- May 12, 2013 at 6:41 pm #1985611
Ryan SmithBPL Member
"In all candor I have been hanging back not posting much over the last year because the atmosphere seemed to be changing. Instead of helping and challenging and learning, I read more and more posts with references to "stupid light", "cheater", and "you can't do that". Heck there was recently a post from someone asking about bivy and 5×8 tarp and the first responses were NO YOU CANT DO THAT. I wanted to reply YES YOU CAN, but just said what's the use things have changed here."
This is why we need folks like you posting more to jump in there & show others that some things aren't as crazy as they look. BPL is swinging back to the center where durability & comfort are just as important as weight. While I completely agree that those are important, we still need that lunatic fringe out there trying to find ways to do "more with less". Heck, I still remember seeing Bill Fornshell's .33oz cuben backpack 10 yrs ago & it knocking my socks off. Things like that are where innovation come from & get people thinking about what's possible. SUL is that vehicle today so I say bring it on.
RyanMay 13, 2013 at 8:52 am #1985737
Dale WambaughBPL Member
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
The 5×8 tarp and bivy question pertained to hot and buggy conditions and no one said "you can't do that" but there were comments about the comfort per conditions.
That aside, as to BPL moving to the center, it may be that some don't want to drink the SUL Koolaid to the last drop and will talk about it now The fanatic fringe IS good for product development and new techniques.
Much like third party politics, those on the edge may not make for a majority, but they do shift the center. Much of my gear is SUL, but it varies to seasonal and climate variations and my personal comfort/whims. I'd hazard to guess that my mix is common amongst the readership here.May 13, 2013 at 9:24 am #1985752
"Heck there was recently a post from someone asking about bivy and 5×8 tarp and the first responses were NO YOU CANT DO THAT."
The responses were a.) just bring a larger tarp and ditch the bivy for weight savings and b.) the combination the OP was referring to was heavier than some other options like 1 lb tents and c.) bivvies in humid conditions are simply not fun.
I don't see the post that shows NO YOU CANT DO THAT.May 13, 2013 at 11:53 am #1985794
James MarcoBPL Member
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
"I value durability, function, and compact size more than light weight."
I could not agree more. Thanks, Ryan!May 29, 2013 at 3:55 pm #1990956
wayne clarkBPL Member
is this just for summer? or three season? or four season?May 30, 2013 at 3:27 pm #1991456
Dale WambaughBPL Member
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
At what weight? I think the assumption is that the 5 pound barrier is 3-season, but that varies by region at the least. That's why an arbitrary weight is practically useless. As light as possible for the conditions is the way it should be read. The arbitrary weight falls apart by user size too: someone who is 5'5" and 130# has a different kit than someone who is 6'7" and 275#.Jun 5, 2013 at 8:00 am #1993519
Jason MahlerBPL Member
I found it very easy to go SUL or even XUL. I simply bought my dog a pack and loaded him up with all of my gear. Kidding of course.
In all seriousness, I am not SUL, but try to keep this mindset mainly so that I can carry most of the gear for my 6 year old and 60# dog. Sure they have their packs, but I carry the majority and if I didn't think from a SUL perspective, it wouldn't be as much fun. This website is just an awesome resource that helps everyone hike their own hike.Jun 5, 2013 at 10:37 am #1993580
J DosBPL Member
@damagerLocale: Redwoods of Santa Cruz Mts
"Happy to see the re-birth of the SUL topic. Many of the veterans of BPL have brought our weight down to the SUL level and then come back up in weight finding the right balance between the variables of weight, comfort, and other aspects. Knowing your level of minimum is a great tool for determining just what you need and don't need."
This is exactly how I feel about the lightweight mindset. I went sub 5 pounds BPW for a 3-season kit and decided I had to sacrifice too much comfort and enjoyment for my personal tastes. Now I carry a heavier BPW in 7-8 pound range, but I feel much more connected to my gear I do decide to take. And I'm constantly experimenting based on conditions, duration of trip, and if I'm solo, which I usually am.
The other thing I've never understood is people who obsess over every gram and proudly pronounce themselves an SULer or XULer and are 30+ pounds overweight. Maybe this won't be a popular statement with other BPLers, but I feel the UL/SUL mindset is also about connecting with your body, not just nature or gear. In fact, I feel the most important aspect to being a backpacker is your mind-body connection. I know not everybody can be a ripped model type, but I think if you're an outdoorsperson, then you should care enough about your body to take care of it even when you're not outdoors. Knowing I'm in great shape boosts my confidence on trail.
Seems to me, if you drop 10+ pounds of fat by running, hiking, and eating healthy, instead of cutting 8 ounces from your BPW, you'll be in a better place to push yourself further along on a trail.
I believe this connection becomes even more important when taking minimal gear and truly testing your limits. I realize many backpackers, whether UL, SUL, or more traditional heavy haulers, aren't necessarily aiming for bigger miles every trip. But for me, that's part of the fun. I love attempting 30 miles in a day, though that's not always my goal by any means. I've also added more bouldering and scrambling to my trips, and that changes my gear list a bit as well.
In summary I feel the SUL mindset is a combination of skill, fitness, and a well thought out gear list working in harmony to create an enjoyable, memorable trip.Jun 6, 2013 at 3:28 am #1993824
James MarcoBPL Member
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
I think I can agree with that. But, body fat is natures way of storing up for the next backpacking trip.
But, this points out an alludued to, and stated by Ryan, degree of systemization with UL or XUL backpacking that has not been well explained. You wrote: "In summary I feel the SUL mindset is a combination of skill, fitness, and a well thought out gear list working in harmony to create an enjoyable, memorable trip."
