Nov 5, 2013 at 4:53 pm #1309519
Backpacking Light taught me how to backpack light (and thanks for that; I'm still a pupil)
Soon after, I applied the lightweight "philosophy" to everything else I do. I now travel with one bag, I turned my wardrobe into about 2 drawers of essentials, I emptied my cluttered office, I gave away most of the stuff I owned that I never used, and I lightened my digital life by getting off social media and unplugging the television.
Like a good UL backpacker, I'm self-reliant, minimalist, and focused on the beauty of the world around me rather than the one I create for myself.
Anyone else have a similar experience?Nov 5, 2013 at 5:16 pm #2041568
@ngatelLocale: Southern CaliforniaNov 5, 2013 at 5:23 pm #2041571
Don't be deceived Max!
While the emphasis of this site may certainly be to reduce the amount on your back, you will find it has substantially increased the amount of gear most people have in the closet. Or closets. Or gear room(s!). For a pastime that espouses using less stuff, it's sure got all of us preoccupied with stuff, doesn't it?
The minimalism championed by many is only temporarily manifested during trips- just look at the "show me your gear room" threads. I would love to see more emphasis on building a kit that consists of a single shelter, sleeping bag, clothing system, etc. that could be used across all seasons. There would certainly be tradeoffs, but the end result would be more in line with what I consider "minimalism".
I'm not saying there's anything wrong with taking gear and possessions in any direction one sees fit I'm just stating that it strikes me there's false correlation between the "minimalism" of UL backpacking and life off of the trail.Nov 5, 2013 at 5:23 pm #2041572
@stephen-mLocale: Way up North
Very nice Nick, if I was staying in the US long term I would definitely get something like it.Nov 5, 2013 at 5:36 pm #2041576
I expected that, but I found I actually went there and back again! At one point, I owned a lot of gear, and a lot of it I wasn't using. Now, though, I do have one kit I take across all seasons!
It's got a few "extra" items past the one of everything philosophy, but it's more or less like the following:
-1 Tent (BA Fly Creek), 1 Tarp (MLD Hammock Tarp) and 1 Bivy (TNF Simple Bivy )
-2 Sleeping Bags, both MH Ultralamina. One is 15ºF, the other is 45ºF. Combined, I can take them to -15ºF
-1 Fleece, 1 Synth Puffy, 1 Down puffy, ~3 baselayers of varying weights, ~2 pairs of pants and 1 pair of shorts, and a bunch of socks.
-1 Windshirt, 1 Raincoat, 1 Rain Pants
-1 Cycling kit, including windproof stuff
-1 Titanium pot + Titanium wood stove
-2 Bike panniers, 2 backpacks (one 33L climber's pack and one ~50L frame bag for camping with others)
-1 pair of Altras, 1 pair of Vibram FF's, 1 pair of hiking shoes/snowshoeing shoes (Salomon)
-1 Bike and 1 pair of snowshoes/poles
With this kit, I can go snowshoeing, canoeing, running, backpacking, thru-hiking, bike touring, and traveling. I don't really have redundancy, like a pot graveyard or a closet full of test jackets. If it can't extend to more than one season, I probably don't use it. I do have a couple of "In Limbo" items that have yet to find a new home, like my old sleeping bag, but they're on their way out.
I bet I own less than 200 individual items in my life. It can't just be me?!Nov 5, 2013 at 5:37 pm #2041577Nov 5, 2013 at 5:39 pm #2041578
Ike, double-check that link, it sends me right back here.Nov 5, 2013 at 5:39 pm #2041579
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
My wife isn't into backpacking so we have something similar.
Actually, living in a trailer or RV could be very minimal, like if that was all the home you hadNov 5, 2013 at 5:40 pm #2041580Nov 5, 2013 at 5:42 pm #2041581
sorry- inexplicably duplicatedNov 5, 2013 at 5:43 pm #2041583Nov 5, 2013 at 5:43 pm #2041584
Ike, I really enjoyed the thread from 2010. I hope you don't mid if I quote you.
