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  1. #1
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    Default Colin Fletcher, the Father of Modern Backpacking

    This was a great read.. Never heard of him but his life story was is one for the ages.

    https://www.adventure-journal.com/20...n-backpacking/

    F0LvPO.jpg

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    Any hiker my age or older was pretty much weaned on Colin Fletcher. It's good to hear his legacy is still alive.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

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    He carried fifty pounds of gear. Those days are over! He carried a svea stove. I had to divest myself in favor of alcohol. He also said to find a blank area on a map and go in to see what's there. No chance of that today. Some of it is now outdated. Meat bars are unavailable for "Flecher stew". Times have changed.

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    Kind of reminds me of Tipi 😁 pngegg.jpg

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    He did an interview for Backpacker magazine in 1990---

    "Worst Night Out Where and Why: "Many. World War II".
    "Favorite Fantasy: "A politician-free universe."
    "Greatest Fear: "Oddly enough, I think it is being bitten by a rattler when I'm miles from water, and solo."
    "Smallest Fear: "Daytime TV resulting in cancer of the brain."
    "Favorite Campfire Song: "Silence."

  6. #6

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    I read his books in the early 1970's and copied his hiking style. Still do...

  7. #7
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    The old Wilson meat bars aren't around, but Epic meat bars are. https://epicprovisions.com/collections/bars

    The bacon bar is really good with the Mushroom risotto from Good to Go dehydrated foods in Maine.

    My Dad & I started with Fletcher's "Complete Walker", still a good read, as is his story of hiking the Grand Canyon (the Man Who Walked Through Time)

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    Good to see. I have many of his books in the library.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Deadeye View Post
    The old Wilson meat bars aren't around, but Epic meat bars are. https://epicprovisions.com/collections/bars

    The bacon bar is really good with the Mushroom risotto from Good to Go dehydrated foods in Maine.

    My Dad & I started with Fletcher's "Complete Walker", still a good read, as is his story of hiking the Grand Canyon (the Man Who Walked Through Time)
    I'm going to have to check out the bacon bar. I', also going to have to dig up my copy of Complete Walker and The Man Who Walked Through Time and The Thousand Mile Summer. All are highly entertaining and full of wisdom, in my opinion!

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    I'm with that group here that's old enough to have started my backpacking career in the 1970s, reading "The Complete Walker" as our backpacker's bible. Even then, Fletcher espoused a minimalist style that was the precursor of today's ultralight philosophy. Follow his ideas, I trimmed my weight down at a time when my fellow backpackers (Boy Scouts all) were still schlepping around cast iron skillets and other heavyweight gear. Reading his ideas and exploits was a revelation and still forms the basis of my backpacking philosophy today.
    Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.
    Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

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    Colin Fletcher, Earl Shafer, Emma Gatewood, Ray Jardine, and some of the other pioneers of our noble pastime, would be stunned by the evolution of backpacking. The "industry" has become pretty overblown these days. What might they have to say about FKT's, Triple Crowns, You Tube gear videos, Dyneema fabric, padded hipbelts, Guthook apps, cell phones, and the like? They might tell us that we have become spoiled and too much into quantifying the experience v. just doing it for its own sake, and they would be right.

    That being said, I'm glad that I no longer have to schlep around a sleeping bag that, when rolled up, had the diameter of a giant jelly roll....
    Long-distance aspirations with short-distance feet.... :jump

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by foodbag View Post
    Colin Fletcher, Earl Shafer, Emma Gatewood, Ray Jardine, and some of the other pioneers of our noble pastime, would be stunned by the evolution of backpacking. The "industry" has become pretty overblown these days. What might they have to say about FKT's, Triple Crowns, You Tube gear videos, Dyneema fabric, padded hipbelts, Guthook apps, cell phones, and the like? They might tell us that we have become spoiled and too much into quantifying the experience v. just doing it for its own sake, and they would be right.
    On the one hand, I would like to think that they would be against the widespread acceptance of people promoting and monetizing our trail systems, but on the other hand they did publish and sell books about their experiences, so perhaps it is just another point on a continuum. Still, I don't think they could have imagined it would get to be the way it is now; there was one social media site I came across where they were looking for "Trail Correspondents" to do up-to-date video reports of their hikes. I'm sure there is a certain segment of people who eat that up, but that's not why I make the effort to be "out there".

