12 Steps to a Lighter Backpack
In August 2011, popular US hiking magazine Backpacker published an article on ultralight hiking titled Ultimate Comfort: 12 Easy Ways to Shed Weight and Camp in Style.
Needless to say, the article was something of a disappointment. As a response, Backpacking North published a 12-part series of comprehensive articles as a guide to help readers reduce their backpack weight. The articles offer tips and advice as well gear recommendations. The series draws both on the experience Backpacking North's Mark Roberts, and on the wisdom and knowledge of other people writing in the ultralight blogosphere.
Rather than showcasing the newest gear, the series focuses on tried-and-tested equipment that has proven popular and reliable within the UL hiking community.
Part 1: Admit you have a problem
The basics: What does it mean to go ultralight? What are the weight goals? Part one looks at the concept of the "big three".
Part 2: Downsize your pack
The first item of the "big three" - your backpack. Find out how to carry a much lighter backpack and cut considerable weight before you've even started packing for your next trip.
Part 3: Ditch your dome
The second of the "big three", your shelter doesn't need to weigh a ton and be capable of surviving a meteor impact. Discover new ways to shelter in safety and style, and save weight at the same time.
Part 4: Change your bedding
The final element of the "big three" - your sleeping bag. A poor choice of bag can fill half your backpack, and outweigh it's warming benefits. Part four helps you escape mummification with alternative sleeping systems.
Part 5: Start cooking light
Traditional camping stoves are large, weighty and inefficient. Learn how to carry a much lighter stove, and limit how much fuel you need to carry.
Part 6: Pay attention to the menu
It's easy to carry far too much food on short trips. Find out how to watch what you eat, carry sensible foods, and still stay fit and healthy on the trail.
Part 7: Carry less water
Depending on where you hike, the water you carry can account for a significant proportion of your pack weight. But do you really need to carry so much? Learn how to carry less and choose the lightest filtration system part seven.
Part 8: Dress down
Learn how to layer effectively, reduce the amount of clothing you carry, and stay safe and warm in part eight.
Hygiene is important, and certainly no less so on the trail. Part nine examines lightweight alternatives and techniques for essential cleanliness, health and safety, for yourself and those travelling with you.
Part 10: Pack knowledge
They say "the more you know, the less you carry." By the end of part 10 you'll have learned lots of clever ways to reduce your pack weight through the simple application of knowledge.
Part 11: Go smart-tech
Gadgets, gear, and gimmicks. Find out the most essential and lightweight tech to take on the trail, and discover some more tools that might help you in a sticky situation.
Part 12: Give your feet a break
"A pound on your feet is like five on your back." Part twelve will take a load off your feet and show you a radical new approach to hiking that will change your backpacking experience.
Epilogue: Summary of discussion.
An overview of the series, and brief discussion of the ultralight scene today.
The series will be rewritten and updated with additional info to be published as a downloadable eBook in 2013.