Aug 8, 2008 at 7:41 pm #1230550
Companion forum thread to:Aug 8, 2008 at 10:43 pm #1446355
@butukiLocale: Kanto Plain, Japan
A thoughtful evaluation of what is happening with the UL market. I like the way you interspersed the story with anecdotes from childhood and people you've talked to and met. Made the whole story more accessible and personalized.
Perhaps one way to look at why it is that people don't embrace the lightweight philosophy more is revealed in your story about going on your first backpacking trip: I think most people haven't had enough experience out there and so still see the wilderness and the weather outdoors with the same untried eyes that you did as a child, when "I don't think we ever made it to the summit, but we didn't need to. That trip was the high point of my young life. I think those of us who have spent more time out there forget just how scary it can be at first. I still get quite nervous when heading up into completely unfamiliar mountains or even cities!
I'm curious, Ryan, what is that blue shirt you're wearing?Aug 9, 2008 at 5:45 am #1446374
@splproductionsLocale: Salt Lake City, UT
Thanks Miguel. I also think when people don't have the right gear it turns them off to camping in general. Bad gear makes for a bad experience.
The shirt I'm wearing is a RailRiders Adventure Top.Aug 9, 2008 at 4:31 pm #1446441
"The right gear"
Yes, that is why I get annoyed when some recommend tarp/bivvy and the like solutions to beginners. I have noticed that several experienced hikers have difficulties setting up tents like the Contrail/Lunar Solo/The One, how is a beginner supposed to set up a tarp ?
FrancoAug 10, 2008 at 12:23 pm #1446535
@jcar3305Locale: East of Cascades
Growing up in 'Bush' Alaska I don't go to sleep at night outdoors in fear of bears yet almost every one always asks me about my solo trips, "Aren't you afraid of the bears?" At the rate I get asked that question you would think there are two bears for every tree in the woods and they all are salivating over their next hiker.
In my opinion the fear of the unknown motivates what most people carry with them. I don't know how a tarp will keep me dry in wet weather so I better take a tent. I don't know if this pack will stand up to an accidental drop so I better get the sturdier one. I don't know if that will be enough fuel for a trip so I better carry two bottles of fuel. I don't know if this first aid kit will do the job by itself so I should carry two.
The lists of unknowns goes on and on and the fears compound as well.
OTOH, when I accompany a group of youth out camping I will often take a tarp and have someone help me set it up. 'See that wasn't so bad.' "Well John, what do you do if is blowing rain?" Then I show them how to adjust it. When it is clear out I sleep outside the shelter most nights unless bugs are bad. (I really should get a bug shelter). 'See a night outside is comfortable and look how much less gear I had to carry.'
The big trick to convincing others to go light or ultralight is to first SHOW them that it can be done. Then help them do it and finally let them do it and then they will teach others.Aug 13, 2008 at 8:47 pm #1447029
Having been at OR this year doing research for the NOLS Lightweight program, I was impressed with the quantity of lightweight outerwear and even the footwear available from major manufacturers. At the same time I was amazed to not be able to connect with vendors in the lightweight industry. Prior to the show, I made a list of the companies I absolutely wanted to check out and connect with. Of those only a handful were represented at OR.
I think Ryan's summary of the state of the industry is excellent, and we are seeing more options for lightweight gear in all aspects of the industry. I would have been excited to see more than one manufacturer of alcohol stoves (ETOWAH) but that is certainly a start.
It is interesting to note, that when I asked footwear manufacturers to show me a shoe that could be used on a two week trip with 25-30# packs in on and off trail terrain, that most still presented me with a mostly leather high top boot. These too are coming down in weight, but when I pointed to my feet and the Hardrocks that I wore for two weeks in the Wind Rivers only a week earlier, most vendors gave a confused look and then turned slowly back to the display to get a trail runner. Innov8 was the stand out exception to this trend.
Perhaps it is time for folks involved in the lightweight industry to offer an outdoor industry skills seminar on lightweight backpacking. BPL could host…Aug 14, 2008 at 7:41 am #1447071
@sharaldsLocale: Gallatin Range
I should probably leave it to our education expert here at BPL but he's not as regular a forum user as I so I will comment that as you know BPL is working closely with NOLS on their lightweight program. Ideally, educating younger outdoor enthusiasts in the art and science of going light will have a long term effect that will ripple through the industry.
Although I'm not as positive this will happen as I like to be. Industry is a juggernaut and grinds onward seemingly outside the perspective of its individual parts.
