On a recent hiking trip I realized that my other website (RedwoodOutdoors.Com) was starting to have content that was outside the scope of what it was originally suppose to be, so I decided the best course of action would be to start up another website, twitter account, and youtube account that was totally about getting out and hiking lighter – thus “HikeLighter” was born!
The focus of this blog (and associated twitter and youtube accounts) is going to be totally 100% about SUL and XUL hiking – that is Super Ultra Light (SUL) and eXtreme Ultra Light (XUL) hiking. Well, I am going to try really hard to keep it focused on just SUL/XUL though I suppose at some point we will end up talking about Heavy Haulers (HH) and Ultra Light (UL) hiking – but I am going to try my best to keep HH/UL to a minimum.
I will explain now what I believe each of those four level of hiking classifications are. I will fully admit that my own classifications are not “standard classifications” – and that is because it seems nobody out there has been able to really standardize hiking classifications. There are those who claim they have, and you have sites like wikipedia that people keep changing back and forth, but the fact is pretty simple: thus far there has been no true world-wide standardization of hiking weight classifications – so here is how I define them. I really do not care to argue about these numbers, they are what they are, ‘how I define them’. I define them the way I do based upon how much skill a person should have, and how much a person has probably learned in order to reach each of the four levels. Yes, a person can go out and buy their way into a SUL or XUL setup, but time will quickly show to other hikers that they ‘bought their way into said weight level’ and have not done it the right way – by learning and gaining experience as you go lighter and lighter.
How I Define Base Pack Weights:
All weights are “base pack weights” (BPW) – that is: what your backpack weights before perishables and consumables.
HH – Heavy Haulers = Anybody with a BPW of over 18 pounds (8.2 kg).
LW – Light Weight = Anybody with a BPW of between 13 pounds (5.9 kg) and 18 pounds (8.2 kg).
UL – Ultra Light = Anybody with a BPW of 12 pounds (5.4 kg) and under.
SUL – Super Ultra Light = Anybody with a BPW of under 5 pounds (2.3 kg).
XUL – eXtreme Ultra Light = Anybody with a BPW of under 3 pounds (1.4 kg).
It Is About Experience, Not Weight:
To me, classifications are more about experience and wisdom gained from being on the trail and spending a lot of nights outside; not about how big your pocket book might be and what you can buy your way into.
For the record, as of the time I am writing this, I have three different setups. A winter setup that is in the very low 6 pound range, a shoulder season setup that is in the 4 pound range, and a summer time setup that is sub two pounds.
Over the last year I have averaged a little over 80% of the year outside hiking and backpacking and learning. I spent three years going from a HH to a SUL hiker, than took the plunge and become a XUL hiker over the last year. It has been an expensive venture that has taught me a lot about what gear a person really absolutely needs to have with them. Beyond that, there is nothing special about having an XUL setup. Believe me when I say that my SUL setup is way more comfortable – both while hiking and while sleeping.
So, if you are somebody who is in the UL world looking to make it into the SUL world – I invite you to subscribe to my blog and my youtube and twitter accounts! Hopefully through the discussion of SUL and XUL gear you will be able to pick up some pointers to help you learn the necessary steps to make your hike just a bit lighter!
If you are somebody who is already in the SUL/XUL world I would be totally honored to have you follow me and look forward to sharing tips with you in the months and hopefully years ahead! This blog is all about us – so I look forward to teaching and learning!