Hey everyone. I’ve been supporting the Ultralight Community since last August. Before joining, most of my experiences were with car camping and day trips. I’m sharing some of the ultralight-minded improvements I’ve made to my pack, and hoping they will encourage those who are new to our community. Here goes my series of mistakes and swaps...
Sleeping bag: Last year, I bought the Klymit 20 synthetic sleeping bag online. It’s a great product, but in my case, it was a rash purchasing decision. Upon receiving the sleeping bag, I wished I had swapped to a down fill to cut weight, but mostly I regretted not paying attention to the sizing. The internal dimensions were around a foot too long for my height. In fact, I could fold the sleeping bag over my head for a completely unnecessary second layer, and so after digging around our photo sample box, I began borrowing the Kelty SB 20 in a women’s regular size. At 1 pound 15 ounces, and a more appropriate length, this became my preferred choice. Next on my list to test out: our very own Massdrop UL Down 20 sleeping quilt.
Trekking poles: I honestly didn’t realize their necessity until I tried them out, specifically while hiking up the Yosemite Falls Trail. The weight distribution alleviated the pain I usually feel on my legs, and I was able to move at a faster pace. Since joining Massdrop, I’ve purchased three Fizan compact poles, two of which I gifted to my sister and dad. When I injured my knee a few months ago, they also served as more mobile crutches! (Okay, so they were self-prescribed.) However, when I slowly returned to hiking, the trekking poles really made all the difference.
Cookware: I’ve come a long way from family trips camping by the Delaware River, where we brought half our kitchenware. It was luxurious! We had the works: Korean barbecue, dweji bulgogi, and samgyeopsal slowly cooked on a 10-pound stove with all the extra side dishes you would get at a restaurant. And I would do it all again—except I don’t have the patience of a Korean mom to prepare everything, and my interests have shifted from car camping to exploring more secluded areas. I’m amazed to see the possibilities of titanium in the form of a 2.1-ounce Kovea Supalite stove, plus a titanium pot, pan lid, mug, and long-handle spoon from Vargo and Toaks, all together under a pound.
Apparel: Cotton to merino wool. This completely blew my mind.
As for the other gear I currently carry, I use the Terra Nova Solar Photon 2 Tent and recently purchased the Lowe Alpine Eclipse 42:52 backpack, which amazingly fits my Advanced Elements kayak, paddle, and pump, along with everything else.
I’m curious to hear about your early gear replacements. What made the biggest difference? Any funny stories?