Apr 3, 2008 at 11:33 am #1426917Andrew RichardsonMember
@arichardson6Locale: North East
Precisely what I was thinking…I figured one was for formal events and the other pair was for casual use.Apr 3, 2008 at 4:30 pm #1426986Roger CaffinModerator
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> But in the absence of expertise, the info provided in this review is no different than a random blog espousing their opinions. And there are numerous blogs which have reviewed the Affluenza book. So what is the BPL value add here?
Good question, but you might be a bit surprised over how many BPL staff do espouse 'lightweight' living. OK, maybe some due to conviction and others due to circumstances :-) That is, apart from a slight tendency to indulgence in UL gear!
Obviously some BPL readers have found this brief review of Ul interest. That's good. We try to cover a broad scope rather than a really narrow one, and inevitably this means a few articles at some times will not appeal to some members. This happens. But remember, we can only find out what you like by publishing and then looking at your feedback.
Never mind: there will be some very technical articles about gear and lightweight trips coming up soon. We hope you enjoy them.
Online Community Manager
Backpacking LightApr 3, 2008 at 4:58 pm #1426989Ryan JordanAdmin
@ryanLocale: Central Rockies
Affluenza (the concept) is at the very core of the philosophy why *some* (not all!) people go hiking, backpacking, thru-hiking, in the first place.
An extension of this philosophy is at the core of *some* (not all!) of the reasoning behind carrying a lighter pack and seeking a lighter, less impactive, and simpler existence in the wilderness.
If you seek this type of simplicity in your wilderness style, and are unwilling to at least recognize these roots, or at least, the extension of these principles to other areas of your life, then perhaps you are missing out on one of the most powerful applications of lightweight backpacking in the first place.
Visiting the wilds, for me, has nothing to do with visiting the wilds. "So what?" other than those experiences feed my own selfish indulgences to do some of the things that I selfishly enjoy doing.
Far more important, is what my experiences in the wilds allow me to bring back to society, my community, my relationships.
Backpacking, inherently, can become a pretty narcissistic activity for some.
I'd rather take the opportunity (occasionally) to ask you to step outside of this narcissism from time to time and explore the greater impact that an ultralight life may have both inside, and outside, the boundaries of a wilderness area; than simply educate you about "the greatest new thing you have to buy now", whether it's from the "BPL store" or not.
I'd be rather disappointed, from the perspective of a businessman especially, that you'd consider purchasing something from our store that you wouldn't need, use, or appreciate. Unfortunately, these criteria (need, usefulness, and appreciation) are not common filters for American shoppers, and that's pretty pathetic. Hence, the Affluenza epidemic.
Got a closet full of gear you never use?
Share it with somebody who can.
Need a piece of gear in our store?
Post first on the Gear Swap forum to see if someone has a used version they aren't in need of. Maybe we can freecycle some of this gear within the BPL community rather than having to sell new things to everyone all the time.Apr 3, 2008 at 8:49 pm #1427020Luymes TedMember
@start2dayLocale: So Cal.
As a 19-year-old in the mountains of Guatemala (circa 1984)I remember the toothless grin of an old Indian woman whose feet were 8" wide, gnarled and cracked from a lifetime of never having worn footwear.
She looked down at my boot-clad feet and so did I. For the first time in my life I was deeply embarassed at having spent $75 for these albatrosses on my feet.Apr 4, 2008 at 9:05 am #1427086George MatthewsBPL Member
>>> Affluenza (the concept) is at the very core of the philosophy why *some* (not all!) people go hiking, backpacking, thru-hiking, in the first place.
Affluenza (the misconcept) contradicts the very core of the economy why *some* (not all!) people go work, get pay, make expenditures, receive goods and services in the first place.
Keep in mind that over 70 percent of the US GDP consists of personal consumption expenditures. We are talking 70 percent of $14 trillion (that is with a T). The EU is another $14 trillion. China $7 T. Japan $4 T, UK $2 T, Canada and Australia about $1 T each. World total is about $66 trillion.