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    I have a complete Hiker IV that I pick up occastionally... BTW Jardins alive Last i checked..And to give yall some info...Some of the priciples Jardin published were actually already on a small little Handout in Kelty packs when they were a garage gear company and starting out...I know a person knew Jardin back in that time line and is on the west coast and hes a Mountaineer,.
    My love for life is quit simple .i get uo in the moring and then i go to bed at night. What I do inbween is to occupy my time. Cary Grant

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    Quote Originally Posted by FŽanor View Post
    Kind of reminds me of Tipi �� pngegg.jpg
    However tipi is 2 ◊ 's the weight : )

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    He did an interview for Backpacker magazine in 1990---

    "Worst Night Out Where and Why: "Many. World War II".
    "Favorite Fantasy: "A politician-free universe."
    "Greatest Fear: "Oddly enough, I think it is being bitten by a rattler when I'm miles from water, and solo."
    "Smallest Fear: "Daytime TV resulting in cancer of the brain."
    "Favorite Campfire Song: "Silence."
    Wondering minds wanna what would be your answers to said questions?

  16. #16

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    Years ago I read the first edition of "The Complete Walker" Fletcher assembled in the late 1960s and read the following versions ending with "The Complete Walker IV" in 2002. I thumbed through these not long ago looking at the changes in each of the editions as gear technology evolved over 30 some odd years. I enjoyed his writing style and spent a significant number of winter nights reading his books cover to cover.

    Though by today's standards he carried a lot of weight in his "bloody great sack", one can browse his different editions of the Complete Walker and see he started in the days of wood framed packs, wool socks, and kaki pants, pushing the envelope that would eventually become ultra-light over time. Each edition of the Complete Walker included technology of that time along with pros/cons along with his thoughts on specific items and the overall reduction of weight. The technology required to make much of the gear we carry today was not developed in the 60's through the late 90's. In many ways he was a pioneer in backpacking, at one point he was one of the most discussed authority on the trail overall. I can only imagine what he would have said about the remarkable technologies developed since his last Complete Walker book was published in 2002.

    What I liked most about him was the free-spirit approach to backpacking, opting to make his own route across deserts and other wild areas, followed by relating these experiences in his books like "The Thousand Mile Summer". There are still a great number of places where one can find a blank spot on a map and go see what's there, which translates well into what we all are doing pretty much every time we go out and put some dirt under our feet.

  17. #17

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    Back in August 2018 I pulled a 20 day backpacking trip in the mountains of TN/NC and part of my reading material included this pic---



    It's a pic of Colin Fletcher's kit---and retrieved from

    https://litehikersblog.blogspot.com/...-fletcher.html

    As the blog post says, Fletcher was no Ultralighter. In the trail journal of my trip I described in detail the items on his gear list---

    COLIN FLETCHER'S GEAR PICS
    Look at the pic and if you're old enough you'll shed a tear of gear remembrance. Let's start at the start of his gear list---
    ** Binoculars, field 14oz. 'Nocs are a luxury I don't bother with and could care less about but then I don't backpack in the west with its expansive views.
    ** Paperback book 6oz. Yes, but when I bring my book rolls we're talking about a heck of a lot more than 6oz. Generally I carry between 400 and 600 pages of typing paper; that's heavy but it's all burned during the trip. There's a book pictured in Fletcher's stuff and you can almost imagine the title. Knowing him it's probably something by Friedrich Nietzsche or John Muir---and never burned.
    ** Compass 5oz. I never carry a compass but then I don't go overland like Fletcher and make my own trails and use a map to come up with routes. The Eastern mountains are a jungle where overland bushwacking is highly discouraging but possible.

    ** Fly dope 2oz. It's what we call deet or picaridin nowadays and yes I have a few ounces (oh and also a headnet, something he leaves out.
    ** Cellophane Tape 1oz. Obviously something important and needed when Fletcher was backpacking but no one carries such tape today. He must've needed it for his paper maps. Now we carry ripstop tape for fabric repairs and duct tape for a variety of things including blisters.
    ** Boot wax 2oz. Again it's not something I carry but I surely have some at home for my Zamberlan full leather winter boots. I coat them generously before a trip and that's about it until I get home.
    ** Salt Tablets (in phials) 2oz. I carry salt for my soups and oatmeal but quit taking salt tablets after USAF basic training in 1969. (We had salt tablet dispensing machines in the barracks).


