Unpopular Opinion: Ultralight Backpacking Is Manner Much less Enjoyable


The arrival of Ultralight backpacking and equipment has modified issues. It’s a ceremony of passage now to be handed on a path by a tall, skinny man sporting the shortest shorts and the tiniest backpack conceivable. He’s simply reserving it, and though you’re on the identical path, you’ll by no means see him once more. At your subsequent break, you would possibly have a look at your reasonably-sized pack and get just a little jealous. You would possibly assume your setup’s no good. I’m right here to let you know to not fear. Though that man, (who might be very good,) is an ultralight king, you’re doing it proper by not giving in to that aspect of issues. Your pack needs to be just a little bit too heavy. It is best to carry a number of belongings you don’t want. Ultralight Backpacking is just a bit much less enjoyable.

An Ultralight Quantity of Context

As a thru-hiker, I’ve been part of the ultralight backpacking group for years now. I’m not attempting to say it shouldn’t exist. In fact all of this ultralight gear is helpful, cool, and it has its place. I’ve a good quantity of ultralight gear, however I by no means obtained to the far finish of the spectrum. I’ve all the time packed just a little heavier. A few of my greatest associates are ultralight backpackers, there’s just some issues about this subculture that get to me.

Picture by Hendrik Morkel

Don’t Be Gatekeep-y

I knew I had gone too far when associates who aren’t notably outdoorsy would ask the best way to get into backpacking, and I might instinctively begin speaking about base weight. Speaking about kilos and ounces will not be the best way to encourage engagement with the outside. It’s not even enjoyable from inside the ultralight group, not to mention outdoors of it. There are different features of backpacking that act as higher entry factors. In the event you’re attempting to have your first actual wilderness expertise, let’s speak about locations to go and objectives we wish to meet, not how mild your pack needs to be.

In addition to that, let’s discuss cash. In the event you’re attempting to get into backpacking, ultralight gear is not the best way to go. These items is pricey. They’re good investments to make after you already know you like it, however it’s unrealistic to make purchases like that on your first few journeys. Borrow gear from household and associates. Placed on a heavy, bombproof backpack that your dad used within the ‘80s, fill it far too full, then stroll into the woods and determine it out.

Backpacking Group
Picture by Matt Heaton

Can We Go From Ultralight to Extremely-Sturdy?

Ultralight gear isn’t all the time flimsy and breakable, however it positive could be. I had one tent that ripped the primary night time I set it up on path. It was a windstorm and partially my fault, however hey, I’m searching for a shelter that’s windstorm-proof and me-in-the-middle-of-the-night-proof too. My backpack has been by way of its paces within the three years I’ve owned it, and it has began to fray on the prime of the shoulder straps. Earlier than you ask, I’ve been very cautious about choosing it up correctly. I actually recognize the intersection of sturdiness and ultralight that the majority gear corporations are taking pictures for. I nearly want, although, that sturdy gear was prioritized over gear being light-weight. What occurred to these outdated packs that will final a lifetime? I would go searching for some antiques.

Backpacker
Picture by Danka & Peter

Okay, However What Concerning the Enjoyable Half?

Two phrases for you: luxurious objects. There’s a traditional adage amongst thru-hikers that you would be able to solely have one luxurious merchandise, (an merchandise you don’t want,) in your pack. Now, I’ve lived by this rule. I’ve given this recommendation. It’s not a unhealthy rule for brand spanking new backpackers who must edit their gear lists.

Nevertheless, if you have already got a grasp on what you want within the outdoor, it is best to let your self begin ignoring this rule. I went that method after thru-hiking for some time. In the future, I’m mailing my harmonica residence, and months later, I’m shopping for packs of Magic: The Gathering playing cards with my mountaineering buddy at a Walmart, backpacks on.

What’s a great luxurious merchandise then? Taking part in playing cards, fairy lights to string up in your tent, as much as two books, additional socks, light-weight tenting chairs, camp footwear, hammocks, heavy cameras, french press mugs, and extra. Have enjoyable with it. Edit your packing record right down to solely the naked requirements, after which toss just a little little bit of enjoyable again in there.

Ultralight Backpacking
Picture by Diogo Tavares

Two Issues are True at As soon as

Ultralight backpacking gear is each handy and pointless. I’m undoubtedly going to purchase extra ultralight gear sooner or later, although selectively. I believe I’ll prioritize gear that I do know will final and prioritize repairing what I have already got.

In a technique, ultralight gear can enhance entry for individuals who discover themselves intimidated by a too-heavy pack. However, it additionally appears to be one of many bells and whistles that may distract us from our precise wilderness expertise. If we’re not cautious, the status of getting the most recent gear, the competitors to have the lightest pack, and different issues which can be merely part of backpacking moderately than the guts of it, could distract us. Our instruments to get out into the backcountry are simply that: instruments. In the event you love the most recent, biggest, ultralight gear with all of your coronary heart, I hope it’s a great avenue to get you outdoor. I hope when you get there, you overlook all about it and end up immersed within the timber and the mountains and the birds.

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