Dec 30, 2013 at 5:24 pm #1311576
Hope this is in the right place–if not, mods feel free to move it. This has been on my mind for a long time. Prepare for a bit of wall-o-text, but there is a poll at the end we can all vote in to try and figure this issue out.Dec 30, 2013 at 5:33 pm #2058934
Sort of like defining the color "mauve"?Dec 30, 2013 at 6:40 pm #2058956
I think you're going to have a hard time with the shift to metric, as the USA has a lot of UL influence in terms of cottage makers and participants. I agree metric is better, but I don't think change is likely.
I voted in the poll for the wikipedia definitions. 10 lbs is a nicer number than 12 and it requires more critical thinking and some skills, whereas 12 lbs is mindlessly achievable from a big box outfitter. Ultimately I do agree with Jordan that it's more about philosophy than a specific weight. To me, UL incorporates skill/knowledge and integrates that with gear to lower pack weight. SUL is taking this to the extreme, while lightweight backpacking is simply a matter of prudent gear choice with little inclusion of skill to lower weight. Traditional backpacking is a giving little regard to weight when selecting gear.Dec 30, 2013 at 6:48 pm #2058960
Geez, I don't want somebody tracking my IP address!
I keep my own standards, since a major purpose of my backpacking is for photography:
Base weight, 10 pounds (including bear canister)
Consumables, 10 pounds (although this varies for the length of trip)
Camera gear, 10 pounds (since this is a priority)
–B.G.–Dec 30, 2013 at 7:14 pm #2058964
Given the inherent unfairness of the generally accepted 10 and 5 lb norms as they apply to different locales, seasons, and hiker body sizes, I think 10 and 5 are acceptable definitions for 3 seasons with temps down to about freezing.
But its not like it matters anyway. Its a #, something for people to aim for when lowering their kit. When they get 10, then they go for 9. From 9 they go for 8. etc. 10 is achievable enough without making sacrifices, except in durability.
What is important, I think, is that the act of striving for a lower weight goal causes the hiker to learn in depth about the different options available to them. Then they are empowered to decide what is right for given hiking trip for them. The easier the goal is to obtain, the less the hiker may learn in the act of reaching it.Dec 30, 2013 at 7:40 pm #2058970
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
What M B wrote. +1
CheersDec 30, 2013 at 8:32 pm #2058982
@jedi5150Locale: Central CA
MB nailed it, especially in his last paragraph. To me, any conscious descision to save weight is a step in the right direction. A few years ago I was at 50+ lbs for a summer weekend trip. Two years ago I totalled about 40 lbs. This year I aim to be under 30 total (camera gear, bear vault, consumables, etc.) In my mind these are big improvements in a hobby. Some new gear has obviously contributed, but honestly mindset, comfort zone, and better planning have contributed even more than a change in gear to the weight loss.
I'm a long ways from being a UL backpacker, but I'm firmly of the belief that improvement is a good thing, and if a number helps set the goal and make it achievable, then the number is a good thing. If it is simply a number for it's own sake, without taking needs and wants into accounts, then it has a lot less benefit to me.Dec 30, 2013 at 9:18 pm #2058988
@rosyfinchLocale: the mountains
Do we get some 'stinking badges' if we achieve these number? :)
Sorry, but it seems funny to me..
BillyDec 30, 2013 at 9:22 pm #2058989
Titanium, maybe. Gold is too heavy.
–B.G.–Dec 31, 2013 at 3:15 am #2059009
Thanks for those of you who voted and took time to contribute to the discussion. I was half-expecting harsh backlash from certain mindsets (post-modernists come to mind), but so far so good!
I too think it's funny to a degree. All arbitrary things are, really. I think it's silly we give literal gold metals to people that do things like hit balls, run fast, and jump high at the Olympics. This of course is not to say I don't respect athletes or the sports–I have lots of respect and admiration for them. But from a certain point of view, it is funny I'd say. We live in an absurd existence devoid of meaning, if you ask me.
I don't think anyone, myself included, is suggesting giving awards to anyone for reaching an arbitrary–but very helpful for the purposes of enjoying backpacking more, I dare say most of us would suggest–base pack weight numbers.
This is more for clarity, semantics, and mutual communication and understanding within our community. As I said in my text, I will be happy to just reach a general consensus that we can all work with, and even disregard my own suggestions for definitions/terms in the spirit of solidarity–in spite of my distaste of the imperial measurement system and love of the metric system.Dec 31, 2013 at 7:10 am #2059026
I don't think it's possible to have a general consensus on a numerical definition of UL, SUL etc, as equipment required depends so much on terrain, weather, altitude etc.