    ** Carborundum Stone 3oz. Yes, I carry something similar, a Smith's knife sharpener with fold out stone rod to sharpen my pruners.
    ** First Aid Kit 3oz. It's hard to know what's in Fletcher's kit but mine has several useful items like bandaids and sting juice and pain meds and eye sty cream and lip balm etc.
    ** Wallet 6oz. Wow his wallet is heavy. Mine is not and only consists of paper money wrapped around my driver's license with a rubber band. Measured in grams.
    ** Flashlight with Batteries 5oz. In Fletcher's day a cheap metal flashlight was about all that was available. You can see his in the picture. We all used such metal flashlights until Mallory came out with their little plastic models and then Mini Mag came out with their aluminum 2 AA flashlights. Now I use a Petzl headlamp with 3 AAA batts and a set as spares.
    ** String Shirt 9oz. This harkens back to the day when mesh shirts were considered a state of the art baselayer. Now we use fancy poly t-shirts or merino tees or silk or merino or capilene long sleeve tops.


    ** Bandana 1oz. It's still popular today although I don't like and don't need a bandana and prefer disposable Bounty paper towels instead. Bandanas get filthy and when wet take time to dry and can't be used as toilet paper like with paper towels.
    ** Snakebit Kit 1oz. Another throwback to another time. Most authorities say a snake kit just doesn't work so I don't carry one (but I do carry Benadryls).
    ** Small Scarf 1oz. Seems redundant with a bandana but I'm sure Fletcher had some use for it.
    ** Two Pair Socks 7oz. Now we're talking. I always carry 2 pairs of socks---one for hiking only and one for sleeping only in camp.
    ** Spare Shirt 9oz. I'm not sure what this could be. A second t-shirt? A warmth baselayer? Hard to know.


    ** Book Matches (avg 6 books) 1oz. I quit carrying all types of matches back in the 1970s, now it's 2 mini Bics with an emergency spare Bic hidden away).
    ** Spare Nylon Bootlaces 1oz. Of course, gotta have them just in case.
    ** Nylon Cord (30 feet) 2oz. Most backpackers carry paracord or some cordage for a bear line to hang their food (along with a carabiner). I quit carrying cordage a couple years ago.
    ** Waterproof Matchsafe 1oz. Not needed when carrying Bics.
    ** Spare Spectacles (two flashlight bulbs in case) 4oz. Good idea for those of us who wear glasses although I don't carry a spare.
    ** Spare Pack Fittings --oz. You'd be an idiot not to take a few extra buckles and especially a spare hip belt buckle cuz you will eventually step on it and it'll break.
    ** Sleeping Bag (mummy bag) 5 lb 10oz. I carry a down bag thruout the year---some carry quilts---but even in winter my -15F rated bag doesn't come close to 5 lb 10oz.
    ** Three Half Gallon Water Canteens 2 lb 7oz. I use a 1 liter nalgene and a 2.5 liter platypus bladder. He needed more water out west.
    This ends now but will resume later.



    BACK TO FLETCHER
    ** Steel Sierra Cup 3oz. I still have my Sierra Cup from the 1970s but I don't carry it anymore. I think all older backpackers used to carry this cup because it just seemed like an awesome piece of gear.
    ** Margarine Container (with 4oz margarine) 6oz. I shouldn't include his food on the list because we all carry food and his choices are arbitrary and not as important as his gear.
    ** Two Nesting Cooking Pots 1 lb 4oz. Why he needs 2 pots apparently with lids is unknown. I get by with a single pot.
    ** Can Opener 1/2oz. I don't see it in the pic so it could be very small like the P38 can opener.
    ** Sheath Knife 6oz. Another heavy thing I don't carry. I have a penknife at about 1/2 oz.
    ** Spoon 2oz. I carry 2 spoons---one will always break.
    Let's take a break.



