How many times have we read in the outdoor magazines or in the ever increasing numbers of outdoor blogs that we should be going 'lightweight'?
Lightweight is the new mantra (actually, to be fair, Chris Townsend over in TGO Towers has been an exponent ever since he took office in the gear guru's chair) but it has been especially so in the blogs.
Indeed, there are blogs out there specifically written about going lightweight! All very laudable, because it makes huge sense that carrying less on your back will make your backpacking trip so much more fun. To take this one step further, it has become almost de rigeur to wear lightweight shoes as it would save you carrying twenty elephants on your back over the period of a day. That may be an exaggeration, but you get my point.
We now have very active discussions on blogs trying to defend the going into the mountains equipped only with a flimsy spinnaker tarp to protect you and your kit: All to shave a few grams from your pack-weight.
Tonight Lord Elpus has pointed out that all this mad rush to the lightweight philosophy is nothing new. He has 're-printed' a strip from 'The Eagle' from May 1952 showing how you should go backpacking, with gear selection and a suggested pack weight of no more than 20 lbs.
Now, this focus on lightweight kit in the media (and you have to include bloggers in that term these days) is all very laudable. However I am becoming more and more concerned that in the rush to look at stuff that is carried on our backs and on our feet we are missing the elephant in the room!
There is a lot of talk of elephants in this post! And quite right too.
Our society over the last ten years has been getting bigger. Bigger at an alarming rate. A HUGE proportion of our children are now officially 'over weight'. Such is the problem that only a month ago we were told we were no longer allowed to call these children 'obese' as it is feared that this would stigmatise them and affect their life chances.
Well, Excuse Me! I think that they and their parents have made that choice for themselves! These children will grow into adults and will develop hyper-tension, diabetes and all sorts of other problems that society will be expected to fund on what remains of our beleaguered National Health Service. (For 'society' there, you could read 'you and me.')
In my travels through Great Britain last year, I was struck whenever walking through the towns, how our society has changed physically. Our children, not to put too fine a point on it, are becoming enormous. And the worrying thing is that I have noticed recently that it is not just our children. The children are just more 'noticeable.'
The parents are also now becoming more of a weighty problem too.
We walkers cannot feel smug about this - I have friends who are regular walkers who are certainly at the wrong end of the dial on the scales. Some of these chaps are keen lightweight backpackers, who have been shaving the last few grams from their packs, shortening their laces so as not to carry too much weight on their feet... Okay, I might have exaggerated there!
But you get my point: Surely it is crass stupidity to go shaving the last few ounces off your pack if your profile resembles Billy Bunter.
It's about time that the magazines and the bloggers sit back and reflect on the the condition of backpackers themselves.
We have done kit to death! Now, let's concentrate on cheating death for a little longer, and lose weight in a more sensible fashion.