Whilst I do weigh all my gear, my definition of UL is something like:
The minimum amount of food and gear required for a multi-day hike to be 1) safe, and 2) mostly comfortable, in the expected conditions.
1) implies that the gear must be sufficiently robust to prevent adverse conditions that are not likely but could still be expected from becoming life threatening.
Knowledge is a big part of it – knowing the capabilities of yourself and your gear and having a good idea of conditions to expect.
And SUL – as above, but for a day hike.Dec 31, 2013 at 10:12 am #2059062
"I think you're going to have a hard time with the shift to metric, as the USA has a lot of UL influence in terms of cottage makers and participants. I agree metric is better, but I don't think change is likely."
The switch to metric is VERY important for the US in terms of economic and scientific terms.
If you want to help with the switch, it starts at home. Start using it :) I use grams for everything now…
I need to use celsius more and start using kilometers for milage.
This also forces others to make the switch.
It's partly evil but time for the US to join the rest of the world.Dec 31, 2013 at 11:06 am #2059072
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
I agree with MB and Roger, "It all depends…"
But in looking at Mike Clelland's MAX weights (here in BPLs archives) for various items, especially The Big Three, I find I'm always a few ounces over his maximums. "Not quite there."
In one instance I was a whopping 6 oz. over with my Prolite reg. mattress at 16 oz. to his max of 10 oz. His camera max is 7 oz. my Olympus TG 1 is 8.3 oz.
My Thorlo Hiker wool blend socks were 1.3 oz. over Mike's max and my Merrill Moab low cut trail shoes were quite a bit over his max weight. And those are just examples.
SO…I've found what works for me:
1. on the trail comfort
2. sleep comfort
These seem to be the two most important criteria to most.
Mike C. also said that a frameless pack was much desired over frame packs. Here I DEFINITELY (yes, I'm shouting) disagree. I take Osprey's philosophy to heart that the comfort afforded by the small additional weight of a lightly framed pack far exceeds the "comfort" of a slightly lighter frameless pack. (i.e. it's about suspension, suspension,suspension)
And here I think a "pack poll" of BPL members will bear me out.
UL is supposedly about comfort through light weight on the trail.
I say backpacking is about comfort 24 hours a day.
And so we must Individually define BACKPACKING COMFORT. Then we can try to shave the ounces that fall outside of our own comfort zone.Dec 31, 2013 at 11:44 am #2059091
@awsorensenLocale: South of Forester Pass
When are we ever going to go metric?
We're about the only fools to use pounds, so really it should be metric.
I wish it was 5 Kilos for UL. It would get a lot more people wanting to get down in the range.
If they just cant go UL – 10 pounds, then the weight doesn't seem to matter much to them.
If we went metric and it's 5 Kilos, that would work for a lot more people and spark a lot more interest in be UL.
American's are dumb.Dec 31, 2013 at 11:58 am #2059096
Besides, my newest digital scale goes up to a maximum of 5kg.
This is the first time ever that I've been able to digitally weigh my entire base weight with sub-gram precision.
–B.G.–Dec 31, 2013 at 12:01 pm #2059098
@jedi5150Locale: Central CA
"American's are dumb." –
Hahaha, I love it! (done on purpose I hope) ;-)
I would prefer a switch to metric. I already think mostly in terms of kilometers (the weights are less familiar to me). After living in Canada for a while, and using the MGRS/ UTM while here in the US, "klicks" are so much easier for math.Dec 31, 2013 at 12:18 pm #2059102
@jephotoLocale: New Zealand
Man uses Internet forum to gain general consensus.
I am still stuck on miles and lbs/oz I am afraid.Dec 31, 2013 at 12:36 pm #2059105
"American's are dumb."
Hmmmm… Glass houses (my tort vs torte comment months ago plus others) so I'll refrain.
I can work with Kilometers ok since that's all we used in the military. Lbs to kilogram conversion were a pain in the butt when I was taking the paramedic course. Had to guesstimate the weight of the patient in lbs (since they are rarely honest when asked), make the conversions in my head to kilograms, and then calculate the proper dosing for whatever drip we were going to run all while in the back of a moving vehicle with little sleep and running on four cups or so of coffee.Dec 31, 2013 at 12:52 pm #2059113
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> a frameless pack was much desired over frame packs. Here I DEFINITELY (yes, I'm
> shouting) disagree. I take Osprey's philosophy to heart that the comfort afforded
> by the small additional weight of a lightly framed pack far exceeds the "comfort"
> of a slightly lighter frameless pack.
I agree totally with Eric here. Actual weight carried is not the critical factor even for UL travel. Comfort and enjoyment is far more important.
