Go farther, faster with these ultralight essentials

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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5 thoughts on “Go farther, faster with these ultralight essentials

  1. the major thing that will be lighter will be your wallet

    After first reading article in scouting and looking at stephines web sit. Scouting magine needs to be up front when taking articles were there is a direct finical interest in what is being recommended by the author.


  2. you have to look at the items listed in the artical yes they are expensive and less weight. best thing you can do for a hike and camping is take what you really need and leave what you dont. if youg only going to be gone for a few hours theres no need for a tent. you also pay for the best. Some stuff you pay 50$ for may last one one two outtings while the 150$ item will out last the other 10 times over

  3. What is listed is spendy, that doesnt take away from the idea. You can go pretty light for cheap if you are not a fashon statement.

    A bookbag or ALICE pack (surplus) w/o frame will work for day trips or a weekend. Add the frame and ALICE gets a bit heavier, but carries better.
    Knife, a 10.00 Gerber lockback is small, light and enough for any job.
    Tarp tent, sheet plastic works fine, as do 5.00 tarps. There is more of a problem getting boys to use SMALL tarps than finding a cheap one.
    Pad, less than 20 bucks for the green/yellow foan ones.
    Good BROKEN IN work boots are fine. Cheap boots are cheap boots, but there isnt a need for special boots.
    Pasta sides, butter buds, and dry milk make a good meal. Add bagged chicken or even canned shrimp to a Alfredo. (old guy don’t go hungry in woods)
    Sleeping bag, surplus black insert for system can be found for a few bucks and that will hold down to 35-40F.
    Esbit stove, pot from a cheap messkit, change of drawers, packed in a garbage bag inside the pack and you are good to go for a weekend.

  4. Many parents are slow to respond on the quest for hiking gear, especially for growing kids who need gear selection changes as they develop. Some parents would rather scavenge what they already have because kids lose interest in hiking and backpacking unless their peers want to do this sort of activity. Scouting memberships and uniforms and events are a significant drain upon family money supplies. It may be well to have a kid rent an outfit from REI and to go on a trip or two to assess his level of commitment to the sport. Expensive gear, purchased for a special Patrol outing, may end up in the back of a closet for the next ten years. Finding parents and adult leaders who will go on the hikes, are physically able, have free time to do the event, or who can accommodate other kids and wife in the family…this is always challenging. Lots of choices compete for the free time of kids and families, hence the challenge to Scout leaders and facilitators.

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