- Aug 5, 2015 at 9:34 am #2219172IanBPL Member
"But yet he continues to troll threads like this."
Well I guess everyone needs a hobby :)Aug 5, 2015 at 9:46 am #2219179Robert BaileyBPL Member
I'm 65 & just started backpacking 3 years ago. I've never thought about even attempting SUL–too entrenched in creature comforts, but I read Lighten Up and follow BPL and am able to backpack because I figured it out–get rid of unnecessary weight. It's a blast! Thank God I can do it.Aug 5, 2015 at 10:04 am #2219182Dave PSpectator
Ultralight is a phase for me, but not in the way Tipi says it is. Back in 2006 or 2007, I was fascinated by the ultralight movement. My aspiration at the time was to do the PCT, but then the economy changed and didn't have the disposable income to buy the gears.
Up until I started getting into wilderness backpacking, then I realized there is such thing as "stupid light" as the lightest materials are not designed for bushwhacking.. That, and after reading old wilderness texts like Horace Kephart or Townsend Whelen, I realized ultralight is not a new concept. It's the same thing, just new materials.
It's unfair for people to embrace the "stupid light" blog posts, because they are taking the texts in the wrong way. These guys are experienced in taking high routes, packrafting and bushwhacking, and they know that there are limitations of their gears. That's why they are challenging the classification system. But that's the thing, they are accomplishing things which most hikers are not interested in.
Hence why there are new classifications in the last few years: "ultralight bikepacking", "ultralight fishing", "ultralight hunting" and so on. To troll about "stupid light" is not understanding why those blog posts were written in the first place.
So, I started looking at things contextually. I am an ultralight hunter, which has a different base weight than thru-hikers. I am working toward ultralight winter camping for -15C to -35C. If I ever do the PCT, then I would be an ultralight hiker. And so on.
I admire the SUL forum because a lot of the philosophy resembles the old-time trappers and hunters. Except they didn't include their knives or axes into their base weight since they were worn on the belt.
So, am I still practicing ultralight? Yes, but I no longer see the texts or forums on the subject 0as holy anymore. It's just recycled knowledge to me. Problem is the mainstream are not interested in simplicity.Aug 5, 2015 at 10:24 am #2219186David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
It was a phase that started in 1984 and continues today.
Like Bill Nye says, "I don't have a Star Trek problem – I could stop anytime I wanted to."
I got to "stupid light" by late 1985 and settled back to UL (by the undocumented standards of the day).
Backpacking with young kids this decade caused me to go back and drink more fully of the Kool-Aid, get on BPL, etc. There were products and concepts that weren't there in the 1980's and my pack weight went down while my comfort went up.Aug 5, 2015 at 10:56 am #2219190
It was a phase for me. The reason: Intent.
I don't backpack just to backpack. Backpacking, for me, is more purposeful; just a tool to do "something else." That "something else" is usually "seeing the sights", fishing or hunting.
When backpacking for the sake of backpacking I worried about weight. I cared because there was the ephemeral "go faster see more" mentality prophesized on boards such as these. See more … what?
If someone is backpacking on-trail or in the open areas, just looking to cover miles then sure, UL is fine. JMT? AT? Perfect.
For me, out in the middle of nowhere for a few days at a time, UL does not make me happy. Most of the time it's borderline making me miserable in the abstract goal of "trying to go lighter."
So, I quit trying so hard for UL. I still pay half-attention to weights and try to make smart decisions but in the end, UL was more of a distraction taking away from the final goal – enjoying myself outdoors.
I now have a very heavy elk-hauling pack. It's over 5 lbs by itself. And it was stupid-expensive. I normally use it for SAR work and hunting, but I can load that beast down and the weight disappears. So if the weight it's carried so well you don't notice it, who really cares about 10 lbs vs 15 vs 20? Note: I'm dead serious. UL's big-three includes the pack. Which is great on the scales saying what your base-weight is, but quite a few packs, especially loaded, just really aren't all that comfortable after a long day, much less a long day up and down the hills and bushwhacking. At the end of the day you can have an 2 lb UL pack with a 15 lb baseweight and still feel miserable or a heavy-pack with a 18 lb baseweight and feel great. It's not for all situations but it is something to think about.
I still have my UL-ish packs but haven't used them in quite a while … mostly just for overnight trips. I still use my down bags, Shangri-La tipi (3, because I value comfort) and sometimes my Tyvek bivvy but I don't stress over a few ounces here and there. I just up my fitness a little.
