THE ULTIMATE ULTRALIGHT CAMPING KIT LIST
For fast and light adventures, it’s all about having the right gear. Gear that will keep you dry, comfortable and safe, but that won’t weigh you down when you want to pick up the pace. But what you need comes down to what your trips will look like. Are you planning short one-day fast hikes or looking to do some more challenging multi-day treks? For shorter, fast-paced, one-day adventures, you’ll only need the essentials to keep you hydrated and fuelled up for the challenge whereas for multi-day trips, you’ll also need to carry a tent or shelter and gear to keep you warm and comfortable for the entire night. If that all sounds a little overwhelming, don’t worry, we've got you. In this guide, we'll take you through the essentials and share our tips for shaving grams off your pack weight.
The right pack is essential on a fast and light adventure as it needs to be big enough to carry all of your gear whilst remaining lightweight, so it doesn’t add to your load. For one-day trips, packs around 10-25L offer plenty of space for you to carry your water, some snacks, spare clothing, a map or GPS and an emergency kit. Whereas a larger pack, usually around 30-40L, will be more appropriate for overnight adventures giving you the space for your overnight gear.
Whatever your adventure looks like, you should look out for packs that have multiple points that can be adjusted to help you stabilise the pack and prevent it from jumping around when you’re picking up the pace. You also want to think about what pockets and compartments will be most useful to you, as being able to quickly access your gear can make a real difference when you’re moving against the clock. However, bear in mind, more pockets generally means more zips and when every single gram counts, this can make a difference.
To find the best pack and the right pack, head to your local Snow+Rock store and take advantage of our free expert pack-fitting service.
Hydration and Nutrition
Whether out for a day or multiple days, food and hydration are essential, but knowing what’s best to pack for your trip can be tricky. Here we take a look at some of the things to consider:
When packing food for your trip, try to choose foods and snacks with a higher nutritional value that will keep you fuelled up.
Dehydrated meals are great as they can provide you with a nutritious meal. Most just need boiling water adding and a stir, so are quick and easy to prepare. Plus, because they're dehydrated, they’re lightweight too.
When it comes to snacks, try to look for things with slow-release energy and a mix of nutrients that will keep you going for longer. Nuts, seeds and dried fruits are also great as they pack lots of nutrients in but take up minimal space in your pack. You can take fresh fruit too, but pack it carefully, so it doesn’t end up bruised and inedible.
Top Tip: Remove any unnecessary packaging from your food before setting off, to reduce the amount of waste you have to carry once you’ve eaten it.
Staying hydrated is even more important than eating regularly, especially when you’re working up a sweat. So, you must carry adequate water with you or have the means to top-up your reserves en route.
You should aim to drink two-four litres a day to keep yourself hydrated. On a day hike, this means you should be able to carry what you need for the day (in a bladder pack or water bottles), but on longer trips, you’re going to need to top up on the move. If you’re travelling through towns or villages, you may be able to top up in a café or refill station en route. However, if you’re heading into the wilderness, chances are you’re going to have to top up from water sources which means you’ll need to pack water treatment options, so you can filter or treat the water to make it safe to drink.
When it comes to clothing, try to choose lightweight layers that provide adequate protection for the conditions you’ll be facing. For example, if you’re heading to a warm country, you’ll need to cover up to stay protected from the sun, but you’ll also want your layers to be breathable and wick away sweat. For chilly mountain conditions, you’ll need warmth with minimal weight, so look out for natural fabrics like merino base layers and down jackets.
Don’t forget, wherever you’re heading, a lightweight waterproof is a must to keep you dry if it rains. But, as with the rest of your clothing, you need to prioritise the features that are right for you; for example, choose a higher waterproof rating for wintry conditions and a higher breathability rating for warmer climates.
When it comes to footwear, the most important thing is that the shoes fit and they're comfortable. However, there are a few things you might want to think about if weight is an issue. For example, walking shoes tend to be lighter than walking boots but generally provide less support. So, if you’re facing tough conditions, it might be best to prioritise extra support over a little added weight. Leather walking shoes are generally heavier than synthetic shoes, but some people find leather more hardwearing and durable.
At Snow+Rock we offer free footwear appointments, where our experts not only measure your feet, but they also get to know about your adventures so they can make suggestions that they know will be right for your trip. Find your nearest store and get your appointment booked.
