Tag: going lighter

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Going lighter Step 1: Jot it down

Going lighter:

There are many reasons to go lighter, but the most important reason is of course to have a more enjoyable time out in nature. Don’t believe me ? Grab a backpack, pack it with 30kilos and climb your nearest hill or mountain. Now, do the same thing with only 5 kilos in your pack. Which is a more enjoyable experience? My money is on the 5 kilos. Now with that said, it’s easy to cut back weight so much that camp is no longer enjoyable. Say, you replace your spoon with your fingers, you don’t bother with a proper tent, toilet paper is for losers and so on. While it’s possible to be ultra minimalist light, it’s probably not desired or safe for most backpackers.

So what should be your goal as a backpacker? To me, it’s the joy of both the hike and the camp. It’s about the climb and the descent. In other words, it’s about the experience and the joy of the journey itself. If your not loving the hike, whats the point?

Getting started:

Knowing your gear and your needs is probably the most important aspect of your backpacking life. This is regardless of weight or goals. If you don’t know what’s in your pack, then why bring it? In skydiving, every skydiver is expected to pack their own parachute, the process of folding, loading and preparing, this way, the skydiver knows exactly what’s in his pack when he launches himself from a perfectly good flying craft thousands of meters above sea level. I believe the same dedication should be used when packing a backpack for an outdoor adventure. If not more so, after all, the results of a poorly packed backpack could be potentially as bad as a poorly packed parachute.

In my view, the single most important part of hiking and or trekking is packing your backpack. Knowing exactly whats in your pack, right down to the amount of grams every item takes. This means creating a proper journal for your gear. However you choose to document your gear, whether in an excel sheet, word document, on your smartphone or in a paper journal, is completely up to you. We prefer services like lighterpack.com that is a highly configurable, easy to use, free service to document and share a gear list.

Your first purchase:

Start your transition by purchasing a proper digital kitchen scale, than, with deligence start weighing your biggest items first and jot them down in your journal. In excel, your list might look something like this:

The big three

1. Tent – Hilleberg Akto – 1,6kilos

2. Backpack – Fjällräven Abisko – 2,4kilos

3. Sleepingbag – Cheap synthetic summer bag – 1,4kilos

4. Sleeping pad -Exped Synmat – 560grams

Total of big three: 5,96 kilos

Of course you would probably want to add brand of tent and so on, but you get the general idea. For reasons perhaps more apparent later, it’s better to jot everything down digitally in lighterpacks or excel as this will allow you to move around, change, reorganize your gear much easier.

Now, after you jot down your big three, move of to the rest of your kit. We like to organize our list in the following categories:

1. The big three (tent, backpack, sleep system)

2. Hydration and cooking

3. Clothing in backpack

4. Personal item (washing, first aid, teeth care, hygene)

5. Electronics (camera, battery pack, tripod, batteries, smartphone, ipad, computer)

6. Extras (stuff that doesn’t fit in the other categories)

7. Clothing worn (while backpacking)

Once all your items are indexed, weighed and categorized it’s much easier to make educated decisions, rather than just guestimations. You will know exactly what is in your pack, what purpose it may or may not serve and the weight of each item. From here you can place your focus on your heaviest items, which tend to be the big three (tent, backpack and sleep system).

 

In case you guys haven’t noticed yet I am actually very active on Youtube! So don’t forget to subscribe there!

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backpackingblogcampingGoing Lighter

A lighter kind of philosophy

As I came up over the ridge I couldn’t help but feel that maybe, just maybe, ultralight is not always the perfect solution for every backpacking trip. I stood there, wet, tired and miserable. I had just hiked 15 kilometers on a cold rainy afternoon along the Laugavegur trail in Southern Iceland. The trail stretches roughly 75 kilometers from the north in Landmannalaugar down to the south in Skogar. I made my journey in mid June a week after the trail had just been opened for the season. Snow was still prevalent along this part of the trail from Landmannalaugar to Hrafntinnusker. I flew in from Stockholm to Reykjavik and arrived around 9 in the morning. From there it was about a 4 hour bus drive along thin gravel roads, streams and an endless view of mountains and volcanic ash.

