So, in earlier parts of this series I have gone through the why to go lighter, then the first step which is to weigh what you have. Now in reality step two is probably more reading and checking out other blogs for lightweight tips and know how. To help get you started here are a few that I recommend
Jörgen Johansson – fjäderlätt.se
Backpackinglight.com – the largest community dedicated to lightweight and ultralight hiking
This list can be unending so I will just stop there with my biggest influences anyway. You will find many others that might inspire you more or less. I just wrote up the ones I think are the most useful.
Why do I think the backpack should be your first purchase? I think this one is rather simple –
1. it defeats the purpose to have 5 kilos of total gear and a 3.6 kilo backpack.
2. the right backpack will force you to rethink your other choices – it’s pretty difficult to get a 4 kilo 3 man tent inside an ultralight backpack – you can do it, but they lose their carry capacity quickly.
3. Backpacks generally don’t lose too much value in the aftermarket – you can sell the one you have to finance the ultralight version.
My guess is that your starting point is about where mine was five years ago – I thought I had the best of the best gear money could buy – So I wasn’t that willing to get rid of everything. I found the backpack to be the easiest choice as I wasn’t completely satisfied carrying around a 3 kilo pack. However over the course of my rapid transition I realised that I would pretty much have to replace all my gear as everything was purchased in the major outdoor chains and sites – which meant it was the best they had, but not the best available.
Some people might disagree with this proposition of starting with your pack first – but you have to remember this is what worked for me, I’m not the stand on the sidelines and inch my way in kind of guy. When I find something I like and believe in I plow in headfirst and ask questions later. Or in hiking terms: I don’t dance over streams afraid to get wet – I plow right through and worry about the drying part later 🙂 And so it was with ultralight gear – I bought the pack first which forced me to buy the other stuff as well inorder to get it in the pack.
There are many ultralight pack producers in the outdoor world – I go through just two of them on this site theLaufbursche Huckepack and the Zpacks Arc-blast. The Huckepack takes the prize as the worlds sexiest backpack – this thing just looks amazing – it’s also a fantastic pack to boot. The zpacks arc-blast fits me and my philosophy better though. It’s just as light, has more carrying capacity and keeps it simple with a frame. (simplistic to pack as compared to frameless packs). The huckepack breaks down at around 11 kilos – basically it just gets very uncomfortable and digs in your body everywhere. The zpacks around 15-16 kilos.
It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that you need a hardcore backpack inorder to have a good time out in the wild. However keep in mind that your gear will be considerably less weight, which means your pack doesn’t have to carry as much weight. So what good is a 3.6 kilo pack that can carry 40kilos? It becomes rather pointless when your total gear weighs 4 kilos. This means that in reality you don’t need a pack with a frame, it is perfectly feasible to pack your bag using the taco technique (wrap the inside of your pack with your sleeping mat and push everything inside it.) Though I find this style to be tedious – I just want to pack my shit and go. My sleeping mat I want on the outside so that I can rest on it during my long hikes and drink a cup of coffee without having to unpack my entire pack. These days I don’t even bring the sleeping mat and sleep on my Thermarest xtherm instead – again, the frameless pack becomes a bitch without the mat.Which leads us to the ultralight pack with frame – They make lightweight frames these days out of carbon fiber. It’s all that’s needed for such a light load.
Hip belts have the very important task of transferring your packs weight onto your hips. It doesn’t matter how light your pack eventually becomes, even if the total weight of your pack is considerably less, a bad hip belt will be felt and it will hurt. I ordered my Zpacks arc-blast with an extra lumbar support built in – With most of these styles of packs the adjustability is fairly limited – you give them your size preferences and they sew the pack to your needs. Other packs such as the Gossamer gear packs you can interchange the hip belts to find the one most suitable for you.What works for me:
I use the Zpacks arc-blast with extra lumbar support built in. I prefer my packs with a frame and with a rigid hipbelt to transfer the weight of the pack on. Packs with frames simplify the process of packing – Not only is my approach ultralight and comfortable – I also want it to be as simplistic as possible.Availability:
Most of these packs from the smaller outdoor gear producers are handmade in small shops. So waiting time can be up to two months in certain cases. Think of it this way – at least your not employing 10 year olds in china or Vietnam to make your packs. The wait is worth it.
Several producers of these packs are:
Zpacks – my personal favourite
Hyperlite mountain gear – No waiting list – supplies in full
Gossamer gear – no waiting unless custom gear
Mountain laurel designs
If you don’t mind employing 10 year olds and want the backpack now some other producers make pretty decent gear:
Fjällräven – the friluft series and abisko series though not ultralight are probably lighter than what you have
Haglöfs LIM series
Nice review. I also recently purchased a Zpacks backpack. Great products, great company.
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