John Potter has been a Gossamer Gear customer since the early GVP Gear days. He is an inveterate tinkerer (he’s a civil engineer like Glen… well, like Glen only smarter), and an ultralight evangelist, always taking people out on the trails to show them the light. Well, John lives in the south, and was planning a trip to California, so Glen put together a quick trip along the PCT to show off some of the local backpacking. Glen picked Section C, from Big Bear south (downhill) to the I-10 freeway, to show off the number of habitat zones you could travel through in Southern California. Plus, it was close, so it was easy for a quick getaway. Glen’s longtime buddy and ultralight mentor Read Miller never needs an excuse to hit the trail, so he joined in.
While he had corresponded with John since 2003, Glen had never actually met him. Glen always maintains he can learn something new from anybody, but this trip definitely exceeded expectations. “I probably have spent more time thinking about lightening my load than most people”, Glen said, “but John Potter makes me look like a slouch. This guy has brought an engineer’s sense of optimization, with a tinkerer-craftsman skillset, to take ultralight backpacking to a level not often seen. If you ever get a chance to hike with John, TAKE IT! It will be well worth your time.” A few examples:
- Hand-made poncho shelter. Incredible piece of work with snaps to convert it quickly from poncho to shelter.
- Custom sewn pant legs for his convertible pants. Made out of waterproof/breathable fabric, they protect the lower part of his legs not covered by his custom poncho.
- Silnylon pack out of a single piece of fabric. Packs made of lightweight fabrics are prone to failure at stressed seams, so John’s solution was to eliminate most of the seams. The few remaining seams are in non-stress areas.
- Cooking system centered around a Fosters can is beautifully executed.
John had a good time on the trip, and was amazed that incredible views were the rule instead of the exception.