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How Ultralight Backpacking Will Actually Make Your Trips Better (Article)


New member
May 14, 2018
What is Ultralight Backpacking?
Ultralight backpacking is still a new thing. Philosophy and modern technology paved way to creative and unique use of brand new materials by hardcore backpackers all over the world. The use of the latest material technologies like Cordura, rip-nylon, Cuben Fiber, and titanium, ardent backpackers came up with the fast growing field of ultralight gear. Majority of the best gear for ultralight backpacking is not created by multinational companies and instead, these are produced by small businesses owned by hikers themselves, with most of these high quality products not available in big retail shops.

It is said that ultralight backpacking was made popular by Ray Jardine, a rock climber who authored a book entitled PCT Hiker’s Handbook in 1992 which was later re-titled in 1999 as Beyond backpacking. His books were the ones that laid the fundamentals for most of the techniques that ultralight backpackers are using up to this day and age.

Grandma Gatewood was among the first known pioneers of this form of backpacking who hiked in 1955 in through the Appalachian Trail carrying only a duffel bag which contained a plastic sheet, blanket, umbrella, as well as other really simple gear.

With the growing popularity of big trails came the increasing fame of ultralight backpacking. Then, during the later part of 1990s and the early 2000s, other companies sprung up offering mainly ultralight gear.

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The philosophy of ultralight backpacking is basically swapping the single purpose for multipurpose and eliminating unnecessary gear. The gear is then supplemented with skill, experience, and knowledge. Ultralight backpackers carry lighter specialized gear and they repackage and carry the only things you need.

Main Objective of Ultralight Backpacking
Reduce the weight of items – Ultralight backpacking trims the superfluous weight from pieces of gear such as additional tags, straps, repair kits, and others.
Carry less –You have to understand the consumable needs and the appropriate gear for conditions you are going to experience. For instance, there is no need for a full-fledged first aid kit. You have to learn to use only what you got. When you suffered from a bad laceration, you have to know the right way of bandaging yourself using sports tape or duct tape as an alternative to bandages and gauze which you might not really need.

Trade gear for skill and knowledge – Some backpackers never need a compass in all their years of backpacking. What you should do instead is to have a good understanding of the terrain. You also have to know the right way of navigation with the use of the sun or stars or how to read topographic maps. You also have to learn how to care for common injuries with the use of your available gear. Avoid bringing items that only serve one common purpose like first aid kits.
Repackage gear – It is likely that you will not be needing a large sunscreen bottle or another bag for carrying tent stakes. Think of how you can store these with the rest of your gear.

Be light with your feet – Just one pound on your feet might feel like 10 pounds after a day of walking 20 plus miles. When you lessen your weight in general, you will never require an ankle support.

Reuse – You could easily get by with one set of hiking clothes and one set of sleeping clothes. Wear clothes that have anti-microbial properties like Merino Wool that can resist bacteria which cause unwanted odors. Wear sleeping clothes at night so that body oils will be kept off from your sleeping bag then wear them occasionally for washing hiking clothes in rivers or lakes. Just bring two pairs of socks then rotate these every day where you wash the unused pair and hang them on the pack to dry them while hiking. The same thing goes for your underwear....

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How Ultralight Backpacking Will Actually Make Your Trips Better