My homemade alcohol stoves are gathering dust. I keep the Esbit in the SAR pack for emergencies. I normally use a JetBoil on a day-to-day basis because, while heavier, it's far more convenient, faster and more reliable/less-fiddly in inclement weather.
Quality of life means more to me than baseweight.
I did far more for the "UL" regimen by going to the gym (upping my fitness level and dropping 20) rather than worrying that my toothbrush was too long.
-moxAug 5, 2015 at 2:44 pm #2219224
For me, out in the middle of nowhere for a few days at a time, UL does not make me happy. Most of the time it's borderline making me miserable in the abstract goal of "trying to go lighter."
How does UL make you miserable? What are you carrying when going "non-UL" that makes you happy?Aug 5, 2015 at 3:57 pm #2219238IanBPL Member
I follow a minimalist photography forum. For those unfamiliar, more or less, it's a style of photography that uses negative space and removes distractions to draw focus to the subject.
Acronym backpacking is a style. It's not the right or wrong way. It's simply, a way.
Going back to minimalist photography, if I were to blow up the feed with pictures of my kids' birthday parties and other non minimalist content, I'd predictably get some push back from the forum members since it's off topic and outside the scope of the forum, regardless of how well/poorly the pictures were taken.
That's basically what happens here. Heavy haulers are certainly welcome but that particular style is not the general focus of what most of us are going after and we try to refine our kit by reducing weight and increasing function.
If you want to go with a more traditional style of backpacking with heavy gear, vaya con dios. Keep it LNT and have a great time. Maybe you'll find a nugget or two here that you can incorporate into your gear that will improve your experience in some way.Aug 5, 2015 at 4:24 pm #2219244Phil BartonBPL Member
Reducing pack weight was a great place to start in becoming conscious about what I want to do in the backcountry. Learning how to be comfortable and safe while carrying less stuff gave me the confidence to share those skills with others.
Years after starting to focus on carrying a lighter pack, today I am pretty happy that everything I do is just simpler. I have less to plan for with gear and food, less to pack, and a lot less fuss when walking, cycling, canoeing, and camping.
It's been a good journey. I've made good friends and have seen incredible sights.Aug 7, 2015 at 5:05 pm #2219654
How does UL make me miserable? By chasing pointless targets for no reason other than to chase them. Time, energy, money and, yes, even a little bit of stress that I could be going even lighter.
Non-UL that makes me happy? Here's a few …
My stupid-heavy pack. Because it rides well. Because I can get into area with little/no water since I can load it down. Because I don't have to worry about snags/rips/blowouts. Because it makes "other stuff" disappear and I can wear it from sun-up to sun-down through the thick stuff without it bothering me. Because the swivel-frame locks everything to my back, so I can climb/rappel without it shifting around and being annoying.
Trekking poles. TWO of them. They're not a 'need' but I really like using them on the steeps.
A Tipi. I could use a cuban tarp and a bug-net, or a bivy, to save a little weight, but I happen to like the tipi and, since I don't use the center pole (see: trekking poles, above) it's not really much heavier. (I can run sans-nest, so always have that option.) If I had a cuban-one I'd use it in a heartbeat but then I'm spending LOTS of cash for a few ounces on a spreadsheet. I won't notice it in that pack anyways
My tablet. I get bored easily and I like reading. I'm going back through a bunch of stuff I've never read to see what it's all about. (Just finished Dante's Inferno. Decent.) I also like looking at maps; it's much more fun to explore the area on a tablet with a big screen. I carry formal GPS *and* a backup paper map and a compass (yes, I know how to use both quite well :) so the tablet is pure "fluff." I don't put movies or music on it since I like the outdoors ambiance even if using a tablet. As a POST-certified mantracker I also like to identify stuff on the ground and I don't have encyclopedic-level knowledge of all of the animal tracks I come across. I also enjoy looking up plants – sue me, I'm a nerd.
Backup battery for my phone. Works for the tablet too. I usually shut the phone off but if need to use it, well, I want to make sure it's got power. Since I'm usually out of cell-range, I usually use it for the tablet.
Real food. Yum. While I do dry and make some of my own stuff, if I put something in that's got a little water-content then oh-well. I enjoy eating. I feel better when eating well. I'm not in a race – I'm out to enjoy myself. Shhh … I've been known to carry non-dehydrated fruit simply because I can and because I like it. The extra water-intake doesn't hurt either.
