How to Lighten up
How to Lighten up - Trekking Ultraleicht
Fotos und Text: Matthias Kodym
Since my PCT preperations and before people asked me this question a hundred times. “Less than 5 Kilo? How is it possible?”
My answer is easy. Think about the trip you want to do and the gear you will need and I mean it. NEED. Reducing backweight can be done without missing comfort. Actually you have the benefit of a lighter pack and thats what I call comfort.
Why do you need a double wall shelter when you dont have to deal with bugs? Do you really need a shelter useed for arctic expeditions for your trip?
Carrying a heavy load does not mean you are more secure. Most ultralight shelters protect you from rain, wind and snow. The shelter is not your home during a trip. Its just a place where you spend the night.
When it comes to sleeping gear things become a litte more complicated because everyone has a different sense for the cold. It depends on your weight, your nutrition, exhaustion.
Many hikers advocate that sleeping gear also include your full clothing concept including raingear. Of course if you like to sleep with your clothes on it is possible to rate a 500 g sleeping bag down to 0°C or less.
Next question is to choose a conventional sleeping bag, with hood and zipper or a quilt system. I prefer the quilt for many reasons, its often lighter, more like a blanket, easier heat regulation.ystem. I prefer the quilt for many reasons, its often lighter, more like a blanket, easier heat regulation.
You probably have noticed that there are a lot of different styled backpacks. The main differentiation is framed or padded or frameless.
Frameless is for sure the lightest, you can use parts of your groundpadding to built up an frame inside or even outside the pack. Your whole gear becomes the frame, an accurate style in packing your gear is required for comfortable carrying.
Here is a selection of some fine ultralight gear which I can recommend for 3 season hiking, but its up to you to choose what works best for your personal needs.
Shelter (1 person) »
- Six Moon Designs Lunar (pitched with one single trekking pole) Solo 728 g
- Tarptent Contrail 753 g
- Tarptent Moment 830 g
Sleeping System »
- Cumulus Liteline 400 760 g
- Cumulus X lite 200 460 g
- Sir Joseph Koteka 516 g
- Therm-A-Rest Z-lite non inflatable 390 g
- Therm-A-Rest NeoAir (M) 370 g
- TLS Evazote Insulation 130 g
- Katabatic Gear Bristle-Cone Bivy 200 g
Packing System »
- Golite Jam 868 g
- Gossamer Gear Gorilla 670 g
- Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus 632 g
- Six Moon Designs Swift 426 g
Even if you choose the heaviest items of this list you are at 3000 g for the “big three”. Thats a really good start!
The first thought in Getting the right gear for the kitchen! is, do I really need to cook on the trail?
Most people I know just need to boil water. If you do not have to melt snow it should be obvious that you do not need a fuel stove to get a cup of water boiling.
So here comes the beloved alcoholstove: light, cheap, everlasting (if you dont step on it). Using an alcstove is easy, but you have to be very carefully! The use of a windscreen is also recommended.
A “cleaner” way is the use of an conventional gas stove. We all know them. Gas stoves are heavier to carry, you have the stove and the canister to take. I would recommend them in dry areas where you can set everything on fire by not beeing cautious with your alcstove. The Gas stove would be more convenient for 2 or more person use. Before heading out you have to be sure, if they sell the right canisters for your stove in the area of your destination.
Woodburning stoves are also frequently in use when you take a look around. The main advantage is you dont have to carry any fuel for it. You feed it with small wooden sticks and/or dry moss. Firestarters are still very helpfull to get the thing going. Because of smoke development not a recommendation if you have to use it in tent (which is a bad idea anyway).
The (multi-)fuel stove, will be the best decision in high altitudes where you have to melt snow and ice for drinking water. Or in parts of the world where all you can get is some gas at a petrolstation. Larger groups may also see an advantage in this system.
Alcohol stoves »
- Trail Designs Caldera Keg F Stove System (1 person) 200g
- Trail Designs Caldera Cone Stove System (weight depends on size)
Alcohol or/and Woodburning »
- Trail Designs Inferno Ti-Tri Titan (weight depends on size)
Gas stoves »
- Monatauk Gnat 48g
- MSR Pocket Rocket 85g
- Littlbug Junior Stove 145g
As you can see it is possible to save a lot of weight by choosing the right thru hike proven kitchens stuff.
So take your kitchen scales and start lighten up your backpacking gear. Because packing less means more fun, less exhaustion and to be more consistent with the great outdoors and thats the reason why we do this.
About the author
Matthias Kodym is an 28 years old hiker and blogger from Austria. He was starting long distance trekking in 2010 and was able to hike 6000+ km in two summer seasons. After trips to Mallorca, Iceland, Corsica and the Alps he did his first thru-hike on the 4265 km long Pacific Crest Trail. It runs from Mexico to Canada.