Discovering Lightweight Backpacking
How long have you been backpacking and what's the longest trip you've taken
I've been backpacking since September 2008. I didn't made very long trips. The longest trip took 8 days. Most of my trips were short weekend trips. I hope some longer trips will follow in future.
When did you realize that you needed to reduce the amount of weight that you carried in your backpack?
It was last year at Easter and at Pentecost. At Easter we made a trip from a forum. We all carried heavy packs. Everyone carried more than 18kg. My power was very limited by the weight and I was quickly tired. The other hikers had problems with their knees because they walked with the heavy packs and without poles.
At Pentecost I made a trip with an UL hiker and I got the chance to test a lightweight pack. That was great. Since that time I look for lightweight gear.
What is the total weight of your big three: backpack, sleeping bag/pad, and shelter?
- Shelter: ZPacks Hexamid (silnylon) -> 290g with stakes and lines
- Pack: Laufbursche huckePACK (silnylon) -> 355g
- Pad: Therma-A-Rest NeoAir Small with short 2mm Evamat as protection ->260g + 62g
Do you own a scale for weighing your gear? If so, what kind? How often do you use it?
I weigh my gear with a own scale because I want to check the manufacturer-specified.I only weigh new gear.
Where are you in the process of going lightweight? What have some of the notable weight reductions in your gear list been? Is there an example of a choice you made between two different alternative gear choices you can explain, or are pondering.
Wow. I would say I am a lightweight backpacker who makes the recent step to get an UL backpacker. I normally go hiking with a base weight between 4,5 – 5,8kg. My last trip I started with a baseweight of 12kg. I could reduce my weight in almost all areas. My first bag had a weight of 2,9kg an my cooking system 1,1kg. I only had heavy clothing. That was not fantastic. Now I am on a good way. I only need a new bag and that's the reason why I participate in the raffle. Currently I've got a sleeping bag with a weight of 1,08kg and a comfort temperature of -7°C. The temperature is ok, but the weight could be better.
How much has cost constrained the rate in which you reduce your gear weight?
The costs are such a problem. If you do not really have the money, you cannot buy what you want: You must wait until you get some interesting offers or you have to save money for a long time If you want to buy some special gear. There are limits, for which I would not spend more money, but sometimes it comes over you, when you see fantastic equipment. Then you only want to have it
What was the largest amount of pack weight you dropped by replacing or eliminating a piece of gear?
Oh that was a weight of 24kg for 4 days. I took all my new gear together because I wanted to test everything. Last but not least I tested only some small parts of the gear and the rest remained untouched.
What's your view on the trade-offs between the following types of backpacking gear, for your specific climate conditions and needs? Are you at the stage where you want to try different options or not interested and why?
Down vs. Synthetic sleeping bags?
I prefer down bags. They're lighter and have a better thermal output and they also have a smaller pack size.
Backpacks with an external frame, internal frame, or no frame?
I've got both. A pack with frame and one without a frame and both bag are fantastic. If you make a trip where you must carry your food for 8-10 days und several clothing I would prefer a pack with frame because it is more comfortable.
Double walled shelters, single walled shelters, and tarps and bivies?
No single wall. In every single wall I slept I had big problems with condensation. I prefer a tarp shelter because you can listen to the sound of nature and you have a view what happens round about you.
Full size sleeping pads vs. torso sized?
A short pad like the Therma-A-Rest NeoAir Small is sufficient. As a pillow I use a stuff pack with clothing and under my feed I put my pack.
Boots vs trail runners?
First I used boots, but I got problems with my feed and my hip. Since I'm wearing trail runners I haveno problems.
What would you say are the biggest benefits of carrying less gear?
A great benefit of lightweight gear is that you protect your body and your health. You can walk longer distances and enjoy your trips. Walking with heavy packs is a problem, because they have a big volume and you must look where you want to walk so that you do not stay hanging or destroy gear which is externally attached to the backpack.
What advice would you give to someone else who wanted to start reducing the weight of their backpacking gear?
Get an overview of the gear on the market. Do not buy the first-best. Try to look at the gear before you buy it. It is simple to buy via internet your gear, but you do not know if the equipment is working properly. Try to get some interesting books about lightweight backpacking and speak with other lightweight hiker about their experiences with lightweight gear.Support the small cottage manufactories like MLD, ZPacks, SMD, ULA, Trail Designs etc. because the big companies have enough money. The customer service of small manufacturers is also much better than the one of the big companies. Certainly there are exceptions.
Is there anything else you want to get off your chest?
Make your own experience with lightweight gear and learn from errors.
Backpacking Gear List
|Pack||Weight in g|
|Yeti Fenrir 600||1080|
|TAR NeoAir S||260|
|Rab Ultra Bivy||200|
|Snow Peak 600||83|
|MYOG Caldera Cone||36|
|Platypus 1l (2x)||72|
|Headlamp Zebralight 501||72|
|Panasonic Lumix GF1||580|
|First Aid Kit||92|
|Berghaus Paclite Pants||200|
|RAB Down Vest||250|
|Weight in Lbs||10.75|
Note: Benjamin submitted this post in order to enter the Sectionhiker.com Gollte Ultralite Down Quilt Raffle. See link for full details.