Backpacker Radio #218 | Ultralight Backpacking Tips with Carl “Professor” Stanfield

In today’s episode of Backpacker Radio presented by The Trek, we are talking all things ultralight backpacking. We’re joined by our pal and thru-hiker extraordinaire, Carl Stanfield aka “Professor”, as the three of us share some of our top tips for reducing pack weight. The advice in this episode covers the full spectrum, from broad-based philosophical ways to approach what should and should not be in your pack, to more granular tips for simple and cost-effective ways of going UL. Whether you’re hoping to thru-hike a triple crown trail or lighten the load a bit for your weekend outing, this one has insightful and practical pointers for you.

We wrap the show with a quick overview of a new ultralight material being used for tarps and tents- and the relative pros and cons, but more importantly, we do the triple crown of the top benefits of an alien invasion which devolves into the most insane debate in Backpacker Radio history. Chaunce goes pure red face.  


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Panel with Carl Stanfield 

Time stamps & Questions

00:03:58 – Reminders: Join us in Iceland for Summer of 2024! Support us on Patreon! Lastly, if you have a good poop story, submit it here

00:09:34 – Welcoming Carl “Professor” Stanfield 

00:09:49 – What have you been up to lately? 

00:13:23 – What do you do with your short break? 

00:14:39 – How many days did you get off? 

00:17:24 – What was your day-to-day? 

00:20:24 – Tell us about your new girlfriend!

00:22:21 – Can you give us a brief overview of your hiking resume? 

00:23:30 – Panel introduction: Ultralight Backpacking 

00:26:30 – Chaunce’s #1: Get used to doing less 

00:31:03 – Professor’s #1: Be adaptable

00:34:41 – What does everyone do when you don’t have a utensil? 

00:38:11 – Badger’s #1: Don’t carry too much water 

00:49:59 – Chaunce’s #2: Compare weights when shopping for gear 

00:53:38 – Professor’s #2: Of the big 4, invest in a lightweight tent 

01:09:30 – Shelter satisfaction results from The Trek’s hiker survey 

01:12:24 – Badger’s #2: Remove redundancy 

01:36:00 – Chaunce’s #3: You don’t need to bring your hobbies with you 

01:48:17 – Professor’s #3: Dial in your food consumption 

02:07:11 – Professor’s Hot Take: Make up for calories in town 

02:10:47 – Chaunce’s Final Thoughts: Eat your dinner to get your dessert 

02:17:00 – Zach’s #3: Use Smart Water bottles instead of Nalgenes

02:24:00 – Panel wrap-up


Trek Propaganda: UltraTNT: The Newest Material for Ultralight Tarps & Tents By Joal and Jenny 

Triple crown of alien invasion benefits 

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Comments 3

  • Andrew Walls : Sep 16th

    Another dazzling episode! Great to hear from Prof Carl! But, Zach, we need to have a little chat about how evolution works. 1)A species loses a trait over time if that trait prevents or substantially reduces the ability of individuals with that trait to reproduce. Traits proliferate if those traits enable individuals with the traits to reproduce more than others. As a result, evolution does not mean we lose physical strength as we gain intellectual abilities unless you are saying that smart people who are weak reproduce more than strong people who are not so smart. 2) Humans have pretty much stopped evolving. Our success with medicine means that people survive and reproduce when they may have been lost prior to reproduction in the dim past. Our brains have not changed in millions of years. Our basic physical make up has not changed in millions of years. 3) We are not descended from gorillas and have not lost a gorilla’s physical strength along the way. Gorillas and homo sapiens branched away from each other from a common ancestor many, many millions of years ago. Remember Lucy the fossil remains Louis Leakey found in Olduvai gorge? She is your ancestor and mine and she would make Juliana look like a giant!

  • Andrew Walls : Sep 16th

    Dear Juliana: You are right, you are right and you are right. It is the hubris of people (mostly men) that makes them act as if humans are special or that our planet is special. The planet is special to us (we live there), but to a methane-breathing squid creature from some gas giant orbiting Betelgeuse? Meh. They’ll pass. If they want water, they can grab chunks of water ice from passing comets. Any species which rose to dominate their local biosphere and build a spacefaring society would just laugh (burble, squelch? whatever they do when amused. If they get amused) at the feeble attempts of humans to physically or intellectually ‘duke it out’ with them. Guys indulge in these ‘Independence Day’ fantasies in a quest to protect their fragile egos which cannot countenance the idea that they are physically and intellectually inferior to someone or something else. Suck it up guys!

  • Doug C. : Oct 5th

    Great show but you guys are a bad influence. The Professor’s advice to spend money on a good shelter got me to buy a (barely) used Durston X-Mid Pro 1. I didn’t think I’d ever buy a tent that costs that much, but I can always sell it if I change my mind, right?

    Love the show, love the banter, keep up the great work!


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