After 12 hours of traveling I just wanted to move, I needed to get out and walk and even though I arrived at Landmannalaugar at 4 in the evening, I made the decision to just walk. I couldn’t be bothered by the massive rainfall or the awesome hot springs. I pulled out my rain jacket, adjusted my backpack and made my way.

I arrived at that ridge after about 4 hours of hiking in wet, cold snow feeling like shit. Sure the first hour was a blast, but the rest, not so much. I just wanted to get somewhere warm and pitch my tarp for the night. When I reached that ridge overlooking the campsite the only thought that came to mind was “fuck”. My shitty day is turning out to be only worse, what I wouldn’t give for a 4 season, two layer tent, a thick winter sleeping mat and bag. Perhaps even a warm bed and shower. I looked over at the cabin walked in and requested a bed for the night. Of course I wasn’t alone here, all the beds were taken. I resigned and accepted the fact that tarp it would be.

When I stood there looking over the campsite, dread creeping in on the knowledge that I would now have to walk from the warm cabin down to the campsite about 100 meters away, cold and wet, walking in knee high snow in my mesh trail runners, knowing all too well that my night was about to be much worse than my day. I was unprepared for a winter hike, the thought that I would be hiking in knee high snow in the middle of June simply didn’t occur to me. While I tend to plan well, and pack warm. A tarp, trail runners and a torso pad with a summer quilt are not always the best choices for a winter hike. To make matters worse the campsite was placed at the bottom of a deep valley with no trees or wind shields in place. The wind was screaming down the snowy mountain side.

After a while I was finally able to set up my tarp in the volcanic ash, placed out my torso pad on my plastic trash bag ground floor and in the end, I was longing for that warm bed. The feeling of dread overtook me later on when I was really warm in my bag and had to get out, walk that 100 meters with frozen shoes on because I had to take a raging piss.

The moment of change

It was in that moment lying in my warm sleeping bag, knowing I would have to get up, get clothed and put those freezing cold shoes on and hike 100 meters in that snow in the middle of the night just to take a piss, that my love for ultralight backpacking and hiking altogether started to dwindle. This is how backpacking works, it tests us mentally and physically on all levels. This first days are always the worst. 

When I crawled back into my sleeping bag, wet and miserable I started to re-think how I would like to tackle these situations in the future. I started to wonder if the entire trail would be like this or if it’s just here, at the northern end of the trail. In any case I started to write down what changes I wanted to make to my gear. What worked what didn’t and so on. I wanted to find a good compromise of weight and comfort as well as usability in all situations. I found that while my general backpacking weight is very light, a base weight on this trip of about 2.5 kilos (5.5lbs), it was lacking in overall comfort and safety for surprise conditions. When I started to write everything down I found that I made certain compromises that were simply not necessary: I could easily hold the same weight with more comfort and safety without crossing the threshold to “stupid light”.

Some of the bigger changes I had to make was to my torso pad and sleeping mat (I carry both a blow up wide torso pad and an evazote sleeping mat) these together weighed about 500 grams. I also had to re-think my trailrunners. Not necessarily changing from trails runners to boots, more changing to a different form of trail runners.

Why not boots? Well, to be honest that first day I was longing for a pair of nice warm boots, longing for the comfort and warmth boots can obtain in cold, wet climates. Then I made my way into that first hut at Hrafntinnusker and saw that everybody’s shoes and feet were wet and cold. The only difference is that my shoes would be dry in the morning while everybody else will have to put hot warm feet into wet cold boots that would stay wet and cold the entire trip. On top of that I really like when my feet get hot in trail runners that I just plow through some cold water and voila! Cooled down and ready to go. What I wanted to change in my shoes was the sturdiness, I was sick and tired of stubbing my toe along the trail and it hurting like hell afterwards because my trail runners are the equivalent of walking barefoot as far as how much protection they give.

