Travelling light is not for everyone. Those wanting luxury and the appeal of lazy living would cringe at the lack of choice in clothing.
Lightweight packing is for the brave who live lean while on the move; hungry to see as much as they can; experience the thrill of adventure. It boils down to taking only what you need without compromising health and safety.
If essential needs are broken down, shelter, food, and rest are all that is needed whether backing packing through high country, trekking under a rainforest canopy, cycling a coastal road, or paddling a kayak on a distant river, lightweight packing is crucial knowledge.
Following is a breakdown of products available to help attain the adventure of a lifetime.
Shelter From the Elements
Locations vary greatly. A lightweight shelter suitable for one terrain may not be a good choice in another.
Water is the biggest consideration, shelter is the next. Deserts are hot during the day while temperatures will plummet at night. A shelter must protect from dew build-up overnight.
During the day when the heat soars, you will need protection from the sun. A canopy of light, translucent fabric allows filtered light to heat up the interior. A heavy, opaque tarp held aloft on poles and guy-lines will keep temperatures to a tolerable level.
Cold weather camping:
Always prepare for the worst. Rain and snow requires special preparation. Shelters designed to cope with these conditions are generally more expensive. They should have a full rain fly. It is always a good idea to test your shelter with a garden hose to ensure it lives up to the manufacturer’s claim, and not leave you with surprises.
Test all zippers.
Intense wind is a problem in these areas. Ensure your tent is up to the demands of high wind.
Camping in the Tropics:
Prepare for humidity and wet weather. Lightweight clothes that are quick drying will make life easier. After every downfall, the bugs come out. Your shelter should have insect proof screens to allow the flow of fresh air without rain spray.
Bugs fly and slither through the smallest of openings. Zippers must be secure. Mosquitoes carry viruses such as Dengue fever. Although not deadly, it will cause the discomfort of high fever.
Leeches are another annoying problem. Eucalyptus oil is the best deterrent. Salt is the least painful way to remove them from your skin.
Ultra lightweight shelters weigh in at 4 and a half pounds or less.
<a href= “https://www.mec.ca/en/products/5039-773/Chowderhouse-Shelter”>Mec Chowhouse Shelter. Although heavier at 17 pounds is bug-proof, deluge proof, and withstands strong wind.</a>
A sleeping pad is essential for two reasons: getting a good night’s sleep with a degree of comfort; preventing cold and damp from penetrating into the warmth of your sleeping-bag.
Sleeping pads are light weight made from cross-linked polyethylene foam. They can be rolled or folded up accordion-style. They come in full length and three-quarter length. Many prefer the shorter length for ease of packing, using their backpack under their feet for comfort.
<a href= “https://zotefoams.com/products/azote/evazote”>Zotefoam Evazote foam is tougher and more resilient.</a>
Choosing the Right Sleeping Bag for Lightweight Travel
The lightest and best performing sleeping bags are filled with duck or geese feather called down bags. There are a large range and variety to choose from.
Mummy styled bags are best for colder regions, some rated to below zero temperatures and known as Alpine bags.
Tapered style bags take less room to pack and usually suited to warmer climates. Other bags have zippered vents to allow cool air flow should they become too warm at night.
A major disadvantage of down bags is their loss of insulation once wet.
Synthetic sleeping bags, though slightly heavier, have better water resistance, some even shower proof. As a rule, they are generally cheaper and a good buy for the budget conscious.
A good tip:
If at all possible, pick a cold night where you live. Take your sleeping pad and bag and sleep in the garden or balcony. Try sleeping for the night. If worse comes to worse, you can duck inside for warmth. It is better to discover the limits of your bedding in safety than in a foreign field.
Choosing the Best Backpack
Essential lightweight gear for travel all ends up in the very thing needed to carry it: the backpack.
Backpacks come in a variety of sizes from 38 liters to 85 liters or 22 gallons.
Backpacks aren’t cheap, but when you think of wearing it for hours in all types of weather the investment is worthy of research and consideration.
Backpacks come in various configurations for different uses. Broadly speaking they include:
- Internal Frames
- External frames.
Daypacks are light. They are good for bike rides or single-day hikes. They are frame-less and many have hip-belts to stop them thumping your back as you stride.
Internal Frame Packs have aluminum stays or rods sewn into the inside. They fit the curvature of your back to hug the load close to your spine. Designed for heavier loads, the weight of the pack is transferred to your hips where humans are good at carrying loads.
Some include a mesh across the frame to allow air circulation in hot climates.
External frames are the choice for hikers. Designed for heavy loads, the pack is hung from a single frame. This allows good air flow between the pack and your back. The frames transfers weight to a lower center of gravity, meaning the load is on your hips. This allows walking in an upright position rather then bending forward to counterbalance the load.
Fueling the Adventure
Trekking through different terrains demands a new approach to the equipment carried to prepare food. Melting snow for drinking water is one example.
Most food preparation will involve re-hydrating meals. Dehydrated food includes meat, vegetables, fruit, and starches like potatoes and rice. Dehydrated food is healthy and delicious.
LPG gas stoves are small, light, and efficient. One canister will last 60 minutes and boil around 4 gallons of water.
Alcohol stoves are slower to boil water but have advantages over gas. Many will burn alcohol, kerosene, diesel, and aviation fuel without modifying the stove. They can burn up to 100 minutes on 13 ounces of white gas.
A stove is of not much use without a pot set. Traveling light often means eating food straight out of the pot which makes buying the right one more important.
Cookware comes in a variety of material.
+ Lightweight, good conductor of heat.
+ Simmers food without scorching.
– Breaks easily when exposed to acidic foods
– Dents and scratches.
+ Scratch resistant.
– Heavier than aluminum.
– Heat is not uniform.
Hot spots can scorch food.
+ Super lightweight.
+ Corrosion resistant.
+ Heats up quickly even without maximum heat.
– Heats less evenly.
– Can overheat.
+ Ideal for baking and cooking.
– Very heavy.
– Needs proper care.
– Not a good choice for backpacking.