Sep 25, 2012 at 11:38 pm #1294448
Okay, Mike Clelland (hi Mike, the books are AWESOME) advocates toilet paperless techniques. Some day I may try them, today is not that day. However, I decided that I was going to experiment going without something that many other people "must" have. I have chosen to drop batteries. That's right NOTHING that requires a battery. No iPhone/iPod. No digital camera. No GPS. Wait for it…. NO flashlights! That's right, nothing electrical. It all stays here.
The watch I'm bringing is mechanical (winds up/no battery, useful for navigation). The camera is a film based Rollei 35B (no batteries). To really be comfortable with this I decided my first attempt would be an overnighter with a (1) 12 hour light stick. I'd unwrap it before I left the car (5 p.m. ish) and bust it at twilight. I'll be traveling well groomed trails, in an area I'm familiar with, and I have almost 30 years camping/backpacking/hiking experience.
Rules 6, 33, and 35 (Ultralight Backpacking Tips) are what "sparked" this insanity. 6 "Try something new," 33 "Ditch the watch, money, iPhone, wallet, keys, etc…," and 35 "Make a friend of the night." I really only plan to use the light stick if I need it. If this all works out like I expect it to, it may become a more permanent thing (using light sticks for emergency light only).
I tried to come up with a situation that having a light stick was more of a safety hazard than using a flash light. I'll be honest, in 30 years in the back 40 I don't remember running from Warewolves, Slender Man, aliens or even your run of the mill chainsaw weilding serial killer. Not once. And I even wear a tin foil lined beanie.
Seriously though, I am posting this so that if anyone has a, "you're being a complete idiot, and here's why I say that…" to share regarding this idea, I'm all ears. I'd really like to learn from your wisdom (screw ups) instead of making my own.
Look forward to the gripes and complaints.Sep 26, 2012 at 1:06 am #1915674
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
Campfire light.Sep 26, 2012 at 2:26 am #1915680
@jaseLocale: A tent in my backyard - Melbourne
….sounds really interesting.
… let us know how you go!! I'd love to hear about the experience! :-)Sep 26, 2012 at 4:27 am #1915686
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
Well, this brings back memories of camping in the Catskills as a kid. Typically, taking a pound of hotdogs, an old wool blanket and fishing gear (worms) we would head upstream to a tributary of the Delaware and follow it up hill.
Sure, you can do that. Sounds like fun! I think the only thing we did special was having a pile of smaller sticks near the fire. Simply dropping a few on the fire would make it flare up to find something, worked well.Sep 26, 2012 at 6:28 am #1915699
I used to backpack w/o batteries, but my little light weighs less than my candle lantern, my solar G-Shock weighs less than my auto-winder watch and my pocket digital camera weighs less than my old manual/analog camera (well not less than the 110, but who can find film for these?).
I think what you're doing is cool, and it sounds like fun. Having grown soft, I prefer to stick with my amenities, however.Sep 26, 2012 at 6:42 am #1915700
If you're interested, both color and black and white film for your 110…
The same website will process it for you too.
EverettSep 26, 2012 at 7:56 am #1915713
Ah…the days of film. Where one had to carry multiple rolls of film. And pray a shot came out. Instead of taking 10 shots and picking the best (trashing the rest) you got one chance.
I am not trying to poo-poo the anti-digital camera but I'll say this:
I didn't go digital till 10 years ago. My first son, who is 15, I have VERY few photos of him when he was young. Between film and processing it wasn't cheap. Same with hiking. So few photos.
After digital? So many memories. I take snapshots of my two youngest boys nearly daily.
And they all look good, not washed out grainy bad film.
But that is me. But don't forget that you tie yourself to 24 or so pictures and that is it.