In current dollars, the US GDP was $56 billion (that is only with a B) in 1933. Sounds depressing because it was a depression. The only ultralighters then were hobos and tramps. But there was an absence of affluenza. That then is at least one cure for the disease.
>>> An extension of this philosophy is at the core of *some* (not all!) of the reasoning behind carrying a lighter pack and seeking a lighter, less impactive, and simpler existence in the wilderness.
An extension of the economy is the core of *some*(not all!) of the ability to buy a lighter pack and afford to take trips or purchase books or subscribe to websites seeking a lighter, less impactive, and simpler existence in the wilderness. However, we can't stay because we have to return and go back to work.
>>> If you seek this type of simplicity in your wilderness style, and are unwilling to at least recognize these roots, or at least, the extension of these principles to other areas of your life, then perhaps you are missing out on one of the most powerful applications of lightweight backpacking in the first place.
Also recognize that another necessary root to most of us is the economic model. If people don't buy then there is no work. It may be a nasty cycle, but we're all in this thing together.
>>> Got a closet full of gear you never use?
>>>Share it with somebody who can.
So far I've given my unneeded gear to somebody(s) who can use it.
>>>Need a piece of gear in our store?
I'm a happy consumer of your store! You provide gear and website. I buy and subscribe. Of course, I could survive without either, but as a reasonably free person in a reasonably free market, I choose to incur the wrath of affluenza.
>>> Post first on the Gear Swap forum to see if someone has a used version they aren't in need of. Maybe we can freecycle some of this gear within the BPL community rather than having to sell new things to everyone all the time.
Just wondering. Do we go back to overly strong product designs to make gear last longer – although it will be heavier – to promote its reuse? : )Apr 4, 2008 at 9:50 am #1427092Russell SwansonMember
First, thanks Ryan J. for your explanation. That's pretty much what I was trying to say in my earlier post.
Second, I don't know why I'm surprised again but I am. It never fails to amaze me how much negativity and cynicism one can run into about this sort of thing…even in a place like this forum where I consider the average participant to be very enlightened compared to your average Joe. One would think that a forum which focuses primarily on pursuits outside of the mainstream recreational habits of most people, in places that require a certain level of custodial care on our part (the 'wilds') would be thick with positivity towards ideas like the ones written about in Affluenza.
I truly feel that until we take stock in self-sacrifice and develop a more positive, charitable mindset we're always going to be a slow-moving target for our quasi-capitalist machine…at least until it fails itself through acts of self-cannibalization.Apr 4, 2008 at 10:01 am #1427094Dale WambaughBPL Member
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
To those who can't seem to make the connection between Affluenza and ultralight, one of the major hurdles in getting gear weight down is in our perception of what we need vs. what we want. And it is subtle and pervasive at times.
I find it easy enough to pare down clothing and hardware that is directly applicable to my hike, and then there are the toys– camera, radio, audio player, PDA, etc, etc. Many of those items can actually detract from the quality of the hike and taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of the journey.
Getting away from that sort of baggage is exactly what the wilderness experience is about for me: we spend so much time plugged in and standing on steel and concrete that we lose touch with the natural environment. I live in Seattle and it really strikes me when I am near the waterfront and I can hear seagulls and smell the salt air while standing between 1000' skyscrapers. The view from city streets directly into the Olympic mountains is another reminder of the contrasts.
Another way of expressing this is the old KISS concept: Keep It Simple Stupid.
I am perplexed why someone would want to cancel a subscription (or threaten it) because of the contents of one article. If BPL has a mission, one part of it must be to get people to think outside the box and break with common perceptions of what is the "right" way to prepare for a wilderness journey. I find the subject very appropriate and interesting.Apr 4, 2008 at 4:46 pm #1427166AnonymousInactive
Maybe to establish a broader context for going ultralight and then applying the lessons learned to that broader context(one's way of living in general)?Apr 4, 2008 at 9:22 pm #1427213Adam KilpatrickBPL Member
@oystersLocale: South Australia
I actually quite liked seeing the review here. I feel bad all the time about how much crap I accumulate, particularly backpacking gear that I dont really need, its just a bit lighter, leaving the other gear in the cupboard forever.
