Sunday, March 30, 2014

Ultra-light Backpacking for Beginners

Now that the sappy inspirational post is out of the way and my blog is looking all sorts of good, LET'S GET DOWN TO BUSINESS.

If you are already familiar with the basics of Ultra-light Backpacking, now would be the time to stop reading and look for entertainment elsewhere on my blog.(Maybe the video of me doing a workout with my nephew)

Ultra-light Backpacking is a fairly new style of backpacking that combines the use of high- tech light-weight materials and the old saying that less is more to drastically reduce the weight of a hikers pack. Reducing the weight of a pack comes with obvious advantages of being able to hike longer and faster. This is very important for thru-hikers like me who are on a tight schedule and really need to tear down the miles. 

There is an arbitrary number system that defines the difference between Ultra, Light and normal backpacking. Ultra-light backpacking is commonly associated with a base pack weight(no food, fuel, or water) of less then 10 pounds while a normal recreational backpacker base pack weight would be closer to 20-30lbs. 

To achieve such a light pack, the Ultra-light Wanna-Be must do 3 things.

1) Be willing to say good-bye to your old trusty and heavy gear, especially your tent with aluminum poles and your back-pack with a million pockets, and straps. Also your sleeping pad is probably too heavy and your sleeping bag as well. Cook set? what cook set. 

My trusty old and heavy set-up
REI Passage 2p and Gregory Baltoro 65L weighed 10lbs alone!
2) Be willing to spend some cash. Ultra-light backpacking is not inherently more expensive then normal backpacking but if your looking to feel the same comforts as normal backpacking you will have to spend allot to get the ultra-light version of that gear. For instance my old REI Passage 2-p tent clocks in at a whopping 4.5lbs but only cost me $125. The tent I will be using for the PCT is a custom made cuben fiber 2person tent that only ways 20oz but costs a jaw dropping $575. Luckily a friend split the cost with me hence the 2 person.

3) Be willing to leave stuff at home. Ultra-light backpacking is all about pushing your self to find a balance of minimalism and comfort. Can you still enjoy the hike without that extra pair of socks or underwear? Can you still find a will to live without a hot dinner? Do you need to carry a six inch buoy Knife just in case? 
The most common thing people bring too much of on the PCT is cook-ware and clothes. The goal of my gear preparation is to need exactly what I bring and nothing more or less. 

My complete gear list for the PCT'14 is coming soon. It looks like my base pack weight will be around 8lbs!!


  1. "To be enlightened, we must seek lightness." - a yoga teacher of mine

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