As for lights. Why a lightstick? Why not a hand wound flashlight? They work and are quite light. I have a tiny one I carry in my purse, it is tiny but has LED bulbs. Cost me $1.Sep 26, 2012 at 8:26 am #1915723
I admire your intent and when I looked at my gear list I carry a lot of powered devices:
– Petzl e-Lite
– Fenix LD01 flashlight
– mUV (water purifier)
– Olympus Splashproof digital camera
– Weather forecaster (2.8 ounces in colder weather to record the low)
I think I could leave it all behind except for the Fenix. I'm okay going to sleep when the sun goes down but if I hear something at night (especially near my bear bag) I like to be able to see what it is.
I guess if it was a clear night with a bright moon I'd be okay, but I like to know what goes "bump" in the night.Sep 26, 2012 at 8:38 am #1915724
On your question regarding hand wound flashlights…
I have one. I think I got it at REI. It's a red cross one that has a USB port on it (for charging other devices). First, a light stick weighs .5 to .75 ounces. I could carry quite a haul of light sticks replacing the weight of most hand wound flashlights. The generator can be weighty. The other thing I found out… ready for this? They store energy in… batteries. I struck out on that one…
I think they are a great idea, and if I was going to go in a group (not just me), I'd likely use one. The idea of going entirely without batteries is something I would only do by myself, or with other backpackers that understood what I was doing (and that meant I wasn't going to be a light source for them). What I mean is either other UL backpackers, or other heavy pack guys that like bringing 3 with them.
As for the film…
For me using film is a philosophical thing. I totally understand where you are coming from on the digital camera. I LOVE (and hate to be separated from) my Olympus E-PL2 "come here baby, that's right give daddy some love.. OH uh wait…"
The reason I like to shoot film is: it's a limited resource. I HAVE to think before I push the button. Focus is about more than just adjusting the lens. I HAVE to be IN this moment, paying attention. I can use iDraw (Adobe Illustrator equivalent) to make some pretty nice graphics. I would NEVER try to oil paint though. I'm just not that kind of artist.
To me using a film camera forces me to be more creative because of the constraints. One constraint I disagree with though…
Any roll of 35mm film I get has 36 shots on it. If I go out from Friday night to Sunday afternoon, I typically have 36 hours of daylight. I can average one picture every hour, and only spend one roll. If I think I'm going to need more than that, a second roll costs me 1.5 ounces. I "get" to consider if the cost is really worth it. If my wife/daughter/son (or some mix of them) are coming along, I'd take the digital.
As for development, I have them develop the slides and scan them onto a CD directly. That's actually pretty cheap, because one machine does the development, and then the negatives are spit directly into another machine that makes the CD. I always ask for high resolution TIFF's so that I have a huge beautiful original to work from.
Thank you for making me explain that. I like having to justify why I would use film. It makes me think about the weight and the value. It also makes me think about the value of a limited resource v.s. the value of an unlimited resource. I wonder if I value my film pictures more because film as a medium is dying (goodbye Kodak), because I have fewer film pictures, and because it takes effort to get it right…
Looking at the picture of my daughter on my cell phone, I'd say…Sep 26, 2012 at 8:40 am #1915726
drowning in spamMember
^^ I'm the same way. I have to have a bright flashlight. I don't have enough faith that the next mountain lion or bear that walks into camp will leave me alone if I don't run it off, and with my eyes, I need a flashlight for that. I can dump the GPS on most hikes, and can get by with a superlight disposable phone.
It can be quite easy to be tempted into carrying a couple pounds of electronics onto the trail.Sep 26, 2012 at 8:54 am #1915729
I like being forced into a more… I hate using the word "organic"… I like being forced into a more analog situation. I have to use my map and compass (it's sick, but I like navigation). I have a GPS, but I'm leaving all my technical (not technological, technical) dependancies behind. I work as an Information Security guy. My day is non stop desktops, routers, firewalls, cell phones, iPads, laptops, IP phones… I want to get away from everything digital. The only way to do that, is to leave behind all batteries.
