Lightweight Backpacking Gear Ideas
By Steve Gillman
Below are a few ideas for lightweight backpacking gear that
doesn't yet exist. These are things that I think are practical
and I hope will be made someday. You can make some of them fairly
easily, if you just want to use the ideas for yourself. You can
also take them, make them, sell them, and you don't even have
to give me credit.
In place of poles, there would be two inflatable sleeves that
criss-cross over the top of a dome-style tent. Rigidity could
be insufficient for windy nights, but it's worth a try. I'm not
sure if there would be a weight savings or not, because the airtight
sleeves would add some weight obviously.
I threw away an old backpack, but kept the aluminum frame,
with the straps and padded waist-belt. It was a tough frame,
and when I tied a large nylon duffel bag to it, the whole thing
weighed less than two pounds. Why aren't there packs out there
this light? Just because nobody has done it yet. The idea is
simple. Cut out the extras, and have a large sack attached to
a light frame. If my contraption was only two pounds, there is
no reason there couldn't be a exterior-frame pack that weighs
a pound and a half.
Sleeping Pad - Bivy Combo
Basically, this would be a sleeping pad that is covered. It
would be lighter than carrying a bivy sack and a sleeping
bag pad (less material for the sack, since it wouldn't have to
go under the pad). A sleeping bag might be incorporated into
it too, with the insulation primarily on top, since it is normally
crushed underneath, making it of little insulating value. I think
the whole contraption (with the insulation) could be under 2
pounds for summer use. Bag and shelter under 2 pounds - that's
lightweight backpacking gear.
Ultralight Bivy Sack
I once paid $20 for a bivy sack, and it was more or less just
a plastic bag. It was only 7 ounces, but I realized I could make
an even lighter one. I taped together two large garbage bags
and I had a 4-ounce 7-foot long bivy sack. Like all bivy
sacks, it got a bit damp inside after a night in it, but it wasn't
bad if I didn't breath in it. It made a great cheap and light
shelter. I think it's time for a mass-produced lightweight, disposable
bivy sack. They could be under four ounces, and good for maybe
a three to six nights of use.
Attachable Sleeping Pads
Pads insulate you from the ground and provide comfort. However,
they only do this at the points of contact, which amount to less
than 20% of surface area. In other words, there is a lot of extra
pad, and therefore extra weight. The invention to resolve this
problem would involve small, thick pads that attached to your
clothing at the hips, shoulders, knees, etc. - the point of contact.
They would only need to be a few inches wide, and velcro might
work for attaching, as long as the total weight of the system
was under the 10 ounces or so that closed-cell foam pads normally
A mesh backpack would be light, even after accounting for
six or seven plastic bags to keep the contents dry and organized.
It would also allow you to see the contents.
(Adapted from "Lightweight
Backpacking Gear Ideas," at www.999Ideas.com.)
See A Backpack with Wheels
for more lightweight backpacking gear ideas.