Hiking and backpacking have become an increasingly popular pastime, but ultralight backpacking, and ultralight hiking have become a bit of a specialised art. Keeping down the weight of what you are carrying on your back, means that you can travel further in less time. Or you can travel at a more leisurely pace, giving you time to enjoy your surroundings.
Ultralight hiking and backpacking is really only suited to the warmer times of year, such as late spring through to late summer. This is because the biggest weight saving will be on things like your tent and sleeping bag, which are usually two of the heaviest items in your backpack.
For instance instead of lugging around a heavy tent, you could consider taking a hooped Gore-Tex bivi bag. This is just a small single skinned tunnel tent. Just large enough for one person and their gear it offers quite good protection from the elements, as it is both waterproof and breathable. It can however be a bit claustrophobic, and I always tend to feel shut off from the outdoors, unless I leave the door open.
Another alternative to a tent is a lightweight tarp, or basha. These are very versatile, and just with the aid of your hiking poles can be erected in various ways. Used in conjunction with a waterproof, breathable sleeping bag cover, this is about as light as you can get. If used in a sheltered location away from strong winds, they give you a true sense of sleeping in the wilds. It is so quick and easy to set up that it can even be used for a shelter from the rain during the day, or even just to cook under.
One other alternative which is enjoying something of a comeback is the good old hammock. This type of camping is ideal for the ultralight hiker who is more interested in the actual hiking as apposed to the camping side of backpacking.There are some excellent hammocks on the market that come with their own waterproof fly sheet, and are complete with mosquito- midge netting. If you are using one of these you don’t even need to carry a kip mat, so saving even more weight.
This is just one area where you can cut down the weight by using ultralight hiking gear. By using similar items that are available these days, such as lightweight sleeping bags, and even ultralight hiking backpacks, you will be surprised just how light you can go.