Is Ultralight Backpacking for Me?

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Ultralight backpacking is commonly defined as hiking with a pack base weight of between 10 and 12 pounds. By necessity, it requires making solid choices about the items taken on the hike.

The goal is to get the pack base weight at 12 pounds or below. The base weight includes your pack, shelter, sleeping system and all non-consumable items. Therefore, the items carried must be the lightest available. Base weight does not include food and water.

Typically, the more experienced the hiker, the more he or she shifts toward a lighter load. Many experienced hikers are lightweight backpackers. However, careful planning and forethought are required to make the transition to ultralight backpacking.

Why Ultralight?

One winter, while I was backpacking with a group of friends in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, an old knee injury flared up. Near the end of the first day, the entire group had passed me by and settled into camp. One of the younger hikers, realizing that I was still on the trail, backtracked until he found me. He took my 30 pound pack from me and I proceeded to limp painfully into camp. It was then that I began to explore the benefits of lightening my load.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Would I enjoy the outdoors more if I was not burdened with a heavy backpack?
  • Am I willing to give up a few creature comforts in exchange for a lighter load?
  • Could I travel farther and see more sights if I had a lighter pack?
  • Is a decreased risk of injury associated with carrying a lighter pack valuable to me?
  • Am I willing to invest the time and energy to experiment until I find the supplies and equipment that suit my needs, personal style and budget?

If you answered is yes to any of these questions, then ultralight backpacking may be for you!









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