Hiking Project Logo

Light weight vs Traditional hiking


Original Post
Richard Slayer · · New York · Joined Jun 2019 · Points: 0

So I've been interested in lightweight backpacking for some time now but don't know if it's the best choice. I know a lot of people use the whole comfort vs comfortable statement a lot.

From what I've heard lightweight backpacking offers you comfort. You're not hurting your back. Traditional backpacking weighs more but gives you the ability to carry more. I know people carry more than needed.

Just for fun what do you keep in your backpack? What is in your survival kit?

J Weitzner · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2018 · Points: 78

Comfort and Comfortable is a common statement in ultralight [hereafter UL] vs traditional backpacking styles, but it isn't really the most helpful or descriptive statement for most people. Generally, backpacking base weights are a sliding scale and I personally don't think it is really important to have each piece be the very lightest it can be. To me what's the difference if my headlamp weighs an extra ounce, I don't really feel that (ounce counters would disagree that each piece adds a few ounces and it all adds up which is true but I haven't got unlimited money to buy UL gear)
I don't know how experienced you are with multiday backpacking where you are really carrying a lot of weight, but even for traditional 'heavy' backpacking your back should not be "hurting" as you would seem to say. Generally, any reasonably fit individual should be able to carry 20lbs (30lbs for men) without any trouble and with about a month of pre-trip training, you should be able to get that up by 10lbs if you really needed to. Thus I can't imagine that you should be carrying that much that a well fit pack should hurt your back.
What is often overlooked for people coming into the UL backpacking scene is that you give back the comfort of having less weight on your back in comfort at camp or money in your wallet. As an example maybe you are going to carry a half size sleeping pad, maybe you won't carry it at all and lay your sleeping back right on the bottom of the tent (not reccomended) it will save you some weight in your bag but you will be less comfortable because you don't have it.

My personal loadout for my next long-distance trip (Alaska in August) is:

  • Merril Moab waterproof boots
  • Osprey ACE 75 pack (It's a youth pack which has fewer features, so less weight, but it fits like a normal adult pack. It's cheaper also)
  • Kelty Salida 2p tent with Tyvek groundsheet
  • LLBean screw-lock hiking poles with cork grips
  • Osprey Hydraulics 3L hydration reservoir
  • 3-4 T synthetic T-shirts
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 4 pairs thick wool socks (I like darn tough best)
  • synthetic long underwear top and bottoms
  • Patagonia down sweater hoodie
  • Mammut Crater Gore-Tex shell
  • Rei rain pants
  • The North Face salty dog beanie
  • Seal Skinz glacier glove
  • lightweight plastic/rubber camp shoes (don't know brand)
  • 1 pair boxers
  • 3 pairs synthetic boxer briefs
  • LLBean UL synthetic 20-degree sleeping bag
  • Sea2Summit waterproof compression stuff sack
  • Big Agnes AXL Air pad in pumphouse stuff sack
  • 2x Nalgene bottles (1-liter size)
  • Sea2Summit Xbowl
  • Black Diamond Equip. Storm Headlamp (2x sets of batteries)
  • 3 misc dry sacks sized for the amount of equipment in each
  • Ursack Major (bear bag)
  • Misc toiletries rebottled in small droppers
  • Sunglasses
  • Eye mask
  • Sawyer Permethrin Lotion

Safety Equipment/Survival Items:
  • Windstorm Safety whistle (20-mile version)
  • Katadyn Hiker Pro Micro Water Filter
  • Aqua-Mira drops
  • AMK Backpacker kit
  • 20 ft hank 750 paracord (also used to tie bear bag)
  • Garmin InReach SE+
  • petrolatum moisturizer 5oz (for fire)
  • 1 BIC lighter (ensure you have a reliable way to make fire, I have the knowledge to create fire from the batteries in my headlamp if needed)
  • 2 carabiners (to make a harness if needed) of climbing strength (20 KN or more)
  • Medium swiss army knife (replacing Leatherman wave due to its lower weight)
  • 20 ft of duct tape (wound around the top of my hiking poles for easy storage
  • mylar blanket
  • 5 safety pins
Dalton Cooper · · Charlotte, NC · Joined Jan 2019 · Points: 0

