical instruments, sanitized in water boiling in an MLD 850ml titanium pot on a Ti-Tri Caldera Cone (burning wood), since I had some Everclear from an old alcohol stove setup I used that as my pain killer, and instead of regular gauze I decided on leukotape after the surgery. Boy was that a bad decision.
Yeah, the UL mindset can make you do crazy things……..Nov 12, 2010 at 3:47 am #1663424
@leighbLocale: Northeast Texas Pineywoods
I like your idea of culling frequently and I'm glad to know others do it; I was beginning to wonder if I was afflicted with the opposite of hording LOL. There really is something invigorating about living in a spartan manner, at least for me. I love looking around and NOT seeing clutter and excess.
LeighNov 12, 2010 at 4:52 am #1663432
@newtonLocale: Southeastern Louisiana
He instructed them to take nothing on the journey but a walking stick – no food, no traveling bag, not a coin in the purses on their belts. "Do not bring a second tunic," he said,
Mark 6:8-9 :-)
NewtonNov 12, 2010 at 12:20 pm #1663582
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
You go to Starbucks for coffee, and you hand them your titanium mug to be filled.
–B.G.–Nov 12, 2010 at 1:02 pm #1663605
when u weight yourdoggie and trim all the useless stuff to lower the base weight
dogs dont need tails do they???
hmmmmmmmNov 13, 2010 at 7:11 pm #1664015
I got rid of so much junk today…it was awesome. The good stuff when to the local re-use-it center and the garbage went to the dump/recycling center. I had old ski boots, jackets, yoga mats, helmets, coffee makers etc overflowing from my car. It sure feels good. Tomorrow I'm going to tackle my clothes closet.Nov 13, 2010 at 7:21 pm #1664018
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
"I finally decided to get circumcised to lower my "base weight"."
Now, if you were REALLY serious about lowering your "base weight", Doug………. :-]Nov 13, 2010 at 8:08 pm #1664026
Uuuhhh…I think some people are being dishonest here….
Hate to admit it, but I have WAY more gear now that I'm an UL/SUL backpacker than before I knew this existed.
Sure my PACK is light, but…what's at home?
Gone are the days of my single, external frame pack, one 15 degree sleeping bag, one whitegas stove, one 2 man/4 season tent….
In those days of old, trips were quite simple. There were no spreadsheets (I had no computer), there were no scales; just a small pile of gear in the corner of a closet.
I wore jeans back then, added a flannel shirt or military surplus polypro for warmth, and I thought fleece was pretty high tech when I first bought one, I carried the same, heavy synthetic parka backpacking that I used for snowboarding. My raingear was plastic and could've also served me well on a crabbing boat.
I remember the epiphany of my first headlamp! Holy crap, I'm cooking without a light in my teeth! Now there are too many choices…
Water treatment…Iodine. That was it.
If my life reflected the the time I spend thinking about gear or how much I own, I'd be in trouble. And I'm not half as bad as a lot of folks on this site!
Now if my life were based on what's IN MY PACK at any given time these days…well, my life would rival Ghandi's.
But if my life reflected my post-UL gear locker and the myriad of choices, options and weights for all occasions and seasons….
I'd have five different cars in the driveway, a house for every season (or at least 2 or 3), 4 TVs to choose from, 3 kitchens….
Now we all have mountains of gear so that we may appear to have none when on the trail.
Hands down, my gear was SO much simpler before UL.
It's funny…People try to convert people to UL and preach simplicity. But any newbie to this site and it's forums would be overwhelmed with anxiety over all the options, the CO2 emissions of one stove vs. another, tarps vs. single wall vs. double wall vs. hammock vs. tarp+bivy….OOOh don't forget a good debate on bivy condensation and fabric breathability.
Ever notice a how a "help me find a jacket" thread can easily run 4 pages and end up pushing 20 different options?
Underwear discussions can run 10!
This is why REI sells a lot of stuff; get this tent, this bag, this stove, this pack,…..DONE. Now go backpacking. No research papers or PHD dissertations to read.Nov 13, 2010 at 8:53 pm #1664039
@davidlutzLocale: Bay Area
"Now we all have mountains of gear so that we may appear to have none when on the trail."
