Minimalist Lightweight Gear ... who else aims for less?

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
#16
I think it's a slippery slope. I think a lot of us start with ultralight junk while 20-something climbers and boaters so naturally the first outfit is a beater pickup or Civic that acts like a quasi-backpack with an engine.

Then we get a roomier tent and justify that it's not so bad being able to almost kneel upright. Then we get a Coleman stove and justify that it's nice not having your MSR pot tip over and dump your oatmeal. Then we get a fridge and justify that it sure is nice having cold beer and no ice. Before you know it you have a V8 full size, RTT and drawers and a 1,000 lbs of junk.

So we rediscover ultralight and realize that it's the experience and not the gear.




But you'll have to drag the fridge from cold, dead hands.
 

calicamper

Expedition Leader
#17
I think it's a slippery slope. I think a lot of us start with ultralight junk while 20-something climbers and boaters so naturally the first outfit is a beater pickup or Civic that acts like a quasi-backpack with an engine.

Then we get a roomier tent and justify that it's not so bad being able to almost kneel upright. Then we get a Coleman stove and justify that it's nice not having your MSR pot tip over and dump your oatmeal. Then we get a fridge and justify that it sure is nice having cold beer and no ice. Before you know it you have a V8 full size, RTT and drawers and a 1,000 lbs of junk.

So we rediscover ultralight and realize that it's the experience and not the gear.




But you'll have to drag the fridge from cold, dead hands.
Or go through iterations of gear to streamline go time and setup/teardown time to increase the odds of making trips. I love our current trailer but its set up and tear down time drives me crazy. Im digging the simple Intech RV trailers but I need to suffer a few more trips before I'm convinced going that route over our 4x6 tent trailer would really help and be worth the compromise of loosing my utility trailer.
 

Honu

lost on the mainland
#18
fun to hear others view :)
I still like to cook fun foods we do for camping :)
but with kids and wife I reckon if I was on my own I might be doing things totally dif

I have mostly been making our menus stuff we do on the griddle clean one item that is easy and for sure some heat and eat meals that are awesome and easy or single dutch oven setups

I hate the washing side of things !!! especially here where water is tough to get and in many spots you have to bring it in with you and no fire allowed so you cant burn paper plates kinda like carry in more water or carry out more garbage what is the choice

so so so true about age I am 55 now and my comfort factor is not what it was



I guess there are different definitions of "minimalist." Total weight of gear, space it takes up. But also maybe simplicity in the way you go about things. I've been phasing out cooking. If I cook it's more likely to be at home for a trip of a few days, and then eaten cold. Last trip supper was cold steak and vegetables. Not very exciting, but not having to carry a stove and pots and having just a couple of dishes (or no dishes---just eat out of the container) to wash WAS exciting. It leaves more time for other things. On longer trips I would cook though.

As for gear, we're always searching for the middle ground of comfort, light weight, small packed size, and affordable. That changes every single year with new designs. So while I become more minimalist with lighter gear . . . the previous years' stuff accumulates and has to go on Craigslist, which is not a minimalist approach.

Age plays a role here. I agree, Christophe, there was a time when I backpacked with 30 lbs and noticed how soft rocks were when I took a nap on them by a stream. Really soft was a 1/4" closed-cell pad. These days it mystifies me that some people can sleep on a cot without a 3" air mattress.
 

Honu

lost on the mainland
#19
the conqueror trailer we had was insane fast setup and easy to do meals etc.. we could be in sleep mode in 3 minutes easy
pull over cook and clean a lunch like it was nothing :)

in some ways the Australia ones with really nice kitchen pull outs would be on my want list IF I wanted to pull a trailer again ? for sure jsut load the trailer with food and go was nice though no packing up the car etc..
and that is the side I liked about trailer camping with a true off road camper

if anything these days my dream vehicle might be a nice sprinter all ready to go and on those horrid rainy travel nights just sleep inside without ever having to go outside :) and in reality like the trailer ready to roll at a moments notice and do the true outside camping most the time but have that ability to have a nice inside for the kids and family
 