The reason I posted this in philosophy is because…
I feel backpacking is MEANT to be analog (FOR ME). I spend my life in (imagined) flowcharts, troubleshooting, where there is only one correct conclusion. I like shaking off that constraint and seeing what happens. It's nice having some risk of failure put back in life. Analog (many possibilities) leads to so much more learning than digital (limited possibilities). I want to grow outside of a flowchart. This is me separating who I am from what I do.
I in no way claim to be better than anyone for desperately needing to do it this way. I hold nothing against anyone that doesn't choose to follow my path. What I REALLY appreciate is all the wonderful comments I've received on this. Thank you all for your time. I can't wait to see what other people have to say. I may try this weekend to go to Rocky Mountain National Park and do the overnighter before it's too cold…Sep 26, 2012 at 8:55 am #1915731
You REALLY need to write an article about your time camping in the Catskills… I'd love to read it.Sep 26, 2012 at 9:08 am #1915735
I always thought there were two ways to deal with a Bear. One, play dead. Two, Bear Spray. I've never run into a place so dark that I couldn't see movement at night. So, using bear spray without a flashlight is something that I think is totally feasible (for me). Playing dead without a flash light? I think that would just be more convincing. Running at a wild animal with a flash light? That takes more than just a flashlight, and I must not have "it." :)
I may just have good night vision. When I spent a month in the desert near Fort Bliss I was always able to see my way around without lights (or NVG's). I seemed to get used to the terrain, knew what to expect, whatever.
I respect wanting to have the light though. Who knows, you guys may read about me in the news for trying this…Sep 26, 2012 at 9:08 am #1915736
I'm totally in agreement with the desire for a simplified hiking experience, leaving all the daily clutter behind, but that should not compromise safety.
I always take a headtorch. It's not hard to envision a situation where it may be neccessary to continue hiking after nightfall, or to strike camp in the middle of the night. In such a situation a good light source is essential. It also comes in handy for a midnight pee.Sep 26, 2012 at 9:15 am #1915737
Thank you for responding. In all the examples you gave, I was sure that a light stick would cast enough light to, get me to a spot for the midnight pee, or provide me with light to strike camp. If I was hiking in a way that REQUIRED me to cover an amount of ground before being able to camp, I TOTALLY agree that a headlamp is a good idea.
What I've done is temporarily put a constraint in place that mitigates the risk of the other situation you describe. I'm hiking a place that I know well, that at anytime I can go back to the car and go home, and that I don't really have to hike a minimum distance to get to a camp site (back country permit at a National Park). Okay, the minimum distance thing isn't exactly accurate, but if I can't cover the minimum distance before I need a light, I must be dealing with a much larger issue, and would try again another day…
Thank you for making sure I'm NOT doing something stoopid :)Sep 26, 2012 at 9:33 am #1915741
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
Leaving the toys at home is a good way to lighten your base weight and I think it enhances the experience of nature.
Light sticks aren't very good and a negative on the renewable/sustainable resource side. I would look at the small hand-crank flashlights instead. I have one that is very useable. Candle lamps are okay in camp, but still a little wasteful over the hand crank.
Other than lighting, I don't have any need for battery driven gear that presents any issues with safety or comfort.
I do like a radio and digital camera. Both use rechargeable batteries, so no issues with sustainability, but they can be distracting.Sep 26, 2012 at 9:40 am #1915747
Light sticks IMO suck. But that is me. They are heavy for what they are, one use and never give a lot of light.
I get your take on film and whatnot – but honestly? I wouldn't go back to film. Even my husband who holds a degree in fine art photography and who used to do all his developing won't. On the side note that them chemicals ain't very healthy either for you ;-) Although I do have very pleasant memories of the tiny darkroom my parents built me when I was a kid.
