Backpack Camping Hiking

ULTRALIGHT CAMPING TIPS

I have recently gotten really into going ultralight. I love the freedom it gives me to cover long distances of hiking and gives me the opportunity to explore a bit of Australia’s backcountry without worrying about packing up heavy gear and dragging it around with me. But there are some measures worth taking to ensure you are fully prepared for the Australian bush.

DON’T CUT CORNERS WHEN IT COMES TO SAFETY

While the aim is to cut pack weight, you can’t skimp on safety. You still need the essentials to make sure you can handle any situation that may arise. Generally, you shouldn’t head out without a map, compass, sunscreen, clothes, a torch, something to start a fire with, a knife and enough food to last a few days. These are essentials which can’t be cut from your pack, or you start to risk your own safety and that of others around you.

WHAT CLOTHES TO TAKE?

Always carry a waterproof of some sort. It is better if it also has some insulation too, even if the days are hot, the nights are cold. Keep this at the top of your pack at all times, so you can grab it in a hurry. I always recommend at least one pair of long bottoms and one pair of long sleeves to ensure you are prepared for any eventuality. Wool or synthetic material for underwear and socks is good. They are lightweight and will maintain their warmth even if they become wet.

Pack a bandana. It’s such a useful item. It can be used as a headband, or as neck protection from the sun under a cap. You can soak it and apply it to your neck to keep you cool when walking, or, in an emergency, it can be used as a sling or tourniquet.

On your feet, light hiking boots or trail running shoes are the best option. You might need to gradually break yourself in to hiking in lighter boots and shoes if you are used to heavy boots. Go on several shorter hikes in them before jumping straight into a multi-day monster.

STAYING CLEAN WHEN PACKING ULTRALIGHT

Hand sanitizer is a small, light solution to staying clean. For oral hygiene, I usually bring a small tube of travel toothpaste and a toothbrush which I have cut in half to save on space. I usually pack enough toilet paper for two squares a day, which is usually just about enough.

TREKKING POLES

If you like to use trekking poles, go for the carbon fibre model. I usually take them because they can come in handy in a fix. I have had to use trekking poles as tent poles in the past and found them to be surprisingly good.

Even though the aim of the game is to keep your pack light, if there is one luxury item that you really enjoy having on your trip, it makes no sense to deprive yourself of it. For me, it is my sketchbook. I won’t go away without it.

 


What do you think? Do you have any ultralight camping tips? Join the conversation through the comments section below.

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Oli Ward
oli@dinga.com.au

Oli has camped and hiked his way around Australia and most of Europe. He also loves writing about his experiences and sharing his knowledge.