My head leaks knots. I learn to tie them and forget them in a few days. At one time I wanted to study mathematical topology. It’s probably good I did something else.
My solution is to learn as few knots as possible so that I can just practice a small number. I carry a 5 foot piece of guy-line with me wherever I go and practice tying knots. The looks you get on city buses are precious.
I’m learning these knots so I can practice pitching a flat 10′ x 10′ silnylon tarp this summer. Why a flat tarp? Why silnylon? Why a 10′ x 10′ size. Well, I want to go back to basics and learn some of the old time backpacking skills that people used before cuben fiber, lineloc tensionsers, titanium stakes, and catenary curves. There is more to life than an A-frame style pitch.
I hope to master some good pitches so that I can show people the benefits of using inexpensive flat tarps for lightweight backpacking. With the economy what it is, people are going to be spending a lot less money on new gear over the next two years. I want to change the perception that lightweight backpacking is expensive. It really doesn’t have to be.
Before Cuben (BC), people used to get by just fine with $100 dollar tarps. They developed all kinds of ingenious tarp shapes that let them cope with different weather conditions and environments. It seems like gear was a lot less expensive then and there was more emphasis on skills instead of backpacking fashion.
Yes, I stoked these flames too. But dropping a tax bracket or two has brought an abrupt end to my affluent gear consumption. For the better, I think. I’m much more focused on the skills and experience of backpacking, and far less on dropping my gear weight with the help of “fantasy fabrics,” in the words of Andrew Skurka.
Dropping gear list weight for the sake of dropping weight eventually becomes an empty spiritual exercise. Focus on the experience of backpacking, enjoy the scenery and company of good friends, and your load will feel lighter, even if it’s not the size of a postage stamp.
Don’t worry, I’m still a champion for lightweight backpacking, but it’s time to fry some other fish.
Oh yeah. Learn the taut line hitch. It’s really the only knot you need to pitch a tarp.
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