I was also looking at perhaps changing my tarp to a more traditional tent – heavier of course than what I have, but still keep me within my 3 for 3 goal, the 3 for 3 I talk about extensively in my book Ultralight and comfortable. It’s basically your biggest three items under 3 kilos. (Tent, sleep system and backpack)

I also started to re-think just what my goals where, the truth is, backpacking is not a black and white equation. I can’t give you all the answers and what will work for you specifically. I am constantly trying out new variations along new trails. I personally don’t like hikes longer than 14 days, you might like month long trails. More power to you. I also at this moment in my life have zero ambition to climb mount Everest or hike the entirety of the Appalachian trail.

In the end

My gear choices worked very well, but what had me thinking was that I had left very little margin for error. As I stated earlier, I am quite good at planning my trips, and forseable problems that might occur. I had even understood that there would be snow along the northern section of the trail. But for some reason it seemed to have slipped my planning. It turned out that the rest of the trail was more what I planned for, and I had a great time.

I did start to re-think my packing though, and it’s quite easy to go stupid light, and it’s something I still do from time to time and it’s usually in conjunction with arrogance. Sometimes I just take certain situations for granted because I am too comfortable with my own experience and skill. While it’s good to have knowledge and skill, it’s no crutch for making stupid decisions.

A thought

With that said, I want to propose a different approach to the ultralight movement, or at least my own movement of the Ultralight and comfortable variation. Just as the heavy miserable community or traditional backpacking community obsesses about “ruggedness, survivor, name brand” and so on. The ultralight community has a tendency to go overboard on the “ultralight, superlight, grams, ounces”. We spend so much time obsessing about weight, that somewhere along the lines we have to lift our eyes a bit and realize that different hikers have different goals. I would also like to suggest that lighter is not always more comfortable. Sometimes a backpack that weighs 1.3 kilo with a sturdy frame, hip belt and good carrying capacity is a much better choice than the 300 gram Ikea bag sewn into a backpack – for any purpose.

So we have to find a good medium, maybe we still have to obsess about the weight, but we have to take into consideration comfort, distance of hike and of course the goals of the hiker. When I made that trip in Iceland I couldn’t help but stare at everybody and think “those poor bastards, they simply have no clue”. I can only assume that everybody looked at me at thought “wow, that guy is simply amazing with his ultralight gear.. Looks like he is flying over the terrain”.

backpackingblogcampingfjällräven classicfjällräven classic 2018

Fjällräven classic 2018 – A gear guide and list

I recently posted a videon on my youtube channel of the different gear I would probably bring with me on the Fjällräven classic this year if I were to do it. (I am not.. I’m doing the TGOChallenge, A couple of winter hikes, Zambia, and Jämtlandsfjäll).. This would however be some of the gear I would pack for the trip – granted i would use the HMG Windrider 4400 and not the ULA Circuit, also A few other changes I would make. This was kind of a budget run-down of gear selections that most people could make.

Reasoning behind the gear choices: 

Northern Sweden is a tricky area to plan “super ultralight” for, and honestly I don’t do Super ultralight. I do ultralight and comfortable (Notice the Helinox chair? yes, the 500grams are worth it for me). The reason for Northern Sweden being a little heavier and warmer is because it could be rain for days, followed by snow, then to sunshine. You could place your tent on snow and ice – which I have done during the classic, and the winds could just blow ice cold wind down from the mountains. With that, I usually try to plan for most of what I will encounter. I have done that trail several times with and without bug nets, with and without any real rain gear, with and without a proper sleeping pad, bag or tent. I suggest aiming for warmth and comfort at the lightest weight possible.

Here is another issue to think about – all my gear is heavier than yours even if we have the exact same gear. This is because I have to buy large and wide for everything 🙂

Also, keep in mind there are a few major ascents and descents – so don’t pack more than 8-10 kilos in your bag and bring walking sticks. I have seen countless heavy-miserables (the hikers with 20+ kilos) with broken feet, legs and bodies after three or four days along the classic) You will be given food in two day intervals and you don’t need to carry water as it’s everywhere.

