If you are already a backpacker, put ten or twelve pounds
into your pack and walk around a little. Does that feel better
than carrying a heavy pack? Then you are ready to become an ultralight
Consider each item carefully. Do you really need it?
What will happen if you don't bring it? What lighter alternatives
are there? After you've really cut down your weight, you can
always add back one or two luxuries. But isn't backpacking light
a luxury in itself?
It isn't the only way, but money is the easiest way for the
backpacker that wants to reduce weight. See the pages on gear
for more information on what incredible stuff is out there. If
you don't have much money, well...decent rain jackets cost a
sixth of the great ones, and weigh almost the same. There
are many options.
A backpacker with knowledge can use a tarp instead of a tent,
can carry only a pint of water (depending on where she is) by
filling the bottle at every stream, and eat a belly full of berries
instead of carrying fruit into the wilderness. Read, learn, practice,
and you can backpack lighter and more safely.
Learn how to use them, read the rest of the pages in this
site (you better bookmark it, because it is over fifty pages
and growing), and start planning a trip. A short trip to is best
if you are using all new equipment. One trip, and you're an ultralight
In the meantime, take a walk a few times a week on uneven
ground (not down the sidewalk). This will strengthen your ankles.
You'll love hiking in running shoes instead of clunky boots.
You may also want to read the page, "Lightweight
Backpacking - How Much Should You Carry."
Here's a video I did on the "big three" backpacking
There are a few limitations to consider with lightweight backpacking.
Some of the techniques require practice, for example. Learn how
to pitch your tarp, or you will get wet. Keep that down sleeping
bag dry, or you will get cold. And don't try to carry thirty-five
pounds in your new ultralight backpack, which brings up the next
The gear an ultralight backpacker carries can be more fragile
than traditional equipment. My Frogg Toggs rain suit, for example,
is light (7 ounces per piece), but not as tough as an expensive
nylon/Gortex one. It even seems papery, but, with care, I've
used it for many years, from the forests of Michigan to the glaciers
on the volcanoes of Ecuador. At $50 or so, compared with $300
for some high-tech rain suits, I figure I can just throw it out
and get a new one a couple times in my life, and I'll still save
money and weight.
The bottom line is that the problems a backpacker faces going
light are small compared to the advantages. Become an ultralight
backpacker and you won't go back to the traditional routine of
struggling and suffering.
Note: If you want to go really light, you can learn a few
wilderness survival skills, just so you'll be safer when you
push your limits. Here are some links to pages that cover survival