There is no doubt that lightweight backpacking in Europe is growing steadily. Many Europeans read Backpackinglight.com which is one source of inspiration. They buy lightweight gear from the US over the Internet.
But where did it all start and what is the situation in Europe today? Is lightweight backpacking an American idea, exported to the rest of the world or are there other sources? Are there European manufacturers of lightweight gear that are any good? Or perhaps very good? Is lightweight backpacking a niche or a fad in Europe, that will go away?
Jorgen Johansson has asked some European lightweight backpackers to find the answers to these and other questions. In this group, we find men and women, some of them with so many miles logged that it borders on the unreal, some working or having worked in the outdoor industry, some testing gear from the outdoor industry, some bloggers and some that are just happy hikers. All to find out "the state of the European lightweight nation" in 2016.
Who are the people voicing their opinions about Lightweight Backpacking in Europe?
The people I asked are all experienced hikers that are either lightweight or ultralight backpackers. They are also individuals with a lot of insight into gear, equipment manufacturing, and marketing. Some of them are either working inside the gear industry or have such affiliations that they prefer to remain anonymous. This is obviously a sign of something. Also, I attribute none of the quotes in the text to specific individuals. However, the following people have participated:
Roger Brown. An Australian now firmly settled in Denmark. One of the founders of the Nordic Lightpacking group of bloggers. You will find him at nielsenbrown.com.
Carsten Jost. German thru-hiker of the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, workshop leader, blogger, and proponent of lightweight and ultralight backpacking. You will find him at fastpacking.de.
Christine Thuermer. She is also known as "the German Tourist" and as such has logged more miles (including being a Triple Crowner) than most people care to count. You will find her blog at christine-on-big-trip.blogspot.se.
Chris Townsend. Legendary British hiker and author of The Backpacker's Handbook, who has written about backpacking and gear for decades. You will find him at www.christownsendoutdoors.com.
And now for the questions upon which these people commented.
Read on for the full review!
- Who are the people voicing their opinions about Lightweight Backpacking in Europe?
- How would you define what are ultralight and lightweight backpacking techniques?
- Your personal journey towards lightweight and ultralight? Where did you first hear of it? Have you transitioned or have you always used lightweight gear?
- Is it true to say that European lightweight backpacking originates in the US?
- Are there differences between backpacking in Europe vs. the US? Does this affect the type of gear used, particularly in reference to lightweight gear? Differences between northern and southern Europe or continental Europe and other areas?
- Lightweight and ultralight gear remain a niche in European outdoor? What are the main obstacles for a widespread breakthrough? What can be done to further the use of lightweight gear?
- The consensus is that ultralight/lightweight gear is a niche and has difficulties reaching a mass market. So what we do about this?
- Which European designed or manufactured lightweight products can rival the best American? Which particular companies and products from Europe will be worth watching?
- What will happen regarding the use and manufacture of lightweight gear in Europe in the next few years?
# of Photos: 11; Word Count: 3,600