"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. "
I could not have put it better myself- exactly the sentiment I was after.Nov 5, 2013 at 5:48 pm #2041588
Well, my only real materialism vice at this point is gear, and I'm happy to report i've been "sober" for 3 months… I don't count myog… Or footwear… Shlt.
Owning a house has made me feel more tied to material posessions than anything else, simply because no matter how far down I pare down my posessions, I still have a mortgage that requires somewhat steady income, which I feel is somewhat contrary to the flexibitlity and… I don't know. My weird peterpanesque ideal of minimalism.
Ok i see why this isn't working for me.
Getting renters into the house helped. I don't feel like it's staring me in the face every day.Nov 5, 2013 at 5:52 pm #2041591
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
I fight a male-linked hoarding gene from my father's side of the family. Seeing where that leads helps my beat down the tools, supplies, etc. I find it easier to gift or PIF useable gear, but, yes, BPL philosophy applied to life in general helps reduce clutter and space. Example: I stepped up to a full set of 14.4-volt DeWalt tools, rendering my 12-volt stuff obsolete for me, but they are too useful to throw away but hard to sell for much money. So they live at my in-laws house 2000 miles away. Better than what they had and I use them on house chores when I'm there. When a local friend graduates high school, in addition to a gift certificate to their new college bookstore, I give them a selection of hand tools, because every dorm should have someone who can replace a watch battery or disassemble the girl's bathroom.
BPL tricks have helped me the most (outside of BPing) on vacations and work trips. Deodorant in a chapstick tube, mini toothbrush, etc. I set aside underwear and shirts that are at the edge of usability. Then I take them one-way on my next field-work trip. It's nice to have one's luggage get LIGHTER as you go. Getting good at doing laundry in a hotel sink really saves on the baggage. A few ounces of detergent instead of a different outfit each day. On family vacations, I've shifted towards AirBnB.com because you meet more locals, have a full kitchen, wifi and living room (unlike a hotel room) and there's LAUNDRY!!! I don't mind wearing the same outfit each day (I meet different people each day except my own family and they're stuck with me) but I want that outfit to be clean.
To take the OP's point in a slightly different direction: There's a concept in gun-nut circles, "Beware the man with one gun" – the idea being that he REALLY knows how to use that one gun versus the guy who has a few dozen. When I owned and used only a SVEA 123, I was really good with it. Now it I use it maybe twice a year and I'm not as good with it as I used to be.Nov 5, 2013 at 6:00 pm #2041597
You can kill someone with a SVEA?Nov 5, 2013 at 6:04 pm #2041599
I like the "one gun" analogy David.
I suppose that's where I'm bothered by much of the direction that UL backpacking has taken. A kit for every season, gear for every geographic destination. And so much of that gear is nearly disposable if not used correctly. Don't get me wrong, I love my Houdini, but you can't use it by the campfire or around cat's claw in the desert. Thus necessitating another, separate piece of gear that works in those situations….
I wish I could remember the website; there was a blog linked here once, I believe the publisher was European (yeah, pretty vague), but he specialized in exclusively camping with a flat tarp. His site was full of images of the craziest bivy sites you've ever seen, serious alpine stuff, all with a simple flat tarp. It was his "one gun", and he knew how to use it really well. (If anyone knows this site I'd love it if you could send me a link!)
I think that all of the choices we have with highly specialized equipment might get in the way of us truly mastering certain pieces of gear or techniques.Nov 5, 2013 at 6:05 pm #2041600
The mortgage question is an interesting one. Allow me to expand…
Right now, I'm really lucky. I'm 23 and I just graduated and my resume looks g-r-e-a-t. I have two years experience on a Lit magazine publication, two paid internships in conservation and renewable energy, two bachelor's degrees, years of tutoring experience, three years as a police dispatch, All College Honors and a good GPA, and acceptance to a few grad schools.
I don't want to settle down, get an apartment, get a day job. No! I pay no rent and I don't own a car, and I'm free.
I am, in a sense, the minimalist I want to be. I work as a freelance writer from a tiny Macbook, and I can do that everywhere, and I do; I stay with family all over the Northeast and I have a train ticket in my name to Colorado, and I'm going to live out of two bike bags and a backpack for the rest of the winter.
