Read Ultralight Backpackin’ Tips by Mike Clelland! It’s super cheap to buy online and it is the one and only resource you will need to guide yourself to a fully-fledged, legitimate ultralight backpacking system.
There are a lot of misconceptions about going ultralight, mainly that it is super expensive and leaves you with fragile gear that is impractical for dealing with the abuse of wilderness conditions.
Neither of these are true. The only difficult and costly part of getting your base-weight down involves taking care of the “big three”—sleeping system, shelter system, and backpacking system. However, getting ultralight, custom-made versions of these three is no more expensive than what you would find at major retailers, and the performance quality is much higher.
Aside from the big three, going ultralight is just a matter of scrutinizing every single thing that goes into your pack. Since this is ultimately about taking less, one ends up saving a huge amount of money compared to what the traditional backpacker purchases.
Some general tips:
- Scrutinize everything. The heart of this philosophy is to bring only what you need, not what you want and not what you might need. In order to define a need, you must be very familiar with every aspect of the environment you will be dwelling in. Practicing a handful of times on little trips before a big trip is a godsend here and will really help you refine your gear systems.
- Take care of the big three. All your other efforts of skimping on stuff will be in vain until you do this.
- Don’t take any “spare” clothing.
- Watch out for the small stuff! One must be zealously disciplined here, for this is where all the “wants” and “may needs” tend to creep in, with the result that way too much unnecessary equipment gets thrown in.
- Have a food plan. Don’t waste all your hard efforts at getting your base-weight down by taking excessive or super heavy foods that are calorically inefficient. I recommend following Clelland’s brilliant and delicious approach to the food plan.
Sample Gear List from SHR 2015 – Pack weight: 20.24 lbs
I spent a lot of time refining my systems prior to this trip, and I was extremely pleased with everything. I would have only changed one piece of gear. On day 1, with food for the first 8 days and fuel for the entire trip, my backpack weighed a total of 20.24 lbs (base-weight + consumables).
Base-Weight: 9.06 lbs
Consumables: 11.18 lbs
Gear Worn: 4.86 lbs