Jan 3, 2008 at 3:32 pm #1226577
Miguel ArboledaBPL Member
@butukiLocale: Kanto Plain, Japan
My BPL membership will run out pretty soon and I'm considering whether to continue or not. I've been a member here since the start and have watched BPL grow and change over the years.
The way things have become here really makes me wonder what the worth is in being a member. There are the deals on BPL gear, for sure, but more and more I'm finding the BPL gear is no longer as attractive as it was in the beginning and I've only twice taken advantage of the member discount to buy something.
And there are the member articles, too, but lately there just seems to be nothing new being written. Nearly everything is a rehash of older articles. And so many of the articles seem to be in-house back patting, with the staff so ensconced in each others' network that no new people are being looked at or profiled. I still think one of the best articles ever written in BPL was the interview with Bill Merchant back in 2001, but very few such articles have since appeared in the online version of BPL (I still feel uncomfortable of the division between the online and offline versions). Is it just me, or is there a tapering off of articles these days? I certainly haven't read anything in a long time that really got me fired up like the early articles.
So what's to keep me staying on as a BPL member? What advantages do I have in being a member? Am I the only one who feels this way?
I spend nearly all my time with BPL at the forums, but that does not require a membership, while at the same time the conversations there are repeating the same old discussions over and over again. I realize that this is necessary for newcomers and I don't mind helping out people getting started, but for someone who is trying to learn new things for myself, this is a bit frustrating.Jan 3, 2008 at 3:42 pm #1414752
I didn't renew my membership this time around.
Articles like gear reviews used to be exciting to read. Now, unless it's something that hits just the right spot, that's no longer true. But this isn't because the articles aren't well written — but simply because I have moved up the learning curve — and have gotten pretty much the gear pieces that I want.
I believe the same "jaded attitude" affects the BPL staff as well! Reading their reports from the bi-annual gear shows, I detect less and less excitement on their part as well — unless they spot a real breakthrough or something truly 'out of the box' — but those are becoming increasingly infrequent.Jan 3, 2008 at 3:58 pm #1414754
Casey BowdenBPL Member
@clbowdenLocale: Berkeley Hills
I've been a BPL regular since the beginning (before, actually) and agree with everything said by Miguel and Ben. When my subscription was up a while ago I didn't renew until an article was published that I couldn't read, but wanted to. Upon reading said article, after renewing, I didn't feel as if it was worth it. However, as long as the online subscription remains around $20 I will continue to renew.Jan 3, 2008 at 4:06 pm #1414755
Given it's just $20 per year, I'll most likely renew — just to show an appreciation for what the BPL team is doing — including the maintenance of this free forum. Just the fact that they finally removed the stupid ranking should count for some credit! :)
Having joined Miguel in whinning about the lack of excitement, one thing that BPL does very well — that very few magazines do — is the "side by side" comparison articles. The wp/b shells and canister stove lineup's come to mind.
Most of us can get enough info. about a particular piece of gear to make a buy or not decision. But very few of us buy 15 or 20 of anything to compare between brands. I would love to see a comparison article using my lowly Campmor Duofold poly tee as a baseline and compare real-life performance with the newer, fancier and a heck of a lot more expensive cocona's and bamboo's and soy's and Power Dry's, etc. on the market!
EDIT: Just noticed that the online subscription is now $25.Jan 3, 2008 at 4:23 pm #1414758
A long time ago a lot of people played racquetball, it was fairly easy to learn and it was relativly cheap to get into.
A huge number of these same people got attracted by the "next thing",… jazzercise, rollerblading? As the remaining group got better the improvement zing came in smaller chunks, the game was very hard to follow between the upper end players, more time was spent arguing about calls then playing and it was kinda hard on the body being highly dynamic and with lots of lateral direction changes, the equipment got lighter but more expensive, balls faster but less durable,court time more expensive, more people exited. A lot of people still play raquetball of course and handball and tons of other niche things like jazzercise rollerblading. Maybe we lose some interest and maybe a newbie will fill our shoes here, I don't know.
The best things in life are not "things" yet the focus here is "things", way too many things but not enough experiences.
I posted for awhile looking for trip partners,I was willing to drive halfway across the state and back to pick up anyone wanting to do a little trip here and there, I spread these out over the hiking season, nice little trips to the best places during the right time of the year….I'll let you use your imagination on how many responses I recieved.
