Feb 20, 2013 at 5:57 pm #1299512
I've seen the phrase "Stupid Light" tossed around here quite a few times. I understand it means that an individual is sacrificing crucial survival items and comfort levels to shave some weight (or something like that).
Does anyone have specific examples/scenarios that you would consider stupid light?
I was thinking about how many ultralighters don't carry adequate bear canisters, in bear country, because of the canister's weight.
Would this not be an example of stupid light?
I know I'd rather carry two extra pounds versus getting my food eaten or, worst case, becoming the bear's meal.
I ask this because I recently have made a switch to synthetic outerwear, after a horrible (close to hypothermic) experience, because of the risk of wet down from humidity and precipitation in my hiking terrain. Yes it is heavier but I find the risk far greater than the reward of shaving 8oz off a belay jacket.
DanFeb 20, 2013 at 6:15 pm #1956642
I use synthetic sleeping bags over down because of the fear of hypothermia. I also carry a Nalgene bottle to guarantee a way to carry water over a platypus, although I'll probably just carry extra platypi if I do a serious long-distance trip. "Stupid-light" was coined by Andrew Skurka, and I forget where he got it, but his main example was carrying a fleece over a down jacket because of rain.
Another one I've commonly seen is the use of a poncho as a shelter. It's tough setting up your shelter in the rain when your rain gear is your shelter.Feb 20, 2013 at 6:31 pm #1956648
Herbert SitzBPL Member
@hesLocale: Pacific NW
Here's Skurka's original article:
Skurka Stupid Light
I think original example was not taking bug protection in attempt to save weight, when bugs were likely to be encountered.
Not taking a bear canister is not "stupid light" unless you have no ability or skills to protect your food some other way. E.g, having equipment and skills to do a bear hang makes it reasonable to hang your food, not a "stupid light" attempt to avoid a bear canister.Feb 20, 2013 at 6:32 pm #1956650
oh boy…more than I care to remember. two stand out, embaraassingly from the same trip:
Little background info: got on the road on Friday mid day, thinking "oh great I can hike in further now that I have some extra daylight." Trip was in August. Let me state that again…August.
I hit the parking lot at about 4pm. 4:30 by the time I'm hitting the trail. I've still got 3 hrs of daylight. I have 9 miles all uphill, several thousand feet EV gain to campground I select (mistake #1). I should have picked a lower campground.
I reach the campground at dusk, congratulating myself on my 3mph uphill pace. Oh I also had to take a 1 mile detour to get water, so 10 miles in 3 hrs. Neglecting the fact that I am sweating more than normal, and therefore prone to getting chilled upon stopping, I pitch my tent and the wind is whipping up big time. A low pressure system is coming in and the temp drops to 40 or so (per wunderground, so likely a few degrees lower). So now I am heavily sweating, about to get chilled big time, on an exposed ridge, and walking around taking pictures with a full moon (mistake #2, not getting wet clothes off).
Here's where the stoopid light comes in…There are no trees capable of hanging food, and I though pre-trip "nah, bears won't be a problem!" (mistake #3, not doing enough research). Make dinner, with my brand new Ti mug, rinse it out, and pack it with my food. I take my expensive cuben fiber food sac complete with Ti mug used once and walk 200 yds from camp and bury it beneath a few heavy rocks (one of the smarter decisions, to at least get it away from my campsite). We will revisit this…
Now, I was waiting for a new down quilt in the mail, but it wasn't there by the time I left. I didn't want to carry my 20 degree down bag, so I thought "my U.S. Army poncho liner will be fine, it weighs the same as the summer quilt I am waiting for…I'll be good." Not good. I was shivering the whole night, both from a combo of being to wet and stopping as it was getting chilly, wet, and then not having enough insulation. I didn't sleep for 60 min all night. I tried covering my head and woke up with a puddle under my pad from condensation (mistake #4, keep your mouth exposed).
I finally decide at 4:30am it is getting grey enough outside that I can make breakfast and hike out. I stumble to where I stashed my food bag…only the mini bears have made off with it. So now I have to hike out on an empty stomach, having lost my cuben food bag AND my brand new Ti mug, and being chilly until 7am, pissed off, cold hands, but LOTS of valuable data points for future trips. Couldn't find the first Carl's Jr. fast enough…
Type II fun all the way…
TommyFeb 20, 2013 at 6:46 pm #1956652
Thanks for the reply. I found
the article you referred to about Skurka and it contains more examples of stupid light than I wanted to read! Hah!
It is a very nicely organized and, overall, well written article also.
One person in the comments used a bug headnet as a pillowcase, with extra layers stuffed inside, to save an ounce. That was probably one of the most grin-worthy of the bunch. Also seeing how many mosquitos were in the introduction video has me thinking twice about not carrying a bug headnet myself.Feb 20, 2013 at 6:51 pm #1956658
Randy MartinBPL Member
I think Stupid light is going to be one of those things where experience and knowledge play a big role. Use of ultralight gear often requires enhanced knowledge of it's proper use. Using Down insulation is perfectly appropriate in many conditions.Feb 20, 2013 at 6:52 pm #1956659
Justin BakerBPL Member
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
Oh wow, right when I read "my U.S. Army poncho liner" I cringed. The poncho liner is alright for warm weather, like 60 degrees.