I welcome the book review…BPL has seen a book, decided it might be of interest to SOME BPL readers (seriously, not everyone is interested in the latest snowshoe-I live and work in a Desert! But I welcome it as some BPLers are interested), hence the wrote about it.
Id also welcome more book reviews that may be of vague interest to BPLers. Just because a book isnt entirely dedicated to getting your baseweight to sub5 or 10lb, doesnt mean that some of its messages/knowledge may be applicable to what you are trying to achieve. Just because I work on am an arid lands spatial ecologist, doesnt mean that I won't read a marine biology paper from the equator that I think may be interesting and inspire me to think a little differently about the problems I work on.
AdamApr 4, 2008 at 10:01 pm #1427219Rog TallblokeBPL Member
@tallblokeLocale: DON'T LOOK DOWN!!
> when your monthly income is 1600/mo and rent+bills+food = 1400/mo you really dont have money to go buying any old thing and learn to appreciate what you do have.
I don't have digital
I don't have diddly squat
It's not having what you want
It's wanting what you've got
I'm gonna soak up the sun
Gonna tell ev'ryone to lighten up
I'm gonna soak up the sun
While it's still free
Before it goes out on me
-Sheryl Crow-Apr 5, 2008 at 9:28 am #1427254Greg VaillancourtMember
"I am perplexed why someone would want to cancel a subscription (or threaten it) because of the contents of one article."
Not because of one article.
"But what about the BPL'ers who enjoyed the article?"
Am I supposed to express other's opinions?Apr 5, 2008 at 10:22 am #1427266Richard DeLongBPL Member
@legkohodLocale: Eastern Europe / Caucasus
I think the accumulation of gear is normal for people who love backpacking and are performance oriented. Maybe the best way to get out of the "gear hoarding" mode is to just start selling the stuff you know you won't use since you updated it to something that is 2 oz lighter. Let the extra gear circulate!:)
To get out of "affluenza" mode, I think you can either focus on not consuming (buying a minimum of stuff), or on passing on what you're not using. Either way you're not hoarding unused things.Apr 5, 2008 at 12:50 pm #1427286George MatthewsBPL Member
>>>> It never fails to amaze me how much negativity and cynicism one can run into about this sort of thing…even in a place like this forum where I consider the average participant to be very enlightened compared to your average Joe. <<<<<
THE REVIEW REEKS NEGATIVITY! I will list examples. But first, IMHO, American spending is good. I hope all BPLers will aspire to make plenty of money so they can buy any gear they want and go anywhere to hike. It is NOT a disease. However, negative, misinformed exaggeration is a sickness.
Negatives from the review:
1) In a world already filled with so much stuff, there seems to be an ever increasing push to obtain the bigger and the better.
2) Americans consume more fuel, food and products than any other country in the world, but are also plagued with stress-related illness, depression and overall poor health.
3) For a country that seems so rich, why are we so poor?
4) …the probable reason is also the name of their book, Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic.
For sale of course.
5) Affluenza, as it is defined by the authors, is “a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more.”
6) the most powerful and lasting symptom, according to the authors, is the lack of purpose and joy in people’s lives.
7) Americans buy and buy and buy and never quite seem to reach that feeling of contentment.
You can buy a case of beer and it will do the trick.
8) In fact, they tend to feel terrible, weighed down by the excess existing in their lives.
Can't move. Help me.
9) The book cites numerous examples of people who have realized that the accumulation of things, such as power and wealth, have only made them miserable and discontent.
Did they talk to Warren Buffet or Bill Gates?
10) They only find happiness when they lighten up their lives and rid themselves of that which “you can’t take with you when you go.”
