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I am now an »official« ultralight hiker

Well, »official« as in: I just went on a short overnight-solo hiking trip and carried less than 5kg of stuff on my back. Since that is some kind of a magical number in the ultralight hiking community I would like to share my packing list for this 2-day trip.

Keep in mind that this was on a weekend in August, with average temperatures of 25 degrees Celsius (and above) during the day and a low of 15 degrees in the night and no expected rain or worse. So shorts only and the lightest sleeping bag I have. I hiked a total of ~25km and about 700 meters in height difference, starting at 5pm in the evening (because I had to get there first) and on my way home at 4pm the next day. Not fast, but I returned home with lots of mushrooms, yummy!

So let's get into the things I had with me:

Lugging stuff around and sleeping well, the »big three« + extras

  • Exped Lightning 60 backpack, 1150g
  • Cumulus X-Lite Zip Long Sleeping Bag, 450g
  • Exped Hyperlite Regular Sleeping Pad, 350g
  • GoLite Poncho Tarp, 183g
  • MLD Superlight Bivi Bag, 205g
  • Sleeping Shirt, Icebreaker 150 Weight Long Sleeve, 193g
  • Long Johns, Montane Primino 140, 169g
  • Sleeping Socks, Smartwool Hiking UL Mini, 50g
  • Exped Snozzle Bag, 61g
  • Various Ziploc Bags for trash and food ~40g

Total weight: 2851g

Nothing really special or new here. I tried the new, lighter sleeping pad from Exped and it performed very well — this thing is a keeper. I am taller than the pad, but I actually like it when my feet are hanging down the surface I am sleeping on. I did not use the tarp at all and slept under the open sky, but hey — better be prepared regarding rain.

I kind of missed the small lightweight sitpad I used to carry around the last times, so I think I will add this to my default packing list again in the future. And if it is only for not slipping around on the ground/sleeping pad in the night, it will be worth the 60g.

The backpack is the heaviest thing I carried and I could absolutely have used a smaller bag. The pack was a bit more than half full, but the 22L backpack I own was too small. I am really considering to get another bag, that is just in between the two I already own. Something like the (half a kilogram lighter!) ZPacks Arc Blast is on my wishlist for a long time now :) (Edit: OK, I just ordered one.)

Additional Clothing

  • OMM Windshirt, 67g
  • Patagonia R1 Hoodie Fleece, 392g
  • Synthetic Buff, 36g

Total weight: 495g

I bought a new wind-shirt and I really like it. It is even lighter than my old one, and has a full length zipper. In combination with the small buff and just a t-shirt, this was plenty warm enough for sitting in the wind on top of a hill and watch the sunset.

The fleece hoodie was total overkill and I just used it as my pillow for the night. A comfortable pillow that is, but way to heavy for only that purpose. Still, it might have been colder, and it might have rained, and I might have been more exhausted. So this is still a keeper and will always find a place in my backpack (for now, at least).

Kitchen and Water

  • Toaks Titanium 1.3L, 107g
  • GSI Soloist cup, 36g
  • Lid (selfmade, thick aluminium), 10g
  • Fancy Feest Stove + protective Case, 41g
  • Windscreen, 28g
  • Fuel Bottle, 19g
  • Sea to Summit Alpha Light long spork, 11g
  • Cotton Bandana, 30g
  • Tiny Scrub Pad, 3g
  • Stuff sack, padded, 19g
  • 2L Platypus, 40g
  • 1L Platypus + extra Pull-Suck-Cap, 31g
  • Small Containers for Salt, Pepper + Olive Oil, 30g
  • Aquamira A+B, half-empty, 54g

Total weight: 459g

When traveling solo and/or for just 1-3 nights, I like the alcohol-stove over a gas canister stove. I can decide how much fuel to carry (e.g. if I want a coffee in the morning or not), and for a short outing like this one, this system is lighter in the end, because you don't have to carry the heavy canister around. And the quietness of alcohol stoves compared to the tiny gas-dragons is a blessing.

The cotton bandana is used for fitting everything together without an annoying rattling sound coming from my backpack. And this time it doubled as a bag (and the stuff sack as well) for collecting mushrooms.

Electronics

  • iPhone 5, 113g
  • Headphones, 15g
  • Petzl e+Lite, 27g

Total weight: 155g

When in airplane mode, my old iPhone still holds up for 1-2 days when just occasionally opening the map/compass/camera apps and for listening to podcasts while on the train to where I want to hike. I did not carry a camera this time, since I wasn't in photography-mood, and the camera of the iPhone is not awesome, but good enough for some memories.

