Ultralight backpacking is a style of backpacking that emphasizes carrying the lightest and simplest gear safely possible for a given trip. Base weight (the weight of a backpack plus the gear inside & outside it, excluding consumables such as food, water, and fuel, which vary depending on the duration and style of trip) is reduced as much as safely possible, though reduction of the weight of consumables is also applied.
Although no technical standards exist, the terms light and ultralight commonly refer to backpackers and gear who achieve a base weight below 15 pounds (6.8 kg) and 10 pounds (4.5 kg) respectively in the Contiguous United States, 3 Season; elsewhere the definitions are commonly given as lightweight being under 15 kg, and ultralight under 10 kg. For comparison, traditional backpacking practices often results in base weights above 30 pounds (14 kg), and sometimes up to 60 pounds (27 kg).
Ultralight backpacking was popularized by rock climber Ray Jardine, whose 1992 book PCT Hiker's Handbook, later retitled as Beyond Backpacking in 1999, laid the foundations for many techniques that ultralight backpackers use today. Jardine claimed his first Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike was with a base weight of 12.5 pounds (5.7 kg), and by his third PCT thru-hike it was below 9.0 pounds (4.1 kg).
Before modern equipment made it easy, there were also hikers who adhered to an "ultralight" mentality. In the late 1800s, George W. Sears (a.k.a. "Nessmuk") hiked and paddled through the Appalachian territory with only a waxed canvas tarpaulin, walking stick / ridgepole, a small pan, and his trademark dual-bladed hatchet. He laid the foundations of ultra-light backpacking in his concise 1884 book, "Woodcraft", which is still in print today.
Another 'early pioneer' was Grandma Gatewood, who thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 1955 with only a duffel bag containing an army blanket, a plastic sheet, an umbrella, and other very simple gear much lighter than the heavy equipment common among thru-hikers in those days.
By carrying lighter and more multi-purpose equipment, ultralight backpackers aim to cover longer distances per day with less wear and tear on the body. This is particularly useful when through-hiking a long-distance trail. Many adherents suggest the following steps (in order of weight and least cost):
All these efforts can result in base backpacking weight that is under six pounds (3 kg). Although focusing on the pack's weight is common, the philosophy of ultralight travel applies to the person (e.g. trim vs. obese) and everything carried (e.g. skin-out weight).
Weight on one's feet (from socks, boots, etc.) requires 4–6x times more energy to move than the same weight on one's back. Minimizing footwear weight is the most efficient means to reduce a hiker's total calories burned (i.e. food carried), stress on body, etc. For example, Grandma Gatewood wore Keds rather than army boots.
The most common rain shelter in use is the tent, but these are relatively heavy due to a number of reasons. They are often designed from two layers of fabric (to address the internal condensation problem), often require the use of metal poles and stakes, and sometimes include a separate ground cloth to protect the tent bottom. Replacing a double-wall tent with a simple tarp and bivy combination will reduce not only weight but also volume carried in a backpack. Other methods to reduce shelter weight include single layer tarp tent hybrids, hammocks, poncho-tarps, or the use of a bivy sack (Alpine style) as the sole shelter. Although the lightest possible shelter systems are tarps, there are shelters in between mainstream heavy tents such as tarptents that require less skill to use than tarps. Generally as weight decreases, the skill to use a shelter safely increases.
Reduction in weight of the second of the big three, the sleeping system, is achieved through reduction of the quantity of fabric used in its manufacture or through use of lighterweight materials in its construction. Down is a lighter insulation material by volume than currently available synthetic fibers, which will reduce bag weight, but it is susceptible to loft loss caused by moisture. The overall weight of a sleeping bag can be reduced by eliminating superfluous material. An example of this is the use of a sleeping quilt or top bag. A sleeping quilt is a bottom-less insulated blanket which has no insulation on its bottom side, relying on the user's sleeping pad to guard against conductive heat loss into the ground. A top bag is more like a conventional sleeping bag in that it wraps around the user's entire body but the bottom fabric contains no insulation. The philosophy behind these two alternatives is that insulation crushed under a person's weight is devoid of air and therefore useless. Some modern down sleeping bags are through-baffled and under-filled such that the user can shift all the insulation to the top of their body thereby maximizing its potential to retain heat. Ultralight hikers also tend to carry bags rated for warmer temperatures than traditional-weight backpackers, making up the difference on cold nights by wearing insulated clothing to bed, such as a balaclava or an insulated jacket. Proper camping site selection that avoids colder hollows (low points where cold air tends to collect) or that makes use of natural wind barriers such as thick vegetation or cliffs makes up the difference in heat lost by lighter gear.
