Something seems wrong with this community

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Home Forums General Forums General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion Something seems wrong with this community

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    Michel S
    BPL Member


    While I really enjoy this community, I’ve started to feel that because many of us are roughly on the same page, there seems to be less and less room for unorthodox views. Call it group-think, confirmation bias, whatever. I really love lightweight hiking, but I also feel that a lot of basic principles that most of us here hold true, are not questioned enough.

    While on a recent hike, I met somebody with some really interesting ideas about hiking. He turned out to have a website where he sets out some of his hiking philosophy:

    Please get past your preconceptions and allow me to highlight a few of his insights that have made me rethink hiking on a fundamental level:

    • If you can’t carry 18kg (=36lbs) than you are not physically ready for a hike. It’s as simple as that. Go out and exercise more before you go. Walk the stairs with your backpack on, do lunges with your backpack on etc.
    • Make it a habit to always carry the same gear! This prevents you forgetting critical items.
    • If you hike for 3 days or more, you gonna want >= 70L. This will give you enough space, without have to push or vacuum stuff all the time. You can use 15:1 ratio, so for example; 1 day = 15L. If you go on a 5 day hike, you need 75 liters etc.
    • Just bring a towel. If you think this 4 grams will safe you from devastation than just stay home. Hiking is not for you.
    • Don’t go in the mountains with sport shoes unless you are trained for this and experienced. You will brake your ankles its just a matter of time.

    He will most of the time take a 100L pack (=6,67 days) and his summer sleeping bag is 3kg (6 pounds). Please realize that he always packs this sleeping bag, so it’s also his winter sleeping bag.

    I hope you are all willing to take a good look at some of your fundamental ideas about hiking and be honest to yourself.

    Todd T
    BPL Member


    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    Of those five points, I think there is some sense in these:

    Michel S
    BPL Member


    This attitude is exactly what I referred to. I bet you go on 10 day trips without taking a 150L pack, right?

    (this has recently become my pack of choice for 10 day trips, it is quite comfortable: )

    baja bob
    BPL Member


    Locale: West

    Sweden Survival seems like a bushcrafter. The lightweight philosphy was born out of getting away from his type of thinking. You will have a hard time convincing anyone on this site that a 3kg sleeping bag is a good idea in summer.

    Michel S
    BPL Member


    I’ve really met him in person recently. He’s a hiker. And he takes people on hiking trips as a guide. I saw one of his groups at the end of a trip. I clearly remember a young adult man barely being able to lift his 90+20 bag on his shoulders. As it was the end of the trip, that must have been his base weight. But you know, if you can’t carry 18+kg, then hiking is clearly not for you.

    Mark Wetherington
    BPL Member


    Locale: Western Montana

    I mean this respectfully, but I think trying to be inclusive of the ideas and approaches outlined by that author is akin to asking a community focused on playing Checkers to consider and incorporate strategies from Chess into it. They’re fundamentally different approaches to a superficially similar activity.

    I agree that there is value in considering other frameworks/concepts for looking at backpacking, but I just don’t see much productive conversation stemming from considering ideas like “You should have a 75 liter pack to do a 5 night trip” when there are many use-cases where that is simply an absurd assertion.

    I think the main reason many of the lightweight backpacking principles here are not questioned is because they work well for those practicing them i.e. “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it”.

    Terran Terran
    BPL Member


    Sounds like it works for him.


    First. Just go hike.

    I rarely forget anything. I often bring too much.

    I prefer a larger pack.

    I bring a sweat towel.

    I grew up in “sports shoes”. When they started making them for trail, I was in heaven.





    Brad Rogers
    BPL Member


    Locale: Southeast Tennessee

    While I completely agree that we see less innovation and more standardized views in ultralight backpacking as the sport has evolved over the past twenty years


    Perhaps everyone going out into the backcountry should be able to carry 36 pounds, but does that mean they should?  I might could go 15 miles a day with a 36 lb backpack, but can go 25 miles with an 18lb backpack – in today’s world with vacation time becoming harder and harder to come by – my days in the mountains are limited and precious.


    There are better ways to make sure you don’t forget items – like a checklist (I often print out my spreadsheet or lighterpack and mark things off).  Where I live it may be 0* in the winter and 100* and high humidity in the summer and surely nobody is suggesting that I take a 0* sleeping bag in the summer where nights are never going to get below 70* – Or a big down puffy jacket in those same conditions?  I can see suggesting packing for the worst conditions that you might encounter rather than the best conditions you may encounter but ALWAYS carrying the same gear seems excessive.