#20
Planning a western trip to Moab and was close to getting a trailer / RTT etc. but pulled back. I have quite a bit of good quality gear for canoe trips (Cooke Custom Sewing SilNylon Tarps, Silnylon Lean, a Nemo bug shelter, etc. ) May splurge on a 12V fridge, a $200 super comfy sleeping pad, maybe a few other things. It will still be kilodollars cheaper and without the added need for trailer storage, towing, upkeep, etc. I can fit all of my camp (tent / tarp / mat / bag / bug tent / hammock / poles) into a medium duffel. Also I will spend less time on the "Stuff" and more on the experience. Is anyone else in this frame of mind? Tips / Good ideas? I'll take some pics from my camps to share. As I'm getting into mid life, the clutter is starting to get to me. Need to pare it back.
I've gone thru the exact same thought process in my middle-aged mind. From all my adventuring I had accumulated a good amount of gear that had improved over time as I replaced it. I also had an RV for a number of years because the wife wanted to go and the kids were small. We enjoyed it for many years but once kids hit the teenage years we never used it. Despite all the great times in that pull behind trailer RV, I'm damn glad it's gone. What a pain.

In the meantime I had restored a '69 VW Westy. Applying the minimalist approach to the VW, as I finished the restoration I outfitted it with all the things I want/need to camp at a moments notice. And it's not much. I view the Westy as my "backpack on wheels". And try to keep it light.

The absolute best luxury item I ever added was a 12v Truckfridge (toploaded). No more ice. No more soggy food. I load it up with the home food I love from my kitchen refrigerator. I'll never not have one going forward.

Now, the Westy isn't exactly a speed demon. And, it's show quality and while I take it offroad, I know I'm playing with fire.

As noted, I sold the RV. And due to family vehicle circumstances, I'll be acquiring a modern adventure rig so I can limit the Westy use to car shows and more civilized camping.

I've been tempted by the adventure trailer and RTT thing; but I always end up remembering the PITA stuff I experienced with my travel trailer. Gas station maneuvering, storage in between adventures, the tendency to carry too much crap, the added expenses, on and on. And the other side of that coin is the joy I experience with the Westys simplicity and maneuverability. (I just need some AC and speed!)

I hope this helps. Wish we had a campfire to discuss around :)
 
#21
I have enough equipment to do a lot of different setups. Having one good set of lightweight equipment covers everything from backpacking to motorcycle camping.
 
#22
I think it's a slippery slope. I think a lot of us start with ultralight junk while 20-something climbers and boaters so naturally the first outfit is a beater pickup or Civic that acts like a quasi-backpack with an engine.

Then we get a roomier tent and justify that it's not so bad being able to almost kneel upright. Then we get a Coleman stove and justify that it's nice not having your MSR pot tip over and dump your oatmeal. Then we get a fridge and justify that it sure is nice having cold beer and no ice. Before you know it you have a V8 full size, RTT and drawers and a 1,000 lbs of junk.

So we rediscover ultralight and realize that it's the experience and not the gear.

But you'll have to drag the fridge from cold, dead hands.
Ha! This is exactly me. Started as a teen/20-something fit and hungry for adventure...2 person ultralight tent (more like 1 + small backpack), mini-thermarest, MSR Whisperlite that can't simmer worth a damn, etc. Started my adventures with a Nissan Micra, terrible compression, but it was mine.

This weekend, as I was standing in front of my tailgate table making coffee on the MSR...I was thinking that the dang stove is SO sketchy!! Why do I have all this other cool gear and yet I am still using this little bent wire inferno maker? :)

I've done similar things, bring loads of stuff, then find out you forgot you even had all of it with you, and didn't even have the slightest need for any of it.

I try to take note each time I am organizing things in the trailer/jeep - which things did I *really* need on that last trip, which are nice, which I do not need. Then I consider the space and weight. If it is big/heavy/both, it is higher on the list to get left behind next time around.

I find that things like a sleeping pad, amount of water (showers), all the solar gear, and quality of food are high on the list. If I make enough room, sometimes I will enjoy the breathing room, other times, I'll bring more 'comfy' stuff.
 
#23
Ha! This is exactly me. Started as a teen/20-something fit and hungry for adventure...2 person ultralight tent (more like 1 + small backpack), mini-thermarest, MSR Whisperlite that can't simmer worth a damn, etc. Started my adventures with a Nissan Micra, terrible compression, but it was mine.

This weekend, as I was standing in front of my tailgate table making coffee on the MSR...I was thinking that the dang stove is SO sketchy!! Why do I have all this other cool gear and yet I am still using this little bent wire inferno maker? :)

I've done similar things, bring loads of stuff, then find out you forgot you even had all of it with you, and didn't even have the slightest need for any of it.

I try to take note each time I am organizing things in the trailer/jeep - which things did I *really* need on that last trip, which are nice, which I do not need. Then I consider the space and weight. If it is big/heavy/both, it is higher on the list to get left behind next time around.

