Ultraheavy Backpacking

Forget ultralight—ultraheavy backpacking enables you to take, well, everything into the backcountry.
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Forget ultralight—ultraheavy backpacking enables you to take, well, everything into the backcountry.

At BACKPACKER, we're generally big advocates of going as light as you can go while on the trail (check out August's "Ultralight Done Right" to learn how). But while espousing the virtues of cutting down pack weight without minimizing safety or comfort too much, we wonder what we might be missing out on.

Thanks to elite extreme skier Andrew McLean, now we know. In a recent blog post, he highlights the virtues of a revolutionary new camping concept: Ultra Heavy Backpacking. On a recent ski trip, he packed in 225 pounds of food and gear plus 100 pounds of gas and fuel. Here's McLean on his ethos:

I think I first learned about Ultraheavy camping through Lorne Glick when we brought along frying pans, bacon, cook tents, speakers, triple servings of Costco cheese and all sorts of other stuff on a trip to Mt. Hunter. From where the plane dropped us off, we hauled all of our gear a grand total of about a mile down the glacier on sleds, set up base camp and left it.

Eating freeze dried food and waking up every time your partner moves in a tiny little two person tent is okay for a day or so, but it takes its toll after a week or more.

Oh, so there's a plane involved, eh? Cheater! Seriously, though, McLean's expeditions rely on the ability to wait out horrendous conditions for a perfect weather window, and if you've gotta wait out a storm, why not do it in extreme, gluttonous comfort? Here are some outstandingly heavy and awesome additions on his food list alone:

24 Skor bars

3.5 lbs Swedish Fish

8 lbs. Trail Mix

2 lbs Caramel Cluster

4 lbs Hot Chocolate

1 gallon Sausage TBP

1 gallon Dried Shiitake Mushrooms

6 blocks of good cheese

6 lbs Rice

4 lbs Couscous

1 lb Taco seasoning

Smoked Salmon

Frozen Spinach

BACON!!!

SAUSAGE!!

The list goes on and on, but from the above photo you can see how booze, butter, and bacon might benefit a long, cold week in the mountains. So while I think I'll still try to go as light as I can, maybe I'll give Ultra Heavy Backpacking a shot one day soon. Now I just need a plane...

Got any must-have, heavy backpacking items or ultra heavy backpacking tips? Tell us all about it in the comments section.

—Ted Alvarez

Ultra Heavy Backpacking (Straightchuter) via the Goat