Ultralight Backpacking

Breaking Down 6 Basics of Ultralight Backpacking

You love hiking, backpacking, and camping, but you could do without lugging around a lot of equipment in your pack. After all, lightening your load reduces your chances of suffering injury, drains less stamina, and could keep a great hike from dissolving into a painful ordeal. These six ultralight backpacking tips, including planning your trip carefully and rehydrating with only as much water as you need, help make the time you spend outside more enjoyable and comfortable.

1. Only Bring Useful Gadgets & Equipment

Think about all the gadgets you bring with you carefully. Items like hanging camp cupboards, e-readers, heavy-duty carabiners and binoculars may seem useful, but they could do little more than take up precious space in your pack. Depending on where your trek takes you, you may not have enough energy or time to use electronics. Instead, prioritize packing a quality flashlight, first aid kit, and navigation system. 

Remember to think not only about the number of items you pack, but also their individual weight. Consider lightweight flashlights that are compact, provide multiple brightness modes, and may also offer multiple carry styles, so you can use them as headlamps, carry them as flashlights, or clip them to your backpack. 

2. Create a Detailed Trip Plan

One of the most vital elements of ultralight backpacking is creating a comprehensive trip plan. While building your plan, think about estimated travel times, routes, seasonal weather, and transportation. You may even want to include dangerous wildlife and plants, your physical fitness, and risk management strategies while creating your plan.

3. Only Carry As Much Water As You Need

Only bring a liter or two of water on ultralight backpacking trips where you have access to a water filter and plenty of nearby water sources. As part of your in-depth trip plan, identify sources of water along your journey where you can filter and refill your supply. It’s also a great idea to fill up on water before leaving camp, before heading out on your trek, and when you encounter streams and lakes. 

4. Use Ultralight Cooking Options

When hunger strikes, ultralight cooking tools help you serve delicious meals without taking up too much space in your backpack. Turn an aluminum can into a stove using fuel tablets, or invest in an alcohol stove. For alcohol stoves, pack only bottles with as much fuel as you need, and double-check that you bring durable bottles that do not break or puncture the inside of your backpack.

For shorter trips where you don’t expect to cook, pack energy-replenishing snacks and foods like breakfast bars, granola, dehydrated eggs, trail mix, and freeze-dried fruits. Don’t forget to pack a small mug if you want to enjoy a hot beverage.

5. Reconsider “Redundant” Clothing

Bring sweat-wicking and insulating clothes, but choose the rest of your attire wisely. Every item and layer you wear should serve a purpose, but some could have multiple uses. For instance, use a bandana as a cooling cloth, headband, pot holder, dish towel, or emergency bandage.

Another vital skill to learn for ultralight backpacking is understanding how your body reacts to different temperatures and weather. When you consider your metabolism and activity level, you know what clothes to bring and why. Items like running shorts with built-in underwear, long pants, and synthetic or wool underwear keep you insulated and comfortable.

6. Bring a Small First Aid and Repair Kit

Rather than a fully stocked first aid kit, bring a scaled-down kit on ultralight backpacking trips. Include gauze pads, bandages, blister pads, a razor blade, and over-the-counter pain medication. Think about the size of your group and the length of your trip when deciding which items to bring. In case your backpack tears, pack gear-repair tape.

Carrying less while backpacking could change your relationship with the great outdoors for the better. By using these tips, you may become an ultralight backpacking master before you know it.

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Christophe Rude

Christophe Rude

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