September 11, 2017

Lightweight Manifesto

I stumbled across Camp's Lightweight Manifesto the other day.  It's copied below. There's some good food for thought here. Any carpenter, mechanic, or surgeon knows that there's a distinct advantage to using the right tools for the job. Those of us traveling in the mountains can benefit from adopting a similar mindset.

If there is one thing we can do with any piece of equipment to improve its performance, it is to make it lighter. This is a universal truth and it is a driving force at CAMP where we start with purpose-built designs and then trim the fat for a result that has become the world’s lightest line of equipment for climbers, mountaineers, alpinists and ski mountaineers. In the mountains, we are obliged to be prepared for whatever may come our way. This means we cannot skimp on our selections when we choose the right tools for the adventure. Very few mountain adventures require less than 10 pieces of dedicated equipment when we include what we wear, what we eat, how we drink and how we transport it all. A single piece of gear may seem trivial. But a factor of 10 is not trivial at all and this is only for the smallest adventures. 

Now we go deeper into the wilderness, higher in the mountains, or we up the ante with new levels of difficulty. The importance of lightweight increases exponentially. Instead of 10 pieces of gear, we now have 20 or 30 or 40 or 50 or more. Even an average rack for sport climbing has more than 20 carabiners. The impact of weight compounds and this is why lightweight is so important. Weight is directly correlated with performance.

We go into the mountains in pursuit of adventure. It is a place where we can come close to the edge of what is possible and from these experiences we are ultimately able to push where the edge exists. This is when we know we’ve made it. A paradigm shift occurs when a discovery or technology fundamentally changes the course of life as we know it. The same progression occurs when mountain athletes make the firm commitment to purpose-built, lightweight gear. One-size-fits-all gear does not fit with meaningful adventures, it inhibits them. It is only when we shed the baggage that we can understand what is really possible. We experience this in life on a daily basis and yet we continue to perpetuate the notion that we can use the same gear for different adventures with very different demands.

It is our human responsibility to become the best we can become and as mountain athletes, it is our responsibility to pursue adventure in the most meaningful ways. We will never do this while we are carrying unnecessary baggage. We will be held back, we will not maximize our enjoyment, we will not achieve our best results, and we will increasingly put ourselves in harm’s way if we do not come prepared. 
Preparedness is the consequence of an entire system that combines mind, body and spirit with all the other stuff we need to get the job done. If the job has anything to do with human mobility, the system must not be weighed down with unnecessary bulk or weight. It must be optimized to get the job done with the highest level of efficiency.

Innovations in materials, technologies, designs and manufacturing have met with fierce competition in the outdoor industry to marvelous effect. But marketing still remains a powerful force. We believe the message is very often entirely wrong. Go anywhere, do anything gear is a fallacy. What is real is that purpose-built gear will serve its purpose and the greater efficiency with which it can achieve that purpose, the better will be the result.

For the highest level of enjoyment, for top-level results, for pushing our limits (wherever they may be), we urge every mountain athlete to make the shift to purpose-built lightweight gear and we encourage them to do it with urgency. The next level awaits.

You can view the manifesto on Camp's website. I am not sponsored by Camp.