Lightweight and Ultralightweight Backpacking

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Panoramic view from a mountain top in Glacier National Park, Montana
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The Backpack

The backpack should fit.

Decide on the ultimate pack volume and fill weight, including all your overnight shelter, clothing, gear, carried water and food.

For the lightweight backpack, fill to 20 or 30 lbs. If the store doesn't have stuff bags of measured weight, bring in your own hiking gear. If you carry 10 pounds or less, and you are not ultralight backpacking using selected ultralight backpacking and hiking gear essentials, you cannot reasonably expect to have what you need.

The most common mistake is to purchase the backpack first. It has been my experience, those backpacks get given away. The backpacks I keep, and use, are purchased specifically for the stuff I want to carry with that backpack.

I recommend deciding where and in what season you want to backpack, to plan a special hiking vacation in the american southwest for example. Then, look over hiking gear lists at the backpacking hiking specialty websites I have listed for ideas. Purchase as wisely as you are capable, especially targeting dual use or multiple use of what you purchase, or for making your own hiking gear list to get started.

You might begin by making a huge pile, or a list, or a laundry net bag of all the stuff you think you will need, and then have a look at other's backpacking gear lists that are based on experience.

Then, start looking over the likely packs, by carrying features and stated pack volume.

Then, take your stuff into a store that has the packs you want to try on, or, can be packed with stuff bags of measured weight, and volume, matching your pack weight, plus food and water carried.

First, the shoulder straps should fit inside of the roundest part of the shoulder joint, and not rest on the shoulder joint itself. The pack may or may not have a waistbelt, or a chest strap, or load lifters at the top of the pack to the shoulder strap, nor outside pockets or mesh pockets and lash or tie on points.

If no waistbelt, you may want to have a large size waistpack, as well, with the waist belt at or on the hip crest to transfer weight to leg muscles. The rather small or medium size pack can rest on the right shape waistpack pack, may be worn in front to balance the load for walking on reasonably flat terrain.

If you can find a backpack that has some provision for ventilation on your back, that otherwise has the right features, select that one. If you know you will be hiking in mild climate, or cool weather, that is not as important.

I do like to avoid soaking my clothing. I recommend having good ventilation, both of the pack and of the clothing layers you select to wear.

Most lightweight backpackers will need 40 L to 45 L pack volume, until they have more UL gear that will compress and pack to a lower volume. In my opinion, the lightweight pack itself for a lightweight backpack load of 20-35 lbs does not have to weigh more than 2.5 lbs.

Packs like this are listed at gear.



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