So I think people are attracted to or intimidated by ultralight because of the flashy things like sawn-off toothbrushes, torso-length foam pads, $600 DCF tents, and spreadsheets with weight goals. I've found one thing that's benefitted me with ultralight is to think about bringing only what you NEED - not what you MIGHT need or want to have (note that safety equipment is a need, even if you don't use it): for instance, it'd be nice to hike in clean clothing and smell nice but I can deal with hiking in the same gross and sweaty clothing each day to save weight (note that I will always have a set of clean, dry camp/sleep clothes as a safety precaution against hypothermia). So with that in mind, even my "normal" gear that I use on 90% of my hikes has benefitted since there's nothing in my pack that's redundant or overkill (e.g. do I really need a fixed blade knife or will a little swiss army knife do?). A lot of times, there's a lighter item that will serve the same function too, and that should get some consideration too (e.g. tarp vs tent, esbit vs liquid fuel stove, cheap rain jacket vs Gore-Tex, fuel bottle of wine vs flask of whiskey)

I think another really good way to consider it is bring the gear that will make you the most comfortable: if I'm spending the majority of my waking hours on trail for a 30-mile day, what I'll take will look a bit different since the biggest comfort will be reducing strain on my body, not going to bed in a hammock. That said, the point of hiking is to have fun (even for ULers), not achieve a 5, 6, or 8 pound baseweight goal (as many idiot vloggers would have you think); nobody is going to crucify you over a small luxury item and even my more questionable trips haven't been put in jeopardy from the extra weight of carrying a paperback.

  • Pack: My Trail Co UL 35 + trash bag
  • Shelter: Brooks-Range Quick Tent, polycro groundsheet, 8x Mountainsmith v-stakes + extra guyline
  • Sleep Insulation: REI Flash Sleeping Pad, Hammock Gear Burrow 20, Granite Gear Pillow Sack
  • Food: Modified Imusa Mug + lid, Alcohol Stove + Fuel Bottle, Pot Cozy, Spoon, Silpoly Bear Bag, REI multi towel, wilderness wash, BIC mini lighter
  • Water: 2x Gatorade Bottles, Sawyer Squeeze or Aquamira drops.
  • Clothes: Long-sleeve tee (EMS Techwick), running shorts, baseball cap, down jacket (Eddie Bauer, will replace with light fleece pullover in warmer weather), 2x pairs of non-cotton socks (1 for hiking, 1 for camp/sleep), lightweight long underwear (may bring an EMS Techwick tee instead of a long underwear top), rain jacket + pants (cheap Frog Togg), beanie + fleece gloves (may forego these in warmer weather)
  • Navigation: Topo compass + map, small signal mirror, Fox 40 whistle
  • First Aid Kit + small tube of lotion (for hot spots and chaffing)
  • Ziplock baggie w/ permits, cash, driver's license, and insurance card.
  • Sony RX100 Camera + ultrapod + spare battery/batteries
  • Misc: Snow stake + TP,  Black Diamond headlamp, lightest cheapest Gerber knife Wal Mart had on sale, sunscreen stick, small tube of picaridin (depending), a ziplock baggie for trash, z-seat, extra lighter or matches, small repair kit (read: a little duct tape and tenacious tape), phone + Anker charger (depending), small paperback book or apple headphones for audiobook, REI trekking poles.
Ishita Shukla · · Unknown Hometown · Joined 19 days ago · Points: 0

hi, I am new here couldn't offer useful experience, I found article 42 Ultralight Backpacking Tips: How to Shave Pack Weight, is it worth to have a try? 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Gear Discussion
Post a Reply to "Light weight vs Traditional hiking"

Log In to Reply