With a lighter shelter and sleeping system, the backpack can consist of lighter material and a less bulky frame or no frame at all. The common ultralight alternative to an internal frame pack is a frameless pack made of ripstop nylon, silnylon, or Dyneema Composite Fabric (DCF), formerly known as Cuben Fiber, with a carrying limit of 25 pounds (11 kg). An internal-frame pack can weigh upwards of 6 pounds (2.7 kg) with features such as hip belt stabilizers, lifter straps, sternum straps, and compression straps; ultralight frameless packs are commercially available in weights ranging from eight to fourteen ounces (200–400 g) and can consist of not much more than a sack with shoulder straps, a return to the simplicity of the rucksack. Jardine's book includes directions to make your own "ultralight pack".
Some backpackers choose to make their own gear. Advantages to such an approach include possible reduction of cost and the opportunity to customize the gear to the individual user. Additionally, if a homemade item were to break down, the hiker would be in a better position to repair it. Lastly, commercial manufacturers often choose heavier, more durable material for their products in order to reduce the amount of care and maintenance required of the user (and minimize returns of damaged gear). Given proper care, homemade lightweight gear can last as long as it is needed.
The remaining gear (such as ten essentials and survival kit) carried by an ultralight backpacker follows a similar philosophy of replacing traditional backpacking gear with lighter options. Replacements include:
In addition to carrying equipment, hikers must also carry consumables such as water and food, and in some cases fuel. Some ultralight backpackers save weight by resupplying these items more frequently. On long-distance trails with multiple access points, some ultralight hikers choose to place food caches or stop at stores to resupply consumables at frequent intervals, allowing just two or three days' worth of food to be carried in place of a larger load.
Water can be a significant contributor to pack weight because moderate activity in a moderate climate requires 2 litres (2.1 US qt) of drinking water per day, with a weight of 2 kilograms (4.4 lb). When traveling through an area with many springs and streams, some ultralight hikers can carry as little as 350 millilitres (12 US fl oz) of water, or none at all, provided the hiker is confident on how far away the next reliable water source is and the expected weather conditions, but in other regions hikers must carry all their water requirements, and can only minimize the container weight.
Some ultralight hikers reduce the weight of water purifying devices, carried to prevent waterborne diseases such as Giardiasis, Cryptosporidiosis and dysentery, by carrying lighter disinfectants as opposed to filters or Ultra Violet (UV) treatment devices. Some hikers carry no filtration device at all.
Once the "Big Three" and water are resolved, food becomes the biggest contributor to pack weight and an area where substantial gains over traditional backpacking can be made.
The Basal metabolic rate requirement of food calories (one food calorie is 1000 heat calories, thus sometimes labelled kcal) is approximately 1000 per day per 100 pounds of body weight. However exertion in the form of hiking consumes additional calories; for example the standard US Army field ration is 4500 kcal per day for strenuous work. Thus depending upon type of food an average hiker carries, a hiker requires approximately 2 kilograms (4.4 lb) of food per day. Ultralight techniques can substantially reduce this weight, Jardine suggests 2.5 pounds (1.1 kg) per day for thru-hiking, Jordan suggests 1.25 pounds (0.57 kg) per day (at 125 calories per ounce, 4.4 calories per gram) for a 3-season 3-day backpack.
Many foods can be dried or dehydrated to reduce water weight. Dehydrated meals can be purchased or dehydrated at home. On the trail, rehydration can typically be performed by cooking in hot water. Some ultralight hikers reduce weight by not carrying a stove and rehydrating food in a container with water (although this method requires more time to rehydrate than the traditional cooking method). For example, Ramen noodles, dehydrated refried beans (in powdered form), or dehydrated hummus can be put in a ziploc bag or lightweight microwave disposable plastic container with water to rehydrate. Oats (groats or rolled, granola or muesli) and barley also become soft enough with soaking to eat uncooked as a raw food. Tsampa is a simple, bland and lightweight dish made from flour used for centuries by the wandering Tibetan monks.
Weight in the form of food can also be reduced by choosing foods that have the highest ratio of calories per weight. Proteins and carbohydrates have approximately 4 kcal per gram whereas fat has 9 kcal per gram, thus carrying foods high in fat content can reduce weight, such as:
In some parts of the US an approved bear-resistant food storage container is a required item for hikers, which will add between 1 lb 9 oz (710 g) and 3 lb 2 oz (1.4 kg) to the base pack weight. These areas include parts of Yosemite National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park and the Eastern High Peaks Zone.