Use lightweight mesh trail shoes with Superfeet insoles. Boots will kill you on this trail as there are quite a few water crossing and wading. Once your boots get wet, your trip is ruined. Trail shoes love water – and dry quickly.

Hope this little guide and packing list help you in your Fjällräven classic planning!

Most of this gear can be purchased in Europe at Http://www.backpackinglight.dk or in sweden http://www.backpackinglight.se

Item Ounces Grams
Packing  
Packing Pod L 1.6 45
Packing Pod S 1.3 37
Hmg Stuff Sack Pillow 1.4 40
Ula Circuilt 34.6 980
Shelter
Ti Tent Pegs 3.5 98
Tarptent Stratospire 1 W/ Solid 37 1050
Helinix Zero Chair 17.3 490
Sleep
As Tucas Sestrals Poncho 26.1 740
Xtherm 20.5 580
Cooking
Sea To Summit Long Spoon Ti 0.4 12
Sea To Summit Sink 4.6 130
Soto Amicus 2.8 79
Toaks 700ml W Lid And Case 3.5 99
Zefa Water Bottle 3.5 98
Clothing
Mld Waterproof Gloves 1.6 46
Wp 200g Pants 6.1 174
Wp 200g Shirt 8.1 229
Headnet 0.9 26
Haglofs Green Wind Jacket 2.3 65
Patagonia Alpine Rain Shell 6.4 181
Soft Shell Rain Pants 6.7 190
Haglifs Lim Puffy Jacket 6.7 191
Other
Murla Knife 0.7 20
Ul Teeth Care 3.1 89
Iphone 6s Plus Ink Case 9.9 282
Thermarest Repair Kit 0.5 14
First Aid Kit 3.1 89
Usb Cables 0.8 24
Globalstar 8.5 240
20100 Anker Battery Pack 16.2 460
Amazon Kindle 7.4 209
Gopro Hero 5 W/3-way 9.7 275
Sony Rx100 IV 8.2 232
Consumables
Butane Cannister Small 7.1 202
Toilet Papper 5.3 150
Coffee 3.5 100
Total 280.9 7966
GearGear listGoing LighterUncategorized

Starting your backpacking life

I have a friend who is starting to get interested in backpacking, we went on a short trip last year and had a great time despite the fact that we melted each-others shoes and almost burned down our hut. Anyway, to say his backpacking skills were limited is an understatement, and his gear was pretty bad as well. All things considered it wasn’t really his thing. But the experience kept with him and he’s starting to book different trips for backpacking and so on. With that he also wants suggestions on gear – this is when I realize that I’m better at writing generalizations than actual gear suggestions based on user experience.

So I’m having to really think about this a bit as I want him to have good gear that will last a while, be easy to use, comfortable and light. I want him to avoid the regular failings of every newcomer to the backpacking experience. The one that starts with the visit to the local gear shop, asking the salespeople what gear to buy and leaving with no money and a shit load of useless gear that will be phased out with experience.

To start I have to look at my local market: What is possible for him to buy in our area. Being we are in Sweden it’s not the easiest to buy “ultralight gear” without it costing and arm and leg (with import fees and shipping). Also, one of the pleasures of shopping is seeing, feeling and experiencing. So in this sense the local gear shop is an excellent place to start for a newbie. It’s not just a question of staring at a picture and making a purchasing choice.

I wrote in an earlier article that I didn’t think that “Ultralight” might be the best choice for every backpacker, and I still hold that to be true. I think staying true to the ultralight idea requires a steady knowledge of a specific climate. (why ultralight tends to work very well along major trails like the Appalachian and PCT but much less so in brooks range alaska and Northern Sweden, where temperatures and weather can be highly unpredictable). With that said I do think that striving after minimal weight should be the focus for just about anybody. Why buy a backpack that holds 70 liters and weighs 3 kilos when you can purchase a backpack that can hold 70 liters and weighs just 900grams. The former is just a stupid choice regardless of where one might hike.