It just seems odd to shoot film, develop and then put on a cd. ;-)
Then again my husband would probably say I am the same way with my love of canning…..Sep 26, 2012 at 9:48 am #1915750
I've hiked with my candle lantern and reflector. It was fun. I would do it again. 9 hours from one candle, windproof.Sep 26, 2012 at 9:50 am #1915751
I considered the environmental argument about light sticks, and here's what I discovered:
Cyalume Light Sticks are Non-Toxic, Non-Flammable and Weatherproof. When they're expended you can cut them open, empty the chemical out of them, and recycle the plastic. You ARE right about them being non-sustainable, to a limited degree. They are a one use item. My point is, I'm trying to use them as a backup item only. I want to see if I can get away with not needing anything, and if I do need something, use one. This means I may not need light at all, haven't used a light stick, and am a step ahead of a person using a flashlight even with rechargeable batteries.
I hear your argument about using rechargeable batteries. However rechargeable batteries are MUCH more environmentally damaging than the chemistry of a light stick (Lithium is a heavy metal, and MANY people don't recycle them). I'd like to see the comparison of environmental damage from the energy source that recharges your batteries+the spent batteries themselves v.s. my use of light sticks. I'm sure it would be interesting.
Thank you for your time and consideration. You've given me more to think about.
EverettSep 26, 2012 at 9:54 am #1915752
drowning in spamMember
While possibly heavy, a carbide headlamp might fit into this type of trip.Sep 26, 2012 at 10:02 am #1915757
spelt with a tParticipant
@speltLocale: SW/C PA
If you need battery-free lighting powerful enough to work or hike by:
Edit: Eugene beat me to it.Sep 26, 2012 at 10:28 am #1915765
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
The level of environmental impact does depend on life cycle and proper disposal.
I do think that decent lighting is a safety issue and has been on the essentials list for decades and for good reasons. Many get by with a Photon Micro or a Petzl e+, but I prefer something with more output. My rational is needing to navigate the trail at night due to slow progress or going for help after dark. I have planned to be able to abandon my pack and carry enough essentials to protect myself while going for aid for another hiker. That means water, the usual essentials, and good lighting for navigation. There are 1000 possible "what ifs" and the weight of a good light and backup batteries is one of my personal concessions. Things like smart phones, MP3 players, radios, cameras and the like aren't needed on a safety basis. I don't think much of GPS's as the only and primary means of navigation as well.
One thing I have been working on is to get my lighting using one AA battery each, so I can trade between them and only need one spare for good CYA. I have a Fenix H21 headlamp and an Olight i2 flashlight. I'm sure I could get by with one or the other.
Your thread does make good points and we should think long and hard about the "toy level" in our packs, for reasons of sustainability and distraction from the enjoyment of nature, as well as weight. I once saw a fellow hiking into a wilderness area with a boom box balanced on his shoulder– and pounding out Heavy Metal. Not good on so many levels!Sep 26, 2012 at 12:07 pm #1915800
" I once saw a fellow hiking into a wilderness area with a boom box balanced on his shoulder– and pounding out Heavy Metal. Not good on so many levels!"
Around me, that might have been a terrible gun accident… involving the noise box. The radio is replaceable though…
I agree with you about the "thousand" what ifs. I just wonder if a significant enough of them are mitigated with a light stick. I hear some guys talk about the need for a knife (sword) while they're in the back country citing what ifs? I don't know the answer for sure, and only submit I'm going to try this out.
Good on ya for the battery swapping. Great idea.
As for toys… amen, and amen.Sep 26, 2012 at 12:16 pm #1915808
I saw both your comments, so I took a look at them. I like the idea, I don't like the weight. I have a sealed light stick that works for 12 hours a .5 ounces. Two of them (for a weekend trip) run me 1 oz. My other concern is one that's voiced with white box stoves. Once you light it, you are waiting until the fuel is consumed for it to go out (I think…).
HOWEVER, the fact these are batteryless is awesome. I found some on eBay from $20 to $100. I may get one just cause it's awesome to have and use.Sep 26, 2012 at 4:00 pm #1915887
He Dale, did we pass the same person? In the Olympics? ;-) They were rocking out pretty good. It was lashed on to the top of their pack…lol!!
At least with ipods people listen to the music in their heads and not on boom boxes anymore ;-)
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