That's good Craig, a classic – and true.Nov 13, 2010 at 10:08 pm #1664052
like was sooo much simper when i was carrying a 30 lb base weight
at least then i just stuffed all my outdoor gear in my pack and went on the trail
now i can only select 10 lb of the 100lb of gear i have … sighNov 14, 2010 at 9:11 am #1664114
@sarbarLocale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Backpacking and hiking are parts of my life but not the end all. I carry less stuff when hiking because it feels better, I don't need extra stuff after years of dialing in my gear, etc.
But it doesn't mean I want to live in a tiny studio apartment with my husband and 2 kids either.
Just like I love the wide open outdoors I like breathing space at home.
I am sure in compared to many people I don't have a lot of material possessions but neither am I spartan. I take up one side of our garage with my bike, kid trailer, jogging stroller and all of the other kid related junk we own and then with all our outdoor gear fills the rest of that side! My life isn't simple and I don't want it simple ;-P I like choices. And that is one thing about light hiking – to make it work for me I don't have one kit, I have multiple choices, often 5 or 6 combination's to choose from – so I can choose depending on weather or where I am going.Nov 15, 2010 at 11:17 am #1664455
@ikeLocale: Central Michigan
This weekend another box of clothes and 2 boxes of books found new owners. Just goes to show, long after you have whittled down your packlist to its bare minimum, you can still enjoy the same intellectual challenge by going to work on your closet. I used to think that my book collection told the story of my life and interests. Now, I find that a few well used items say much more.
@Sarah– Kids change everything. I have a 2 year old and a 4 year old. I think part of my obsession with shrinking possessions may relate to the piles of kid stuff now blossoming in my living room.
@Craig– I'm not disagreeing with you. I have gear for a variety of situations as well. I have summer and winter backpacks and sleeping bags, a solo tarp-poncho and a family sized tent, solo and group pots. I use them all and would not get rid of them. But when I can reduce, it makes me happy. For example, I'd rather have 15 shirts in my closet that I like enough to wear every 2 weeks than 50 shirts that may never see the light of day.
@Ryan– You summed up my meaning far better than I could. Now I finally understand why I've always felt obligated to clean my office before starting on a project. And here I thought I was just procrastinating.Nov 27, 2010 at 2:14 am #1668287
Ryan, I love the idea of getting rid of one item a day and two if I bought something. That's just ingenious. I'm still going ahead with my plan to do another big purge this next week.
The wife and I did a little purge on the library last week. I also like the idea of building a camper van… I've already broached the subject to her so it won't be much of a surprise. Now I just need to figure out how to take her on that "trip" without losing my life shortly thereafter.
So to answer the question, yes, it has impacted my life greatly. I manage finances better and strive for efficiency in everything I own on top of keeping very little more than what I really need.Dec 10, 2010 at 9:39 pm #1673125
"Every single day I am committed to removing at least one object from my possessions."
Ryan: Since I read your post I have tried to remove one possession each day also. I have been at it now for a few weeks. At the outset I was concerned that I would quickly run out of things I wanted to discard.
To my pleasant surprise, just the opposite has happened. My list of things I plan to consider for recycling, give away or trash has been growing, not shrinking, with no end in sight. Each day it has been very easy to find one possession to remove.
Many of the things I have gotten rid of have been things I have had for years, some more than a decade. Just collecting dust.
I look forward to deciding what to get rid of each day and plan to continue indefinitely.
I have for years worked to simplify my life and possessions (an uphill battle for sure), but for some reason this simple practice has caused me to notice more acutely how many new possessions still enter my life daily, which assures me I will not run out of things to remove for quite some time.
-Jeremy.Dec 11, 2010 at 12:51 pm #1673256
@davidloomeLocale: American Southwest
I think what's affected my lifestyle so much is not necessarily UL backpacking- It's simply spending weeks and months by myself with what I can carry on my back or bike. Whether that's 6lb or 15lb or whatever, the result is the same: Whenever I get back home, I think "WOW I have a lot of stuff" and do a sort of 'pack shakedown' of my possessions and lifestyle.