So I tried a bigger trip with the same results,I still went on these trips solo and spent a lot of time thinking about who still played racquetball,how many people still rode there bicycles without being a member of an ultralight bicycle forum, and how I was going to convince my wife to let go on yet another solo trip.
I guess it's true, Benjamin, that the brightest light must also endure the burning. Someday someone will stumble across these old posts and maybe for an instance they will wonder who those guys/gals were.
peace,broJan 3, 2008 at 4:27 pm #1414759
JASON CUZZETTOBPL Member
@cuzzettjLocale: NorCal - South Bay
Now that is what I am talking about. Compare the low cost with the middle and the overly expensive. I don't mind paying the money but choose not to because I am not sure how the clothing or other item will perform. Great point!!!
Does anyone think there should be a flexible gear list? I would love to see a list where you could pick the comparable gear that includes weight and cost of a specific category or item and them print your selection out to build from. I have turned a lot of people on to this sight but they don't feel comfortable with what the see or are afraid of the fringe lists. I would love to see something more solid and at the same time flexible. Kind of like picking from a database of gear.Jan 3, 2008 at 4:28 pm #1414760
Careful, Larry, you're talking to a bunch of gear whores and gear pimps here! :)Jan 3, 2008 at 4:49 pm #1414765
Paul LutherBPL Member
Very intersting discussion. Like you guy's, I've been here from the start too. I did reup the subscription, but I'll admit I had some reservations in doing so. But as Ben said, it's just $20 no sooner do I give up than see an interesting trip or gear comparison review. Like Miguel said the member discount is pretty nice to have. I'd love to see that baselayer competition.
Speaking for myself, if it wasn't for BPL, i'd still be walking 7 miles a day and carting around 40+lbs for a weekend camping trip. Probably never would've heard of ULA, GG, Six Moon Designs, MLD, just to name a few.
PaulJan 3, 2008 at 5:11 pm #1414768
@fperkinsLocale: North East
I started a developing an application that would allow you to enter all your gear and then dynamically create gear lists from it. Alas, I haven't had the time to complete it, but if I do, it would be very very cool.
About resubscribing, I would in a heartbeat. Other than my subscription to Backpacker and NG Adventurer magazine, there isn't a whole lot of other information on backpacking, let alone doing it UL. While BPL isn't perfect, I think it's well worth the money.Jan 3, 2008 at 6:39 pm #1414778
@mad777Locale: South Florida
Check out Jim Woods gear list spreadsheet here ….Jan 3, 2008 at 6:56 pm #1414785
Tom KirchnerBPL Member
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
I've gotta back up Larry on this one. It truly is, or should be, about the experiences. They last forever. The things(gear) come and go as new things come along, sort of like a series of one night stands. How long do they get remembered. BPL, IMO, has provided a lot of info about gear, for those who are oriented in that direction, and a lot of experience inspiration for those who place primary emphasis on that. Think Arctic1000 and a trip report forum chock full of ideas for experiences. Well worth the 20 odd bucks, again IMO. BPL provides a pretty big tent from my perspective.Jan 3, 2008 at 7:19 pm #1414787
aaron eshelmanBPL Member
@djaaronreedLocale: Central Rockies
I too have had my reservations with re-subscribing to both the print and online magazines. I must state that I truly love both magazines and will continue to support them (like I have from the beginning) for the adequately low price point. There isn't anything (especially BP Magazine, Outside or NG Explorer, etc.) that is printed/online with the widest variety of columns, editorials, reviews, etc as BPL.
My main problem is not the online magazine in general, but the overall BPL staffing/management and it's current direction. To clarify: Not that the staff is inadequate or lacking in any way, BUT it is hard for a consumer to keep shelling out hard earned cash for a product that is not delivered as promised or advertised.
Case in point – In 365 days of my last print subscription ending on the December 22nd 2007, I only recieved 3 print magazines for what is advertised as a quarterly magazine. I do understand that the print medium is a very hard arena to break into. To do it effectively and to keep a consumer subscription base, a magazine HAS GOT TO KEEP IT'S DEADLINES AND SHIPPING DATES.
I think the trickle down effect from a chaotic editorial staff/direction is taking it's toll on the online magazine in regards to stories being presented.
I also think that we all (subscribers) need to relax and do what we feel is right for ourselves and our pocket books. Can I justify the poor print schedule against the usually excellent stories and writing? YES, and I will pay for it! The same goes for the online.