In our society, my life is temporary. I can vagabond a little- nobody will hold it against me. if I'm doing it in five years, I'm a failure.
I pay taxes, I contribute meaningfully to society, I am emotionally and culturally fulfilled, I socialize constantly, and my negative impact on the environment is so small as to be nearly negligible. Why must I pay a mortgage at all?
I'm still struggling internally with that question. My heart pulls one way and my brain pulls another. I'll let you guys know how it turns out…
BPL is better than group therapy. Should I be paying you guys?
Edit: Craig, I'm inspired. I want to be Tarp Guy.Nov 5, 2013 at 6:08 pm #2041602
@drusillaLocale: Wild Wild West
Minimalist and UL are two different things. Just look at the "tiny house" movement….it's really nice to see youngsters focusing on not going in debt and not burdening themselves and society with gluttony.
But that being said, I for one love to be able to pick between my different stove/cooking options for different hikes (especially since certain states will no doubt be banning open fire soon on National Trails) and being able to choose between different shelter options and sleep systems, clothing and everything else we use backpacking. So heck yes I have a "backpacking closet".
Back to the subject, reducing stuff. After a while, in life you find out what are your favorite and most used possessions are and the rest you sell or give away. There are lots of ways to do this, lots of books written about downsizing, the hardest part is actually devising a system that works for you and doing it. I use small goals, like going through the store room, barn and shops here on a seasonal basis with the end goal being not leaving my kids with a huge mess to deal with after I'm gone. We have found that keeping stuff requires more money, space and maintenance…..and I will admit I'm no saint…I own and maintain a ranch and five outbuildings….but I am attempting to downsize in my old age.:-) it's getting too time consuming to maintain. I'd rather be hiking!Nov 5, 2013 at 6:11 pm #2041606
@kat_pLocale: Pacific Coast
Title of your post aside…
Here. We'll make you feel really good about not wanting to pay a mortgage. Some of us will convince you it is the best, sanest, greenest thing you can do. In exchange you give us the equivalent of mortgage payments. Deal?Nov 5, 2013 at 6:11 pm #2041607
Is the real nirvana in learning to get rid of excess, or learning not to pick up stuff in the first place?
I wasn't allowed to buy a Patagonia Houdini for myself today until I found a buyer for my Ghost Whisperer on gear swap. Kind of a mini-game plan for preventing the inevitable build-up.
I will admit, I'm young. When I have two point five kids and a wife, let's see how well I keep the clutter at bay… My mom is a yogi and my father is a college professor, and their infinite wisdom still has a basement full of crap.Nov 5, 2013 at 6:21 pm #2041612
Perhaps the history of humanity is nothing but the history of schlepping loads from one place to another…Nov 5, 2013 at 6:26 pm #2041616
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
Buy a house without a basement, attic, or garage.Nov 5, 2013 at 6:27 pm #2041619
@drusillaLocale: Wild Wild West
YES! You got it Max.
Your parents grew up in a different time, they will deal with their basement, or you will later..
In any case you are to be commended for your insight.
When I was 20 I sold everything and all I had was in a backpack and I remained that way for five years. People called me names, homeless, gypsy, etc., but I didn't care, I was living my life as I saw fit. It was the most challenging, wonderful time of my youth. In time you will see that if you desire to have a family, that the ties, sacrifices to your freedom and ability to roam easily are worth giving up temporarily for the benefits of having a family…or not. You have a choice, and I have read that many young people are making the choice to NOT have children, not have debt and are doing just fine.Nov 5, 2013 at 6:30 pm #2041621
My perfect house is probably a Land Rover Discovery from about 2004 with plenty of fresh water storage and one of those wicked roof ladders.
Kids are inevitable. I'm the oldest of four boys and 11 cousins, I've been a babysitter for two decades. I love kids and I can't wait to raise a few.
I hear it takes two people to make them, though… so I should stop moving sometime before I'm 30.Nov 5, 2013 at 6:32 pm #2041623
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