Ultralight backpacking

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**History of Ultralight Backpacking:**
– Popularized by Ray Jardine in 1992.
– George W. Sears (Nessmuk) practiced it in the late 1800s.
Grandma Gatewood thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 1955 with minimal gear.
– Ultralight mentality predates modern lightweight gear.
– Jardine’s book ‘Beyond Backpacking’ laid foundations for techniques.

**Philosophy and Process:**
– Lower base weight allows covering longer distances.
– Weigh and reduce the weight of every item.
– Carry minimal consumables.
– Share group gear to reduce individual load.
– Learn skills to replace equipment.

**Key Elements for Weight Reduction:**
– Shelter, sleeping system, and backpack are crucial.
– Shelter: Non-freestanding systems, silicone-coated fabrics, various options.
– Sleeping system: Mummy-style quilts, down insulation, bottom-less quilts, site selection.
– Backpack: Frameless packs, homemade gear, minimal features, durability.

**Consumables Management:**
– Hikers carry water, food, and fuel.
– Resupply items more frequently to save weight.
– Some use food caches or store stops on long-distance trails.
– Water management strategies for weight reduction.
– Food choices and techniques for reducing pack weight.

**Additional Considerations:**
– Information on resupplying consumables at access points.
– Various strategies used by ultralight backpackers to minimize pack weight.
– Importance of proper planning for water sources.
– Dehydrating food at home as a common practice.
– Choosing lightweight and high-calorie foods for weight reduction.

Ultralight backpacking (sometimes written as UL backpacking) is a style of lightweight backpacking that emphasizes carrying the lightest and least amount of gear. While no technical standards exist, some hikers consider "ultralight" to mean an initial base weight of less than 4.5 kg (9.9 lb). Base weight is the weight of a fully loaded backpack at the start of a trip, excluding worn weight and consumables such as food, water, and fuel (which vary depending on the duration and style of trip). Base weight can be lowered by reducing the weight of individual items of gear, or by choosing not to carry that gear. Ultralight backpacking is most popular among thru-hikers.

A bivouac (using a bivy sack) in winter at Benediktenwand, Germany

In the United States, the terms "light" and "ultralight" often refer to backpackers who carry gear with a base weight below 6.8 and 4.5 kg (15 and 10 lb) respectively. These weights are more easily achievable for smaller hikers. Larger hikers may need to carry clothes, shelters, sleep systems and backpacks that weigh up to 50% more. In contrast, traditional backpackers have base weights of 6.8 to 13.6 kg (15 to 30 lb), and in some cases (usually winter trips, extended trips in varying conditions, and multi-purpose trips requiring additional gear such as photography, fishing, and climbing) as much as 25 kg (55 lb) or more.

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