Trampers: don’t trip the ultralight fantastic
Rescue teams preparing for summer are warning trampers to be wary of ‘‘minimalism’’ and ‘‘ultra-light’’ fads.
Land Search and Rescue (LandSAR) teams rescue similar numbers of Kiwis and tourists during summer, and about 90 cent are under-prepared for the conditions.
LandSAR Marlborough tracking team member Rhyan Wardman said a new trend in hiking was to carry as little gear as possible, and for that gear to be extra light.
‘‘Technology is advancing and there is gear and sleeping bags that are really light, but people need to keep that in context with the conditions; knowing what the weather is going to do and preparing for the what-ifs,’’ Wardman said.
‘‘If you’ve got gear that’s not sturdy and can’t handle the elements, and then the weather changes and it’s not a light drizzle, it’s negative degrees Celsius and it’s snowing, and it’s not just a stream crossing, it’s a torrent, your showerproof jacket isn’t going to cut it.
‘‘It’s a fad. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its place, but it’s a risk when it makes you underprepared.’’
Experienced hiker Chris Taylor said while he was ‘‘obsessed’’ with high-tech gear, ‘‘ultralighters’’
had packs weighing less than 4.5 kilograms. He said his typically weighed 5kg and he’d never go out with less than 4.5kg.
‘‘The more money you put into it, the better quality you get, so the lighter the weight. A $400 jacket versus a $1000 jacket – the expensive one feels like it’s made of nothing but it has the same ability to keep the water off as the thicker, heavier one.
‘‘So the question becomes, how much money are you prepared to spend to get down to the weight you want?’’
Social media played a role in the rise of the ultralight trend, Taylor said.
‘‘People see someone on Instagram hiking up a mountain and want to follow them, but they don’t have the same knowledge. That’s something money can’t buy, unfortunately.’’
Seasoned tramper Chris Taylor says the ultralight fad of packing extremely lightly must be balanced with the need for appropriate food and quality gear.