Lightweight and Ultralightweight Backpacking

The View from Here

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

My water shoes are also my camp shoes, kayaking, or, hiking with stream-crossings. There are over-ankle water shoes available having more ankle protection.

There is nothing wrong with sturdy waterproof bags over trail hiking boots, secured with elastic around the ankles.

For severe cold:

The usual accomodation I make for colder weather is either a synthetic windproof vest and a hooded belay down jacket, better gloves, a warmer hat and a sleep-system rated for the coldest weather anticipated.

If really cold, I wear midweight wool and silk blend longjohns and ski bib or hunter bib overalls with close-fit ankle zips and -60° F rated footwear, and possibly snowshoes, carrying or dragging a pulk with provision for shelter and food and water.

I would include the SOTO Muka Stove OD-1NP multifuel stove, rated for -4° F because milder weather alcohol based stove systems and many of the lightweight gas-canister stove systems are not really set up for -4° F cold weather. This stove is even operable with gloves or mittens on.

If backpacking high volume gear, I might choose either the Katahdin Ultralite Pack or Granite Gear Slacker Packer Compression Drysack, or Moonbow Gear Gearskin compression system pack for more pack volume because I do not like to overcompress my expensive high volume "fluffy" gear.

If snowshoes are involved I might use my Granite Gear Expedition Pulk to bring in a complete winter camp.

If more lightweight is the goal:

For cold and colder weather, I would purchase the 850-fill down Nunatuk Arc Edge, for example, to pair with a hooded belay down jacket.

If cold or cold wet weather may be anticipated, I would pair a MontBell U.L. Thermawrap Jacket or Brooks-Range Hooded Anorak, or warmer, with a Brooks-Range Elephant Foot (Half Bag) or a top quilt from Enlightened Equipment, Hammock Gear, Arrowhead Equipment, Wilderness Logics, Te-wa, or Jacks R Better if colder weather is anticipated, to pair a JRB Down to Earth Pad Converter and Cascade Designs NeoAir Small or NeoAir Xtherm air mattress for the higher R-value and more length and add the Gossamer Gear ThinLight insulation pad and the or a PolarWrap PolarPad or two under it all inside a TiGoat Raven Omni Bivy.

My selection among lightweight gear would be based on volume. However, I would not crush expensive fluffy gear to get the smallest volume packed.

If minimalism is the goal:

For temperatures down to 40° F, I use the MountainSmith Daylight or Lowe Alpine Mesa Runner, or, LowePro Inverse 200 AWwaistpack.

My minimalist gear inside is the Adventure Medical Kits Escape Bivvy or Adventure Medical Kits Thermo-Lite 2.0 Bivvy and a merino first layer, to be used with the hiking clothing I wear every day.

I also put in my warm hat and "extra socks" for warm dry socks.

I would also have room for the Trail Designs Sidewinder Tri-Ti or Trail Designs Sidewinder Ti-Tri with UST WetFire Tinder, a Mini BIC lighter, Spark-Lite Firestarter and Firesteel and food packets for hot or cold meals.

I have warming, mildly spicy Tasty Bite Bombay Potatoes and tortillas, that may be eaten cold, Miso-Cup Soup packets, Adamba Red Borscht Soup packets, dried mincemeat, Gomasio (Sesame Salt), CytoMax Performance Drink packets, Honey-Dried Pears, Nestlè Rich Dark Chocolate and Nescafè Clásico coffee for my "extra food".

In any eventuality, my "extra clothing" includes a merino wool bicycling jersey, for the long zip, high neck, and back packets where I can put two "hand warmer" packets if I could get dangerously cold. I have not had to use the "hand warmer" packets, but I have them.

I use my synthetic fill vest and I wrap my knees loosely with my jacket. If not wet, I wear everything I have. I cover my head with my beanie hat.

I also use the PolarWrap Thermal Warm Air Mask, also available as the PolarWrap ExChanger II Face Mask, Polarwrap The Exchanger Mask Full Head Cover (balaclava), or, the Thermal Warm Air Hood (balaclava).

If I feel really cold, I will use any one of these specialized warm air exchanger masks so my warmth does not escape with each breath or add condensation moisture inside the bivvy, tent, or tarp shelter, or, get any part of my sleep system wet.


copyright © 2017 Connie Dodson. All Rights Reserved.