THE FIRST STEP
Before you start cutting off the edges of your maps to cut down on you weight there are some simple things you may have over looked that you can do first. If you have the money to invest in some of the newer gear such as the ultra light backpack, sleeping bag, and tent you could save your self a lot of weight right there, around 20 or 30 pounds to be exact.
One of the first things any hiker needs to do when making the change to ultra light hiking is to go over his old packing list. Ultra light hiking isn’t totally about being comfortable. After all, it’s called ultra light, not ultra comfortable. Take out your luxury items like coffee mugs, pillows, and other luxury items that aren’t essential to your well being.
When looking over your own gear list see if you can’t look over your hiking partners. This way you can cut a few extra ounces by planning out your group gear. There is no reason to bring two cameras when one is more than enough. Or why bring two stoves if you are only going to be using one? Camp gear and kitchen gear are good places to start looking for ways to cut out group gear.
If you want to really get into shedding weight you can start cutting off labels, tags, and extra straps on your gear. This is a bit much for me but to each their own.
BUYING NEW GEAR
The outdoor equipment industry is constantly trying to keep up with demands of today’s’ hiker. There are new fabrics and designs being engineered every day. These new fabrics and gear designs are loads lighter then the dusty old tent and pack you used to hike the AT after you graduated college. Save up some money and take the time to invest in some new gear. This is a big step in becoming an ultra
Sleeping Bags- are lighter and smaller than ever. Unless you
plan on hiking up Mt. Everest you will be able to find a 3 season sleeping bag the could fit in your day pack with room to spare. Down and synthetic fabrics can easily compress into much smaller sizes
than you would think. Make sure you don’t skimp on the temperature rating for your bag just so you save some weight.
Shelters- and tents are available in all shapes and sizes
for solo hikers. The options range from super light and mildly comfortable, to pretty light and very comfortable. If you want to rough and pack ultra light you can buy a bivy sack or tarp. Fro those of you who want a little more comfort there are plenty of solo tents weighing only a few pounds each.
Packs- are a great way to help you lessen your load. When
buying a new pack get one that is not only a light weight internal frame pack, but one that is smaller in size. 2,500 – 3,500 cubic inches. The school of thought on smaller packs in ultra light hiking is this, not only does a smaller pack weight less but it will force you to bring less.
MY TWO CENTS
For me ultra light hiking is now a way of life. I could never go back to the old way of hiking. I can barely stand packing my car for some good old fashion car camping. It just seems like so much stuff! The lessened weight an ultra light pack provides makes hiking more enjoyable. Your load is so light that you pay less attention to it than you would a typical pack. Because you have less on your mind do to the minimal amount of gear and the feather light quality of your pack, you will be able to enjoy your time outdoors more.
Packing light also gives you more of a chance to truly test your outdoor skills. All those survival training books and classes will finally pay off. It is also more work to hike ultra light. Make sure you are up to date on your wilderness first aid and that you are solid in your outdoor skills.