Ultralight Backpacking

There are people out there doing multiday trips with 16 pound packs! Not me (yet!), but it definitely sounds like the thing, and I am eagerly learning more.

The guy who started much of this is Ray Jardine. I am impressed with Ray and Jenny, and enjoy their deeds and writing. (Read their book: Trail Life).

A great resouce is BackPackingLight.Com. ($24.99 for a years membership - As much as I hate the pay to view concept, I joined, and it was worth it).

Another interesting site is Backpacking.Net - ultralight.

Famous in the history of ultralight backpacking is Emma "Grandma" Gatewood (1888-1975). She hiked the Appalachian Trail twice (once around the age of 80) with plain tennis shoes, a pastic shower curtain for a tent, and with food and spare clothing in a bag carried over her shoulder. Her immortal words:

Most people are pantywaists, exercise is good for you.

My goal is to achieve what Ultralight Joe has achieved.


Base Weight

This is the weight of your pack and everthing in it before adding consumables (food, water, and fuel). People also talk about base weight - FSO (FSO = full skin out), which adds everything you happen to be wearing to the above. People also discuss several commonly agreed upon "levels" of ultralight packing: Pushing and pursuing these arbitrary weight categories can become an end in itself. I tend to scoff at that, being practical, and remind myself that going ultralight is a means to an end, namely enjoying the outdoors. On the other hand ...

Someone said that you probably don't want to go SUL very often, but doing a trip or two that way will really teach you some lessons. This makes sense to me, so I will probably take the challenge and try it on a short trip or two. Up till I heard this comment, I figured it was just for crazy extremists, and perhaps it is, we shall see. Heck, I should just try to do more bonafide ultra light trips.

There really does seem to be something significant about the 30 pound packweight. I recently got sloppy and did a trip with a 35 pound pack and was back into the same old misery and suffering. Anything 25 pounds and under I hardly notice. A 30 pound pack is mildly unpleasant at the start of a long trip, but I know it will be just fine after a couple of days.


Here are some really good (Don't miss these) ultralightweight backpacking links: Here are some random ultralightweight backpacking links:
Have any comments? Questions? Drop me a line!

Tom's hiking pages / tom@mmto.org