INTRODUCTIONWhat is ultralight backpacking?
Ultralight backpacking allows you to greatly reduce the weight of your load on backpacking trips. How low can you go? There are people hiking the entire Pacific CrestTrail (some 2,500 miles) with only 8.5 pounds of gear! No kidding. And that includesthe weight of the pack itself. Add two pounds of food per day, plus some water, and youhave a total pack weight of 20 pounds for a 4- or 5-day trip … not bad.
Why go light?
The reasons are probably obvious. If you’ve ever spent days sweating and huffing and puffing under a huge load, you know what I’m talking about. If you’re interested indoing a long hike, like the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide trail,or some other route, an ultralight load can make a huge difference. Many people on longthru-hikes come down with serious injuries to their ankles, knees, backs, etc. Anultralight load greatly reduces the risks of these stress injuries.
It’s all about freedom …
The ability to stroll casually through the wilderness without effort is truly amazing.We’ve become such slaves to gear, and it doesn’t have to be that way. Imagine being ableto spend days in the wilderness with a pack no heavier than a daypack. This greatlychanges the quality of your trip … increases your freedom, and makes your experience atrue joy.
Drawbacks of going light …
Ultralight backpacking isn’t for everybody. There are some trade-offs. For example: if you carry a decent 6-pound tent, you can set it up without too much concern for locationand be reasonably sure you are going to be fine and roomy in violent thunderstorm. If you want to go the ultralight route, you’ll need to make a few sacrifices, or at least havemore knowledge of how to use your equipment. Bivy bags are much smaller and moreclaustrophobic. Tarps are larger and airier, but less protective. Even some of the latesttarp/tent hybrids aren’t quite as good. But … all of those options weigh less than 2 pounds, including ground cloth. Going ultralight means trading some of the extracomforts in camp for the comfort of a light pack.If you're interested in ultralight backpacking, go to Dave Brock's home page at:http://members.tripod.com/gohike/.He did a thru-hike of the Pacific Crest trail lastsummer, and he wrote detailed reviews of the ultralight gear he used. See his gear listwith weights at:http://members.tripod.com/gohike/pct/gear.htmlSee his reviews of theequipment at:http://members.tripod.com/gohike/pct/gearreview.htmlSo here are some gear considerations for an ultralight pack: