A few years ago, lightweight backpacking used to require a religious conversion or at least a change in your packing “philosophy.” Those days are over. You don’t need to learn new skills, read an eBook, take a mentored backpacking trip, or even watch a video series about ultralight backpacking.
Today, if you want to go light, you just need cold hard cash.
I don’t want to discourage you from learning more skills, but if you don’t have time and just want the increased comfort that comes from cutting your gear weight by 10-15 pounds, just buy it down.
In fact, there are so many manufacturers producing quality lightweight gear that you can buy all of the stuff you need at REI (see below) and use their guarantee to return it if the gear you buy doesn’t work out. And if you have problems with any of the gear, most of these manufacturers listed below have lifetime guarantees.
If you are a little more adventuresome or want to shave your gear weight down further, you can still buy ultralight gear from the cottage manufacturers like Hyperlight Mountain Gear, Tarptent, ULA, and Six Moon Designs, but they’re not the only fish in the sea anymore. Lightweight backpacking has gone mainstream.
To their credit, REI has even added gear weight as a filter option in their web site search, so it’s easy to see which products are lighter weight than others!
So, if you want to radically reduce the weight of your backpacking gear and not waste a lot of time, quit screwing around, go to REI’s web site, and buy one of the following products from each category. These are all good products.
- a Shelter that weighs under 3 pounds
- a Backpack that weighs under three pounds
- a Down sleeping bag or quilt that weighs under 2 pounds
- a Inflatable sleeping pad that weighs under 1 pound (ignore these if you hammock)
Now stop obsessing about your gear weight and go hike somewhere! The point is to get out and have adventures, not sit around indoors and surf lightweight backpacking web sites.
The most expensive gear is gear you never use.
Written 2013. Updated 2016.
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