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Philosophy – Why ultralight with your family?

Why the outdoors in the firstplace?….

My wife and I decided shortly after the birth of our first son that we would put a deliberate emphasis on hiking, backpacking and generally enjoying the outdoors with our children.  Our hope was and is that as they and we grow older, outdoor activity will be a common connecting point, hopefully one of many.  The outdoors is not subject to generational barriers, fads or phases like music or video games.  When the adolescent years come, perhaps a family trip outdoors will be “cool” even when the parents themselves are not.

I can already see that the careful planning, packing and organization required for backpacking will be a good thing for our boys even if they are all never as “particular” as me.  There will surely be discipline, confidence and independence gained from days of operating self-sufficiently while navigating the outdoors.  And last but not least, we have fun together without the distractions of television, music players, etc.

What does “ultralight” refer to, and why is it important?

There are many people that will explain the ultralight backpacking philosophy more eloquently and thoroughly than I.  In short, it is ruthlessly cutting the weight of EVERY item that you carry hiking or backpacking, and only carrying the items that you will definitely need (emergency preparedness takes special consideration).  The benefits are as follows…

1.  You will be wasting less energy hauling stuff you really don’t need so that you have more energy to enjoy more of nature with your family.

2.  Little kids can’t carry much, so the less stuff that the group needs, the less that YOU, the parents, will have to carry.

3.  You gain an appreciation for the material luxuries that you return to, after your trips.

4.  Removing any weight that you don’t really need, allows you to add something special to your pack, a luxury item, like fishing gear or a video camera or special food for a celebration.

So, it seems crazy at first to cut off your toothbrush handle, but if you apply that ruthlessness to every item you carry, it really makes a difference.  I hope that here we can exchange experiences and creative ideas that allow more families to enjoy nature more fully.

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