Category Archives: December ’12

Ultralight backpacking: ditching useless gear

I posted a couple days ago about my frustration with modern backpacking. I naively thinking that the methods of dropping pack weight were common knowledge. It wasn’t until I saw some of the gear lists from people claiming to pack light that I realized, a lot of the concepts of lightweight backpacking are not well known. Here I want to highlight some pieces of gear that I am not taking on my upcoming ultralight backpacking trip and why.

Toilet paper

A roll of TP can weigh up to 6 ounces. That is an enormous amount of weight for a nonessential. While TP can double as a fire starter, the amount needed for that is of insignificant weight. This is a personal choice, I know, and a piece of gear that a lot of people could never imagine doing without. However, I instead use things that I don’t have to carry on my back to accomplish this task. I use sticks without bark, snow, leaves, or even moss. All of these are readily available and accomplish the task equally well. Wiping our asses with paper is only a recent phenomenon, so consider dropping the weight and doing without it.


If I carry a blade at all, I carry the tiny, tiny swiss army knife with scissors, tweezers, a file, and a toothpick that weighs 3/4 of an ounce. I’ve seen men carrying foot long blades into the tame backcountry of the east coast and the only justification I can imagine is compensation. At this point I’ve walked all but two states of the Appalachian Trail  Continue reading Ultralight backpacking: ditching useless gear

Lightweight backpacking

The simplicity of backpacking has always intrigued me. To carry everything you need to survive on your back is an enlightening and beautiful experience. Truly nothing gets me more excited than to be fully self supported. But when I, with a bulky pack on, look at an animal foraging in the backcountry, I am envious. They carry nothing; they do not know where or when their next meal or drink will come from and yet they are entirely self-sufficient. And when I see men clambering into the woods with pots and jackets and bottles hanging from their fifty plus pound packs, I want to cry. Continue reading Lightweight backpacking

You were predetermined to read this

“Our time is burdened under the cumulative weight of successive debunkings of our conceits: We’re Johnny-come-latelies. We live in the cosmic boondocks. We emerged from microbes and muck. Apes are our cousins. Our thoughts and feelings are not fully under our own control. There may be much smarter and very different beings elsewhere. And on top of all this, we’re making a mess of our planet and becoming a danger to ourselves.” 

Carl Sagan

Over the past few hundred years, science has proved an extraordinarily humbling practice for humanity. From our conceited belief that we were placed here on a globe in the center of the universe by some supreme being to the realization that we are in fact a result of a collection of physical processes, we have progressively realized our insignificance. From a divine purpose to purposelessness, we have seemingly lost our way by finding the truth. It is a scary proposition that we could be entirely alone and are portraits painted by the unfolding of physical events. I understand; it seems to strange that it could be true. If life is truly so pointless, then what is the worth in living? Continue reading You were predetermined to read this

Hitler was a jackass

Natural selection, the process that has the greatest influence on evolution of species has, for the most part, stopped occurring for the human species. This is nothing new. It can occur in any population or species when there are unlimited resources and insignificant predation. On the surface, infinite resources seems like a blessing to humanity, and in almost all cases, it is. However, the one exception to the rule is a frightening one and one that we will eventually have to deal with.

Continue reading Hitler was a jackass

The end of illogical thinking

I want you to just imagine for a moment. Imagine every word I am saying. Pause with each sentence and see the image I challenge you to see. I want you to separate yourself from this world and imagine yourself as god-like. First you are observing yourself from behind, watching you at your computer.

Then imagine the world. You are between the earth and the moon, floating in a black emptiness, looking down at our blue-green lush planet with white clouds swirling about. It is an amazing celestial body, surely one of the greatest. It is floating in this vast darkness just as you are, with no hand of Atlas holding it nor a web to keep it suspended. It simply floats, orbiting an even more massive body that illuminates our earth and provides it with the energy that allowed life to flourish.This is our home. This is where we and everyone who has ever existed was born, lived, and died. Alongside the young species of man are millions of other creatures. It is an extremely vast community, one that we struggle to see as a whole. Imagine for a moment that there are no Saddam Husseins or Osama bin Ladens or Adolf Hitlers. The world is peaceful and everyone is amazed with their predicament. We are united on this globe. Everyone, all seven billion of us are content for these moments in peace.

Continue reading The end of illogical thinking