Ultralight Backpacking Gear

My "Base Pack Weight" is 8.8 pounds. This includes the weight of all my ultralight backpacking gear except food, fuel, and water. The weight of these three items are variables dependent upon the length and duration of my trip. As each day passes, their weight decreases, while my "base pack weight" remains constant.

Weigh your Backpacking Gear

Once I decided that I was going to reduce my pack weight, the first thing I needed to do was figure out how much weight I was actually carrying! To do this, I brought arm loads of gear to work and started weighing everything that I owned. I used the UPS scale in the warehouse, and the Postal scale in the front office, weighing each item to the 1/10th of an ounce. It was only then that I could start making decisions about what backpacking gear to take, and what items needed to be replaced with something lighter. Often I found I already had lighter gear that I could be using, but didn't realize it!

Backpacking Gear Weight Calculator

This is an application that Chris Ibbeson wrote that allows you to easily keep track of the weight of your backpacking gear. With it you enter the description and weight of your gear, then select various items to see the total overall weight. You can also calculate weight by categories.

I've found this to be a valuable tool to keep track of my ultralight backpacking gear weight. It makes it easy to evaluate various combinations of gear so that I can pack the lightest load possible.

You can download this free program, just like I did, from Chris's website "Flatfoot's Backpacking" 

Reducing Pack Weight the Quick Way

Now that you know how much your gear weights
it's time to get to work reducing your pack weight. I recommend starting out with the "big three", your Shelter, Sleeping Bag, and Pack. You can reduce pounds of weight there.  If you cut the weight of everything else in half you'll maybe save a pound, but if you replace your 5 pound tent with a tarp-tent you'll save 3-1/2 pounds! Your 4 pound backpack with one that weights a pound saves another 3 pounds! So look at your "big three" first with an eye towards replacing them with ultralight backpacking gear.

The "big three"

  1. Shelter - My Appalachian Trail Tarp set-up.
  2. Sleeeping Bags - Lighter and warmer is the way to go!
  3. Ultralight Backpacks - Part of a lightweight backpacking system. What to look for.

More about Ultralight Backpacking Gear:

Ultralight Backpacking Gear List - My complete 8.8 pound, 3 season gear list!
Homemade Gravity Water Filter - Faster, lighter, and less work than a pump.
Lightweight Hiking Boots and Trail Runners - These aren't your fathers stiff heavy boots.
Alcohol Stoves for Backpacking and Hiking
- A look at my two favorite stoves.

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