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How to Lighten Your Load with Ultralight Hiking Gear

Hiking is much more pleasurable when you don't have a 50-pound-plus pack on your back. Modern materials now make those heavy packs a burden of the past.


  • TIP: Keep the cookware and dishes you carry to a minimum. Titanium and Lexan are good choices of materials.
  • Step 1: Pack synthetic clothing. Choose garments that can be worn in thin layers. Now bed down early, because you've got a long hike in the morning.
  • FACT: Kevlar -- an ultralight, high-strength fabric -- was first marketed by DuPont in 1971.
  • Step 2: Take along a canister stove rather than a heavy liquid fuel one. Canister stoves weigh only a few ounces and fit in your hand.
  • Step 3: Take along a lightweight sleeping bag. The insulation used in modern sleeping bags is lighter and less bulky than that used in older ones.
  • TIP: Examine your current set of hiking gear and decide what you can do without. You can probably lighten your load even before you start looking for ultralight replacements.
  • Step 4: Wear lightweight shoes rather than heavy leather ones. If your knees need more support, opt for a boot made of Kevlar, carbon fiber, or nylon. If you are hiking in winter, choose an insulated boot.
  • Step 5: Leave your tent at home if you will be hiking under clear skies, or plan to pitch a tarp with hiking poles.
  • Step 6: Reduce the weight you carry by purchasing a streamlined pack. Modern backpack materials are lighter than, but just as strong, as older ones.

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