Either taking a full week camp or just a short 3-day backpacking trip, planning for the weight you will carry is essential and a must! Other people take this for granted but believe me, how heavy your pack ends up will greatly affect your body’s performance throughout your trail and how much fun you’re going to have.
Are you the lightweight type or an ultralight backpacker? We will explore the advantages and benefits of these two and what are their differences from traditional backpacking.
Advantages Of Light Packing
Let’s get straight to the point. Packing your stuff depends on how long your trip is, and it will always be beneficial to go lighter. Why? With the lighter weight you carry on your pack, you’ll be able to hike farther with less pain in the joints. You’ll have more ease in movement and take more challenging trails ahead and of course, with your body not stressed out, you’ll wake up in the morning feeling rested and motivated to go on.
With that in mind, do whatever works best for you. Remember that, it is unwise to take out almost everything from your pack just to focus on going lighter. You wouldn’t want to be uncomfortable on your trip because you didn’t bring your extra pair of sweaters or a cozy blanket. It is important to have the right balance between camp comfort and pack weight. Ideally, you want to carry the minimum load that would make your nights cozy and comfortable. Any more will be extra weight on the route, and any less will result in a cold, restless night's sleep, making you less effective in your backpacking.
The Difference. Traditional vs. Lightweight vs. Ultralight
When talking about traditional, lightweight, and ultralight backpacking, the main difference and focus is their base pack weight. Base pack weight does not include your body weight, the clothes you are wearing, or your consumables such as food, water, or fuel-things that get swapped out frequently, therefore, weighing different amounts during the course of your trip. A traditional backpacker would have a base pack weight of over 30 pounds. Lightweight is 10 - 20 pounds and an ultralight backpacker would have a base pack weight of under 10 pounds.
As we add more stuff to our pack, it begins to weigh even more and ounces will slowly add up to pounds on your back. How do we lower our weight? We need to focus on the “main three”.
These are your shelter, your sleeping equipment, and the backpack itself. Remember that these three are non-negotiable on the trail meaning you are required to bring them with you during your trip. Also, they tend to weigh a lot and take up space. Let's take a look at shelter for example. A traditional backpacker would take just any tent they have or want for the whole trip. Backpacking tents are not that heavy for they are designed to be carried with, but if you start to add them up with your sleeping bag, food for 3 days to a week, water and purifier, a stove, fuel, extra clothing, survival equipments and put it all in your pack, well good luck on keeping your backpack light.
On the other hand, an ultralight backpacker might approach this differently. They may choose to go with just a tarp or a bivy bag system or hammock which would seriously cut down on their pack weight.
Summing things up, Of course, there will always be alternatives. Trading out your main three for more lightweight gear is a great start, but lightweight gear can be expensive. Plan ahead and explore the vast range of options of outdoor equipment available out there. In the end, you will have to decide and weigh the pros and cons of every option and see what you are willing to forgo to be able to balance between camp comfort and pack weight. So begin with just one. Of course, there will always be alternatives. Plan ahead and explore the vast range of options of outdoor equipment available out there. In the end, you will have to decide and weigh the pros and cons of every option and see what you are willing to forgo to be able to balance between camp comfort and pack weight.
Are you the ultralight or lightweight backpacker type? Or the traditional one that wanted to start the path to less weight? Comment down below and tell us your packing strategies!