What is ultralight backpacking? (how we talk about ultralight)
Apr 7, 2020 at 5:09 am #3640088James MarcoBPL Member
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
I remember a time when 35-40 pounds was normal for a 3 day weekend. After I screwed up my back I started looking for light weights. From normal to light to ultra light to SUL over the course of a few years. Then I decided that it really wasn’t worth it (and my back partially healed up…at least in my neck area.) I spent a few cold nights with SUL gear and went back up again. I have been at UL weights for about 20 years.
I don’t really care what I bring. I can adjust for it within the UL mark. Things like the SVEA work well for three or four people. and just fills out my UL kit. If you like something and it is a little heavy, that’s what UL is for…it allows the little comforts and luxuries that are absent with SUL kits. You can take stuff that is not necessarily the lightest in any class but the most efficient at it’s weight. In the morning I can cook three 10oz cups of water (Marco’s Mud, 2 cups of mocha) in a 3.375oz grease pot. I cannot do that with any other pot at that weight. Of course, I could just drop to a Toaks 650ml pot but this is much smaller.
It doesn’t matter about an ounce here and there if you can have something you really like. SUL, is ALL about weight. UL is more about efficiency.Apr 7, 2020 at 3:37 pm #3640143
>> SUL, is ALL about weight. UL is more about efficiency.
Me, I would say it is all about enjoyment. Which covers both.
CheersApr 8, 2020 at 12:12 am #3640258Harry Loong WalkerBPL Member
My wife beats all of you. She is USUL – Ultra Super Ultra Light.
I carry it all, so she does not need to carry anything but has all comfortable stuff she wants.
/HarryApr 8, 2020 at 5:56 am #3640266EnyawBPL Member
I only do lightweight backpacking. My definition of “ultralight” is a 40 liter bag with minimalist gear that doesn’t look comfortable or enjoyable. More power to those that can do it, but I can’t.Oct 23, 2020 at 4:35 pm #3680800Kenneth SBPL Member
Ultra light is to each its own. I consider it carrying less then I usually would but staying safe.Oct 23, 2020 at 6:46 pm #3680815
I (or someone else) may have said this before:
Don’t pack your fears.
Sure, UL gear is important, but carrying very little gear and NO extra ‘just in case’ items, is probably more important.
Of course, it is not that simple. The normal scale we use here is
Going SUL requires a lot of experience which has to be earned in the field over the years. It can’t be taught. The transition from SUL to Stupid Light is rather easy, but sometimes fatal.
‘They were traveling so light that they didn’t even bring any common sense with them.’
Bob Gross, BPL (re 2 teenagers in the snow)
CheersOct 23, 2020 at 7:57 pm #3680819KarenBPL Member
I definitely started at novice, after resuming backpacking in middle age after a career-and-kids hiatus. I didn’t mind the 45 pound pack when I was 24! Well, I did actually mind it, I just put up with it anyway, along with the giant heel blisters from my leather boots. Buying lighter gear got me to the lightweight level. To get to ultra light definitely required unpacking my fears and still depends on where and when I go. A winter snowshoe to a cabin 7 miles out on an unmarked trail simply isn’t going to be ultra light for me, ever; it can be 25F on the way out, and minus 25F with the wind blowing on the return, no matter what the forecast. But unpacking fears helped lighten the summertime load, and you all have been very helpful in that regard.
I think at this point I am as light as I will probably get (oh maybe a few more ounces here or there), and I won’t make it to SUL, which is fine with me. While I’m not packing extras due to fear, I am packing extras to enjoy the experience. For example, a stove for hot food and coffee, but NOT an extra gas canister, knowing I can deal with cold coffee and cold soak if I happen to run out, but I’ll enjoy the ability to cook while I have it. An extra pair of socks for sleeping, but not three-four pairs. One extra days concentrated calories, but not a full extra day’s meals or more, because I know I can go without food for a while if I have to (done that!). I’ve lightened the first aid kit some, and the toiletries significantly. Multipurpose items have helped a lot too. Sometimes I bring camp sandals, some times I don’t bother. I always enjoy them when I have them!
If someone in my group wants to carry 50 pounds and bring along fresh salsa, guac and chips for the group, they’re welcome to come along! I still sometimes bring a 750 ml wine bag! so worth it and makes ramen marinara so much tastier.Oct 23, 2020 at 9:27 pm #3680837
A winter snowshoe to a cabin 7 miles out on an unmarked trail simply isn’t going to be ultra light for me,
Yeah, that was one point I missed.
UL for the conditions and my experience.
Carry stuff to handle the possibility of some ‘adverse conditions’ (ahem) is NOT packing your fears. It is ‘using your experience’.
A second point I missed:
Going UL is NOT a competition for points. Under benign conditions it may just be a ‘walk in the park’; under adverse conditions it may be a competition for survival.
Always remember: ‘nature does not care’.
As for going without hot food (let alone hot coffee) at -25 F – fergeddit.
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