Ready for a hike? Is everything in order? Great weather? Got your pack on? Oops! The best-laid plans for a walk in the woods can go by the wayside if you cannot comfortably carry everything you need. You need lighter items and the ultralight backpacking tips and guide for a comfortable and easy hiking trip.
You are not going to want to stop and smell the flowers if your back is aching, so proper planning before you set out will really pay off!
Ultralight Backpacking Tips for Camping and Hiking
For the best kinds of camping and hiking, you need to have a lighter backpack. To have a lightweight backpack, you need to short your item and choose them smartly.
How to Make the Backpack Lightweight
In this part, we will discuss some simple and yet effective ways to make backpacking easy and the weight lighter. So, here are a few general tips about packing light.
Choosing the Must Needed Hiking and Camping Items
There are some items that you may never need but that you must carry, like a first aid kit. Analyze all the other items before you toss them in the pack. The first question to ask yourself is “Do I really need this”?
Before packing the backpack, see the guides on packing the backpack. This will help you to understand the size and place of the items that will fit in your backpack and where to fit them. See if your item fits well in your backpack or see for an alternative if it has one.
If you are traveling with a group, get together in advance and discuss who will bring what and how to divvy up the heavy items.
Choose Backpacking Items that Has Different Uses: More than One
If you decide that you really have to bring an item, think about whether the item can do more than one thing. Kill two birds with one stone so to speak. That is what is great about a Swiss Army knife; it is one small item that has a million users.
In the same way, a bandana can be a hat, a dishtowel, a face cloth, a belt, a trail marker—the list goes on. Look at all the items in your pack and see if some of them duplicate the use of another-and then leave one out.
See if Your Camping/Hiking Item Has a Lighter Alternative
The last part of your analysis is to look around and see if there is a lighter version of the things you are packing. Here is where the dilemma comes in. There are lots of new lightweight materials that have revolutionized camp gear.
The problem is that often this new style gear is also very expensive, as well as being very light. The other side of the issue is that you get what you pay for and cheap equipment may only suffice for the short term.
A better made and more expensive piece may last you a lifetime. If you only do a couple of day hikes a year, it won’t be worthwhile to invest in titanium cookware right away.
If you become a regular hiker who needs to stay on a tight budget, prioritize the items you really need and slowly replace your gear with high quality items, season-by-season.
Remember that what you carry your stuff in is important too, not just because it adds weight but because it’s holding everything you’ve got.
Even if you are just going out for the afternoon, make sure that your pack has a snug, padded straps that fit over your shoulders and around your waist comfortably.
Choosing the Hiking and Backpacking Stuff
For carrying overnight gear, I find internal frame packs more comfortable that external frame packs. All packs styles come in many sizes so choose carefully and find what feels right for your body.
One pack may weigh a few ounces less than another, but if it does not distribute the load as well, you are better off going for the slightly heavier pack.
Ultralight Backpacking Tips for Hiking and Camping Footwear
Every step you hike means lifting up your foot and putting it back down. The first way to make your life easier is to wear lightweight boots that offer the support you need without making you feel like you have cement blocks tied to your toes.
There is a hiker’s rule that says, “One pound on your foot equals five pounds in your pack”. That means that choosing two-pound boots over three-pound boots is like taking ten pounds off your pack – think about it!
However, will two-pound boots keep your feet protected and comfy? That depends on the type of hiking you are doing. Uppers made out of mesh or split leather are very breathable, tend to weigh less and are best for easy hiking on gentle terrain.
These materials can be less water-resistant than full-grain leather boots can, so if water is a concern make sure the pair you buy includes waterproof liners. Better yet are quality type liners that are waterproof and breathable.
The soles also add considerably to the weight. Thick “lug” soles will be great for traction but heavy on the feet. Mountaineers need the traction, day hikers do not.
Find a boot type that meets your needs and then look for comfort, comfort, and comfort. Everybody’s feet are different. For instance, I have an unusually high instep and the boots that “everybody” loves tend to leave me limping. The lightest boots in the world won’t keep your feet happy if they do not fit right.