Please give your stuff to the authors. You'll feel better.
11) …chronicling and calculating the expanding way of life in America, and how it is making people sick.
12) …the authors morbidly cover and deconstruct the crucial error in the fabric of the American culture: we simply carry too much.
My back hurts. Please help me.
13) The information, regardless of how overwhelming the book may seem at times, is of extreme importance and value, especially to Americans today.
Overwhelming? Maybe a contradiction.
14) Going lighter (although those exact words are not used in the book) is the message.
15) To seek out, appreciate, and foster that which cannot be purchased is provided as a method for a better life, though the authors achieve this by stuffing the book full of facts, figures and shock-value anecdotes. It is supersized, if you will.
Stuffing? Contradiction again.
16) In two hundred forty-seven jolting pages (and that is before the forty-one pages of notes, a bibliography, sources and a complete index) it manages to cut through the never-ending onslaught and spin of advertising, finally presenting to the consumer the world as it is, not as it is marketed.
What? 247 pages + 41 more pages = contradiction!Apr 5, 2008 at 2:00 pm #1427298Nia SchmaldBPL Member
I wrote above that this article doesn't show expertise in the subject matter. Roger responded, "you might be a bit surprised over how many BPL staff do espouse 'lightweight' living"
Well, that's my point. I shouldn't be surprised because the expertise of the author should be obvious by reading the article.
From the BPL mission statement: "the words you read herein are not penned through the filter of a desk jockey's editorial deadline but rather, borne of the hardship and trials that come with spending real time in the backcountry"
I found no evidence of that in the article. In fact I don't see any content not covered by the Amazon review.
I welcome opposing opinions. But one thing I want to stress is that I'm not disuputing that this is an interesting or important topic. I think it is. I've also enjoyed the discussion of the BPL members. This is definitely an interesting and varied group of people that congregate here and in my opinion is the strength of the site.Apr 5, 2008 at 3:12 pm #1427305Roger CaffinModerator
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> I've also enjoyed the discussion of the BPL members. This is definitely an interesting and varied group of people that congregate here and in my opinion is the strength of the site.
Thanks Nia!Apr 6, 2008 at 5:15 pm #1427402Darin BannerBPL Member
@dbannerLocale: Pacific North West
I'm starting to get the feeling that maybe George doesn't like the book review very much.Apr 6, 2008 at 10:09 pm #1427434AnonymousInactive
The book cites numerous examples of people who have realized that the accumulation of things, such as power and wealth, have only made them miserable and discontent.
"Did they talk to Warren Buffet or Bill Gates?"
I don’t know about anyone else… I have no interest in reading the book "Affluenza" but I’m enjoying George’s satirical wit!
Hey what happened to the BPL stickers that said:
"He who die's with the most gear win's"Apr 7, 2008 at 6:02 pm #1427580Darin HuskaMember
"Years ago I started a thread on my BBS about simple living and being able to get by with the basics. I came up with the idea of giving everyone a box that was a one meter cube and all your personal possessions had to go in that box. The other forum members said it was impossible. I don't think so and I'm working towards it– cleaning out my closets and paring down my "stuff." I'm going to get a washing machine box and start there."
When I returned from my 4 year tour in Germany, ALL of my belongings were in a ARMY-issue duffelbag and a 1mx1mx.5m wood box, including my snowboard and rock climbing gear. It CAN be done.
