Late summer is upon us, but hiking and backpacking season is still in full swing. 

If you’re tired of carrying everything but the kitchen sink into the backcountry, here are 5 tips to help you move toward an ultralight kit.

Pack dehydrated meals & snack bars to shed weight

Freeze dried and dehydrated foods have come a long way thanks to companies like Wild Zora. Not only are they super tasty, but they are also great options for hikers with food allergies and intolerances, as well as speciality diets. Wild Zora has options that meet the needs of those looking for paleo-friendly, dairy/soy/nut-free and more, including dehydrated meals, meat and veggie bars, instant soups, and dried fruits. Thanks to their minimal packaging, hikers can bring along diverse food options with good calorie intake and minimal weight.

Bring a water filter

If the trail or area you’re hiking has reliable water sources, don’t carry multiple high-capacity bottles. Instead, bring along a water filter, like the MSR TrailShot Pocket-Sized Water Filter. This filter is designed to allow users to drink directly from water sources, filtering 1L in just 1 minute. If you’re basecamping, their Trail Base Water Filter Kit includes the TrailShot, with the added option of high-volume water storage bags. Staying hydrated is always important, but if you can do it ultralight, go for it!

Your pack is (almost) everything

More likely than not, you can’t carry everything you’ll need in your pockets. That’s where a pack comes in. However, not all ultralight packs are created equal. Thankfully, there are companies like Flowfold. Just because you’re going ultralight, doesn’t mean you want zero support. You want a lightweight pack to have enough storage capacity to carry the gear you need while on the trail, rugged enough to withstand any minor abrasions from trees, rocks, etc., and comfortable on your body so you can enjoy hours of hiking. The Flowfold 25L Hiking Pack is made in the US with a lifetime warranty and super adaptable. It features side stash pockets, zippered front pocket and the best part: the roll top closure features compression side clips to help compress the pack when not fully loaded. The pack also features a super convenient side access zip to the main compartment so you can grab essentials without unrolling the whole pack. 

Think differently about your footwear

Are you of the mindset that if you’re hiking, you need a super rugged, above-the-ankle boot? Maybe it’s time to change it up. While traditional hiking boots are still a solid choice, if you want to shed a few ounces, consider an ankle-height, sticky-sole hiking or approach shoe like the SCARPA Gecko Air or models from La Sportiva. If higher-cuffed boots are still your “jam”, check out the ultralight SCARPA ZG Trek GTX. They’re super stable and durable, comfortable on foot, and incredibly light.

Plan ahead

The best way to get your kit as light as possible, while still ensuring you’re fully prepared, is to plan head. It takes time to get a fully ultralight kit dialed in, but once you do, take a few steps to make sure you only bring the gear you need. We suggest gathering all your gear, laying it out, and doing a practice packing session the day before your outing. This will allow you to sift out the pieces that are not necessary and get everything dialed in for the actual trip.

Additional tips:

  • For a quick overnighter, bring a compact and ultralight sleeping pad and bag. If you like sleeping under the stars, go for it! If you’d prefer some shelter, go for a light tarp, tent, or hammock.
  • If you’re hiking in the high country, bring along a thermal layer and rain jacket/shell in addition to the clothes you’re wearing on the trail.
  • If you need to boil water or use a cook system, try a minimalist stove (e.g., MSR pocket rocket)
  • Sunblock, a hat, and sunglasses are always helpful to protect your skin and eyes from exposure
  • Finally, if you plan to bring a cellphone to snag snapshots while you’re out there, remember to turn it to “airplane mode”. This will save your battery and allow you to capture more photos.