Bring along an extra set of laces—they weigh almost nothing and are priceless if your other ones break.
Cooking Pots/Dishes: Choose the Lighter Fits
The keyword here is “titanium.” If you are going to splurge on your equipment, here is one area that will pay off for you. Titanium cookware is superior to stainless steel or aluminum because it distributes heat evenly, it weighs less and is durable.
Some are much more resistant to “dings” than other metals. It is also non-corrosive so that exposure to salt water or other chemicals will not harm it. No other cookware can make all these claims.
Hint: Look for pots where the tops can double as a plate—that is one less thing to carry. In addition, insulated (double-walled) mugs with spill-proof tops can not only be used for hot coffee and cold drinks but also to keep hearty foods like soups, stews and hot cereal at the right temperature.
Choose a Comfortable Tent Reducing the Weight As Much You Can
Don’t skimp on the size of your tent unless you are a true minimalist. This will be your home away from home and you need to be comfortable, especially if you are sharing the tent with someone else.
You can still reduce the weight of the tent and the amount of space that it uses by buying the tent that is right for your needs. A “four-season” tent will be heavier than a “three-season” tent because they add extra poles to make it withstand heavy snow.
If you are only camping between Memorial Day and Labor Day, you won’t need the extra poles. If you don’t want to buy a new tent you can reduce some weight by replacing old stakes with titanium ones.
Sleeping Bags and Pads for Ultralight Backpacking
Down is the lightest, most durable filling for sleeping bags and because it can be compressed, it squishes down nicely into the stuff sack. The drawback is that it’s expensive, and if it gets wet it’s a devil to dry out.
If you want the lightweight advantages of down, but are concerned about it getting wet, buy a down bag made with a light material that is more water-resistant than nylon.
If you will be defiantly battling the rainy elements though, go for a synthetic bag designed for cold temperatures. In this ultralight backpacking tips, we will discuss the cooking items along with the pads.
Although you are trying to cut weight, I think pads underneath your sleeping bag are a “must have” item. Even the thinnest and most lightweight styles will help insulate you from the cold and cushion you (if just a little) from hard, uneven ground.
A good night’s sleep is critical and the most basic, closed-cell foam mattress pad can still weigh less than half a pound, so go for it.
Lightweight Camp Stoves are Available These Days
There are three types of camp stoves, canister style, wood burning camping stoves, and liquid fuel stoves. If you are going out for several days on the trail, liquid fuel stoves allow you to carry more fuel with less weight.
However, for short trips, canister-style cookers are best; they are dependable and easier to light and use.
Wood burning stoves are also very useful in camping, cause you don’t have to carry the fuel. Most of the time you will find them in the jungle. There are many best wood camping stoves in the market. Choose a lightweight one to have a comfortable trip.
You will need to consider what size pots you will use. If you are cooking a big, family-sized pot of stew, you are going to need a bigger stove, which will take up more space and weigh more. Your only other choice is to cook the food in several batches, but that will consume more time and fuel.
Lanterns and Lights for your Camping
If you are traveling in a group, you may want a lantern to throw light around the campsite after dinner. Battery powered lanterns tend to be relatively heavy. For the same amount of light intensity, you can save weight by looking for butane- or propane-fueled lamps.
For individual lights, I am a big fan of headlamps as opposed to hand-held flashlights. The newest models are ultra-light and you can adjust the beam to the angle you want so you can read in your tent or beam your way through an evening stroll.
Final Thought on Ultralight Backpacking Tips
Best of all, they free up your hands. Look for a model where you can also adjust the strength of the beam so you can conserve the batteries if all you need is low light.
Deciding how to pack for a hiking trip is a game of giving and take. You want to be comfortable and enjoy yourself with your pack on.
But you want to have everything you need when you take your pack off and set up camp.
By going through it all carefully before you leave, you should be able to strike a satisfactory balance carrying what you need, comfortably.