The same can be said for a tent, sleeping bag and sleeping matt as well. Ultralight in the regard of sleeping under a cuben tarp and no ground floor is perfectly acceptable in warmer more predictable climates and trails. 300 grams and your done. Or you can choose a two man Hilleberg beast that weighs 3kilos. While the Hilleberg might be perfect for two people during a winter trip, it serves no real purpose in the summer months. However something like a Mountain laurel designs Trailstar with an inner tent might be the best of all worlds. Total weighing under 1 kilo, large enough for two people and can withstand just about any weather that is thrown it’s way.

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The Hilleberg enan is a fun, fast tent big enough for most users. Expensive but will definately hold for the long run.

 

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The MLD duomid is a large tent that weighs around 600 grams. With an innertent duomid becomes the ultimate 1kilo dubble wall tent.

This kind of reasoning should be applied to gear purchases. I know it’s an awesome experience walking into  a gear shop and buying all the coolest gadgets, and perhaps you should buy them so that you can get a better understanding of what you actually need. But, if your more like my friend, who will probably make the initial investments but never keep the same kind of interest that I have, than buying the right gear from the very beginning will help you and (him) keep the interest longer by making those first crucial hikes an enjoyable experience.

In this exercise I will put up several gear solutions in table form and total weight. One is the traditional solution, the middle column is for “lightweight in gear shops” solution and the third is the optimal lightweight solution for any newbie that won’t cost significant sums of money. You can start splurging on cuben fibre gear once the interest has become big enough to justify that kind of investment.

 

Gear choices:
Traditional weight grams lbs. Lightweight gearshop weight kilo lbs. Cheap(ish) preffered lightweight weight grams lbs.
Backpack Backpack Backpack
Fjällräven Kajka 75liter 3.6 7.92 Granite gear V.C 0.98 2.156 HMG Sidewinder 4400 70liter 0.980 2.156
tent tent tent
Hilleberg Nallo 3 6.6 Hileberg Enan 1.2 2.64 MLD Trailstar + inner 0.98 2.156
sleeping bag sleeping bag sleeping bag
Fjällräven Sarek 3 season 1.3 2.86 Mountain hardware hyperlamina spark 0.65 1.43 Mountain hardware hyperlamina spark 0.65 1.43
Sleeping mat Sleeping mat Sleeping mat
Exped down 9 1.2 2.64 Thermarest xlite regular 0.38 0.836 Small Thermarest xLite 0.23 0.506
Total big three: 9.1 20.02 3.21 7.062 2.840 6.248

 

It is possible to get a lighter tent and even cheaper tent than the Hilleberg Enan in a gear shop. I just put in the Enan because out of gearshop tents available the Enan is my preferred tent. Expensive but great. However the Mountain laurel designs Duomid or Trailstar with an inner-tent is atleast in my own reasoning the best all around solution for comfort, weight and durability. This I have as my choices in the “prefered gear list” column. The difference between gearshop and prefered is the fact that prefered will probably have to be special ordered directly from the producers websites while the gearhop is usually gear easily found in most gearshops.

Also, there are certainly lighter and warmer sleeping bags than the Hyperlamina spark, but for a good three-season lightweight sleeping bag that is cheap, the hyperlamina is hard to beat.

All these gear choices are chosen for the solo adventurer in three season hiking in all-around temeratures and climates. Meaning that this solution will work just as well on the pacific coast trail as it would in northern sweden.

A good rule of thumb when purchasing gear for the first time is the 3 for 3 concept. The three biggest pieces of gear: tent, sleep system and backpack for a total under 3 kilos. The lightweight gear shop solution crosses the threshold by 200 grams, but I think that’s ok all things considered.