$40 dollars a year in my opinion gets me the best of BPL: Great gear reviews, insite into the industry, great active forum participants (where else can you ask the reviewers, more questions about the gear they talk about and they reply!), monetary discounts on normal and fringe gear. All in a tidy complete package named BPL. No other magazine give us as much for so little. Sure I can get 10 issues of BP Mag for about $25, but do I care about the 7 pound tents? Not really, but I do enjoy the stories about people who do what I like to do. It's the same with BPL, but I like the total package and I'm willing to shell out the cash for it.Jan 4, 2008 at 7:44 am #1414811
David NollBPL Member
@dpnollLocale: Maroon Bells
If you are looking for a list where you can list all of your gear and weights, and create separate lists go to TLB (backpacking.net) and the featured article by Greg Cope and at the bottom there is a link to a list by Chris Ibberson.Jan 4, 2008 at 9:37 am #1414815
I had an old climbing partner who said you can either drink beer and reminisce or drink whiskey and plan boldly.
It was that simple, he had two states of being. He was either talking about an old climbing trip or in the middle of planning a new one.
Fast forward to a post about new year's resolutions as it relates to ul backpacking and there are two posts, the intial one and one with a nice plan to hike the Ozark Trail.
Now from a bunch of people who are willing to discuss their underwear preferences [my capiliene thong is 1.5 mg lighter then your silk boxers] this is a pretty poor showing.
I would at least think some of us winter bound souls in the north would be getting cabin fever; breaking out the maps, the guide books, and google earth. Maybe the ones doing are to busy doing to be blogging, but I sense a fire burning down.
And isn't it nice we can go to another website to link to lists, don't you suppose they should be linking to our site?Jan 4, 2008 at 1:08 pm #1414836
I can see that you are much more interested in reading about the plans and experiences about other people's hikes. And I am sure a lot of folks share your enthusiasm for these articles / postings.
Perhaps I misunderstand, but if not, then I fail to see why gear articles about base layer (or anything else) constitute a "poor showing" or "a fire burning down"???
I am a traveler first and a hiker second. But truth be told, I almost never watch travel shows, hate looking at other people's travel slides, and I rarely bother to read other people's trip or trail reports — probably for the same reasons why spectator sports utterly bore me to death!
But I don't presume to say that planning or reminiscent type articles/postings constitute a "poor showing"…
This day and age, most companies and most hikers have websites and blogs ad nauseum about their own gear or their own trips. Anyone can go to them for details. But it is a rare place where one can find a "head to head field comparison" amongst 10 or 15 different brands of any one thing! I truly think this is where BPL shines — and uniquely so. But at the end, maybe BPL needs to beef up both types of articles!?!Jan 4, 2008 at 1:35 pm #1414838
Actually, I see time and time and time again sites where gear is discussed ad nauseum, but I'm left wondering if the folks who spend so much time talking gear actually use it. I rarely hear about how well it worked except in someone's garage or back yard.
For year's, my backpacking was restricted to summers and long breaks from teaching, because I worked multiple other jobs, particularly REI. I learned loads from long Summer trips, but no weekend experience for the most part from 2001 to this past Autumn. Since I made a deal in October in which I don't work weekends any more, I've made 4 2-3 day trips, one canoe and the others backpacking. I'm just starting to write up some of those reports. But I'm out there, hiking.
I always preferred the BPL print magazine to the online magazine because it featured some great trip commentary. It seems like this is becoming less common. Will I renew my subscription? Maybe. I think BPL is a worthy site for folks who want to learn about lighter options.
But comments that reflect that a lot of people here talk LOTS of gear, but rarely talk about backpacking is telling to me. Poopoo it away if you must, though I know you get out quite a bit Ben, but I often feel this is the case with many here.
I'm burnt out on gear. I just want to get out there and walk and share photos and thoughts.
I never thought I'd say it, but maybe I'm better suited to Whiteblaze……Jan 4, 2008 at 2:11 pm #1414840
John S.BPL Member
I often wonder how many posting those low weight gear lists have ever used them. Or are they really even telling the truth? Do you think people fib when it comes to gear lists? I think some do fib.Jan 4, 2008 at 2:28 pm #1414841
Could it be… could it really be that UL hikers fib gear lists like pro atheletes use drugs? Nah, we do it for the sport — and we never let our ego get in the way, right? :)Jan 4, 2008 at 3:23 pm #1414849
Geez, "a poor showing" was just a reference to the one post about new year's resolutions, I'm constantly suprised by things like how we can get 106 posts about carrying firearms and 2 posts about plans for 2008.
