The mantra of “fast and light” was for years an utterance associated with a subset of the outdoors fringe. A toothbrush cut in half, ostensibly to save a few grams of weight, was a symbol of the movement, which traded comforts such as thick sleeping pads and heavy camp stoves for minimalist gear that could dramatically decrease your pack’s load.
For a weekend trip, a backpack fully loaded with ultralight gear might weigh 20 pounds or less. A longer trip will increase pack weight to an extent, though usually because of extra food and fuel, not from lots of additional equipment.
Today, the “fast and light” fringe has morphed with the mainstream. Camping and backpacking products from most major companies now stress light weight. Stoves and sleeping bags can measure scant ounces on a scale. Two-person tents today weigh in at around two pounds—poles included—and pack down to bread-loaf size.
The result of all the lightweight gear is increased comfort and speed on the trail. Sure, you may sacrifice some in-camp amenities—leave your pillow and cot at home!—but most ultralighters will tell you the tradeoff is worth it.
You can go farther in a day when your pack is light. If you crave speed in the woods, the ultralight equipment here is a good place to start.
Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of gearjunkie.com. Find him on Twitter @TheGearJunkie.
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