    While I do agree that some people try and cram too much into too small of packs, I’m not sure I need 70L for a 3 day trip depending on the conditions.  I certainly don’t agree that pack size is a fixed ratio of liters per days.  There is a set minimum amount of gear I need, whether I’m going out for an overnight, or I’m going out for a week.   What changes is really just food and fuel.   If you are hiking where bear canisters are required your volume needed really doesn’t change at all unless you’re changing canister size.   I did a 14 day trip in Alaska a few years ago without resupply and took a 78L pack (because it was the largest I had and carried weight well) and it was tight but I certainly didn’t need a 210L pack -I’m not sure such an animal even exists.  And this was on a trip completely off trail with temps down to freezing, and potential for significant rain or wintery mix – so not a trip to skimp on gear.


    I’m not sure what he means about a towel.  I do sometimes carry a half bandana or something like that, but I honestly could go without.


    I’ve done all my hiking the past 15 years or so in trail-runners and I’ve done a lot of off trail hiking during that time.  Personally I think it was the single best change I made to my gear (comfort wise) when I went UL.  As I’ve gotten older and do fewer days in the mountains (due to family, work, etc) I do think about a significant ankle or leg injury in talus more than I used to, but I’m still a fan of trail runners.

    BPL Member


    Locale: Colorado

    I’m trying to understand if the OP is being serious or not. It seems that he is mocking this Sweden Survival guy, who expresses these silly dogmatic views about necessary weight and pack size, but I’m not 100% sure. Irony is hard to identify on the internet. If you are joking, it’s good to use a smiley.

    Michel S
    BPL Member


    Ok, that’s enough. It was meant to be a joke. If this forum had been more British, I wouldn’t have had to explain.

    Oh sorry…. If this forum had been more British, I wouldn’t have had to explain ;)

    Alex Wallace
    BPL Member


    Locale: Sierra Nevada North

    Sounds like something a Swedish survivalist would say. I’m pretty sure OP is simply trying to get clicks for a website.

    Bob Shuff
    BPL Member


    Locale: SoCal

    HYOH. I’ve heard that again and again here.  That’s a common theme I can get behind.

    Rules of thumb are good for beginners, and learning from someone experienced for the trip you want to take is a good idea any day.

    I take issue with the macho message to stay home if you can’t carry the weight and gear suggested.  Is heavy stair training the only answer?  Should I just retire from hiking because of can’t live up to this specific guideline as I age?  My experience allows me to bring less. My trekking poles and lighter pack allow me to wear trail runners in certain conditions.

    If the guide is any good he will surely be more pragmatic than the article comes across. There is room for this system alongside the thru hikers and seasonal weekenders, and we can learn from each others experience. That’s what I come to BPL for.

    Michel S
    BPL Member


    The truth is I indeed met this guy a few weeks ago in Sweden. And he stood out for me as a kind of hiker I’ve never met. I did a couple of long distance hikes there and met several categories of hikers.

    First, 90% of them were classic hikers: Big backpacks, big boots. Not because it’s what they want, but because they were told in a store that this is how you should hike. Campers-by-default, as Andrew Skurka once called them. An American told me that in the States virtually everybody hikes lightweight, but in Europe it’s all still really traditional. Which is fine.

    Then there were traditional backpackers with big HMG packs, Goretex trail shoes, and with all the traditional things in their pack and probably still a baseweight of 12kg/24pounds. More Youtube than skills. Which is fine.

    Next there were a few light-weighters that probably went light-weight because of some influencer. They turned the apt Gossamer Gear slogan into: “Take less, do exactly the same”. So sleep in the same huts as the traditional hikers, climb the same mountains, and do it all in the same tempo. But then lightweight. Which is fine.

    Even rarer were the light-weighters that used going lightweight to do something they couldn’t do before. I was most excited by a 74 year old that had almost given up backpacking, discovered lightweight, shed 12kg of his pack and continued hiking. Which is very fine.

    But then there was the survivalsweden guy, like no-one I’ve ever met on the trail. We arrived at the same hut at the same time. I with my 36L Kumo from a 4 night trip and he with his 100L pack from a 5 night trip. I asked him about his trip (as I intended to go where he came from later) and he rattled off all the “extreme” stuff he had done with his group. After that silence. Dead silence. No interest whatsoever. Which is fine with me, but like nothing I’ve ever encountered.