A backpack—also called knapsack, rucksack, rucksac, pack, sackpack, or backsack—is, in its simplest frameless form, a cloth sack carried on one's back and secured with two straps that go over the shoulders, but it can have an external frame, internal frame, and there are bodypacks.
Backpacks are commonly used by hikers and students, and are often preferred to handbags for carrying heavy loads or carrying any sort of equipment, because of the limited capacity to carry heavy weights for long periods of time in the hands.
Large backpacks, used to carry loads over 10 kilograms (22 lb), as well as smaller sports backpacks (e.g. running, cycling, hiking and hydration), usually offload the largest part (up to about 90%) of their weight onto padded hip belts, leaving the shoulder straps mainly for stabilising the load. This improves the potential to carry heavy loads, as the hips are stronger than the shoulders, and also increases agility and balance, since the load rides nearer the wearer's own center of mass.Backpacking
Backpacking may refer to:
Backpacking (travel), low-cost, independent, international travel
Backpacking (wilderness), trekking and camping overnight in the wilderness
Ultralight backpacking, a style of wilderness backpacking with an emphasis on carrying as little as possibleBackpacking (wilderness)
Backpacking is the outdoor recreation of carrying gear on one's back, while hiking for more than a day. It is often but not always an extended journey, and may or may not involve camping outdoors. In North America tenting is common, where simple shelters and mountain huts widely found in Europe are rare. In New Zealand, tramping is the term applied though overnight huts are frequently used. Hill walking is an equivalent in Britain (but this can also refer to a day walk), though backpackers make use of all kinds of accommodation, in addition to camping. Backpackers use simple huts in South Africa. Similar terms used in other countries are trekking and bushwalking.
Backpacking as a method of travel is a different activity, which mainly utilizes public transport during a journey which can last months.Beverage-can stove
A beverage-can stove, or pop-can stove, is a do it yourself, ultralight, alcohol-burning portable stove. The simple design is made entirely from aluminium cans, lending itself to countless variations.
Total weight, including a windscreen/stand, can be less than one ounce (28 g). The design is popular in ultralight backpacking due to its low cost and lighter weight than commercial stoves. This advantage may be lost on long hiking trips, where a lot of fuel is packed, since alcohol has less energy per weight than some other stove fuels.
Of the available fuels, methanol delivers the least energy, isopropyl alcohol delivers more, butanol is hardly ever used, and pure ethanol the most. Denatured alcohol can contain various mixtures of ethanol, other alcohols, and other chemicals. All but isopropyl alcohol burn with a smokeless flame; it can provide both light and heat.Cuben Fiber
Cuben Fiber (CTF3), now marketed as a Dyneema Composite Fabric (DCF), is a high-performance non-woven composite material used in high-strength, low-weight applications. It is constructed from a thin sheet of UHMWPE ("Dyneema") laminated between two sheets of PET (generic) or BoPET ("Mylar").It is used in various applications that call for a fabric with high tensile strength, but where low weight is desirable, such as sails, tents, ultralight recreation equipment, etc.
The material was developed by the Cuben Fiber and Cubic Tech Corporations in the 1990s. In 2015, Cubic Tech was acquired by DSM, their supplier for the UHMWPE fiber. The product was subsequently renamed Dyneema Composite Fabric (DCF), a generic brand name DSM uses for all of their composite products which incorporate UHMWPE.Fastpacking
Fastpacking is a marriage of trail running and ultralight backpacking: "it is hiking the ups, jogging the flats, and running the downs," depending on the gradient, because of the weight carried. Participants carry a light pack with essential supplies, including a sleeping bag and tent, or similar form of shelter, if mountain huts or other accommodation is not available. The weight carried will vary but fastpackers aim at no more than 15 pounds (6.8 kg) and some achieve less than 10 pounds (4.5 kg). This activity may be undertaken either unsupported, self-supported, or supported. "Unsupported fastpackers make no use of outside assistance along the route", while self -supported fastpackers will leave caches of supplies along the intended route.Fastpacking involves running a covering a considerable distance over several days with a pack, which requires both mental and physical strength. Established, well-traveled long distance trail are used because "with minimal extra food and clothing, getting stuck in the backcountry for an extended period of time can quickly become a dangerous proposition".George W. Sears
George Washington Sears (December 2, 1821 – May 1, 1890) was a sportswriter for Forest and Stream magazine in the 1880s and an early conservationist. His stories, appearing under the pen name, "Nessmuk" popularized self-guided canoe camping tours of the Adirondack lakes in open, lightweight solo canoes and what is today called ultralight camping or ultralight backpacking.
