Ultralight camping is a camping style that involves carrying the lightest and the least amount of gear outdoors. More and more outdoor enthusiasts like to practice ultralight camping because it's more comfortable, convenient and makes traveling faster, especially if one is camping, backpacking or hiking.
The goal is to pack only the most essential items, to shave weight without sacrificing comfort. It's just like packing for a regular camping trip, but you should focus more on practical changes that will lessen the weight but making sure that you'll still have all you need.
Practicing this style is even easier nowadays because outdoor product companies are offering ultralight versions of almost all camping and outdoor gear. If you're curious about or want to try ultralight camping, read on!
Here's a basic checklist of essential ultralight camping and backpacking items. Choose the lightest-weight versions of the items on this list that you can find, afford or feel comfortable with!
Shelter and Sleeping Gear
- Tent (with guylines and stakes), hammock or bivy
- Ground cloth
- Sleeping bag
- Sleeping pad
- Repair kit
- Pillow and blankets (optional)
- Long underwear top
- Long underwear bottom
- Insulated jacket
- Waterproof rain jacket
- Wool socks
*Note: Add other clothing items depending on the weather or season
- Wool/synthetic top
- Sports bra
- 1 pair hiking/running shorts
- 1 pair hiking/running pants
- 2 pairs wool/synthetic underwear
- 2 pairs wool/synthetic socks
- Hiking shoes/boots
- Sun-protective hat
- Sun-protective gloves (optional)
Toiletries and Personal Items
- Biodegradable soap
- Small toothbrush + toothpaste
- Water wipes (preferably biodegradable)
- Toilet paper
- Hand sanitizer
- Sanitation trowel
- Waste bags
- Menstrual products
- Insect repellant
- First aid kit
- Prescription medications
- Credit card/small amount of cash
- Itinerary copies
Food and Cooking Items
- Stove + fuel
- Waterproof matches/lighter
- Small pot
- Water bottle
- Stuff sack (for hanging)
- Water filtration system
- Purification tablets/drops
- Food and snacks
- Safety whistle
- Optional: Cellphone, solar/portable charger, GPS, Personal locator beacon
- Playing cards
© Hunt and Lunch
Here are a few quick tips for ultralight camping:
Trim down your camping list
The main goal of ultralight camping is to bring only essentials. You don't have to sacrifice comfort but it's important to tell apart which is essential and which is not. Do you really need that stainless steel wine cup or that 8-pc cook ware?
You'll get better at ultralight packing after a few trips. After each trip, observe which items you packed but didn't use. Cut those items for next time.
Pack items that have multiple uses
Double or multiple use items are ideal if you plan to try ultralight camping or backpacking. For example, a small cooking pot can also be used as a bowl. You can use a stuff sack as a pillow if you stuff it with clothes. A bandana can be used as shade, to cool you down on hot days, or even as a coffee and water filter.
Invest on lightweight versions of camping gear
We're going to be straight - going light isn't exactly cheap. Ultralight versions of tents, sleeping bags and even camping backpacks are expensive. But you don't have to upgrade all your gear right away. And once you have them, they're worth the money and you're set for years to come.
Ultralight camping takes practice and experience. You won't be able to master this style in one trip. You can do research, or better yet, talk to other backpackers and hikers to ask for tips, tricks and advice for keeping your weight low.
After each trip, you'll see the improvement for sure!
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