longwalking escargot demonstrates efficient backpacking technique on Grande Randonnee trail in France
Backpacking escargot along the GR 654 in France.

Why stop at “ultralight” backpacking?

There has been a rising chorus for years about switching from traditional (HEAVY) to ultralight (even “hyperlight”) backpacking. I admit it, I signed on years ago, as soon as I was granted the right to spell “obsession” in all caps. I’ve enjoyed all the benefits of lighter loads across thousand of miles of walking trails.

So it made me wonder, “Why Stop at Ultralight?” How can we make it easier to just float down the trail? I mean, do you know how much it hurts to drop a sub-kilogram base weight on your big toe?

Ray Jardine points out in his excellent book, Beyond Backpacking “the more weight you carry, the more weight you have to carry”. Well that makes sense, but why not focus on the inverse corollary?

“The less weight you carry, the less weight you need to carry”.

Here’s the concept. If you keep getting rid of stuff, whittling away at what and how much you need, keep working the problem, lightening the load, discarding the unnecessary, focusing on function not fashion, trimming away every extra gram, ounce, and ton; if you keep embracing simplicity, going negative, eventually your backpack will become lighter than air…

Voila! There you have it!

The Grand Prize of ultralight technique…

Welcome to the Helium Syndrome…

Helium Syndrome-float down the trail with lighter than air backpack
(photo courtesy – excavated film research (Acetate Partners Collection)

The Helium Syndrome at Amazon