Max, I only use my platy around camp to have extra water near me. That way I don't have to stumble around in the dark as often to get water.Feb 20, 2013 at 6:55 pm #1956661
Tommy that 3mph is a great pace, nicely done in that regard! The rest sounds like a nightmare dude. I bet you learned a lot though! :P
Good thing you didn't sleep next to your ti pot and cuben bag.
I was jealous about on thing I read…. I live in the east and I miss Carls Jr! Western Bacon baby!Feb 20, 2013 at 7:12 pm #1956669
W I S N E R !BPL Member
Trying to meet arbitrary numbers and definitions define "stupid light" in my world these days.
Paying more attention to what things look like on a spread sheet (and backpacking forum!) than what your actual fitness, experience, mileage, terrain, or need dictates.Feb 20, 2013 at 7:14 pm #1956671
Daryl and DarylBPL Member
@lyrad1Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
You know if you are stupid light when:
I've cut dental floss pieces too short so I couldn't wrap them around my fingers when I flossed. Trying to floss my tightly positioned teeth with floss held between two fingertips does not work.Feb 20, 2013 at 7:29 pm #1956680
Brendan SwihartBPL Member
@brendansLocale: Fruita CO
I agree with Craig that it has a lot to do with skills, location, and condition of a given trip. A lot of people successfully use a Zpacks Blast but that would be stupid light for me. I take a shelter on probably 40% of trips and rain gear on 10% and that would be stupid light for most people.Feb 20, 2013 at 7:39 pm #1956684
Indeed Randy, I've had to read extensively about the lightweight gear, not to mention philosophy, and it does require a bit more experience and, sometimes, skill to use than traditional gear.
I still use a down sleeping bag and I have a down midlayer. I NOW prefer to have my dominant cold weather layer as primaloft one though (best clo/weight ratio of synthetics). My horror story that I referred to above had nothing to do with the climate conditions…
December of 2011:
Camped for the night, a friend and I were walking the edge of a creek nearby. It was about 28f at this time and we had most of our insulating layers on. It was going to drop down into the teens with light snow flurries that night. I was wearing a merino baselayer, top and bottom, montane terras, a uniqlo 7oz down puffy midlayer, and a montbell apline light hoody. My friend was wearing a rab neutrino endurance puffy (cant remember anything else). We stepped on a rock that gave way on a 6 foot slope down into the edge of a creek with a raging current, both dumped into 3-4 feet of water. We struggled to get up as the current slammed us but we weren't exactly in danger of drowning… We were soaked and all I had was a light baselayer and shell to put on for extra clothes. We both had neck gaiters and gloves with was nice but still didn't take the fact away from our reality. Luckily we were only camped about 1.5 hours out from our car and managed to dry off at the campfire and wrap up in our sleeping bags for about 20-30 minutes. With our main insulating layers soaked and the weather not breaking beyond 23f the next day, we decided to hike out at a medium pace to avoid severe sweating for fear of speeding hypothermia. By the end of the trail we were both having involuntary tremors and losing a bit of precision. It was hard to start the car because I was so shaken. We made it out alive, and I started to take synthetics into consideration as a result. Here is my justification – I'm in the best shape I'll probably be in my life, I'm relatively young and I feel like I can afford to carry and extra pound or two for comfort.
Admittedly, when I discovered BPL, I went into a UL/SUL daze. I wanted the best and lightest! Now I settle for less in regards to cost, which is a result of weight in some cases (I don't own cuben tarps), but not in practicality.Feb 20, 2013 at 8:04 pm #1956692
Aaron SorensenBPL Member
@awsorensenLocale: South of Forester Pass
Oh, you want to talk Stupid Light; I love to go Stupid Light.
I've done 345 (223 & 122) miles on the John Muir Trail over an 8 day period without a sleeping bag.
I hardly ever bring a bag in a 2-3 day trip in the summer time. Then again, I like to hike 20 hours a day.
Hopefully going to do the SHR this year and hoping for a sub 20 lb total carried weight, but now I'm thinking I can get it down between 16 & 17.
PCT'ers can travel through the JMT without a canister. I never sleep in campgrounds while on the JMT, so yes I hang (cuben and olsack).
Why no sleeping bag, just sleep before it gets cold at night with all your clothing on until you get cold, and again in the morning when it warms up. No, this does not work very well but is very effective in taking the weight and bulk out of your pack.
Doing the JMT with a 9 litter pack on without resupply makes much more sense to me.
Taking cold food to ditch the fuel, stove, and pot, YEESSSS.
People bring sooo much crap with them. I just take what I "have" to in order to make it to the end.
Yes, I bring a lighter, so I'm pretty sure I won't get frostbite in the Sierras.
So, is that Stupid enough for you? Well it's light enough for me, so combine the 2 and that is what you get.Feb 20, 2013 at 8:54 pm #1956712
I also do cold food, it's just easier and I'm not there to be gourmet anyways! Clif bars, nuts, and dried fruit. When I'm feeling luxurious I buy goldfish and snickers.
