I pack to capacity, no matter the occasion or size of
bag. I fill it even if it may not be
necessary, I always find last minute things to pop into my bag. Ultralight backpackers would probably either
keel over reading this, shake their heads or see me as the perfect candidate
for an ultralight makeover. Luckily, I
am self-aware of my ‘packing problem’ and jumped at the opportunity to go to a
talk in the area. After all, who could really resist attending
an event called: “Beer + Gear | Spotlight on Ultralight Backpacking”, especially when the proceeds go to the Pacific Crest Trail Association? What I soon found out is that the ultralight
philosophy can be applied to not just backpacking, but really any variety of
Hosted at the Cedar House Hotel in Truckee, CA, we were
greeted, pointed to the beer (and tasty apps) portion of the event and mingled
with fellow participants and the speaker himself – Glen Van Peski. Glen is a native Californian who enjoys
tromping around the trails in the western states, and sometimes finds himself
on the east coast too. He started sewing
his own ultralight backpacks and gear, which in turn was the beginning of his
pack and gear company, Gossamer Gear.
Quipped by one writer as the ‘guru of ultralight’, we found out why this
was after we grabbed our drinks, a cookie and took a seat.
What did we learn during that time in the conference room
with movie, talk and Q & A period?
The why, how and precautions of going ultralight. For this post, let’s focus on the why.
Lite, light, feather-weight, ultralight…the list goes on to
describe adjectives many companies use to market their products. Why is lighter necessarily better? To use the lyrics from the musical duo Daft
Punk: ‘…better, faster, stronger’.
Carrying less weight is easier on your body, plain and
simple. We were told a story of 80+ year
old grandparents that had embraced ultralight backpacking. They were in the woods for a week-long trip
and only left the trail not from sore knees, backs or blisters, but because
they had to attend a grandchild’s wedding.
Shed pounds from your pack and you can add years to your backpacking
Less weight allows you to go farther: your muscles and
joints aren’t having to compensate for the extra pounds you’re carrying. Therefore, you can go farther into the
backcountry, log more miles on your hike and get more out of your weekend,
week, or month trip.
Lastly, going light helps in an emergency situation. If you or someone in your group gets injured
and you have lighter, less gear, you increase your ability to travel faster
and/or help carry someone else’s gear.
Next up: how you can go lighter. You may be asking yourself if it costs an arm
and a leg. As with most gear, you could
spend a good portion of winning lottery tickets getting the greatest and
lightest gear. On the other side of the
spectrum, you may already have what you need to go lighter in your camping