SHANE STEINKAMP'S BACKPACKING BASE CAMP
THE PHILOSOPHY OF WEIGHTPHILOSOPHY OF WEIGHT
1. Lighter is better, but only to a point.
Almost everyone these days is into "lightweight", while some people are still carrying WAY too much stuff, but there IS a price for each extreme. If you know the price, and are willing to pay it, that's cool. If you don't know the price then find out before you commit to something that will make you uncomfortable, miserable, or kill you outright.
One extreme is ignorant. The other extreme is stupid. Ignorance can be fixed, stupidity is often incurable, and sometimes fatal. Figuring out which is which shouldn't be hard. Understand that there are a few more modes of thought than usually bandied about.
1: Ignorant City Folk (ICF's) If you see somebody who isn't in the military carrying a pack that weighs over about 60 pounds, you can bet you're looking at ICF.
2: "It's heavy, but I'm a real man." Mostly military types. They suffer all day, but sleep well at night.
3: "It can be heavy, but I don't suffer too much." Educated, but not quite there.
4: "What I need, and what I want are the same thing." The voice of sanity.
5: "Light, but not so light that I'll be mistaken for a day-hiker." Educated AND experienced.
6: "Light Weight Backpacker." Comfortable and self assured. Probably not quite enough of something if the going gets rough, but can make do.
7: "Ultralight Backpacker." Walking a thin line between enough stuff and not enough stuff. Also known as 'gram weenies'.
8: "Idiots." These are the people that when something does go wrong, the other seven types have to rescue them. There have been a few stories recently told among the lists, and one or two in my personal experience.
There are many stories of ultralighters that had to be 'rescued' either by other hikers or rescue personnel because they were not properly geared or properly prepared for the conditions they met.
There are lots of things that you need experience for before you can attempt something radical. Most of us are competent to drive around town. Very few of us have enough experience to drive an Indy car at 250 miles an hour. Think about it.
I am not a true lightweight back packer. Never have been. Never will be. Lynne would have you believe that I have some kind of unreasonable paranoid fears...
Just remember this: Everybody has an angle. The people you talk to and get advice from all have angles - BUT THEY USUALLY AREN'T TRYING TO SELL YOU ANYTHING! I have angles too, and sometimes I have been known to be Obtuse. (That's a joke, son, a joke!) We all do this for FUN, which is important to remember.
The corporate conglomerates that offer you the finest comfort in your fantastically expensive ten pound tent are TRYING TO SELL YOU SOMETHING.
If you want to know, my pack weighs 28-30 pounds for summer, and 30-35 for spring/fall, and 30-45 for winter depending on how far I am going. My teaching load - that's the load I carry when I'm teaching somebody else - may be as much as 50 pounds because I'm carrying redundant stuff to show them options. I don't know what my FSO weights are, and I'm afraid to find out. (From the Skin Out)
Ultralighters use several excuses for stripping their packs down to nothing, and some of them actually make logical sense. For instance, if you aren't strong, or have some other physical or medical condition such as bad knees, then the less weight you carry, the more comfortable you will be. This makes sense, and everyone SHOULD examine their gear to see if it can be made lighter, or replaced with a suitable lightweight replacement. 'Suitable' is the key word.
The part of the ultralight philosophy that doesn't make sense to me is, "The less I carry, the faster I can hike." For a discussion of this idea, please see Is Faster Better.