I just want to believe that people are going out and doing things instead of making cyber-lists and taking cyber-trips.
My personal experience is BPL is a great place to find out about equipment and a lousy place to connect with anyone trying to go somewhere.
As long as I have my invisible giant rabbit to accompany me my extended family is still going to let me go so this is all moot anyway.Jan 4, 2008 at 3:32 pm #1414851
Steven EvansBPL Member
Up here we hike with mulligans. I went on a trip about 6 weeks ago at sub 10 lbs…not bad for the weather, but I really wanted to take my Outback Oven to make pizza. Knowing that this would increase my pack weight to over 10lbs, I decided to bring the oven and use a mulligan (or mully for short) – therefore, there was no base weight increase! ;)
p.s. you're only allowed 3 mullies a year, use them wisely.
p.p.s. Larry, I have cabin fever like you wouldn't believe – next weekend I'm gone!Jan 4, 2008 at 3:47 pm #1414855
Sorry, Larry, I misunderstood your post.Jan 4, 2008 at 5:04 pm #1414868
@davidpasseyLocale: New York City
I've been a member for about 2 years. When I first joined, I voraciously trolled the sight and forums for information about gear and techniques. I don't have the time or money to "discover" this information on my own. As I have come up the learning curve, I have spent less time on the BPL site.
I'll keep my subscription b/c the price is cheap and I like the occasional new article/review. I also like being kept abreast of new gear (which I could get for free on the forums). Mostly, though, I enjoy the forums.
Call me crazy, but in a way I regret the fact that rankings are no longer posted in the forums. My ranking was relatively low–nothing that would justify me as an expert. I did like the rankings though b/c I have enjoyed being a part of the community–even in only a very minor member. The rankings are one extra bit of data about each member–at the very least they gave you a sense of how long/active a member had been.
I thought I noticed newer members being assisted by older members (and even seeking out their input from time to time) and more experienced members carrying on more advanced discussions.
I hope this sort of community building continues, but w/o the ranking it's not as transparent to me.Jan 4, 2008 at 5:31 pm #1414874
John S.BPL Member
Not really. I was a 3.51 or so until I didn't renew my subscription. That whole first number is nothing more than how many years you have paid them money…a silly way to "rank" anyone.
"The rankings are one extra bit of data about each member–at the very least they gave you a sense of how long/active a member had been."Jan 4, 2008 at 9:08 pm #1414895
Perhaps we should rename this the annual should I re-up my membership thread [or semi-annual, quarterly?].
I got cabin fever, I got another pc window open to a hut system up north, my basement office is plastered in clothing either drying out overflowing a wooden foldable drying rack or waiting to be loaded, stuffed, or put away, I go to bed with maps, fall asleep with guide books on my chest, my conversations with other humanoids are reduced to primitive grunts, inquiries as to the location of reading glasses,or requests for inter-library loan books of even more trip orientated material. There's an email from a friend containing a bunch of jpegs of on-trail/off-trail country up in British Columbia waiting to be printed out and added to the pile. I called a wheat farmer in SE Washington State today from work asking about access and best guess at weather into Juniper Dunes. I'm plagued by a torn up knee from hooking a crampon point in Nepal that led to a hamstring pull trying to compensate for the orginal injury, my son lectures me about being 57 and still "trying" to do this "stuff" solo, I try to explain about the theory of T.R. [time remaining to do things at a certain level] to them, I try to explain about my friend, the invisible giant pet rabbit, and I don't have the slightest idea "how much my stove weighs" because it's winter and all I care about is how much snow it can melt. or it's spring and it was the easiest one to find with a cookset attached. Somedays I'm Norman Clyde and others I'm Fred Beckey and most of the time I'm not capable of sherpa-ing their toilet paper. Remember Colin Fletcher when he couldn't get to the Sierras would hump up into the hills above his house just so he could wake up listening to his little Svea stove purring away?
It is Friday night, it is officially time to pack up some of this crapola and go someplace really cool.
Peace people.Jan 4, 2008 at 9:44 pm #1414898
I'm content with the articles, gear reviews and information I've receive from BackpackingLight.com and have no problem shelling out $20.00 for the subscription… BUT must admit that I did take a look at Whiteblaze after reading your post and was very impressed. I found it refreshing that they focused more so on actual backpacking. Thanks Shawn for the reference to http://www.whiteblaze.net/
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