A sleeping pad. They're not needed; I could carry a couple trashbags, fill with duff and make a pad, but I value my sleep and the more LNT style of humping a pad around. We've all slept sans-pad and I think that we'd all agree that they're nice to have/luxury. I have a few Z-rests and an one of the original NeoAirs. I'm sure there's lighter out there somewhere.
My (down) Montbel SuperStretch sleeping bags. I happen to like bags; UL thought says "you should use a down-quilt to save weight."
A JetBoil/Canister stove. Slightly heavier but it "just works" and after a really long day there is value in that. Sure, I could use an alcohol stove or an esbit, as noted above, but I prefer canisters (especially in inclement weather.)
A more-robust medical kit. I'm not packing O2 or anything, but I don't worry that "zomg, I have too many Advil!" I ballpark the count instead of micro-managing things. I have never weighed my pulse-ox. As a hunter in the field, accidents are more likely compared to, say, an on-trail JMT through-hiker.
I carry three (3) sources of fire – a mini bic, a sweedish steel in my cookset and one backup. Yes, I can make a fire-drill or do it via the stick in the groove but … have you ever done it? Screw that – never again unless my life depends on it. Too much work. =P
I use a Steripen instead of a Sawyer. Yes it uses batteries (the same ones as both my headlamp and flashlight.) I like the Pen since it deals with viruses. Ever been out of water, next to stream, but you know there's a super-remote druggie camp upstream and it's full of Hep? I have. It sucks. Using the Pen is *WAY* better that relying on vaccination alone. (Full disclosure: In that instance we opted to bite the bullet and hike the distance upstream past it just to be safe.)
I carry a Nalgene. I can put electrolyte mixes and such in it and it's much easier to clean than my 3L platy. UL thought says I should cut down on that weight and use soft/rollup containers. It stands up by itself when corse-filtering with a bandana. It's also great to use with the Steripen.
In the end, I'm not thinking about chasing some ephemeral XUL/SUL/UL moniker. I have zero stress about it. I make the best, most reasoned, thoughtful choices that I can (huge thanks and shoutouts to everyone on here for helping me realize how to do that) and whatever the total ends up at … well, that's what it ends up at. If I'm at 15 or 20 or 25, well, with that backpack it really doesn't matter. I'm not humping 60 lbs (well, not usually unless I'm climbing slopes on a SAR callout and packing in Type1-extraction gear with ropes, which I've done, and yes that is exhausting.)
Instead of spending time behind a computer looking at spreadsheets, weighing my gear and making micro-decisions about fractions of a gram I might just spend an extra little time in the gym or with my family, both of which, IMHO, have much better ROI payouts. If this is your hobby and you truly love doing it then go for it. We all have our guilty-pleasures. =)
I don't care if someone sees my pack and I'm called a "heavy hauler" with a trace of derision: I hike my own hike, I don't hold anyone up, I'm comfortable, and I'm enjoying myself. What more is there?
-moxAug 7, 2015 at 5:50 pm #2219662Mike MBPL Member
a phase?- yes, was?- no
while the Ul and SUL and XUL (others?) weights & definitions are somewhat useful for context, I don't think they really get at the underlying philosophy of "UL"; the real gist of "UL" is simply doing more with less- no different than Kephart, Nessmuk and others a 100+ years ago
the first thing I picked up on wasn't I needed a cuben/carbon fiber/titanium toothbrush, but rather simply leave crap you really don't need at home- it's cheap, it's easy and it makes moving through the backcountry easier and more enjoyable
it certainly isn't all about the gear, what about skills? do you need to develop/hone certain skills when you start minimizing kit? damn straight
I've got a "heavy" pack that I use when I hunt, it's in the hope that I'm putting elk on it destined for my freezer- it's a tool to get a job done; I still utilize "UL" philosophies when I hunt, trek in the winter or go across the Bob in May, my base weight won't be under 10 lbs, but I guarantee you it is going to be as light as I possibly can get it
as far as what others carry, I could give a tinkers damn- me? it's going to be light
and Art check out my latest trip report, SUL and I'm not running (walking damn fast though! :) )
MikeAug 7, 2015 at 8:12 pm #2219683Richard MayBPL Member
@richardmLocale: Nature Deficit Disorder
I had a lot of hangups before returning to backpacking. About things I needed, people to go with, places to go… there was always some element that stopped me. That lasted way too long.