Canoeing had been popularized by Scottish lawyer John MacGregor in the 1860s, but the typical canoe trip of the day employed expert guides and heavy canoes. Sears, who was 5 feet 3 inches (1.60 m) tall and 103 pounds (47 kg) had a 9-foot-long (2.7 m), 10 1⁄2-pound (4.8 kg) solo canoe built by J. Henry Rushton of Canton, New York. He named it the Sairy Gamp (the name of a Dickens character) and in it he completed a 266-mile (428 km) journey through the central Adirondacks. He was 62 years old and in frail health (tuberculosis and asthma) at the time. William Henry Harrison Murray's Adventures in the Wilderness, published in 1869, had praised the Adirondacks as having a healthy atmosphere for consumptives and Verplanck Colvin's enthusiastic writing about the Adirondack wilderness had further inspired the trip. The Sairy Gamp was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution and is now on loan to the Adirondack Museum.
He grew up the eldest of ten children in South Oxford (now Webster), Massachusetts. He took his pen name from a Native American who had befriended him in early childhood. He was fascinated by the few books about Native Americans his family possessed, which left him with an abiding interest in forest life and adventure. A period of factory labor while still a child left him with a fondness for the writing of Charles Dickens. At age twelve he started working in a commercial fishing fleet based on Cape Cod and at nineteen he signed on for a three-year voyage on a whaler headed for the South Pacific; it was the same year (1841) that Herman Melville shipped out of the same port bound for the same whaling grounds. On his return, his family moved to Wellsboro, Pennsylvania where he was to live for the rest of his life. However, he continued traveling for adventure, from the upper Midwest and Ontario to an Amazon tributary in Brazil (in 1867 and again in 1870).
Sears wrote Woodcraft, a book on camping, in 1884, that has remained in print ever since. A book of poems, Forest Runes, appeared in 1887. He died at his home in Pennsylvania seven years later. Mount Nessmuk, in northern Pennsylvania, is named after him.Glaceau Smartwater
Glaceau Smartwater (stylized smartwater) is a brand of bottled mineral water owned by The Coca-Cola Company. Introduced in 1996 in the United States, by 2016 it was one of the top five brands of bottled water in that country with sales worth nearly $830 million in 2017.The brand is also available in other countries including the United Kingdom, India, Australia, Chile, The United Arab Emirates, Croatia, Serbia and Canada.GoLite
GoLite® is an apparel company that has recently relaunched under new ownership. More than just technical apparel, the new GoLite will pair humanitarian and environmental initiatives with an earth-friendly clothing collection that marries outdoor performance and athletic functionality. Foundational to the new GoLite is a mission to leverage product sales – along with new company resources, materials, processes and partnerships – to power charitable and environmental impact. GoLite is funded by a Taiwanese-based holding company which now includes Seattle-based sales and marketing, operations out of Wichita, KS and an International supply chain.Hammock camping
Hammock camping is a form of camping in which a camper sleeps in a suspended hammock rather than a conventional tent on the ground. Due to the absence of poles and the reduced amount of material used, they tend to be significantly lighter than a tent. Their reduced weight often results in less space inside than a similar occupancy tent. In foul weather, a tarp is suspended above the hammock to keep the rain off of the camper. Mosquito netting, sometimes integrated into the camping hammock itself, is also used as climatic conditions warrant. Camping hammocks are used by campers who are looking for lighter weight, protection from ground-dwelling insects, or other ground complications such as sloped ground, rocky terrain and flooded terrain.Hiking
Hiking is the preferred term, in Canada and the United States, for a long, vigorous walk, usually on trails (footpaths), in the countryside, while the word walking is used for shorter, particularly urban walks. On the other hand, in the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland, the word "walking" is acceptable to describe all forms of walking, whether it is a walk in the park or backpacking in the Alps. The word hiking is also often used in the UK, along with rambling (a slightly old-fashioned term), hillwalking, and fell walking (a term mostly used for hillwalking in northern England). The term bushwalking is endemic to Australia, having been adopted by the Sydney Bush Walkers club in 1927. In New Zealand a long, vigorous walk or hike is called tramping. It is a popular activity with numerous hiking organizations worldwide, and studies suggest that all forms of walking have health benefits.Hitchhiking
Hitchhiking (also known as thumbing or hitching) is a means of transportation that is gained by asking individuals, usually strangers, for a ride in their automobile or other vehicle. A ride is usually, but not always, free.
