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DC UL Backpacking Message Board Miscellaneous › Is Ultralight Backpacking Dead?

Is Ultralight Backpacking Dead?

A former member
This might be a little deep in the blogosphere weeds for most, but there has been a bit of hubbub on the interwebz about the death of ultralight backpacking and the arbitrary weight limits, definitions, and perceptions of elitism amongst the UL crowd. Hendrik over at Hiking in Finland has a pretty great wrap up of the arguments for and against the concept of ultralight, check it out if you have interest in this subject... There are additional thoughts from Andrew Skurka, Ron Bell, and others.­

PS. Hope you all voted!! (This is a political town afterall)...
Michael M.
Group Organizer
Alexandria, VA
Post #: 33
Uh oh ... Now that is a can of worms!

Seriously, though, Henrik's article is a good summary piece that people will enjoy reading.

For myself, I've had mixed feelings about the term "ultra light," and I think I've progressed through lots of the emotions people talk about. At first, as a traditional backpacker, I had all the old baggage. I always carried this giant, heavy backpack, and I was strong enough to carry it, by god! Then, as I got lighter and lighter, well, I basically hiked happier and happier--and I do love putting in the long days that a light pack facilitates. That said, with a usual load well under the arbitrary 10lb threshold, I don't hesitate to re-evaluate my gear based on conditions and add in items that I think I need and that would not ordinarily be compatible with being ultra light. I might even go over 10lbs, yet I don't fret about it. I carried a 21lb base to Iceland and felt pretty good about it. If anything, I can think of a few items I wanted and didn't have! A balaclava comes to mind.

The thing is that having a light base weight really dialed in allows me a lot of freedom because I've eliminated a lot of uselessly heavy stuff.

To me, the term ultra light remains helpful because it describes a mental attitude we all take to our backpacking and our equipment, no matter what kind of trip or what kind of gear we're carrying. It's more a mental discipline than it is about any particular item or any particular line on a spreadsheet. And that mental discipline is extremely useful to cultivate.

George Orwell wrote (I'm paraphrasing) that sometimes it requires tremendous discipline to see something right in front of your face. Sometimes, equally, it takes great willpower to leave things behind.
A former member
Post #: 36
George Orwell also wrote about 'smelly little orthodoxies'. For example, AMC and BPL.
user 7252015
Bowie, MD
Post #: 86
Yeah, sure. But I bet Orwell never even had anything made of cuben.
Michael M.
Group Organizer
Alexandria, VA
Post #: 41
I like the expression "smelly little orthodoxies."

And if anyone would know, it would be Orwell. Check out Homage to Catalonia ....

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