To me, I see this as a statement that, like many here, all components of backpacking are important to the "having fun." Not only the gear, skills, and fitness of your body. But planning, completion and even storage of gear are important considerations.
Planning is when you decide you want to go packpacking somewhere. It involves logistics, material resouces available, what you need to purchase, plotting a route (tentative as it may be,) and other facets.
We talk a lot about gear, here. Soo, I'll skip an explanation other than to say the local, elevation, forest cover, etc will effect that.
Skill is about the same. We trade a lot of different techniques here. Knowing how to shit in the woods for example.
Fitness is another one. This comes up at different times.
Completion of a trip, knowing what worked well and what failed adds to experience and skills. Unpacking gear, cleaning gear(if needed,) and noting what needs to be refilled/resupplied.
Stowing gear can be important by the time we get to UL or SUL weights. We usually have enough gear to make selections. Putting it all in one box doesn't work. If you cannot find your wood stove when you leave, it doesn't make much sense to even *have* the stove.
These are systems that are not as interesting, not as vital, to a backpacking trip, but, without them, a trip can quickly loose the memorable quality.
For all these, a good system of making sure each thing gets done in it's correct sequence is used. Sure, we all forget stuff, like I forgot to get gas, or I forgot to get a new lighter. Systems make things easier to remember as well as more efficient to use. You are alluding to this quality about backpacking that is often ignored by simply listing things to take. Using a pad as a pack frame, is a classic example of where this breaks down. There is no clean way to join these two components together in a simple list. Secondary usage or dual usage should be considered, then the gear list will look like Ryans, 11 items plus personal preference. With these bloody computaters, it should be possible to do better by taking a lesson from database normalization.Jun 6, 2013 at 9:48 am #1993925
I love this article …
I hit a 5 lb baseweight for weekends in 2007, then my world fell apart and I had to have a double back fusion.
I don't sleep on the ground anymore, I sleep in a Hammock. My baseweight is between 6.5 and 7.5 lbs depending on the time of year … 8 lbs if I have to carry my bug zapper and a generator (kidding).
Am I SUL …?????
Yes … I'm SUL, why do I say that? I'm not under 5 lbs anymore (right now several people reading this are thumping their chests, trying to get their hearts started again or flipping the bird at the computer screen) ….. because SUL is a state of mind, not a bunch of stuff in a sack. It's enjoying being outdoors more and the stuff you carry less.
Story time ….
I was in the Peco's wilderness with my Sons, at 11,500 feet, and we stopped to camp for the night. I won't go into the details, but a freak storm kicked up and my brand new single wall tent acted as if it were made of Noseeum. Everything I owned was soaked.
The sun was going down, all the availible tinder and wood for a fire was soaked, the sun was going down, temperatures were dropping fast twords the nightime low of freezing, what do you do?
My old traditional mindset would state that I needed to have extra fleece gear in the pack in a waterproof stuff sack. The traditional viewpoint on UL would state that I should have just curled up and died of hypothermia.
No … i pulled out my emergency fire starting kit, used the skills I had mastered about finding dry tinder in a wet forest, used my knife to batton some tinder, and finally even tore a chunk off my synthetic shirt to act as an accelerant for the fire and to dry out ever larger pieces of wood, until we had a roaring fire (we had not intended on having a fire that night) and I dried out my insulation and my son's insulation, we had dinner, and a great time was had by all.
My point …. this encapulates the difference between SUL thinking and backpacking thinking. With SUL you are going to find a way to endure, thrive, and survive when a oh-crap happens. With Traditional packpacking you are trying to pack stuff for every single contingency, an impossible task. Your planning takes on a new dynamic, how am I going to deal with a broken leg, a case of hypothermia, gardia, snakebites, etc. instead of how can I be lazy and find something I can buy to deal with that contingency for me …. Snakebite? oh … I'll just toss this snakebite kit into the bottom of my pack and never bother to read the instructions. Broken arm, Oh … I better carry a splint instead of taking a first aid course.
I grow weary of traditional backpackers calling SUL stupid, unsafe, etc. when I see the reality of it is that Traditional Backpackers are actually lazy, counting on gear intstead of taking the time to learn, carrying 50 lbs instead of 15 because it makes them feel safer, when in reality it's more dangerous.
SUL is a part of your mindset, learn, learn, and keep learning … enjoy.Apr 9, 2014 at 8:14 pm #2091363
Ken T.BPL Member
Almost a year later, I wonder will there be a part 2?Apr 9, 2014 at 8:57 pm #2091380
Bob GrossBPL Member
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
"I wonder will there be a part 2?"
I guess that depends on the SUL Mindset.
–B.G.–Apr 9, 2014 at 9:02 pm #2091382
David W.BPL Member
@davidpcvsamoaLocale: East Bay, CA
Less is more?Apr 9, 2014 at 9:09 pm #2091388
Mo RodopskyBPL Member
@rhodopeanApr 9, 2014 at 9:14 pm #2091390
Ken T.BPL Member
Ha! I even commented.
How many parts will there be?
I was linking part one in another thread. Noticed there was no link to part two. And here I am.Jun 18, 2014 at 4:16 pm #2112534
If people are putting gear in their pockets to avoid counting it, wouldn't it be better to focus on skin-out weight? On trips with my buddies we like to measure skin-out weight as a percentage of body weight to compare efficiency with gear selection, clothing choices, and consumables all normalized with body size.Mar 3, 2015 at 8:19 pm #2179687
Virginia CraftBPL Member
Great article and +1 to Dale for this:
"I think the core concepts here are knowing how your body and clothing systems work, and not fearing nature. IMHO, fear adds weight and knowledge tends to reduce fear."
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