 

 

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The UL Jacket – Essential gear for any backpacker

I once wrote an article a long time ago about the ultralight wind jacket and how I felt it was the single most important piece of gear for any backpacking regardless of your weight preferences. (Whether you enjoy ultralight or prefer being heavy and miserable.. ) I would like to propose that the second piece of essential gear for any backpacker would be an ultralight down jacket (synthetic works as well but usually heavier for the same warmth). For the last 3 years I have been using a lightweight down jacket that weighs at around 180grams for the XL size. (Haglöfs L.I.M essens down). I find this jacket much like the wind jacket allows me to leave a few extra layers at home. And the down jacket combined with a wind jacket is hard to beat in weight to warmth ratio.

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When I talk about ul down jacket I mean any down jacket under 200grams for a large size.

My typical three season layer scheme looks something like this:

Wool or bamboo fiber Shirt 150grams – main layer always on

Windjacket with hood 80grams – Always with me and depending on weather usually always on (in the nordic regions of the world)

Down jacket 188grams – I usually put my down jacket on the minute I stop for the day. It’s very rare that I actually need this while hiking.

Total weight: 418grams or about 1 lbs.

That’s it. That’s my entire upper layering system for most three season hikes. If it’s raining I put my rain jacket on (so fourth layer). And depending on how long I am gone I usually don’t bother with a an extra shirt to sleep in, unless I will be hiking in wet and cold regions. Also, as you can see, I don’t bother with sweaters or thicker shirts or anything else that usually becomes redundant and heavy when you have a light down or synthetic jacket. Most sweaters, wool or otherwise, are going to be heavier than a down jacket and won’t be anywhere near as warm.

This setup will easily keep me warm to down around 30 degrees farenheit. So even on cold nights when the temperature will drop to 20 degrees, I can keep warm and snug at night in my three season gear (quilt, sleeping pad and down jacket).

As with any high quality UL product, lighter usually means more expensive, but there are always exceptions to this rule. However no-matter what, your never going to get into silly money prices that you could end up paying for when purchasing main stream products that weigh much more. If you inclined to do so, there are a few MYOG patterns and kits for synthetic and even down UL jackets. When my current jacket breaks down I will probably replace it with a synthetic jacket. Main reason being that I use this same setup even in the winter with the inclusion of a thick down puffy, which creates more moisture, and that breaks down my inner down. So, a synthetic would fix this problem.

Ultralight Down and Synthetic jackets:
Haglöfs L.I.M Essens down
Western Mountaineering Flash jacket
Yeti streto ultralight down
Crux turbo top
Mountain Hardware ghost whisperer
Mountain hardware Micro Thermostatic (synthetic)
OMM Rotor smock (synthetic)

These are just a few of the ul jackets currently available as of this writing.

If your interested in sewing your own:

The kinsman insulated pullover is the best design I’ve found

http://thru-hiker.com/kits/kinsman_kit.php

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Is ultralight right for you?

I have a lot of readers on this blog, some for recipes, others for my posts on minimalism and still a bit more for photography. But the the majority of my readers are here because they enjoy (hopefully) my articles on ultralight backpacking. While my packing for some people will seem ridiculously light, for others they may think I’m a bit hyperbolic calling myself ultralight as they run around with a plastic bag tarp and a fanny pack. I will be honest with you here, my blog should have been called ”comfortable in the wild”. My packing is somewhere between ultralight and lightweight if there is a pounds grading system that I don’t know about somewhere.

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The truth is that while I am convinced lightweight packing will work for everybody regardless of needs, ultralight backpacking is probably not for everyone. I have experienced a few nights while the cold mountain winds blew down from treeless mountain tops right underneath my tarp and into my bones, where trying to find a ”dry” patch up land to put my ground floor on, and when mice have creeped into my sleeping quilt looking for food, that I truly thought to myself ”maybe a little more weight would be worth it.”

