Feb 27, 2010 at 7:11 pm #1255843
So I'm young, nimble, strong, and shaking with enthusiasm about the backpacking scene. I've purchased gear, read books, studied maps, made plans, all of that stuff that gets our hearts boiling with passion for the outdoors. Of course, I still have a few questions, points to present, and ideas to ponder. I figured I'd reach my hand into the pot of wisdom this site has to offer; a few questions I've had, in no particular order:
How sustainable is backpacking? If I'm willing to tolerate a degree of discomfort, wetness, and other problems, can I do this for a year? two? a whole lifetime? I'm upwardly mobile, and about to take the plunge into vagabondage, living life as a transient street philosopher, can backpacking give this rambling turtle a shell? (if you can feel that)
I own a Hennessey Hammock, and I love it. Light, deliciously comfortable, easy to set up. But, I'm always looking to cut weight, and I'm considering using a quilt (my current BAG weighs, I believe, over 3 pounds. No bueno). Will this work? Because of the bottomless nature of a quilt, I'm scared I'll get cold/condensation problems. I'm thinking if I get a beefy sleeping pad, it might be a success. You tell me. Also: what quilt should I get? or, if not a quilt, what bag do you suggest? Mind you, I'm dirt poor, every piece of equipment I own takes me quite some time to finance.
Another beef I'm having is food. I read somewhere, I think it was "adventure allen's ultralight" or something, and he suggested I figure 2 pounds per day for food. Is this realistic? Can I cut this in half? A quarter? My main issue is that I'm vegetarian (3 years in march!). Its not usually a problem, but I've taken up powerlifting, and I'm on a high protein (150g+) diet. I carry some pure soy protein, but I can't thrive on this alone. I carry beans, nuts, and soy products, which are generally canned, and hard to do "the ultralight way".
One more thing: Winter Bivvy sacks? Do they exist, how bad of a problem is condensation, and whats the price range? I've seen them, but I'm dubious.
Thanks for taking the time to read that, that, thing above. I just have so many questions, and I figured it a bad idea to make 98802345 threads about each one.
Thanks! <3Feb 27, 2010 at 7:35 pm #1579516
Chris MorganBPL Member
@chrismorganLocale: Southern Oregon
"How sustainable is backpacking? If I'm willing to tolerate a degree of discomfort, wetness, and other problems, can I do this for a year? two? a whole lifetime?
Two guesses as to what this means:
"I own a Hennessey Hammock, But, I'm always looking to cut weight, and I'm considering using a quilt Will this work?
I'd take a peek at underquilt and sleeping pad discussions at hammockforums.net
"Another beef I'm having is food. I read somewhere, I think it was "adventure allen's ultralight" or something, and he suggested I figure 2 pounds per day for food. Is this realistic? Can I cut this in half? A quarter?
"My main issue is that I'm vegetarian (3 years in march!).
"One more thing: Winter Bivvy sacks? Do they exist, how bad of a problem is condensation, and whats the price range? I've seen them, but I'm dubious.
I'd search for "winter" and "bivy" on the right where it says "search fourms" – you should get several results.
Welcome!Feb 27, 2010 at 7:39 pm #1579517
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
Cultivate your team.
There are a few times when a guy likes to go it alone with some adventure trip. However, often it is better to get a team of like-minded individuals for a larger adventure. Call it a group backpack trip. If nothing else, it can be slightly safer that way.
With a team, you can compare notes on equipment, carpool together to a trailhead, cook together, and in some cases share tents or stoves (which is a great weight-reduction technique).
Either that, or enlist in the Army.
–B.G.–Feb 27, 2010 at 7:49 pm #1579523
Tom KirchnerBPL Member
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
"How sustainable is backpacking? If I'm willing to tolerate a degree of discomfort, wetness, and other problems, can I do this for a year? two? a whole lifetime? I'm upwardly mobile, and about to take the plunge into vagabondage, living life as a transient street philosopher, can backpacking give this rambling turtle a shell? (if you can feel that)"
The only way you'll ever find out is to take the plunge. Start with short trips; learn from experience; hook up with others to the degree possible, especially at first; things will start to become clear for you in time. Might not be a bad idea to hang around here while you in the process. A lot of experience and a generally helpful attitude to help you over the inevitable rough spots. Best of luck, and welcome to BPL!Feb 27, 2010 at 7:59 pm #1579526
@foundLocale: Sacramento, CA
"How sustainable is backpacking? If I'm willing to tolerate a degree of discomfort, wetness, and other problems, can I do this for a year? two? a whole lifetime? I'm upwardly mobile, and about to take the plunge into vagabondage, living life as a transient street philosopher, can backpacking give this rambling turtle a shell? "
That, my friend, is a conversation for a park bench or lake side. I believe I'm one of the few on this forum that has taken the step into backpacking in such a way. Yes, I'm hiker trash. This year will not be my first that I spend around 300 days out. I've backpacked about as much as I've done other things my entire adult life. It's a personal path, and I'm not sure how to attempt to answer your question. I think we need some beers, and a starry night. I'm not sure that I'll do it full time, for my entire life. Injury could always put me out. But I'm happy to do it for a decade or so in my twenties. I don't "live on the street". In fact, I often pay rent (though typically crash on my bed 4-8 nights a month). Having a place to keep my stuff, shower, hang with friends, cook on stoves helps me mentally do it long term. I wasn't a big fan on homelessness and living in my camper van. On a more long term basis, I'm leaning towards building a tiny home. I think that I could own my own home, outright, for about $40,000.
