Podcast Episode April 21, 2020

Episode 26 | Load Hauling




Note: This podcast was recorded in early February 2020 – before Covid-19 social distancing measures went into place. 

In this episode of the Backpacking Light Podcast, Ryan and Andrew talk about load hauling – how to go as light as possible when the nature of your trip (packrafting, desert water carries, winter travel, etc.) requires specialized and (often) heavy gear.

After catching up (Ryan is running some cool experiments) the guys talk gear: packs, footwear, and other considerations for when the pack weight starts to creep up. After that they move into a discussion of skills that can lighten up a trip, even when the equipment is heavy.

Ryan updates the listeners on cool new stuff going on at BPL, and Andrew talks about his new favorite thing – a new pair of ultralight running shoes.

The episode wraps with an interview of Kevin Timm, owner and founder of Seek Outside. In a wide-ranging discussion, Kevin and Andrew talk about:

  • Seek Outside’s story and gear design aesthetic
  • What Kevin values in a piece of gear
  • Kevin’s advice to budding outdoorsy industry entrepreneurs
  • Lessons learned
  • The overlap between hunters and backpackers
  • Conservation and public lands use
  • And more!


  • Introduction
    • Today’s theme – load hauling: going light when you have to bring along a bunch of gear.
  • Catching Up
    • Ryan’s been doing experiments
      • Load testing with tent guylines
      • Comparison of moisture transfer in different layering systems
      • Looking at base layers made from alpaca wool!
    • Andrew’s upcoming thru-hike of the Benton MacKaye Trail
  • Gear
    • What are we looking for in a “load hauler” style pack?
      • Volume
        • Lots of food
        • Mountaineering
        • Packrafting
      • Comfortable at heavy weight
        • Internal frame
        • Decently wide hip-belt
          • Weight transfer over padding in shoulder-straps
    • Ryan’s favorite load-hauling pack
    • Footwear
      • Packweight limits your ability to be nimble and adjust to rough terrain
        • A theoretical argument for torque resistance
      • Ryan looks for leather-upper low-top shoes with a stiff foot-bed
    • Trekking poles can be crucial with a heavy pack
    • What’s the single biggest thing you could do to lighten your pack on a “load-hauling” trip?
      • More squats!
  • Skills
    • Tom Murphy (photographer who has to use heavy gear in the backcountry)
      • If your specialized gear is heavy, lighten up everything else (duh)
      • Be comfortable with ultralight camping gear
    • How to learn to use a tarp
      • psychological barrier
        • Experience in a low-consequence environment
      • Bivy sack
  • What’s New at BPL?
  • In the Forums
  • New Favorite Things
  • Interview: Kevin Timm, Owner and Founder of Seek Outside
    • A general overview of the Seek Outside story
    • Kevin’s past as a computer security research expert
    • Engineering background
    • What does the process of gear design look like for Seek Outside?
      • Consumer driven
      • Inspiration driven
      • Breaking and fixing things
        • The simpler the better – less things to fail
    • Working with DCF
      • Learning curve with the fabric
      • Kevin didn’t feel the need to work DCF into this designs because his growth was good enough anyway
    • Designing products for a diverse user base
    • Seek Outside’s general guiding principle
      • As minimalist as possible that will still perform
      • Making stuff for people that are going to stay out in the woods when the weather gets bad.
    • Moving from tents to backpacks
      • Kevin started out by experimenting with packs that he bought – making ultralight packs stronger for heavy loads
      • Felt the need to make a waterproof pack
      • Worked with a customer and client to prototype packs, ran through tons of features to see what worked best
      • Started from the ground-up in terms of design
      • A focus on contouring over stiffness (in terms of belts)
    • Overlap between hunting and recreational backpacking worlds
      • Are some outdoor companies focusing on the differences in order to appeal to core user bases?
      • Hunting apparel companies have been doing some innovation in the last ten-to-twenty years.
      • From a conservation standpoint, hunters and recreational backpackers need to get along better
    • What is Kevin the most proud of as a designer and small business owner?
      • His company’s commitment to conservation and public lands advocacy
      • His staff and team
    • What is Kevin’s biggest regret or something he wished he’d done differently
      • Marketing, explainer videos, instructions, and branding
    • What advice would Kevin give to someone with a good idea who is thinking of turning it into a business
    • What is the biggest challenge for the outdoor industry right now?
      • Overuse
      • Conservation
      • Do outdoor gear companies have an ethical mandate to promote conservation efforts?
    • How Kevin handles criticism


Feedback, Questions, Tips?


  • Backpacking Light – Executive Producer
  • Ryan Jordan – Director and Host
  • Andrew Marshall – Producer and Host
  • Kevin Timm – Guest Interview
  • Look for Me in the Mountains – Music


  • This episode of the Backpacking Light Podcast is supported and kept advertising-free by Backpacking Light membership fees. Please consider becoming a member which helps support projects like this podcast, in addition to a whole slew of other benefits!


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Home Forums Episode 26 | Load Hauling

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  • Author
  • #3642436
    Backpacking Light


    Locale: Rocky Mountains

    Companion forum thread to: Episode 26 | Load Hauling

    Ryan and Andrew talk load hauling – how to go light when you have to pack heavy. Featuring an interview with Kevin Timm of Seek Outside.

    Eric Blumensaadt
    BPL Member


    Locale: Mojave Desert

    Like heavy photographic gear, hunting gear is a fair amount of added weight. A scoped rifle plus butchering gear adds weight not normally carried. For me it will mean the difference between carrying my Tarptent Notch Li Dyneema  solo tent or my Moment DW silnylon solo tent. The Moment DW tent, which weighs over a pound more, goes only if I feel there will be a good chance of snow.

    TARPS-> I began my backpacking with a very tight budget (new teacher with a young family). So only tarps were within my budget for a decade. By the end of that decade I became proficient using tarps but also I’d had it with tarps.

    My take is that a small footprint solo tent is (1.) at least as light as a tarp and net inner, is (2.)very fast to set up and (3.)totally bug and creepy-crawly proof. The caveat is that you must choose from many solo designs and find one that really fits you and the climate(s) in which you will usually be camping. And don’t overlook a few of the excellent UL 2 person designs made with diaphanous materials if you need more room or go with a “significant other”.


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