In most climates I truly believe that a simple tarp, sleeping pad and lightweight quilt is all that is needed along with a lightweight pair of pants and a thin t-shirt. And that’s one of the tricks of ultralight backpacking, or perhaps downfalls of using the word ”ultralight”. We get so focused on ultralight that sometimes it’s easy to forget about what might actually be best for the planned route or trek. I think most ultralight backpackers have had similar thoughts, ”maybe this just isn’t for me”. But then when we are bouncing up a steep mountain after a 10 day hike feeling fresher than when we started, that we forget about those bad moments.

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I want to propose that sometimes it’s o.k. to give up the title ultralight if it means added warmth, security and comfort. It’s one thing to hike a summer hike along a well travelled trail and quite another to do backpacking along desolate wild regions in the far corners of the planet where the closest help is 500 miles away. It’s o.k. in these conditions to bring a proper freestanding tent that will give you a piece of mind. It’s o.k. to bring an extra gas canister, layer of clothing or even warmer sleeping bag than what the forecasts are predicting.

Just remember that the most important factor when backpacking an especially ultralight backpacking is knowledge. Knowing whats in your bag, knowing how to survive even the shittiest of situations, knowing how to make a fire 10 different ways, to keep warm with minimal gear, were to find water and so on.

While ultralight might not be for everyone, certainly everyone would be just fine with lightweight gear. There is simply no reason to carry a 4 kilo / 8 lbs backpack with todays technology. There is simply no reason for a lone backpacker to bring a 5 kilo /12 lbs freestanding tent when even Hilleberg are now making freestanding tents at around 1.5 kilos / 3 lbs. There is no reason to carry a 3 kilo / 6 lbs sleeping bag or a stove that weighs 1 kilo / 2.2 lbs.

Gear choices:

Traditional weight grams lbs. Lightweight weight kilo lbs. Ultralight weight grams lbs.
Backpack Backpack Backpack
Fjällräven Kajka 3,6 7 HMG Sidewinder 4400 0,98 1,8 Zpacks arc-blast 0,6 1,3
tent tent tent
Hilleberg Keron 5,5 12 Hileberg Enan 1,2 3 MLD Solomid Cuben 0,34 0,75
sleeping bag sleeping bag sleeping bag
Fjällräven Sarek 3 season 1,3 2,8 WM Summerlite 0,61 1,3 WM Summerlite 0,61 1,3
Sleeping mat Sleeping mat Sleeping mat
Exped down 9 1,2 2,6 Thermarest xTherm 0,58 1,2 Small Thermarest xLite 0,2 0,44
Total big three: 11,6 24,4 3,37 7,3 1,75 3,79

As you can see – for most three season and even four season hiking, the traditional backpacker is looking more and more pointless. I would suggest that with the lightweight setup and would be just as comfortable in camp, but with the added benefit of getting to camp fairly comfortably. There is of course always an exception: Ignorance means you need more and heavier gear. As a weekend warrior who is not interested in more than just cooking hotdogs over a stove then who cares. Polar adventures in the middle of winter are probably also another exception. Winter camping is a different beast altogether as survival is more important than weight. Though, I can personally attest that with a few extra layers of clothing in your bag and a proper sleeping mat, it’s not very difficult to sleep comfortably even in the coldest of situations.

I fall somewhere between ultralight and lightweight. My main focus is on being comfortable and safe, than comes ultralight after that. But I will always have weight as a determining factor in the gear I buy and if I have to choose between a backpack that holds 65 liters and weighs 3.6 kilos / 8 lbs or a backpack that holds 65 liters and weighs .980 grams / 2 lbs, I will always take the lighter backpack. I also find that I prefer I little more ”rugged” pants than ultralight windproof pants. Simply because it’s not unusual for me to go off trail and in those situations I almost always get holes in my ultralight wind clothes. In fact most of my clothing has silver tape all over then… not by choice. In the winter I prefer proper winter boots with knee high gators, in late fall in Sweden when the landscape is filled with shin high water, I prefer running shoes with knee high overboots.