Miscellaneous

  • Cordage + Stakes for Poncho/Tarp, 57g
  • Small Hygiene Kit + First-Aid + Toilet Paper, 140g
  • Repair Kit, 35g
  • Leatherman Style PS, 32g
  • Another Bandana, 30g
  • Sunscreen, 60g
  • Keys, 43g
  • Wallet, 60g
  • Map, 68g

Total weight: 525g

The Leatherman Style PS is a nice addition if you want a small multitool in your packpack. There is no knife on this thing (since I carry one in my pocket anyway) but everything else you might need: small scissors, file, pliers and tweezers. I carried too much sunscreen and too much toiletries, but all in all, nothing to heavy to worry about, but an area where I can optimize :) I did not carry a copass this time, sinced I knew the area and actually planned on getting lost (and had my iPhone as a backup).


And that's it! That's everything I had on my back. With a total weight of 4485g, I even broke the non-metric-system magic barrier of ultralight hiking (which is 10 pounds === 4536g, aaah, whatever). Since that does not mean anything let me put it this way: light is bliss. It was quite hot outside, and being able to carry less stuff made me feel less exhausted. And I didn't miss one thing (except for my wife, but she is no »thing«). With the poncho tarp and the fleece (and both of which I did not use at all): weather could have been worse and colder, and I still would have been comfortable.

OK, now for some weird nomenclature: carried food, water and fuel does not count in the total weight, »when ultralighting«. (Some even exclude other consumables, such as sunscreen and toilet-paper — I don't). As always: I carried too much food and fuel and ended up with ~6.4kg on my back in total (without water) when starting and around 5.1kg when coming home (some snacks and fuel left!).

But still, one of the biggest changes I made was not even in the stuff I carried, but in the stuff I wore:

Clothing and other stuff worn

  • Outdoor Research Hat, 50g
  • Smartwool T-Shirt, 170g
  • Short Pants (from ZipOff Pants), 265g
  • Icebreaker Merino Boxers, 52g
  • Socks, Smartwool Hiking UL Mini, 50g
  • Dirty Girl Gaiters, 30g
  • Inov8 Roclite 295 Shoes, 634g
  • Fizan Trekking Poles, 340g

And in my pockets some small things, I like to have handy:

  • Aquamira Premix, Tiny Bottle, 2g
  • Knife, Spyderco Delica 4, 65g
  • Burt's Bees lip balm, 10g
  • Mini Bic lighter, 11g

Total weight: 1679g

Heck, that's lighter than my pair of heavy HanWag mountaineering boots. Especially the shoes/gaiters and my new trekking poles. What a difference. All the ultralight hikers talk about getting lighter shoes and how this would have a huge impact and whatnot. I always was sceptical, mainly because I have a history of broken ankles and fucked-up knees. But I really felt more swift, and the first thing I did with this new shoes was cross some rivers, walk through mud, and I loved it. The Roclites dry incredibly fast, the gaiters look fancy and keep poky things and dirt out of my shoes, and all in all, I am very happy with this lightweight footwear combination. Nothing I would wear in harsh, volcanic, mountainous areas, but for the usual rooty/rocky hiking trails (and off-trail in the woods) this is absolutely sufficient wear and protection. They already have a funny smell on them, since they are completely made out of plastic materials, but nothing too disgusting (yet). Maybe a bit cold for winter-times, but I still have to try this out :)

And lighter trekking poles are a very nice thing as well. I don't really like the foam-handles (and would love some cork on them), but clocking in at almost 200g less compared to my other pair of trekking poles is noticeable with every swing and move, really. OK, not carrying poles at all would be even lighter (and for a simple overnighter I would be fine with that), but the versatility of trekking poles is a very nice thing to have: something to poke in muddy puddles with to know their depth, something to tie your bivi-bag to (so it doesn't lie on your face), a small speed-bump while hiking and a perfect tool to dig a hole for pooing in. If you don't have trekking poles: get some.

OK, enough gear talk and nerding out about stuff nobody is interested in. All in all: I had to get out there, relax, and fill up my internet-and-coverage-free-o-meter and get some energy for the work-hard-times to come. Mission accomplished.

PS: The Mushrooms were delicious and I am still alive!



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