Thursday, April 21, 2011

A (not so) UltraLight Rant!

One thing that we UltraLight backpackers tend to have in common, other than continuously shaving ounces from our gear, is our backpacking style. Style you ask? What images come to mind when you think about the traditional backpacker? Most likely it's more than just an oversized pack with a hiker struggling under its excessive weight. Usually you will see all kinds of extra gear strapped to the outside of their pack. Yes, now you're getting the picture of traditional backpacking style!



In the above photo is my wife Juggy on our recent trip to Kolob Canyons in Utah. She is always great about my borderline obsessive behavior when it comes to shaving pack weight, and never makes fun of me even though I give her plenty of opportunities. In fact, she really appreciates the fact that her base weight is just over 5 pounds and totally embraces the UltraLight style of a custom home-made backpack (weighing less than 6 ounces and very stylish if I do say so myself), with her closed cell foam pad rolled up inside being utilized both as padding and also as the pack frame, and all of her gear neatly tucked inside of waterproof stuff sacks.

Until recently that is...when she maliciously strapped her pillow from home to the outside of her pack, not only adding an insane amount of unnecessary weight but totally blowing any style points she had built up! You can imagine my dismay when she informed me it wasn't a joke and that the pillow would not be staying in the car. Really, a full sized pillow, strapped to the OUTSIDE???

So now the sad part...I have to break it to her that she can no longer come on our two week stint in the high Sierras this summer on the JMT, and that I think I just might need some time away from her. Who knows where this type of behavior might lead us to...hopefully not the big D!

So what do you think...am I overreacting, or should I move out?

10 comments:

  1. If your wife goes to hike with you, please, PLEASE allow her to take the pillow on any trip! I think it is wonderful that you can share your passion for the outdoors with your partner, and a pillow shoildn't be a deal breaker then ;)

    Happy Easter!

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  2. You're lucky she wants to go with you at all - all that sweaty smelly synthetic gear you must be using - enough to put anyone off! It you can't travel in comfort it's not worth travelling at all - keep the pillow!

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  3. Since you obviously outkicked your coverage to get your wife you better leave the pillow come along on the trip.

    Dave

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  4. John, it's fine - as long as your wife carries the pillow ;)

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  5. Dude, carry the pillow for her! Have a blast out there!!

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  6. Sometimes more IS more. I know this goes against the ultralight ethos but if you're getting a better night's sleep and have more energy to hike with that's got to offset whatever extra weight you might carry.

    It would be nice if there was some algorithm to plug all these factors into.

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  7. This is not the norm for me as you all know... I really do have a hard time sleeping out there and this is the one thing I have to get down before the JMT! I will be looking at what I "really" need that i have in my pack now and try to adjust it for a better nights sleep! John will let you know what I end up trading or "shaving" off just to add back on. :)

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  8. I fully sympathise with your poor wife. Obsessive behaviour collecting gear - going the ultra-light way under the umbrella of simplifying your walking experience just means you have to find more storage spaces for the gear that's supposedly obsolete. It's just an excuse for more rampant consumerism. I think it's almost grounds for the big D - be warned :) !! Happy Easter to you both all the same.

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  9. Thanks for all your comments and having fun with me! But seriously now, Juggy does still have a hard time sleeping on the ground. She feels like her body parts are "falling asleep". She currently uses a GG egg crate pad plus a 1/4" foam pad, and has in the past used an inflatable pad and had very much the same luck. Of course she typically only has this problem one night in a row, because by the second night she's exhausted and could sleep any where. It would be nice for her to be able to sleep every night though, so we are still experimenting with her sleep system, probably going to try an inflatable mattress again.

    Any suggestions from someone with a similar sleeping problem would be very much appreciated.

    Happy Easter!

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  10. Give a hammock a try. My typical night in a tent goes as follows:
    Sleep roughly until the back pain is too much and there is enough light peaking out.
    Get up.

    I've since changed to a hammock and for the first time ever I slept in... until 10am. It does take some reading to avoid CBS (Cold butt syndrome). I use a very small thermarest pad as my insulating layer underneath me and a half quilt on top (saving weight vs full sleeping bag).

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