I backpack so much because it's my passion and my job. When I'm not working, I'm still out on the trail. And when I'm REALLY not working, I like to be long distance hiking. The CDT starts soon. Yes, it's doable year round. I've been toughing out winter, but am happy to be sitting on my parent's couch right now. I tarp in the winter, and LOVE having my "winter bivy" along. I like it because I can zip closed a bubble around my face and not be bothered by windblown snow. I also like it because I can leave my sleeping bag unattended during the day and I don't come back to it covered in snow. Condensation is a problem, but not a show stopper. My winter bag has a waterproof shell which helps. I paid about $100 for an OR Delux bivy about eight years ago. They cost about double, full price.
Cheers!Feb 27, 2010 at 9:56 pm #1579548
@lori999Locale: Central Valley
I can't comment on most things other than +1 to cultivating a team of people who can be your support.
"Because of the bottomless nature of a quilt, I'm scared I'll get cold/condensation problems."
I use a pad only on outings where I think there is a likelihood of going to ground. Pads are vapor barriers and depending on ambient conditions can cause dampness in your hammock or clothing. I use an underquilt paired with a top quilt. I have only been cold with (properly rated to the season) quilts when they are not fitted to the hammock properly and there are gaps between hammock and quilt lining; this is easily solved by adjusting the quilt on the hammock. I have had condensation on my quilt once, in below freezing temps when I resorted to using a waterproof poncho as a windshield; my insensible perspiration froze on the DWR outer layer of the quilt, inside the poncho, where it collected in drops and flaked off when I shook the quilt out in the morning. The quilts are so breathable that they are very comfortable and have not lost (noticeably, anyway) loft in more than a year of frequent use.
And hammock forums is indeed the mecca of all things hammock.Feb 28, 2010 at 5:21 am #1579579
Jack, where your at is close to where I want to be. I have no plans to purchase/rent a home or car though. Like, a modern day hobo, that instead of sleeping on the street and on store roofs, I'd take to the woods. A little like what you do, only slightly less rooted.
I feel like the two of us could discuss things of this nature for hours. Have you read Evasion? Its a life-changing book by a homeless petty criminal that journeyed across the nation. I want to be a more refined, high-tech version of him.
And Chris M, thanks for the links. I've been posting on different forums for long enough to should have known to search, I don't know why I didn't.Mar 2, 2010 at 5:29 pm #1580842
Piper S.BPL Member
@sbhikesLocale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
> How sustainable is backpacking?
What do you mean by this? Do you mean can you backpack all your life? The answer is yes. Age will not limit you. I read this wonderful quote in Born to Run that among marathon runners, they peak at about age 27 but then it takes until they are 64 years old before they're back to where they were at age 19. We're built for distance.
Do you mean is it good for the environment? Most of the gear is not good for the environment but the lifestyle is lower impact than normal.
Do you mean can you stay out for a whole year happily? That you'll have to figure out for yourself. I start to want to go home after about 3 months. Once I'm home, I'm wishing I was back out there again.
It almost sounds like you want to do not just wilderness backpacking but round-the-world backpacking. Lots of people make that into a lifestyle. Teach English around the world, work odd jobs, pick crops on organic farms or whatever. What an amazing life that would be. No longer upwardly mobile but who cares!
> 2 pounds per day for food. Is this realistic?
I think 1.5 pounds is more realistic for me. At first I might even be ok with just 1 pound. But if I'm are doing something like a long trail where I'm putting in the miles every day, I eat a lot. 1.5 to 2 pounds on the trail and then as much as I possibly can stuff into my stomach when I go for a resupply.Mar 2, 2010 at 5:56 pm #1580862
ah, good. 1.5 lbs sounds doable. I like that number.
And sorry for the confusion, when I said sustainable, I meant can I do this for the rest of my life.
I don't intend to stick strictly to the wilderness; I'll explore urban areas too. I have a huge list of places I want to see (mainly in N. America) spanning from Barrow, AK, to Iqaluit, Nunavut, to the Florida keys. I want to spend quite a bit of time in the arctic as well, so its going to be tougher to keep it UL with all my arctic gear.
Thanks y'all for the insights, I hope to start this spring and not stop till I get realllll oldMar 2, 2010 at 6:10 pm #1580873
Hiking MaltoBPL Member
There isn't an easy answer to that without knowing:
1) What kind of food do you take? (Fat-calorie dense, protein and carbs-not so much)
2) How intense is your hiking?
3) How long your trip?
4) How much weight you're willing to lose?
For me, I generally pack about 125 calories/ounce. I hike 30+miles/day and estimate burning about 8k/day. I target 4k/day in calories so that comes to about 2 lb. My trips have been under two weeks so I usually come back about a lb. a day lighter.
For everyone the variables will be different.Mar 2, 2010 at 8:51 pm #1580940
Nick GatelBPL Member
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
You can do this all your life. Maybe not everyday. I did it continuously for a couple years when I was young. But then eventually I had to earn a living and prepare for my future. I have never stopped (40+ plus years later), but have balanced it with raising kids, pursuing many other interests, and building a financially security for my golden years, that does not require me to be dependent on anyone else.
All the other stuff you just go out and learn.Mar 3, 2010 at 4:48 pm #1581356
@sprucegooseLocale: New England
>>Another beef I'm having is food. I read somewhere…2 pounds per day for food. Is this realistic? Can I cut this in half? A quarter?<<
As Greg suggested above, it depends how many calories you're burning. If you're gonna be living out of your pack full time, I assume you won't be covering tons of miles every day…meaning 2 lbs/day would definitely be more than you need.
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