Then five years ago my life changed. I realized that I could go alone, that I didn't need much stuff to be happy, there were some pretty cool places in my backyard. The only thing I really needed to do was stop what I was doing and get started.
Life is much easier now. I've dispensed with extraneous variables, kept to the core and added a few things here and there.
Oh, were talking about backpacking… sorry.
;-)Aug 8, 2015 at 4:31 am #2219713Tipi WalterBPL Member
@Mike M says:
"It certainly isn't all about the gear, what about skills? Do you need to develop/hone certain skills when you start minimizing kit? Damn straight."
BACK TO MARTIN RYE
And yet here's what Rye has to say in his UL blog:
"Then there are the skills that the UL community makes a lot of. Does the person who is carrying the big pack and wearing boots lack skills? Get over yourself, please." (Quote from Summitandvalley.com blog).
@Mike Oxford makes excellent points and his post is more in line with my thinking. I hear can the rebuttals: THEN WHY ARE YOU HERE!!
Well, why is Mike Oxford allowed to post? He makes a list which "disqualifies" him from "UL status":
Stupid heavy pack
Two hiking poles
Electronics and extra battery
Sleeping pad and bag instead of quilt
Steripen instead of Sawyer
Nalgene instead of bladder etc.
And Mike Oxford has these two great quotes:
"I don't care if someone sees my pack and I'm called a "heavy hauler" with a trace of derision . . ."
"How does UL make me miserable? By chasing pointless targets for no reason other than to chase them."Aug 8, 2015 at 4:54 am #2219714
Well, why is Mike Oxford allowed to post? He makes a list which "disqualifies" him from "UL status":
Hey, that's a nice red herring you've got there.
Where did anyone say that a heavy-hauler requires permission to post? — Nowhere.
The problem arises when UL-minded folks are having a discussion and a heavy-hauler "barges in" to tell them how they're doing it all wrong.
Of course, there's no derision involved when heavy-haulers trot out the "gram weenie" label.
As has been repeated ad nauseum, if you wanna carry all the electronic gadgets, satellite dishes, books, watermelons and stuff, have at it. Seriously, nobody cares.
What some people find enormously stressful, others find immensely enjoyable, and they love the challenge. Why can't you just let them have their fun, their way, and you have your fun, your way? Clearly you're not a proponent of HYOH.Aug 8, 2015 at 10:01 pm #2219889Adam WhiteBPL Member
@awhite4777Locale: On the switchbacks
I was going to post a reply here a couple of days ago, but–after reading over the responses–all of my thoughts have already been vocalized, probably more eloquently than I can.
It seems like many of the attacks on XUL/SUL/EXVSUL are attacks on the labels, not attacks on the philosophy of BPL (or those that I see espoused on the forums). Many of us agree–the labels are not particularly useful, except as abstract concepts. There are no magic thresholds at 5 lb or 10 lb, and every trip (and the expected conditions) are different. We know that.
In response to the OP: lightening my load wasn't a phase for me. I still do it, but the intent of my trip determines how I prioritize weight.
For those type 2, high-mileage, on-trail days, every ounce has a very real cost. I will minimize weight with scrutiny!
For a lazy trip with friends, it's completely different. I'll bring the DSLR and the Jetboil. The ounces don't particularly matter–my pack will still be pretty darn light compared to what I used to carry.
As I said, others have said all this, more eloquently than I did.
Lastly–just for fun–and provoked by this thread–I did a little pseudo-science and created a graphic. I posted it to the general forums so it would get more exposure. It's here. Have fun!Aug 9, 2015 at 9:31 pm #2220048Jason ByersSpectator
@jasonbLocale: Western NC
Graph meant to be funny but kinda true for probably 90% of us! Great discussion guys! Looking back on it I guess it's silly to say I'm over the UL scene…I'm not ready to give up cuben, titanium, cat can stoves or short toothbrushes! For years now I thought I was pretty experienced compared to the next weekend warrior! My pack weights were crazy low and (this is tough for me to admit) although I never said it to anyone I analyzed folks gear and thought why the hell are you carrying all that crap…and that wasn't 40lb loads I was secretly being all hoity-toity about, it was the 10lb guys! Well a few months ago I stopped weighing my pack before trips and in doing that I started filling it with little extras like the knives, saws and fishing gear that I mentioned above and it was liberating! I turned into the "inexperienced" guy carrying the "heavy" ULA pack and was (and still am) ashamed of my secret snobbery towards other hikers!
