TGO Challenge and the developement of lighter gear

Teori-praktik Andy Howell has written a very interesting piece on how gear has grown lighter each year in the TGO Challenge. Obviously people that feel threathened by ligthweight gear react the same all over. The attitudes that Andy is commenting on are also found in Sweden; from attitudes in forum discussions to commercially fueled points of view with some producers and retailers connected to magazines by the umbilical cord of advertising revenues. But things are changing...
By Jörgen Johansson

I discovered Andy Howells reflections thanks to Gustav, the lightpacker with The Bearable Lightness blog and couldn't help recognize the similarities with Sweden and how lighter gear has invaded the mountains in the last couple of years. When I wrote my first book, Vandra Fjäderlätt, the GoLite Jam2 was almost impossible to get, even in the US, it was that new. Today you find the Jam2 and it's larger sibling Pinnacle in all the mainline stores here, like Naturkompaniet. And you find them on the trails also.

A light (440 grams), homemade tarptent in Sarek National Park 2005.

So there is a silent revolution going on, and the last to discover this seems, as usual, to be The Establishment. Like in Andy's blog where organisers of the TGO Challenge obviously couldn't resist a comment like:

This was not a Challenge for the ultra-lightweight brigade: May in Scotland is now very unpredictable and you do need really good gear to help you through as well as a strong attitude.

There is still a lot of people unable to have that flexibility of mind to question their belief that light gear per definition cannot be "good gear". And the attitudes they are signalling has been around since the stone age: "Come on, for really serious messages you need stone tablets to help you through".

The amazing thing is of course that they don't realise themselves how they are acting. But while they cling to their stone tablets an increasing number of people see that the new way works and are quietly changing their way and leaving the defenders of How It Always Has Been Done to talk to themselves.

A beautiful example of this is the Swedish equivalent of the TGO Challenge, Fjällräven Classic. A couple of years ago when I hiked the Classic myself I collected data from a couple of hundred participants on the weight of their packs. This article is here. It would be fun to repeat this.

This year a German blogger has described his own experiences with ultra light gear on Fjällräven Classic.

But I really urge you to read Andy Howells excellent comments on The State of Lightweight Backpacking in the UK.


  1. Its a similar situation in Finland, everyone walks with normal gear and if you come along with trail runners and a light back pack you get smiled at. I only know of two other lightweight/ UL backpackers in Finland, and haven't seen one on the trail. But who knows, maybe this trend will soon arrive also here =)


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