There seems to be a threshold around 15-16 kg (total), above which many of us feel the pain. Below that the pack does feel lighter. Around 12 kg (total) pack weight becomes a much less significant item when travelling. Yes, I know these weights are way over the SUL 5 lb level, but remember that the 5 lb does not include food or water. They can easily add over 6 kg (13 lb) to your pack if you are out for a week. So much for the '5 lb' idea then.
Also remember that the concept of the 5 lb SUL level is mainly for travel in the 'American rainshadow summer' region. If you are travelling in alpine regions in the shoulder seasons, you MUST carry extra gear to handle bad weather. You may also need to carry extra food and fuel.
CheersDec 31, 2013 at 1:15 pm #2059120
@kat_pLocale: Pacific Coast
"American's are dumb."
Classic :)Dec 31, 2013 at 1:21 pm #2059124
Mile is actually from mille, latin for 1000.
Romans used "1000 steps" as a measure of distance.
sounds kind of metric to me.
All measurement basis are arbitrary. Having a meaning which can be easily related to, makes them more useful.
The desire to make all measurements in arbitrary units of 10,100, etc because it seems "neat" itself is kind of stupid.Dec 31, 2013 at 1:26 pm #2059127
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
Having these arbitrary weight classifications is only useful for discussing the lighter weight gear lists. That's fine, but sidesteps a few issues.
For me, the "game" is not to have the lightest kit possible, but rather the lightest kit that provides the level of comfort and safety that I want, comfort meaning warm, dry, getting a good night's sleep and enjoying my meals. Safety would include warm and dry as well as good navigation and prepared for injuries, changing weather and general emergencies. Of course comfort and safety overlap.
The basic concept of UL hiking is that you have control over the weight of your kit. The UL revolution was started with escaping from the box labeled "MUST," as in "you must have boots" or the gear must be some military grade of durability, etc. The real UL revolution came when someone said, "I refuse to accept that I must take 50 pounds of gear for a basic backpacking trip and I'm going to find a better way." The rest is really a question of how far you want to take it, with cost, durability and comfort being limiting factors for most practitioners. Safety shouldn't be an issue, but it comes up.
But getting out of one box doesn't mean you should go climb in another. Once outside the box, what UL principles work for me?
Take only what you will use. Sounds like a good common sense approach to me. Not only does it apply to leaving unnecessary items, it also means adjusting the quantities to suit the trip. Just don't get too crazy and start leaving stuff on the "ten essentials" list behind. That doesn't mean you can't apply the other UL principles to the essential/emergency/survival items.
Seek out the lightest, highest performance examples of the gear you use. You can still dial in comfort and safety, so find the lightest yet comfortable air pad with a good R-value. If you want the lightest pad possible and you're willing to live with the level of comfort, by all means for for it. The thing is that you know the differences and are willing to accept the compromises and the consequences. , which is going right back to the first principle I listed, which is knowing that you have control over the weight.
Seek out items that have multiple uses. Bandanas are my favorite example. My compass has a mirror that works for grooming and signaling too. My sit pad supplements my sleeping pad and I've used it for a pot cozy too. Et cetera.
So if you want to talk about SUL and define that as a certain weight, have at it. Talking about "light" vs "ultralight" is rather useless and much more a process of weeding out the extras and heavier gear. Talking about SUL is really a discussion about lightest possible alternatives and Spartan comfort levels. XUL is just a more radical extension of the same thing.
The real discussions come down to the lightest example of a particular type of gear and the limitations and compromises involved: "I have a nine ounce pack and need to take a bear can and ten days food…."Dec 31, 2013 at 1:40 pm #2059130
"I think it's silly we give literal gold metals to.."
if it makes you feel better, those medals are just gold plated the rest is mostly silver (now that is funny).
The last medals literally made of gold were awarded in 1912.Dec 31, 2013 at 1:49 pm #2059135
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
>"Romans used "1000 steps" as a measure of distance."
Close. From Wikipedia: mille passuum – literally "a thousand paces" in Latin, where each pace or stride was two steps.
>"The desire to make all measurements in arbitrary units of 10, 100, etc because it seems "neat" itself is kind of stupid."
Agreed, base 12 is a superior numbering system since division by 2,3,4, and 6 all work out nicely, instead of only division by 2 and 5 in base 10. I think we should do a duodecimal measurement system, and simply genetically modify our offspring to have 6 digits on each hand. People already born could be surgically modified to this new norm.Dec 31, 2013 at 2:16 pm #2059152
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
I think brain modification would also be required
Brain can only hold 7 +- 2 things in working memory at one time. 10 is a bit bigger than this, but the more you go above that, the harder for the brain to comprehend
Base 12 would be worse.
Base 8 would be pretty good. Conveniently stores in 3 bits.
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