I have a little probably unknown outdoorsy blog and I honestly lost interest writing on it because it seemed like lost interest in UL backpacking which happens to be the main theme and that is why I ask the question…is this a phase? From reading your replies I found out that XUL and SUL was probably a phase and often was stupid light for me! However, now I'm reminded that UL backpacking has a little more meaning than just getting a weight below 10lbs! Thanks guys!Aug 10, 2015 at 8:47 am #2220105
That's a good way to get people to stop asking to borrow your Sawyer Mini. ;^)Aug 10, 2015 at 8:48 am #2220106K. Urs Grütter, LL.M.BPL Member
Carrying 1 kg more or less uphill, at the speed you can manage at your aerobic/anerobic threshold, will mean a difference of around 1 to 2 hartbeats per minute. This will be very noticeable for you. Why do you think top athletes in endurance sports are constantly on the prowl for the lightest equipment (ski-touring, mountain climbing, mountain biking etc.)?
Plus there is the joint issue: Your spine, hips, knees and ankles will be glad for any weight you spare (them).
So, plan: What is your specific trip about? Do you want to go far and fast, because you like "going"? Do you want to go to do something somewhere? What are the weather conditions you will encounter? You need to carry the appropriate equipment. Anything you do not really want or have to use on your specific trip will slow you down.
It is a constant optimizing process. Keep optimizing it for your purpose, not for the sake of having the lightest pack.
Many people out there still carry unwieldy large and heavy packs which let me wonder what they are carrying and what for – or whether "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed has just caused a revival of the old-fashioned "Gorilla"-pack…Aug 10, 2015 at 12:10 pm #2220163Adam WhiteBPL Member
@awhite4777Locale: On the switchbacksAug 10, 2015 at 3:02 pm #2220199
>>Many people out there still carry unwieldy large and heavy packs which let me wonder what they are carrying and what for – or whether "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed has just caused a revival of the old-fashioned "Gorilla"-pack…
As a wearer of a large and heavy pack, I will answer this at least for myself: stability and comfort.
If you're wearing your pack correctly then you have no weight on your shoulders or spine – it's all on the illiac-crest of your hips. All of the lightweight packs were frameless and didn't transfer worth squat. As someone still recovering from a back injury (disc-compression on a SAR training) that transfer of weight is key. Of course you can always put in a former with your sleeping roll but it still doesn't transfer as well and then takes up significant room in your pack.
I did a snowshoe backpacking camp with my Mountain Hardware ThruWay 50. It is 1 lb, 14 oz. it also doesn't transfer weight worth squat once I had it loaded (was going all UL at this point so no fluff.) For "pure hiking/camping" it worked, barely. We were humping water so we didn't have to stop so often to boil it. I had the (heavy) XGK and fuel bottle, my heavier sleeping back and I had the lightweight tent. It wasn't comfortable even after 5-6 miles but it was doable. Would I want to do 15 miles with it? Multiple days? And if I want to do anything else in addition to camping that just adds more weight.
With the big/heavy pack I'm humping more, no bones about it. Almost exactly 4 lbs more. But I don't dread putting it on, or doing long hauls with it. I know once it's on that it'll stay on – it's not going to shift and it's going to virtually disappear due to the weight transfer.
Example: I recently participated on a SAR callout for this gentleman: http://www.kcra.com/news/local-news/news-sierra/body-found-in-el-dorado-co-idd-as-missing-sf-teacher/34602220
We were off-trail in the boonies, very steep at times, no water sources, in 100 degrees El Dorado heat. I had a climbing harness, hardware and rope on me, in addition to standard SAR gear, food, etc. I did not have a tent on me, just a tarp and stakes. I had 1.5 gallons of water; 3L in a bladder and a couple Nalgenes. We put about 7 miles on the GPS, not including vertical work. I estimate my "baseweight" was around 40-45 lbs.
Note why it was so heavy: the conditions and activities warrant it. None of my lightweight packs would have worked in that situation. There are few times, for me, that going lighter works because of my activities, either hunting or photography. I still use UL-principles for the most part, but I'm not religious about it. The heavy-pack is one place where I do deviate the most because I value the comfort, stability and weight-transfer even if the net load is higher.