    One of his group eventually asked where I had been daypacking. When I explained that I had been out for 4 nights, I was met with incredulity. Instead of asking how I did it, they started listing all the things I probably wasn’t able to do with such a small pack (like I probably ate less than 2000kcal a day – in fact I ate 4250kcal). It could have been me, but I felt a real disdain or even hate for lightweight hiking. In their minds (probably as told to them by the survivalsweden guy), there seemed to be absolutely no way you could lighten up and still be safe. So to them I was probably very irresponsible, and not worth talking to.

    When I accidentally found his website, I found a level of dogmatism that I didn’t think was possible. Indeed, >3 days = >70L. What nonsense is that? No towel, no hiking? OK, I’ll leave.

    Michel S
    BPL Member


    @Alex Wallace: Please read my comment above and feel free to apologize.

    Terran Terran
    BPL Member


    We all hike for a different reason. I saw little reason to carry a lighter pack when I was younger. I was out for exercise and to improve my skills. Carrying a heavier pack can improve strength and agility.

    Or, perhaps maybe setting up a base camp from which to explore, I may go heavier.
    Or sometimes, it’s just more “manly” and it impresses the clients until they see you go skipping by.

    Jon Fong / Flat Cat Gear
    BPL Member


    Locale: FLAT CAT GEAR

    I read this post and I guess that I have a different interpretation than most.  IMO, you follow Backpackinglight to get specific information from it.  Pretty technical in nature and some reasonable recommendations to UL gear.  You go to Reddit for different information and WhiteBlaze for other insight.  Trek-Lite gives me more of an International perspective.  Is there something wrong with this community?  No, just a particular culture. My 2 cents.

    David Thomas
    BPL Member


    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    I have been moving away from the “many arrows in my quivers” – selecting different gear for each trip – and towards the “beware the man with one gun” (because he knows it really well) and not switching things up so much.  Not to avoid forgetting things (that’s what checklists are for), but for little efficiencies on the trail – the same stuff in the same pack compartments, etc.

    I always bring at least some bit of micro-fiber towel.  It’s a sponge, wash cloth, towel, drool catcher on my pillow, etc.

    I comply with “(Don’t use) sport shoes unless you are trained for this” because I’ve been training with low-cut trail shoes / runners since the Nike Lava Dome was introduced 42 years ago.   You’ll have to pry my trail runners from my cold, dead hands.  There are no conditions that require more than trail runners, only conditions that require better socks (and sometimes microspikes).

    Michel S
    BPL Member


    OK, here’s for the second time: THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A JOKE.

    ;) ;) ;) (Is 3 enough?)

    It seems people read the title (which was indeed intended to trigger), read the first post, decide that reading the whole thread is just too much of a hassle (which is considered a big no-no in other forums I frequent) and then waste their time delivering their 2 cents. Which are pretty much worthless because they’re reacting in a serious way to a joke. Please read comment #3789333 above to find out about the real story. If you care at all.

    I’ve learned my lesson. My kind of humor doesn’t work here. So no more of that. I thought that mentioning a 3kg/6pound summer sleeping bag would make the joke obvious, but alas. But still thanks for all your contributions.

    David Thomas
    BPL Member


    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    A poor attempt at humor can still be a starting point of a conversation.

    Matthew / BPL



    I get that this post was meant as a joke. I will go with the good faith assumption that it was not meant to troll people or start an argument but I am going to lock this thread and remind everyone of the Forum Guidelines and the text right above the green Submit button that says:

    Don’t Press Submit Quite Yet: Our core community value is generosity: be kind, give freely, and be inclusive. Does the message you’re about to post reflect those values? (Argumentative posts, sarcasm, and negativity will be moderated in accordance with the Forum Guidelines)

    Please note that I have bolded the word sarcasm. The Guidelines touch on this topic, saying “Sarcasm and satire do not translate well in written communications. Err on the side of sincere communications rather than hidden meanings that have the potential to offend or hurt somebody. Moderators and others will receive your communications literally, so write carefully and with intentionality.”

    My suggestion is to say what you mean rather than saying the opposite. At least I think that is what was going on here? I’m honestly not 100% sure.

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