    OKAY BACK TO FLETCHER
    ** Fork (eventually discarded) 1oz. Yes, no one carries a fork.
    ** Salt and Pepper Holder 2oz. Odd addition since he also carries salt tablets.
    ** Plastic Sugar Container (with 1 lb Sugar) 1 lb 2oz. Wow, that's alot of sugar but heck I carry at least 3 lbs of honey myself.
    ** Three 8oz pkg. dehydrated fruit 1 lb 8oz. Hard to know what this could be as he lists raisins later. Apples? Dates? Figs? Apricots? Prunes?
    ** Three 3oz pkg. dehydrated Soup 9oz. Food, folks.
    ** Plastic Detergent Container (later changed) 2oz. Before the Age of Bronners.
    ** One pkg. dehydrated vegetables 8oz.
    ** Three 8oz pkg. dehydrated potatoes 1 lb 8oz. Good to go.
    ** Tea Bags (about 20) (to right of pot) 2oz.
    ** Carton Dried Milk 11oz.
    ** Package Dry Cereal 1lb 0oz.
    ** Three Bars Mint Cake 1 lb 3oz.
    ** Three Cakes Pemmican (one shown) 12oz.
    ** Raisins (small pkg. shown) 1 lb 0oz.
    ** 'Office' (writing materials) (above cameras) 12oz.
    ** Camera, Super Baldax 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 2 lb 0oz.
    ** Camera, Super Regent, 35mm 1 lb 10oz.


    A RETURN TO COLIN FLETCHER'S GEAR LIST
    ** K2 Filter in Case 2oz. This is part of his camera gear.
    ** Camera Lens Brush 1oz.
    ** 6 Rolls B&W Film, 120 7oz.
    ** 6 Rolls Color Film, 135 9oz. Way before digital.
    ** Exposure Meter 6oz.
    ** Camera Tripod 14oz. His total photography weight comes to 6 lbs.
    ** Toilet Articles (extreme upper right) 14oz. I suppose this includes toothbrush and soap and toothpaste and preparation H? Condoms?
    ** Moccasins 1 lb 2oz. I use crocs instead.
    ** Toilet Paper 7oz. I use paper towels.
    ** Towel 2oz.
    ** Whipcord Pants 1 lb 15 oz.
    ** Shorts 3oz.
    ** Woolen Sweater 2 lb 2oz.
    ** Poncho (on which gear is laid out) 1 lb 3oz.
    ** Walking Staff --oz. Curiously he doesn't mention the weight and it's wood and looks heavy.
    ** Pack (not shown) 3 lb 10oz. I think he used a Trailwise pack from Ski Hut in California.
    Total weight not including up to 12 lbs water---44 lb 7oz. Add the water and we're talking 56 lbs 7oz! Ultralighters take note! This doesn't even list his stove or tent or "additional mountain equipment". That comes in my next installment.

    ADDITIONAL MOUNTAIN EQUIPMENT
    I guess we can conclude my discussion of Colin Fletcher's backpacking gear---
    ** He lists it as both "additional" and "mountain" which is confusing. Mountain vs Desert?
    ** First item is "Tent, Stakes, Poles 3 lb 1oz." No mention of the brand of tent and inquiring minds want to know.
    ** Parka 1 lb 6oz. It sort of looks like an anorak.
    ** Long Johns 9oz. Again, no mention if it's cotton or what.
    ** Heavy Woolen Shirt 1 lb 0oz.
    ** Woolen Helmet (balaclava) 3oz.
    ** Woolen Gloves 4oz.
    ** Fishing Accessories 6oz.
    ** Fly Reel 7oz.
    ** Fly Rod 4oz.
    ** Fly-Rod Case, aluminum 9oz.
    ** Heavy Woolen Socks 5oz.
    ** Heavy Woolen Scarf 5oz.
    ** Spinning Reel 9oz.
    ** Gasoline Stove with Cover 1 lb 2oz. Looks to be a Svea 123.
    ** White Gasoline Container 4oz.
    TOTAL ALL GEAR (less water) 55 lb 1oz. Add water and it's 67 lbs!!! Wow. And add real food weight for several weeks (and not his minimum food listed "for one week") and he'd be carrying my kind of weight, probably more. Like adding 3 weeks of food. I think his camera weight alone comes to 6 lbs.

  18. #18
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    The Complete Walker III is an American classic and must read for anyone who backpacks and can read. The gear may be passť but the writing will never be.
    Be Prepared

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonnycat View Post
    there was one social media site I came across where they were looking for "Trail Correspondents" to do up-to-date video reports of their hikes. I'm sure there is a certain segment of people who eat that up, but that's not why I make the effort to be "out there".
    is it by any chance TikTok?

    But you're right backpacking has gone to the next level, especially with tech, apps ect.. way too commercialized and exploited where it has become a cash cow .

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by JNI64 View Post
    However tipi is 2 ◊ 's the weight : )

    no doubt tipi is a throwback backpacker... but 100 lbs is a bit too much..

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