Lightweight and Ultralightweight Backpacking

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Panoramic view from a mountain top in Glacier National Park, Montana
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Minimalism and Survivalism Cautions:

It is possible to have "The 10 essentials - Systems Approach" covered.

The smaller items could be selected from My Gear

Minimalist choices could include the Adventure Medical Kits Escape Bivvy or Adventure Medical Kits Thermo-Lite 2.0 Bivvy for windy conditions or the 2.5 oz Heatsheets Emergency Blanket.

Either one works very well, if you are insulated from direct contact with the material.

Either one may also be used effectively as a reflector of a small warming fire.

Either one may be used as a vapor-barrier, or, as a reflector of a fire or as a windbreak, perhaps wrapped on the windward side. It may also serve to help make a small debris shelter more effective against wind or rain.

The Oware VBL Half Bag is a low-volume packed selection for intentional vapor-barrier use. However any vapor barrier will leave you drenched in sweat if it not sufficiently cold and dry outside. Any non-breathable fabric will act as a vapor barrier.

Designed for dry snow conditions, if you one of these non-breathable items I have mentioned, you will need to be willing to strip out of your clothing to a quick-dry first layer and be willing to put your clothing back on after the first layer is exposed to the air to dry a little, at least.

If cold, this requires determination and resolve. It is that important, however, you be dry to be warm.

I like a silkweight first layer to maintain insensible moisture, while transporting excess moisture away from direct contact. This is because skin will regulate itself, producing less moisture, if there is insensible moisture on the skin surface. This strategy also helps prevent dehydration in more ordinary circumstances.

The only exception is a neoprene wetsuit, where you are warm in the wet inner layer next to you skin sealed off from exchange with colder water. If you have foul-weather gear or a waterproof rainsuit, it can be made to function in that manner, perhaps to sweat on the inside, but survive.

For everything else, if your clothing is wet on the outside and wet inside your clothing you will quickly become too cold.

The surprising thing for inexperienced people is to accept the need for ventilation.

That is a part of why I recommend minimalist products for mild temperatures like 40° F
or for cold dry snow conditions only.

In addition to some protective layer, from heat loss, you will need insulation. There is no getting around that.

There may be insulation from natural materials you could gather. However, including a lightweight sleeping quilt designed for backpacking is a better choice over natural materials. You may want both.

It is better not to rely on finding insulation from natural materials.

The wind will remove warmth, almost as fast as immersion in cold water. For that reason, the non-breatheable materials you have may be better used to keep off wind.

I have a poncho tarp or a minimalist tarp for gathering insulation from nature, but it is usually used to reflect a fire and to hold the heat down on me.


My minimalist gear:

My best tarp for my three-season minimalist camp is the Oware AsymTarp 1, adding a thin mylar sheet tied-in on one side inside the tarp to have a reflector, built-in, to reflect a small warming fire.

I have a Brooks-Range Elephant Foot half bag and Brooks-Range Alpini Anorak I use with a NeoAir XS and TiGoat Bug Net Bivy.

I also wear a waistpack, practically at all times, except when it is right next to my sleeping bag.

I keep my "10 essentials" in the waistpack and in my pockets.

I also use a waistpack whenever I use a small frameless rucksack, the top of the waistpack providing a shelf to support the bottom of a soft rucksack.

I once had a waistpack like the Oware Fanny Pack, Large I used with a simple canvas rucksack. It made a practical lightweight pack system.

I like the Lowepro Inverse 200 AW camera bag for my waistpack.

I also have the Lowe Alpine Mesa Runner beltpack.

I like a waistpack, because I may remove my pack but I still have my waistpack. It is so convenient. I can even pull it around front for access.

The waistpack may be a lumbar pack, like the MountainSmith Daylight Lumbar Pack or MountainSmith Day TLS Lumbar Pack.

In any event, with everything together, I can still have the essentials and food and water to be outside overnight in 40° F weather, wind and rain or wet and cold, with reasonable comfort and reasonable safety.


I have started a new section with photos of the gear I carry.








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