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Backpacking for me is about having fun and enjoying every minute of being outdoors. Even on long hikes I can bring a trangia kitchen set to do proper backpack cooking. Nothing beats a freshly caught trout over a fire, or a trout casserole with freshly picked berries. I’m not trying to beat any records, I’m not trying to impress anybody, I’m just a wondering soul who loves being in the outdoors and I want to make my time out as enjoyable and comfortable as possible.

If you are looking at doing the Pacific coast trail I would suggest gravitating towards the Ultralight packing. If you are taking a weeklong trip to the wilds of Alaska, personally I would prefer the lightweight setup. Though certainly it could be done with an ultralight kit as Andrew Skurka has proven. If your just going out to drink a few beers with your friends over a campfire and camp not more than a few miles from your car.. who cares. Bring the Kajka and Keron – they both look pretty damn impressive.

Going Lighter

The art of camping

Lets be honest, not every hike needs to be an ultralight trek across the Americas lasting 6 months. Sometimes just a simple overnight trip is more than enough to reset our brains and energy, and more importantly it’s these overnight trips that prepare us for the longer treks, letting us experiment with different set-ups, gear and explore our own preferences when it comes to weight and comfort. It’s damn easy to sit at home at say “shit yeah, all I need is a tarp, two sticks and a big ass knife and I can live like a king”. But the truth is, that until you try it for yourself (which I have), you realize not only is it fairly difficult to actually find food in the wild, a nice comfortable bed and to keep warm, it also sucks bad. Just ask the wild tribes of Amazon if they actually think life is awesome living off the land, sleeping under banana trees and piercing their penises with twigs is actually fun. (I’ve seen too many pictures in Nat-Geo that I can’t unsee) Read More

blogGoing Lighterminimalismsimplicity

When your things become you

My stuff is me:
On my last post I talked a lot about simplifying your backpack gear, and more broadly, about simplifying your life. That was about a week ago and I’ve had some time to just think about the overall theme of simplifying or minimalism. I realize that a lot of people identify themselves with what they own. For example, for many people, they might identify me as simply being an ultralight backpacker, because that is what the title of this site is, what my book is about and in general what my gear and hiking is like.

The truth is, that my stuff does not make me who I am. These are two completely different concepts altogether in my world. When we start to minimalize our lives, we start to identify ourselves not with what we own, but by our values and goals. When we minimalize the whole point is to disenfranchise ourselves and our identity from the bought and paid for consumer. (or brainwashed consumer who just needs stuff to be whole). For most people we automatically assume that we are our own person, that we have created ourselves from our values and goals. I used to think the same thing about myself. Until of course I started going on long walks with nothing more than my backpack and a few essentials to keep me alive. Read More

Going Lighterminimalismsimplicity

Simplify your backpacking

In my going lighter series I have a constant reference point that I write a lot about: Simplify your backpacking and make your journey an enjoyable process.

I write a lot about this, but I found that I never really clarify it. What do I mean by simplify and simplicity? In life this would be the equivalence to the Minimalism movement, in backpacking I will just call it simplicity.

In essens I will sum it up as follows:

Simplicity in backpacking does not mean selling everything you own and backpack with just a tarp and toothbrush.

Simplicity is about bringing what you need with the comfort you enjoy. Read More

Going Lighter

Hiking boots or Running Shoes?

This is actually a rather fun subject for me – and in my book Ultralight and Comfortable the politically incorrect guide to backpacking, I really play on this subject a lot. Here is an excerpt from the book:

Ever hike 20 miles with boots on? Backpack or not, boots are a bitch on any feet. They say you need to break in the boots first; the truth is you have to break in your feet and body to the boots. You have to get used to the idea of your feet cooking, wringing out your socks from sweat, avoiding water at all possible costs. You have to start loving and accepting blisters, double socks, tape and god knows what else. The first time I went on a long hike with boots on, I thought the bastard who invented boots was a masochist. I wanted to murder that fucker.

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