I find that things like a sleeping pad, amount of water (showers), all the solar gear, and quality of food are high on the list. If I make enough room, sometimes I will enjoy the breathing room, other times, I'll bring more 'comfy' stuff.
I dunno. I kinda went through that, in that I started with backpacking and climbing when one had very very few choices in gear; it was pretty much whatever REI had in their mail order catalog and you could wait to get, or in three (count 'em) stores in SoCal. Three. So mostly tube tents, jeans and maybe a choice of a Svea, Primus or Bluet stove was about it. Wasn't much gear to argue about then; guess that's why they had to invent the internet (I'm only kinda joking...it was some of the first stuff argued about on usenet, before even web forums).

But I had friends that car camped so we always mixed both, and that continued up to today. I don't backpack or climb now, but still there's river trips and pack trips. And motel trips and Class A trips and camper van trips and back of a pickup trips. I just choose the gear that suits and don't worry 'bout it, same as always. So the experience has always been it, not the tools. And sure, the experience can be enhanced with a suitable choice in gear, but you always gotta make compromises, like any time you dive into the tool chest. I think the fact I was lucky enough to always have a very wide range of outdoor experiences kept me from getting too gear-identified.

But I think some people kinda get hung up in the gear thing. In part cuz they wanna identify with a tribe: the Tree Huggers, the Backpackers (normal), the Backpackers (Ultralight; tough crowd), the River Rats, the Glampers, the RVers, the VW hippies, the vanlifers, the Pirate Offroaders, the ExPO Overlanders, and so on. It's funny how sometimes I get the hairy eyeball from one of these groups, like when I'm in the Toyhauler tribe and we camp next to the Ultralight Bibler tent people somewhere. When I'm no different than when I was occupying that Bibler (well, maybe Mountain Hardware..but close). I wander by and say something like "single wall, huh?" and suddenly I'm somebody they can talk to without fear I'm gonna do donuts with an ATV in their camp. I think we all can kinda get sucked into it, being social like we are, but people are right to step back and question whether our material stuff is having too much influence on us.
 
#24
Camping gear is my true addiction in life. I've camped since the 70's and the gear available today is mind boggling....and I love it all!
 
#25
I'm with you on cooking. It makes for great pictures and articles to cook gourmet. But it takes a sh&tload of time too. And I'm usually by myself. I do a lot of cheese, sausage, olives, dried tomatoes for lunches and dinners. Maybe simply grilling burgers or a steak. Cereal / yogurt./ nuts for breakfast. Instant Starbucks coffee (its pretty good, and even though i love getting a percolator going it takes time to do and clean up.) With a Jetboil i have coffee in about 4 minutes. About all i "cook" is a bowl of canned soup.

I guess there are different definitions of "minimalist." Total weight of gear, space it takes up. But also maybe simplicity in the way you go about things. I've been phasing out cooking. If I cook it's more likely to be at home for a trip of a few days, and then eaten cold. Last trip supper was cold steak and vegetables. Not very exciting, but not having to carry a stove and pots and having just a couple of dishes (or no dishes---just eat out of the container) to wash WAS exciting. It leaves more time for other things. On longer trips I would cook though.

As for gear, we're always searching for the middle ground of comfort, light weight, small packed size, and affordable. That changes every single year with new designs. So while I become more minimalist with lighter gear . . . the previous years' stuff accumulates and has to go on Craigslist, which is not a minimalist approach.

Age plays a role here. I agree, Christophe, there was a time when I backpacked with 30 lbs and noticed how soft rocks were when I took a nap on them by a stream. Really soft was a 1/4" closed-cell pad. These days it mystifies me that some people can sleep on a cot without a 3" air mattress.
 
#26
I'm OK with the cooking ... it's the washing up that I hate. Limited water in so much of the West, plus the health/hygiene issue of getting it "clean enough", especially rinsed enough, and then disposing of the waste water in bear country. For what it's worth, my wife can travel lighter than me. But our trips normally include mountain bikes, which brings along a whole second set of gear as well as the bikes themselves. So we've been trying to cut back in other areas.
 
#27
I’m slowly beginning to consider a more lightweight approach. Or at least ditching the RTT in favor of a cap on the back of the the truck.

The Coleman stove is non negotiable.
 
#28
I can glamp in my van but in my Lexus Land Cruiser, I travel like I'm backpacking. However, so far, 2 nights is about my max. I use a small cooler, MSR stove, and try to keep most of my gear in a medium size duffel (vs. a backpack).
 
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