And, if the "derision" vis-a-vis "gram weenie" comment was directed my way, I sincerely apologize since I never intended to imply that any one style is better in any way than any other. I use what works for me and hope that everyone else makes the same judgement call on a personal level for their gear.
-moxAug 10, 2015 at 3:03 pm #2220200AnonymousInactive
"It is a constant optimizing process. Keep optimizing it for your purpose, not for the sake of having the lightest pack."
Words of wisdom. It really is as simple as that.Aug 11, 2015 at 9:34 pm #2220546jimmy bBPL Member
I can tell you that going UL was the reason I was able to enjoy sleeping out again. I am old enough to have started in the age of heavy loads and will readily admit I was sold the normal bill of goods and adding to that my own insecurities as far as needing things I didn't added up to absolutely more than I should have carried.
Being young and healthier made it a little easier but if I new then what I know now I would NEVER have carried the same load. Lucky enough to stumble in here one day I could not believe how things had changed. I immediately realized, Man!, if I can get to that 10lb base I can not only BP again…I can enjoy the hell out of this sport.
As many have said I could give a hoot what others are willing to carry but I do all I can to tout the benefits of going lighter through UL to anyone who will listen along the way. Without arrogance I will sell the merits of making LT WT or scrounging up UL gear. Showing off expensive gear and talking down another's is about as juvenile as I could imagine and truthfully I don't see it much if at all here. I do see on the trail resistance from heavy haulers who preconceive that all ULers are Cuban/titanium snobs and wouldn't dare associate with them, but when they find out I am just another trail junkie trying to get my fix and if not for lighter loads I would not be on the trail they start to listen a little more closely. Its a good feeling when I can turn someone on to going lighter and making their future trips much more enjoyable.
And if technology would deliver me a pack load of half the weight at equal comfort and equal value I would greet it with open arms. I also could not give a sh*t about classifying myself UL (10lbs or under) other than its a way to clarify quickly to others were I'm at in conversation.
Finally HYOH are 4 easy letters to type but man its really important to stick to what they stand for. For those who feel pigeon holed into one category or another, remember only you can allow yourself to be put there. Myself I'm a BP'er regardless what I'm carrying but when I visit here I respect the philosophy and practices of ULers because that is what its all about here and a lot of hard work went before me so that I could learn and enjoy the same :)
jimmybAug 12, 2015 at 8:41 am #2220609Jacob SmithBPL Member
@wrongturnLocale: The Soda
These two designations decide whether I go UL or bring luxuries. If I'm doing a 20mi weekend with some buddies I'll bring the luxuries, if I'm doing 110mi section hike, I'm going with my sub 9lb base weight and still looking for things to leave home.Aug 12, 2015 at 8:52 am #2220613Paul MagnantiBPL Member
@paulmagsLocale: Colorado Plateau
If it is just a phase, it is phase that is almost 20 yrs old for me. :)Oct 19, 2015 at 9:48 pm #2232903Kelly GBPL Member
The UL thought process gave me a starting point when I decided to backpack more routinely. I studied pros/cons, bought "good" gear, and modified from there. Not everything worked for me, so got other stuff. I have a good, working gear-kit now and don't worry about the base weight. So was it a phase? No. It was the starting point for my journey to good, workable gear. KellyOct 20, 2015 at 12:43 am #2232918Aaron SorensenBPL Member
@awsorensenLocale: South of Forester Pass
Funny. To me, stupid light was/ is the phase. This however is without expected rain. I plan for stupid light on every trip and then add a few items that bring me up to around 5.5 pounds. The longer the trip, the lighter I want to be. So no rain and temps above 35* = stupid light. To me, a luxury item is my 8 ounce pad and a 6 ounce tarp. But unless I'm doing long days with minimal sleep then I can find soft ground and just bring the 1/4" or 1/8" foam pad. If no rain, I just bring a large Gossamer Gear ground cloth with my 3 ounce bivy. If it does rain, I throw half of the ground cloth over me. This has always worked fine for me and I've be doing this so long that I prefer it. My idea is, long miles low weight. If I'm laying around all day and only moving 10-15 miles a day, (which is almost never), I don't worry about minimal weight. So yes, I look at UL'ers and think, why the heck do you bring so much? It's not a phase. It's a life style.
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