I too stopped and talked to Paul at Etowah, Jack and Jack at Jack 'R Better and also ran into George of AGG. They are all in relative infancy to the outdoor market and they represent American bred and American made products designed in with lightweight and minimalism amongst the top of their values.
This became a bit of a winded post but I feel there is hope for he lightweight community and BPL is proud to be there as both a media voice and a provider of ultralight goods.Aug 15, 2008 at 7:25 pm #1447274
I was just adding some more perspective on the "Wait for lightweight" at OR. As you know, I have been involved in the NOLS lightweight program since it's inception, and I agree wholeheartedly that education is paramount to the growth of lightweight backpacking.
I think it will happen. There will always be heavier gear, but we are also seeing a movement towards lighter gear in all aspects of the industry. I wish I had known George was there, I didn't see him on the vendor list, and we have only had the privilege of talking on the phone so I can't pick him out of a crowd. Paul was a pleasure to talk to, and I hope we can work with him in the future, as he has some significant experience working with institutions from what he was telling me.
One of the greatest benefits of the NOLS/BPL relationship has been having Ryan J, Carol and Don come to Instructor seminars. I hope this aspect continues, and maybe I can start to work on an even bigger gathering of lightweight players to talk about the benefits of these techniques in the Outdoor Education Industry. One of my favorite pieces of the NOLS lightweight program is the collaborative efforts of different locations and staff in making it happen. That is also a reason I come to the BPL site, to share and learn ideas with and from other members.Aug 16, 2008 at 12:54 am #1447291
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> It is interesting to note, that when I asked footwear manufacturers to show me a shoe that could be used on a two week trip with 25-30# packs in on and off trail terrain, that most still presented me with a mostly leather high top boot.
Also bear in mind that the profit margin on a pair of big leather boots is much higher. My favourite KT-26s sell for ~$30 and Big-W or Target – not a lot of incentive there!Aug 16, 2008 at 1:13 pm #1447335
"Also bear in mind that the profit margin on a pair of big leather boots is much higher. My favourite KT-26s sell for ~$30 and Big-W or Target – not a lot of incentive there!"
Good point Roger. Of course, I have bought one pair of heavy boots that have lasted about ten years with lots of use and am on my third pair of lightweight shoes in 1.5 years. At that rate the shoe companys will be making a pretty big profit off me in the years to come!Aug 16, 2008 at 2:51 pm #1447346
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> I have bought one pair of heavy boots that have lasted about ten years with lots of use and am on my third pair of lightweight shoes in 1.5 years.
Oh sure, big heavy leather boots last longer than UL shoes. BUT, what is your goal?
For example, my KT-26s cost me ~$30 a pair and a pair lasts me maybe 4 months. (I do a lot of walking though.) I did some sums a while ago which showed that wearing KTs cost me just as much as buying leather boots. There was no financial gain at all.
OK, fine – but in the meantime I have these UL shoes with a super grip on my feet, and I am enjoying the freedom they bring. Frankly, the lighter weight on my feet would have me wearing the KTs even if they worked out *twice* as dear as heavy leather boots over time. And this is our message at BPL.
CheersSep 22, 2008 at 4:56 am #1451842
I think this is an interesting information :
So far, it's the first information about trade mark proposal going to comprehensive UL approach.
Interesting is that Fjallraven first issued the Pak5 http://www.pak5.com
And then they reduce it to Pak2. It seems to be a UL down load process as well.Sep 22, 2008 at 5:30 am #1451843
Roger you make me giggle every time you mention your KT26's. I was brought up wearing them, and everyone in my family wore them. I have old photos of us all standing around in our KT's. Sometimes there would be 8-10 pairs sitting outside our front door. However… that was the 80s! ;-) My girlfriend banned me from wearing them because they were far too uncool. LOL. I have had great pleasure in telling her that the folks in the know at BPL reckon it is a great lightweight hiking shoe! Needless to say she is unconvinced. My dad has never been troubled by fashion concerns however, and he still wears them.
Funnily enough they became kind of "retro" cool about 5 or so years ago and you could buy special edition KTs which were gold in colour. Looking back I wish I'd bought some cause I would have had the ultimate combination of trendy, lightweight and performance.
Anyway, just thought I'd share because my family has a long history with KT26's. There are very few shoes that have been around that long and remained essentially unchanged. And I can confirm they are super-comfy and mould to your feet really well. And dang they are cheap!!
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