Ultralight Hiking


Before 2012, being “ultralight” wasn’t a popular camping concept. Mainstream backpacking culture was all about taking everything you could possibly need and being prepared for every eventuality. But ultralight backpacking is becoming more mainstream as more and more campers take to the ultralight lifestyle.

Traditional backpackers would carry a pack of around 14kg or more. Many will carry 20kg of weight for a short trip and some even stretch to 30kg! I find the weights that some people are carrying absolutely staggering. For even the longest trips, ultralight backpackers will not need anything over 9kg.


Ultimately, the reason people want to make the transition to ultralight backpacking, is that they are free to enjoy their hikes with a lighter load on their back. It is more comfortable on the body and lets you hike further, for longer, with more comfort.


Hiking and camping doesn’t have to be a test of strength and stamina. It is not a world’s strongest man or woman competition where competitors need to see how far they can walk with the entire contents of their house on their back. Equally, it isn’t about seeing how well you manage on few resources. It should be enjoyable. For me, the less weight I am carrying, the more I enjoy my hike.


Not only will it be a more relaxing and gratifying experience, but it puts less strain on your muscles and joints. If you are a regular backpacker, carrying a heavy pack could cause an injury and making the transition to ultralight may help you to maintain your backpacking lifestyle far longer than you could with a heavy pack.


For most people, you don’t even need to sacrifice anything from your pack. If you replace your tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad and backpack with lighter models, you would see your pack weight shrink dramatically. Lightweight models are expensive. You probably won’t be able to do this all at once. But when you next need to replace your “big ticket” items, spend a little more and go for the lightweight version and you will notice a huge difference.

Once all of your big items have been replaced, you will undoubtedly find you have shed quite a few kilos out of your pack weight and won’t need to sacrifice anything else.

But if you want to take other items out of your pack and bring the weight down to below 7kg, I believe you will find hiking a with your pack a much more satisfying experience. For me, there’s been nothing better than leaving baggage behind.


What do you think? Have you made the transition to ultralight? Share your thoughts and join the discussion through the comments section below.

Oli Ward
Oli Ward

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