Whether you are going out for the afternoon or taking a multiple day long hike, one thing is the most important to consider: how heavy your pack is. Imagine hiking long days uphill and through uneasy terrain, the last thing you want to be worried about is the extra weight on your back. When shopping for ultralight hiking gear there are a few things to know in order to make sure that you are getting the best value for the price.
As we explore a few options and talk about basic packing knowledge, don’t hesitate to jot down some ideas. The thing we really want to cut back on is weight and every ounce adds up to another pound which can be make or break on a long trek.
Know your Materials
While some advertised items may claim to be heavy duty, if you know the basic materials it is made out of then you can make a more informed decision on whether it is durable enough for your use. The most common materials used in the market are carbon fiber and aluminum. While carbon fiber is lighter than aluminum, both have a high durability rating. You will end up paying more for carbon fiber products versus the aluminum.
Figure out weight allowance
When you are planning for a hiking trip, after you figure out your map, it is time to turn your attention to your pack. You need to plan packing based on how many days you will be out, how many people are coming along and what provisions you will be able to use in the wild.
If you are hiking with close friends or family, it is a good idea to get together and see what items each of you can contribute to bring in order to lighten each others load. Apart from basic necessities, you can each plan to bring certain main items so that you are not double packed with unnecessary weight.
Some ideas for what you can split between whoever is hiking with you are below.
- Navigation tools – Although smart phones may be able to do this for you, it is always a good idea to have a compass on hand just in case cell signals do not work or your phone breaks down.
- First Aid Supplies – While you may want to bring your own smaller kit, it is a good ideas to have a larger fully stocked first aid kit just in case disaster strikes. You don’t really need multiple full kits, unless this is a large hiking party. It is suggested that you have one full kit per 4 hikers.
- Repair Kit and Tools – It is a good idea to bring a repair kit for some of the gear that you bring in case anything rips or breaks. Since this can get a little heavy and you don’t really need more than one, it is a great item to plan pack with others. A basic repair kit will include:
- Duct tape
- Nylon/utility cord
- Safety pins
- Sewing repair kit
- Mattress and stove repair parts
- Extra batteries
- Emergency Shelter – This is an invaluable and lightweight item to keep on hand. Most emergency shelters fit two hikers, so plan to pack one shelter per two adults with an extra one on hand just in case. It is better to be well equipped than to be short handed in an emergency.
- Extra Food – This is a toss up item. If someone’s bag is a little light and can hold a few more items, then it would be a wise idea to give them some extra nutrition rich food. Of course this item could also fall under personal food packing. The important thing to remember is that when you are out hiking, stuff happens and you don’t want to put yourself in a position to potentially be weak and far from help. A few extra granola bars will go a long way.
Before you put a single item in your pack, it is a good idea to make a list of what you want to bring. Take your time on this step and really think about what you want to carry with you, from basic clothing and shelter to food and some entertainment. Next give yourself a goal weight for the pack.
Once that is done you can begin to assemble your items together and start weighing each of them. When it comes to packing extra items focus on survival versus style. Opt to bring extra nutrition or first aid, versus extra clothes.
A few more things to consider when you are purchasing and packing for your next trip are price versus weight, substituting items and weeding out unneeded items.
- Price vs Weight – When you are buying gear for hiking, remember that every ounce counts. Look for gear that is lightweight and then figure out the value of the weight versus the price point. If you will be saving money by purchasing gear that weighs a little more than higher priced versions, then make sure to keep an eye on the added up weight totals and consider purchasing a higher priced item to save on larger weight loads.
- Substitution – Take a long look at the list you have compiled of gear and food that you need to pack. Chances are that there are some larger items that can be substituted out for smaller less bulky ones. An obvious item is swapping a thick paperback for a thin and lightweight e-reader or tablet. Another one is leaving the various flashlights at home and opting for a head lamp or pocket knife with built in LED flashlight.
- Weeding Your Pack – While you are packing, take time to ask yourself if you really need all of this stuff. While food is important, make sure that you plan a daily intake and only bring a few extra snacks that can be supplemented if needed. Overpacking food can be a hefty weight increase in your pack. Also, while you are out on the trail, you don’t need a new outfit for each day. Pack clothes that are comfortable and that can be worn multiple days without issue.
Now that you have made your packing list, set a weight goal and need to find a few more items, let’s take a look at some of the ultra-lightweight items that are on the market right now that will add more function than weight to your hiking trip.
Ultralight 100% Titanium Spork
Don’t leave home without this must have 100% Titanium Spork. This dual-sided utensil features a spoon on one end and a fork on the other, allowing you to decide which fits your meal best. The all-titanium body was made to resist bending and breaking. Weighing less than an ounce, it’s only three-tenths of an ounce heavier than the average plastic variety spork.
Dishwasher safe, biocompatible and reusable makes this environmental friendly. Take this spork with you when you camp, on day hiking trips or just to work for your lunch. It is a great item to keep on hand for anytime you want to eat. This titanium spork comes in three great colors; Gold, Grey and Purple.
Sportneer Portable Lightweight Camping Table and Chair
Price: $30 – $40 (Chair); $25 – $30 (Table)
The Sportneer Camping Chair has a high quality construction made from aluminum which gives it enhanced stability and durability. It weighs two pounds and can pack down to a mere 14 by 5 inches. This chair has been engineered to be easy to set up and break down, so there is no hassle when you want to use it.