I definitely approach consumer choices in the same way I build a gear list for a hike now- I don't buy stuff I don't need or won't use regularly, I don't buy single-use items, if I haven't used something in a long time it goes to Goodwill, and I'd rather borrow and trade than buy something new that I won't use regularly. Things like books I pass on instead of accumulating…
Because I usually spend 4-5 months of the year hiking, this has forced me to be REALLY frugal and discerning of how I use my income. I was always broke before I discovered backpacking, even though I was always working. Now, I work about 40% less, have been financially independent of my parents for several years, am able to save for hikes, pay for school with NO loans, have 0 debt, and am still able to put money aside for long term goals… probably a sight better than many of my early-20's peers. (They all have much nicer cars than me though… :) )
Most importantly, I think backpacking has helped me redefine terms like "comfort" so even though my lifestyle isn't what most Americans would envy, I am comfortable and very content with it.Jun 6, 2011 at 10:25 pm #1745868
UL has without a doubt leached into my daily life. Like the soft embrace of a Down layer it has wrapped itself around my mind and cradles it in natural principles and simplicity.
I live in the opposite of a UL city, but it still reminds me to approach each decision and choice I make with more insight than I might have previously. Bombproof, single use items, over-built items, and the mindset purporting it are flawed and perhaps lacking in clarity. This view point is abundant in cities.
I will carry a 4lb purse to hold a 3oz wallet, 5oz phone, and three keys…
Perfect logic there! Lulz
Moreover it has made me ask, "What is the price of materials and labor going into said item? It it actually worth it's retail price?"
But I digress. In my life Ive come to look at UL as a framework for informed decision making. Yes weight is one of the leading precepts but multi-functional is a very close second. Instead of carrying a large dip/chin belt to the gym a loop of 3mm blue cord does wonders, as well as hanging my bag in a tree for an impromptu Frisbee golf game!
When I wake, I pack a svelte little top loading 10L backpack with lunch and my daily needs and reused Ito En bottle (why because I think they are cute an aesthetic). Gone are the days of looking and feeling like an armadillo slogging a 5lb 35L bag with all sorts of junk (and I see 50+ of these guys daily).
Was there ever a need to lug a Nalgene to and from plentiful water sources, to do anything other than say, "Yes, I like to go outside"?
Granted my bag is still ballistic nylon but that will insure it stands up to the rigors of rude commuters… ;P and save the sweet stuff for where it matters.
And you better believe every single extra doodad, tassel, and label has been ceremonially razor-ed off all my things and yes a ribbon has replaced my zipper pull, for weight savings. I'm talking to you Roger Caffin!
In my home its the same, simple, clean lines, aesthetic, & Zen like. I only keep one small staging area where all my adventures are launched from. Nothing more.
It appears that even a non-zealous zealot like myself has been caught preaching the gospel of UL as my partner recently did a 3 month UL tour of the whole of Italy! Attributing it all to a well thought out and tiny pack…
One last thing I will share is this:
In the stuff sack it is a Frankenstein-esque collection of bungees, cord-locks, and straps to be reused. I refer to this before making any new acquisition. I always ask myself, "What can I make?" I enjoy the tinkering. In the Ziploc I have a small graveyard of things that will never need to make the journey again.
Small but numerous things left by the wayside leaving me just that much more unencumbered.
Oh, and while doing rounds, I can be found grovelling to fill my snowpeak Ti mug with the best, freest, and strongest coffee flowing!
-CheersJun 7, 2011 at 3:11 am #1745892
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> And you better believe every single extra doodad, tassel, and label has been
> ceremonially razor-ed off all my things and yes a ribbon has replaced my zipper
> pull, for weight savings. I'm talking to you Roger Caffin!
Um … ??? Why me???
I put a few inches of mason's line on mine to act as pulls which I can handle with snow gloves on.
CheersJun 10, 2011 at 4:07 pm #1747593
@sbhikesLocale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
I go backpacking to get away from my mountain of crap.
I have a really hard time throwing things away. Maybe I need professional help. I think about how somewhere in the landfill there's the banana peel from my lunch in the 5th grade. I think some archaeologist from the future will find all the plastic crap I threw in there someday they'll have pieced together my life from my trash and DNA and I'll be in some textbook about the wasteful people of the era. So I just close the closet door or shut the junk drawer and try not to think about it.
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