The concept of lightweight hiking is not a new thing, there have always been those people who enjoy heading into the countryside with little more than a blanket and some food. The methods involved with lightweight hiking involve taking several steps to lighten your load without a loss of safety or too much comfort.
Step one – Lighten the Big Three
Tent, Sleeping bag, and Backpack are three top-ranking items that you’re going to want to carry, but the lighter they are the better.
There are many lightweight tents on the market today, but the lightest of these is probably the tarp. Tarps are sold by many manufacturers, and the lightest will weigh in at less than 1lb. Tarps can stand up to wind and rain much better than you might think, and their openness facilitates ventilation too.
Here you’ll find cost is usually directly proportional to weight and quality, so expect to pay more for something which is rated as warm enough and light enough.
A lot of backpacks are designed to carry heavy loads, and of course,if you’re planning on travelling light this becomes unnecessary. Look for something which eliminates heavy frame and thick fabric, but weight till you’ve sourced and changed everything else before you buy this, as until you’ve made all your changes, you won’t know how large or heavy-duty a pack you’ll need.
Step 2 – Lightening smaller items
Many items in a pack can be either replaced with smaller or lighter versions or eliminated completely. One tip here is to look for multi-purpose items where you can.
Canister stoves tend to be smaller and lighter than liquid fuel types, but you could go lighter still, and make your own alcohol stove from food or drink can. Alcohol doesn’t need a custom fuel canister, so can be carried in a pop bottle easily.
Avoid carrying multiple pots and pans – go for a single pot and spoon. Cook in it and then eat straight from it.
Look for synthetic material, minimal pockets and zippers,and thin breathable fabric. Clothes are ever-evolving so there’s plenty of choices out there.
Hiking boots are heavy so you could look at tennis shoes or running shoes. Take caution though as these won’t provide ankle support and may increase chances of injury if you have weak knees or ankles.
Step 3 – What don’t you need?
Eliminate everything that really isn’t necessary to you – this is quite personal so you’ll have to work this one out for yourself.
The last thought
The process of lightening your load can seem quite daunting, but it’s actually quite a liberating experience. Try things out – test the new equipment without ditching the old one, until you’re happy, and only then remove the old one from your pack. This can take several trips till you learn what’s going to be best for you, but better safe than sorry, and you will gain experience all the time.