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Will Rietveld
Will is a passionate UL backpacker and writer. His specialty is understanding and testing new gear technologies and reporting on them.
Will is a passionate UL backpacker and writer. His specialty is understanding and testing new gear technologies and reporting on them.

Will's posts

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Men’s Performance Underwear for Hiking and Backpacking
By Will Rietveld What do you wear under your kilt? Well, that’s a pretty
personal thing, ranging from au natural to something with pretty good support.
I’m sure some advocate the former, and its very convenient for women, but men
have a different sort of ne...

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GEAR REVIEW: Patagonia Nano-Air Jacket
By Will Rietveld The concept started with the introduction of Polartec Alpha
– breathable insulation claimed to maintain warmth and comfort while actively
exercising. Soon after the introduction many manufacturers offered breathable
insulated jackets. Altho...

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Will Rietveld, Durango Colorado

Will Rietveld and his spouse Janet Reichl are life-long backpacking enthusiasts with over 80 years of combined backpacking experience. Since retiring and moving to Durango Colorado, they have been deeply involved in the ultralight backpacking movement and have been ultralight backpackers for 16 years. Early on they made their own lightweight gear. For the past 12 years they have presented annual lightweight backpacking and lightweight cooking workshops in their local area, and maintain a website called Southwest Ultralight Backpacking and a blog named Ultralight Insights. Their playground is the Four Corners Area of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico.

Will’s backyard is the Weminuche Wilderness in southwest Colorado, the largest wilderness area in the state. Since its close I hike there a lot. Frankly, I find trail hiking a bit boring, but trails are handy to get to “the good stuff” – alpine areas, where I love to wander and explore. Ironically, it seems like 95% of wilderness users stay on trails (carrying heavy packs), but that leaves a lot of pristine wilderness for more adventurous (and enlightened) types. I love to plan routes and then see if they go through; usually they do. For me, it’s an addiction, I simply love being there to revel the serene beauty, explore the nooks and crannies, and enjoy the physical challenge. Hiking off trail is not easy, I frequently hike and camp above 12,000 feet and typically do 4000 feet of elevation gain in a day while hiking through high passes, crossing slide rock, and some scrambling. Needless to say, an ultralight backpack makes this a lot easier and a lot more enjoyable. As a US Forest Service volunteer wilderness ranger, I get to share my passion for the wilderness and UL backpacking whenever I encounter other hikers, which is usually when I am hiking a section of trail. Will and Janet are strongly committed to responsible use of public lands and are certified Leave No Trace trainers.

Will joined the staff of Backpacking Light Magazine in 2003, and has published nearly 300 articles on lightweight gear and techniques. He worked successively as Section Editor for cooking systems, packing systems, and shelter systems, and served as Gear Editor for the magazine. He maintains a close working relationship with gear manufacturers and stays up to date on the latest ultralight and lightweight backpacking gear, technologies, and techniques. Will pioneered the concept of “Mountain SuperUltraLight (M-SUL) Backpacking”, in which a 6-pound base weight gear kit provides excellent shelter, warmth, and rain protection needed for summertime mountain backpacking.

In college, Will earned BS and MS degrees in forestry science, and a Ph.D in Ecological Plant Physiology and Biochemistry. He worked for the USDA Forest Service as a research scientist, project manager, and R&D program administrator for 33 years. He retired in 1997.

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