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Backpacker’s Handbook

By Dave Roberts   

on September 17, 2011    No ratings yet.

Backpacker’s Handbook

I’ve taken to buying old books on ebay, and I recently got one called Backpacker”s Handbook by Derrick Booth. Ok, the cover”s good for a laugh. It even has them posing in jeans on the front (which he does, to be fair, say is not recommended wear for the hills). Originally published in the early seventies, the over riding message it puts across is keep the weight of your pack to a minimum.

“Is it Light? Is it Tough? Can it do more than one job satisfactorily? Do I really need it?”

If that isn”t the underlying principles of travelling lightweight, then i don”t know what is. Obviously something needs to be light. It also needs to be strong enough to withstand the rigours of use, especially if you”re out in all weathers. Getting multiple use out of an item is another staple. And leaving something out of the pack is touted as the best way to lighten your weight.

Keep this in mind when, next spring, Trail magazine will no doubt claim they invented it, a la Sun Wot Wun It. After years of dabbling, but with mainly negative or less than positive attittude, they may be coming around (albeit buy asking someone off their forums for advice. Great for the power of the Internet commentator (well done PTC), but doesn”t fill me with confidence that their own Mr Thompson knows his Onions (or, being lightweight – Shallots) on this one.

It’s probably going to give TGO a second wind on their Lighten Up section, which has definately lightened up in the content department recently. They”ll then say they were there first, but Trial are getting all the credit, and put a final bit of effort into it before it fades away again.

What it boils down to is that we can”t really separate the lightweight ethos from the rest of our hobby. It”s all part and parcel of a larger being. Some of us will want to go light and spartan all the time, others will always plod along and camp in luxury. I”m somewhere in between. I like the challenge of staying up a hill overnight with the minimum weight, but i’ve spent a couple of miserable nights as i went a little too light and the weather was worse than i expected. Next year, i suspect i”ll manage to bivvy out in comfort as we surely can’t have another summer as awful as the last.

I’m not averse to a bit of luxury either. My 1 kilo, yes a WHOLE KILOGRAM, downmat will be finding its way into my pack soon – as good as sleeping on a real bed if it”s inflated just right. A radio and a wee dram of something strong also find their way into my pack, both definite luxuries, along with a new anemometer/altimeter (review soon). Yet i’m still happy to be going lightweight as i know i”m camping at a certain level of comfort, at the lightest possible weight.

Wether you take a 4 season geodesic and a full bottle of scotch (in a glass bottle), or bivvy with only iodine tablets for beverages – just get out there and enjoy it.

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Dave Roberts

Dave Roberts founded Walk Eryri in 2004, with the aim of providing routes that are off the beaten track. Walk Eryri is now part of Mud and Routes which continues to provide more off beat routes and walks in Snowdonia and beyond. Dave has been exploring the hills of Eryri for over thirty years, and is a qualified Mountain Leader. Dave also established Walk up Snowdon, Walk up Scafell Pike and Walk up Ben Nevis just to mention a few.

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