I make all my decisions based on other factors before weight. I consider survivability first, then usually durability second, and then I consider weight. I won't buy a true UL pack because of the certainty that I'd rip it eventually and be stuck in a jam.
The threat of falling in a river keeps me off of down. Maybe someday I'll change my ways, but my 45º Mountain Hardwear summer synthetic is only a few scant ounces heavier than a 45º down bag, and I never have to think about moisture. Or, at least, I have to think about it a lot less. YMMV.Feb 20, 2013 at 8:56 pm #1956713
As long as someone else can learn from my mistakes…that is a win!
Yeah, I wouldn't say as Borat would "Great Success!" in terms of pace, since that is what lead to getting chilled. It would have been better for me to pick a lower campsite, go slower, and not get chilled form being wet. You are correct though I did learn a lot. The biggest lesson from the whole trip was one thing I have thought in the past was unjustified from a weight standpoint…pencil and pad. I made note of all the mistakes and can assure that was the only time I made them.
You can still go to Hardees! I am from the east and thought when I moved out here "hey, why do the Hardees places have a Carl's Jr. sign on them?"Feb 20, 2013 at 10:13 pm #1956727
Not to derail the thread, but I've lived in three towns in Massachusetts, two towns in New York, I have family in Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont, and New Hampshire, and I've biked laterally across most of the states in New England and in TWO DECADES I have never seen a Hardees.
Southeast?Feb 20, 2013 at 10:19 pm #1956730Feb 20, 2013 at 10:50 pm #1956737
They do not have Western Bacon Cheeseburger. At least they didn't in 2006. Otherwise Hardee's is adequate when you are on the road. Yes, the signage is almost identical to Carl's. Not sure what they have against the name in the South.Feb 20, 2013 at 11:18 pm #1956742
Jason GBPL Member
@jasongLocale: iceberg lake
A few come to mind.. (based on my experience on bpl..gear lists..etc)
not taking a shelter
not taking rain gear
not taking a sleeping bag (seems to work for aaron, def not for most)
not taking adequate layering
not taking a bear can (in high risk areas)
not taking sunscreen
imo beer can pots
inadequate shelters (.34oz cuben)
"XUL" backpacking in general (the weenie line has to be drawn somewhere. at that point its just going that light to be able to claim you are of elite "XUL" status! STUPID!)Feb 20, 2013 at 11:27 pm #1956745
Kevin BurtonBPL Member
"I don't need this compass, I'm never off trail anyway".
ha… I though that for about 1ms and then thought that I was being far too stupid.
I also recently upgraded my tarp so that I get MUCH better wind and water protection. My previous tarp was just far too tight.Feb 21, 2013 at 12:08 am #1956750
eric chanBPL Member
wrong post sowwyFeb 21, 2013 at 1:12 am #1956753
Yup…southeast. At least as compared to NY/NJ/Conn/RI. I'm from DC, and they used to be all over the place, now not so much. There's still one in my hometown, but I can't remember there being any more in the area.Feb 21, 2013 at 1:14 am #1956754
@sgiachettiLocale: Boulder, CO
Yum…Hardees: a good way to get stupid heavy.
'Stupid light?' is probably a good question to ask where safety enters the equation. Not sure, but I think alpinist Kelly Cordes first used this term to describe an alpine climb he and Josh Wharton did in Pakistan. Carrying the absolute minimal amount of gear to complete a climb considerably raises the stakes, because it usually involves carrying less protection in case of a fall, and less gear for stationary warmth and weather protection. It can also make for more dramatic ascents, bigger objectives in less time, more guts/more glory.
While pushing these limits makes sense for some alpinists on cutting edge climbs, I think it makes less sense for the weekend backpacker considering ditching their rain shell to save a few oz (not talking to you desert rats!). Here's where a friend or forum member might chime in 'stupid light?'
However, I could care less if someone wants to use super fragile SUL trekking poles, a poncho tarp, or a pack with no pockets. Its not my business, and I don't want it to be. I don't think it makes you stupid if you're willing to sacrifice a little comfort and convenience for the knowledge that you're pack weighs less than some arbitrary number. Maybe just quirky.
As far as my own backpacking goes, I use to sleep on just a 3 oz closed cell foam pad, but a couple years ago I started losing sleep and waking with an achy lower back. I got 'smart' and bought a neo air, but I'm still envious of those who can sleep soundly on thin CCF.Feb 21, 2013 at 1:18 am #1956755
Boy do I agree with you…I very much wish I could still sleep on some thin CCF, rather than the neo-air potato chip bag.Feb 21, 2013 at 6:16 am #1956779
"Does anyone have specific examples/scenarios that you would consider stupid light?"
There was a post recently about the philosophy of nature or some thing recently.
Several of the posts here mentioned compromising safety for weight. I don't want to be found dead on the trail and have the rescuer say "If he only had X, he would be alive." For example, I carry a personal locator beacon – Find Fast – http://www.fastfindplb.com/us/products/39-fast-find-210.
Might another be compromising enjoyment for weight? This of course is subjective.
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