Itinerants have also used hitchhiking as a primary mode of travel for the better part of the last century, and continue to do so today.KISS principle
KISS, an acronym for "keep it simple, stupid" or "keep it simple stupid", is a design principle noted by the U.S. Navy in 1960. The KISS principle states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complicated; therefore, simplicity should be a key goal in design, and unnecessary complexity should be avoided. The phrase has been associated with aircraft engineer Kelly Johnson. The term "KISS principle" was in popular use by 1970. Variations on the phrase include: "Keep it simple, silly", "keep it short and simple", "keep it simple and straightforward", "keep it small and simple", "keep it stupid simple" or the less offensive "keep it simply stupid".Pacific Crest Trail
The Pacific Crest Trail, officially designated as the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCT) is a long-distance hiking and equestrian trail closely aligned with the highest portion of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges, which lie 100 to 150 miles (160 to 240 km) east of the U.S. Pacific coast. The trail's southern terminus is on the U.S. border with Mexico, just south of Campo, California, and its northern terminus on the Canada–US border on the edge of Manning Park in British Columbia; its corridor through the U.S. is in the states of California, Oregon, and Washington.
The Pacific Crest Trail is 2,653 mi (4,270 km) long and ranges in elevation from just above sea level at the Oregon–Washington border to 13,153 feet (4,009 m) at Forester Pass in the Sierra Nevada. The route passes through 25 national forests and 7 national parks. Its midpoint is near Chester, California (near Mt. Lassen), where the Sierra and Cascade mountain ranges meet.It was designated a National Scenic Trail in 1968, although it was not officially completed until 1993. The PCT was conceived by Clinton Churchill Clarke in 1932. It received official status under the National Trails System Act of 1968.
It is the westernmost and second longest component of the Triple Crown of Hiking and is part of the 6,875-mile Great Western Loop.Ray Jardine
Ray Jardine (born in 1944) is an American rock climber who, with Bill Price, in May 1979, was the first to free climb the West Face of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley. Jardine is also a mountaineer, sea kayaker, sailor, hang glider pilot, sailplane pilot, and small aircraft pilot, skydiver, long-distance hiker, bicyclist, motorcyclist, and gear designer.
Jardine is noted for inventing and developing the spring-loaded camming devices called Friends with the late Mark Vallance, which revolutionized rock climbing in the late 1970s. He is also noted for his contributions to the ultralight backpacking community through his books and his "make-it-yourself" gear company, Ray-Way Products.Scott Williamson (hiker)
Scott Williamson is an American thru-hiker, most noted for being the first person to complete a continuous one-season round trip of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). He is also noted for his speed records for hiking the PCT.Thru-hiking
Thru-hiking, or through-hiking, is to hike an established end-to-end long-distance trail with continuous footsteps and completing it within one calendar year.
In the United States, the term is most commonly associated with the Appalachian Trail (AT), the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), and the Continental Divide Trail (CDT), but also refers to other end-to-end hikes. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy defines a through-hike as one completed within a twelve-month period; this definition is used by many groups.
Other examples include the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand, the Camino de Santiago in Spain, the Via Francigena in France and Italy, the Lycian Way in Turkey, the Israel National Trail, and the Great Divide Trail (GDT) in Canada. Thru-hiking is also called "end-to-end hiking" or "end-to-ending" on some trails, like Vermont's Long Trail or New York's Long Path and Northville–Placid Trail.
Section hiking, on the other hand, refers to hiking a trail one section at a time, without continuity and not necessarily in sequence with the other sections or within one hiking season.Tyvek
Tyvek () is a brand of flashspun high-density polyethylene fibers, a synthetic material; the name is a registered trademark of the DuPont company, known for their production of chemicals and textiles. Tyvek is often used as housewrap, a synthetic material used to protect buildings during construction. The material is difficult to tear, but can easily be cut with scissors or a knife. Water vapor can pass through Tyvek, but liquid water cannot. All of these properties have led to Tyvek being used in a variety of applications.Urban exploration
Urban exploration (often shortened as UE, urbex and sometimes known as roof-and-tunnel hacking) is the exploration of man-made structures, usually abandoned ruins or not usually seen components of the man-made environment. Photography and historical interest/documentation are heavily featured in the hobby and, although it may sometimes involve trespassing onto private property, this is not always the case. Urban exploration may also be referred to as draining (a specific form of urban exploration where storm drains or sewers are explored), urban spelunking, urban rock climbing, urban caving, or building hacking.
The nature of this activity presents various risks, including both physical danger and, if done illegally and/or without permission, the possibility of arrest and punishment. Some activities associated with urban exploration violate local or regional laws and certain broadly interpreted anti-terrorism laws, or can be considered trespassing or invasion of privacy.