There is a term in the hiking world that is becoming more popular these days, especially as more hikers such as myself in the sul/xul world are educating UL hikers in the ways of SUL hiking, that is called “stupid light”. It is a term that is being used by very experienced hikers (most of whom I greatly respect) and by HH/UL hikers who just do not ‘get’ what sul/xul hiking is all about. The term is taking on a whole new level of meaning as those of us in the sul/xul world strive to push ourselves and our gear further to the extremes and have started educating others about it.
In all but a few of the cases that I have seen some of the worlds top hikers use the term ‘stupid light’ I have found myself disagreeing with them. I fully and completely understand that their reader audience and followers are thousands and sometimes tens of thousands more than what I and other sul/xul hikers have, so they have the responsibility to their readers, to those who they are educating, to approach things from a “99%” rather than the “1%” such as what I do. By this I mean that the xul world of hiking makes up around one percent (probably less than half of one percent) of all of the hikers from around the world. Within sul hiking that number goes up a small percentage, but for the most part, when you take the millions of hikers that have hiking gear some where in their house, those who are going out for 10+ day trips with a SUL backpack are just not that large of a percentage. So I can respect these fellow hikers with massive followings and their need to write and speak to the broader audience at large.
I think that the problem that is being faced by those of us who are sul/xul hikers and who are doing these things that others consider “stupid light” is not that what we are doing is wrong, nor is it unsafe, nor is it stupid – but rather the term itself is wrong. “Stupid light” should more aptly be termed “very experienced hikers light” or something along those lines.
Many of these guys throwing around this term over the last year, that have huge followings, have been out there using exactly the gear that they now call “stupid light” – as can be easily researched when you look at their gear lists for previous hikes that they have done. This is not me being critical towards those hikers, but rather I think it is important to point this out because it shows that “stupid light” is not about being “stupid” – it is about being “experienced” and knowing exactly what your gear is, how to use it, how to keep it in good shape, how to repair it should something happen, and how to just use your brain in general when things do not go as planned. The exact opposite of being “stupid”.
For the record, I do not strive to have a massive following. My style of hiking, and the hikelighter.com website, is all about the sul/xul styling of hiking. I accepted the fact that I would loose 90+% of my followers when I went to only talking and educating others about sul/xul hiking, and that is exactly what happened, and I am perfectly fine with that. What it has done is it has allowed me to connect with a much larger group of hikers who are sul/xul hikers than I ever did when I was focused on UL/SUL hiking. It has also given me the amazing opportunity to help a few dozen hikers break through the UL levels of backpack and work their way down into the SUL world – and good for them!!
So here is my request to those hikers out there who are using the term “stupid light” in their course of communications: The terminology is simply not right – and most of you know that. To claim that those of us in the hiking world, who collectively have tens of thousands of miles as sul/xul hikers, are “stupid” because we have the experience to go out onto the trail with gear that the 99% have no right to be out there using, is not “stupid”. We are experienced hikers using gear that can keep us as safe as any hiker with a 20 pound setup. We are experienced hikers who are helping to revolutionize the hiking industry as a whole by seeking out new gear and new materials and new methods of approaching how to solve the problems hikers face. Stupid has nothing to do with it – it is all about experience.