You’ve decided to lighten your load, and you’ve heard of going ultralight. Everyone has a different idea what is essential for their hiking trip. Are you willing to give up luxuries to save a few ounces, or pounds? The objective of an ultralight makeover is to pack smarter so you feel lighter and go farther. Trimming the weight in your pack can be achieved one item at a time or you can build a new system for your ultralight hiking gear list.
How Light Is Ultralight
So, how light is right for the ultralight hiking gear that you will be packing? The answer to that varies based on what you decide is essential. If you pack less than 12 pounds, you would be a minimalist. The packs in this range typically involve customized gear and techniques that are a stretch to most hikers. To be ultralight, you would be packing 12-20 pounds. This level can be achieved with relative ease with newer ultralight hiking gear. It also helps if the weather is fair and you aren’t heading up the Rocky Mountains. When you hike with companions you can share gear such as your tent, stove, and cookware.
Recreational hikers are typically in the 20-30 pound range because it is still light enough to feel comfortable. At this weight range you are able to add a few luxury items to make that trip a little more enjoyable. For those of you with ample strength and plenty of energy, a pack over 30 pounds just might work for you. It was accepted that hikers could carry up to a third of their body weight without any complications. Going lighter feels better, and once you do it, you won’t ever want to go back.
How To Go Ultralight
You can make a transition to ultralight hiking gear one item at a time, or you can create a whole ultralight system. In your desire to lower the weight, do not sacrifice safety. Realize ultralight hiking gear is not as durable as traditional gear and requires extra care to make it last. Your objective is to carry only the essential gear that meets your personal needs, and in the lightest form possible. Consider the four largest things most hikers carry.
- Backpack: In order to go light, a 65-liter pack should be enough for a 3-day, 3-season trip. An ultralight model of this size weighs around 3 pounds. Some ultralight hikers manage with smaller packs in the 40 to 50-liter range. Remember that lighter packs use different materials and are not as durable as traditional backpacks.
- Tent: You could use a tarp to shield you from the rain, but it won’t help you avoid those pesky bugs. A tent can weight in as little as 2 pounds, although quarters in a 2-person tent can be pretty cozy. You could try a bivy sack, but you can’t sit up in it if that’s something you enjoy doing.
- Sleeping bag: For summer use, an ultralight sleeping bag can weigh less than 2 pounds. These bags don’t have much insulation in them and they can be cut a little narrower. Remember sleeping bags are rated by the temperature that they are meant to be used at, so it helps to choose the right bag for the right conditions.
- Sleeping pad: A self-inflating foam pad gives you a lot of cushioning for not much weight as long as you don’t mind some huffing and puffing to inflate them. They have been hiking favorites for several years.
As you work through your ultralight hiking gear list, it will be apparent that you will have to make choices on the items where you must weigh tradeoffs against benefits in order to decide if it will remain on your list, or you will have to drop that item. As you gain experience on your hiking trips, you will modify your choices for what works best for you.
If you have any feedback, questions or experiences about this ultralight hiking gear list, I would love to hear them. Simply drop a comment below and I will be sure to get back to you.