Regardless of whether you’re sticking to a well-known path or heading off the beaten track, you need to make sure you can navigate, should things take a turn for the worse. A GPS is probably the most popular option, and whether you opt for a handheld device or go for a watch is down to personal choice (obviously a watch will add less weight and leaves your hands free). These systems offer a variety of features, from tracking your route to providing your accurate location in the event of an emergency. However, we’d always recommend carrying a traditional map and compass as well just in case you run out of charge or lose signal.
Although you may not be planning to walk or run once the light fails, if things take a turn for the worse, you may find yourself inadvertently facing nighttime conditions, so a head torch is a must. Lighting your path with a head torch means you have both hands free to help keep you balanced or to grasp for extra support in challenging conditions. They also come in pretty handy if you end up having to pitch up in the dark or go to the toilet during the night.
First aid kit
We’re not suggesting you carry a full first aid kit, but it’s a good idea to carry some basics. You can invest in a specialist fast and lightweight first aid kit, or you could just pack a few essentials like wound closure strips, dressings, gauze, bandages, gloves and plasters as well as appropriate pain relief tablets and antihistamines.
For overnight adventures, you’ll need to carry a bit more gear, but by making informed choices you can keep your pack weight to a minimum.
Weight will be the key component when it comes to choosing your tent, as it can add a lot of weight to your pack. However, you also need to consider the conditions you’re likely to face. For example, if you’re heading on a winter mountaineering trip, it’s no good choosing the lightest tent if it can't withstand more extreme conditions.
Transverse hoop tents are ideal for faster moving trips as they are lightweight, usually just a couple of kilos, but provide good stability when the going gets tough. Check out our tent buying guide for more info.
Choosing the right sleeping bag for fast hikes is all about comparing warmth-to-weight ratios: how much heat can a sleeping bag provide against how much it weighs?
Unless you’re travelling somewhere warm, chances are you’ll be looking for sleeping bags that are warmer but lighter. Usually, down fill outperforms synthetic fibres in this area. However, the drawback to down sleeping bags is that they lose all insulating properties if the down gets wet. To overcome this, you just need to put your sleeping bag in a dry bag and carry it in your rucksack. Down sleeping bags can be pricier too, so synthetic fibre sleeping bags are worth looking at if your budget is tighter or you’re travelling somewhere heavy rainfall is expected.
Some may see a sleeping mat as a luxury, but trust us, they’re essential. Sure, you want to shave weight off your pack, but you also want a restful night’s sleep, so you’re up and raring to set off again.
Gone are the days when a rolled-up foam mat was your only option. Now you can choose from an array of self-inflating mats, that offer more cushioning and insulation yet pack down more easily and are lighter.
If you’re away for a night or longer, then a stove is a must-pack. There are plenty of lightweight one-pot stove systems available that add little in volume or weight to your pack but provide you with the comfort of a hot drink or warm meal after a gruelling day.
One-pot stove systems are best for heating water and usually come with a cup-like attachment, which screws onto the stove. This helps maximise efficiency and save space (most pack down into this pot once you’ve finished using them), but it does limit your cooking ability to mainly dehydrated foods.
Our expert's extras
Now we've covered the basics we thought we'd get some expert advice from someone who loves nothing more than getting out there. Will, from our buying team, is a hardcore lightweight camper and has given us some insight into the little extras that will help you make the most of your trip.
“If you’re not planning to camp overnight, it’s a good idea to pack some form of emergency shelter like a bivi bag, just in case things don’t go to plan.”
“When you’re trying to cut down weight, you don’t want to carry lots of different cutlery. With a spork, you can stir and eat all with one implement.”
“Buffs can be worn in so many different ways and are a great addition to your pack. Worn around your neck, they prevent cold air from blowing in down your jacket and worn around your head they help keep your ears warm without you overheating. You can even use a Buff as a makeshift sling for any unexpected arm injuries!”
PENCIL AND WATERPROOF PENCIL
“Having a pencil and some paper means you can leave behind a message if you get into any trouble on the hill or need to write something down. I usually keep these within my dry bag to make sure that they don’t get wet."
“It may seem a bit odd, but elastic bands are incredibly useful. You can use them to stop things rattling around when you’re running, to keep clothing rolled up neatly in your pack and even to keep your map folded in the right place.”
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