The weight limit for this great chair is three hundred and fifty pounds. This chair has a low sitting structure. It is not recommended for individuals who have a difficult time standing up from a low position. The Sportneer Camping Table is built strong and is made from 600D ripstop oxford cloth and a high-strength aluminum alloy frame. The weight capacity for this table is thirty-five pounds.
Easy to set up, the extendible metal poles and foldable mesh make this table a breeze to set up or take down. In one minute you can have a table ready or take it down and continue on your journey. Both the chair and the table come with durable nylon bags for storing and easy carrying. You can purchase the chair singularly or in a two set pack.
Etekcity Ultralight Portable Outdoor Camping Stove
Price: $10 – $15
Small in size yet large in power, the Etekcity Portable Outdoor Camping Stove is a wonderful addition to your next outdoor excursion. This stove is made to screw on top of a fuel canister. It is compatible with any 7/16 thread single butane mixed fuel canister. The stove is made from durable aluminum alloy and stainless steel, which makes it able to withstand high temperatures and weight. There is an easy to access flame controller, and can boil one liter of water in three and a half minutes.
It adheres to the “Leave No Trace” principles set by the US Forest Service and National Park service, which means that it burns clean without leaving behind debris or soot. This stove comes with a 1 year warranty. A carrying case is included for better portability and protection when not in use.
TETON Sports Hiker 3700 Backpack
Price: $90 – $100
Lightweight with plenty of room for gear, the TETON Hiker 3700 Backpack is ready for your next journey. This pack is large enough for a 3-4 day adventure. Made for comfort, it has multi-position torso adjustment and fits a wide range of body sizes. The durable foam lumber pad with molded channels allow airflow and increase comfort.
This backpack features a roomy sleeping bag, main compartment, seven pockets, two pouches, compression straps, gear loops, a key loop and slide storage. A thickly padded split wishbone waist pad allows you to have a customized fit. It is available in navy/grey and red/grey. A lifetime limited warranty is included with this backpack. TETON boasts having an awesome customer service team that is dedicated to get your items taken care of and get you back outdoors.
Ultralight Compressible Air Pillow
Price: $25 – $30
So lightweight you won’t notice it, the Ultralight Compressible Air Pillow allows you to bring comfort without sacrificing extra weight or room. Weighing only 2.4 ounces, this is one if the lightest pillows on the market. This pillow is able to inflate or deflate within seconds (about 2.5 – 4 breaths to fully inflate), giving you comfort and convenience. Included is a small sack that the pillow easily packs into when deflated. Two center baffles are made to create a head cradling affect which also adds stability.
Made from nylon, this pillow is much softer than other pillows that are made out of other plastics or coated alternative material. This pillow accommodates back, side and stomach sleepers with ease.
Suaoki LED Collapsible Camping Lantern
Price: $20 – $25
The Suaoki LED Collapsible Camping Lantern is made for versatility. You can charge it via a micro USB cord or keep it outside for solar charging. A smart protection chip protects this lantern from overcharging, over-circuit and over-discharging.
This lantern has three lighting modes to choose from; high, low or SOS blinking for emergency. When collapsed down, you can use it as a flashlight. This lantern comes with the charging USB included and is available in Black with orange or green accents.
|1 Hour Solar Charge||High 15 mins/Low 30 mins||35 mins|
|4 Hour USB Full Charge||High 5 hours/Low 10 Hours||6 Hours|
Palisade Gear Hiking Poles
Price: $70 – $80
Extremely ultralight and durable, the Palisade Gear Hiking Poles are a great choice for any hiker. These poles are made from 100% Carbon Fiber which gives them hardcore durability and strength.
A flip-style locking mechanism makes these poles easy to deploy and gives them a secure lock. The comfortable EVA grip is made for tough conditions, allowing you to keep a secure hold even in wet conditions. Tested from the Himalayas to the Appalachian Trail, these poles were made for multiple terrains. Included is a mud skirt, tactical snow skirt and a rubber training tip. These hiking poles are available in a neutral slate color with either orange or violet accents.
Price: $25 – $30
Proof that great things come in small packages, the Pocket Blanket boasts loads of useful features while folding to fit in the palm of your hand. When folded, it only measures 3.95 by 1.38 inches. This blanket is waterproof, water repellent, puncture resistant, machine washable and dries fast. Built in 8 counterweights that prevent the wind blowing it away. Easily fits four people sitting or two people laying down.
No more frustration folding and putting away, the unique folding pattern is embedded into the blanket so you can follow the easy step by step fold to put it away with ease. The two available colors you can chose from refer to the pouch and what color the embroidered folding pattern is.
Survival Shack Emergency Survival Shelter Tent
Price: $10 – $15
A must have item for any hiking trip, the Survival Shack Emergency Survival Tent is great protection when you need it. This tent is made from mylar thermal material that reflects ninety percent of body heat. It is waterproof and windproof in order to give you the best protection from the elements. This reusable tend packs easily for camping, hiking or for standard emergency kits.
This shack is easy to set up and only takes a few minutes. Simply remove the items from the package, run the included rope through both ends and tie down to secure. This large 8 by 5 foot tent has enough room for two people comfortably.
Lightweight and Free
When it comes to a hiking trip, the best defense is a great offense. Take the time to plan out your packing, as tiresome as it may be, this step will give you security in knowing that you haven’t forgotten anything important and that you can adjust to fit your goal pack weight and needs.
As you continue to hike and enjoy the outdoors, you will find that with experience you will learn what to pack and what to leave at home. With multiple trips under your belt, it will be easier to adjust your packing needs to the core items you will need while you are out.
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