LESS is more!Apr 7, 2008 at 8:22 pm #1427609James LantzBPL Member
@jameslantzLocale: North Georgia
A common misconception is that money is the root of all evil. Actually, it is the LOVE of money that is the root of all evil. Money itself is just a tool that can be used to purchase things for one's self or as a blessing to enhance the lives of others. Thus, money is neither good nor evil. As a physician, I know many very wealthy physician friends who are some of the most miserable people I know. The reason for this misery is that they do not understand that humans are triune beings consisting of mind, body, & spirit. If any of these 3 characteristics is "out of balance" the result is a "unhappy camper". Obtaining "stuff" cannot achieve balance in our lives because it cannot fill the void of an empty spirit. I think "Affluenza" is the greatest sickness in our society today, but I also think that lightweight backpacking is a means to do more with less & be happier in the process. Definitely a lesson that can be applied to our lives in general! Now that I am 50 yrs old, I am much happier not carrying a 50+ lb pack with lots of unecessary stuff in it. There is a lot of satisfaction in learning a new way to think, to research new gear, to use that gear in an integrated way, & to be unburdened in the process so that the majesty of nature can be fully enjoyed. For me this assists in the renewal of mind, body, & spirit that adds some balance to life. For further information, please refer to the life, travels, & trail encounters of the ultimate lightweight hiker, Jesus of Nazareth, as chronicled in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John.Apr 7, 2008 at 8:27 pm #1427611Sven KlingemannSpectator
You may want to check out Gandhi as wellApr 7, 2008 at 9:55 pm #1427619Peter FogelMember
@pgfogelLocale: Western Slope, Colorado
If you have managed to follow this thread all the way to here, you may be one who is ready to receive a gift that was offered to all who would hear it, over 2500 years ago and still remains as relevant today as it was then.
Seek the words of Lao Tzu.
PeterApr 8, 2008 at 2:01 am #1427638John S.BPL Member
Where there is excess of money though, there is a love of money (for the most part). People don't hang on to their money excess just because it's used to buy stuff. It only takes so much to feed/cloth/shelter an individual/family at a reasonable lifestyle. The vast majority of us likely have excessive love of money.Apr 8, 2008 at 10:02 am #1427668Richard ScruggsBPL Member
Great review of the review, George!!! Prompted me to read the review, and now will definitely NOT read the book.
I agree completely that the review (and the book, too, if the review's explication of the book is acccurate) totally reeks negativity, which the reviewer (mirroring the book?)chooses to plaster all over everyone. Excuse me, but after rereading the review itself, I should amend that to say "all over all Americans" as it appears that the empty souls in pursuit of excess is rampant only in that group.
Negative stereotyping. That's what needs a cure.
Disclaimer: this negative review of a negative review of a negative book does not advocate for or against benefits or merits of simplifying or complicating one's life. It seems, however, that happiness and health results from something other than spending or abstinance. And whatever works for one person doesn't necessarily work for everyone.
JRSApr 8, 2008 at 12:06 pm #1427680Gerald HutchinsonMember
If affluence is a sickness, then what is its cure?
Perhaps recognizing the essential "nature" of human beings, most first-order spiritual leaders (Buddha, Christ, Ghandi) said in one way or another that "earthly wants" or "attachment" is the cause of suffering. Non-attachment, and building a spiritual base rather than a material base, they said, is the cure for suffering. [Insert your own favorite spiritual quote to support this statement.]
I fail to see how the pursuit of lightweight backpacking, which requires the purchase of high-tech gear made using ultra-industrial processes (titanium, aluminum, Spectra, Cuben, silnyl, polyurethane, PTFE's, carbon-fiber, computer chips, etc.) and the transportation to and from the trail head in a combustion-engine vehicle—for the purposes of recreation—is in any way consistent with living a simple life!! (Green living it ain't!)
Real simple living means living like the Amish or the Mennonites: growing your own food, making your own clothes, building your own homes from native trees, taking care of your health every day so that you need little medical care. It means having few/no earthly desires, so no need to travel except to market.
When your life is rich within, there is no need to seek without. Go backpacking in your mind! That's ultimate light-weight.
As for me, I'll rely on the fruits of civilization, capitalism, and industrialization to help me on the path to "enlightenment." After I clean out my closet…Apr 8, 2008 at 12:19 pm #1427682Andrew RichardMember
@fairweather8588Locale: The Desert
I found it ironic that we watched a video about Affluenza today in one of my classes, I think it was made in '95
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