ULTRALIGHT BACKPACKING TIPS: HOW TO CAMP WITH JUST THE BARE NECESSITIES
Ultralight backpacking is all about camping with just the bare necessities. It certainly gives meaning to the popular camping adage ‘back to basics’. There’s no weight requirement, but some backpackers go as light as 5lbs while others go as high as 30lbs. However, you shouldn’t go too ultralight if that means sacrificing your comfort and safety. Here are the essential items you will need to survive an ultralight backpacking trip.
Usually, the tent is the first thing that ultralight backpackers choose to forego. This is an easy decision if your campsite has freestanding shelters. Regardless, just bring a camping tarp to serve as your shelter. If you cannot survive without a tent, there are a lot of simple and lightweight options such as a circus-style camping tent, a full mesh tent or a compact one-person tent. You might also want to try out a camping hammock. If you have to bring tent poles, find ones that can perform double duty as trekking poles.
Staying warm at night is a concern all campers faced with. If you’re an ultralight backpacker, you’ll have to find the lightest possible sleeping solution to also keep you warm. A down sleeping bag is lighter and much easier to compress than the standard synthetic sleeping bag. As for insulation, choose a self-inflating sleeping pad.
WATER AND FOOD
Instead of a camping stove, an alcohol stove is more compact. You won’t even need pots and pans. It’s possible to prepare filling meals with just tin foil. If you don’t want to bring a stove, just pack ready-to-eat or dehydrated meals. You can also eat cold meals such as oatmeal and sandwiches. If you have a capable multitool, you won’t have to bring utensils, knives and blades. It’ll be enough to accomplish a variety of tasks.
As for water, a 1-litre bottle will be enough to have on you. You can refill when you come across streams or lakes. Just have a water filter or water purification tablets to remove bacteria and germs. A collapsible water container will make your backpack even lighter.
Wear clothes made from lightweight and synthetic materials. You can keep adding layers as the day goes by. Your backpack should contain weatherproof outerwear as well as a fleece layer or a down vest. At night, wear a beanie and wool socks to keep you warm. Microfibre towels are ultralight and will be able to keep you dry.
You can still pack light but have everything you need in case there is an emergency or unexpected situation. Some essential items include a first aid kit with blister pads, bandages, antibiotic ointment and medication, as well as a headlamp/flashlight, sunscreen and your navigation tools.
Your backpack should be able to carry all your camping gear and essential items. A mid-size backpack might be the ideal size, but it has to be a good fit for your size, too. As with everything else, you don’t want your backpack to add extra weight. Choose something lightweight, frameless with just the right amount of padding.
Aside from the essential items, you can still include a few luxury items of your choosing. Ultralight backpacking shouldn’t feel like you’re depriving yourself. The ultimate goal is to have as much fun as possible after all. As such, don’t hesitate to bring items that might enhance your camping experiences like a digital camera or a journal. In the end, make sure you can comfortably carry your backpack.
Your success as an ultralight backpacker will depend on the items you bring along. If you’re prepared and smart about your backpack’s contents, you will have all the items you need to survive the camping trip without having too much baggage. In the spirit of ultralight backpacking, you might want to challenge yourself by leaving some comforts behind. You’ll be able to test your limits, and you might even realise that you can survive with so little.
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