What defines ultralight hiking?
A 4.5kg base weight you follow most theories. Now a base weight is all your gear except for consumable items such as food, fuel and water (your food bag, fuel bottle and drink bottle count though).
Are you getting a little bit confused and a bit perplexed at how people get to these weights. Don’t worry – I won’t spell it out here.
What I want to talk about is UltraRight hiking. That is the right combination of gear and skills to succeed on your planned trip whilst keeping the weight low at the same time.
The first part of getting ready for any trip is to do your research.
- Where are you going?
- What is the weather forecast?
- What are the seasonal extremes for the area?
- What’s the water situation like?
- What are the biggest risks?
- What skills will I need? -navigation, first aid, camp skills, etc
- Is there an alternative exit to my route?
- How much food? What food?
- How comfortable do I want to be?
- What are my goals for the trip? Photos, relaxing at camp, covering as much ground as possible.
That’s not an exhaustive list but its a good start to get you thinking about taking the right gear and setting the right expectations for your trip.
There is no point planning a photographic trip into the wilderness to produce exhibition quality photos and only taking your smart phone. Conversely there isn’t much point taking a full DSLR and tripod if you only want a few happy snaps.
You could plan a menu that requires delicate cooking and only have a stove that is designed to boil water quickly and lacks the ability to regulate the heat output, scorching your meal to the pan. You could however take a stove where you can make those fine adjustments and savour a gourmet dinner that leaves others with drool down their expensive Columbia shirts.
You may take your three season tent into the alpine areas of Tasmania because its summer and not having looked at some reliable weather forecasts and find gale forced winds and impromptu snowfall.
What am I trying to say here? Well I guess in simple terms is to not fixate on the weight of your packs as the single most important factor in planning your trip. I’ve been there, taking off on a 10 day trip with food and water and my total pack weighing in at 13.6kg. Yes I enjoyed it, my shoulders and knees enjoyed it too, but I feel I could have enjoyed it more with a dribble of Vodka each evening and some sandals for around camp in the afternoon.
THE single most important factor of any trip is that YOU enjoy it and achieve what you want to achieve from the trip and leave with a smile.