Even though it’s forecast to rain this weekend (right on cue for Glastonbury & Wimbledon), we’ve enjoyed some stunningly good weather so far this summer, and it’s set to return next week. Besides its obvious benefits; barbecues, being able to wear a T-shirt all the time etc., fine summer weather presents lovers of the great outdoors with the perfect conditions for lightweight backpacking!
Travelling light on foot is an unbeatable way to soak up beautiful landscapes as you move through them at your own pace, unburdened by weighty seasonal gear and the pressures of ‘everyday’ life. To fully achieve this Zen-like state of lightweight backpacking bliss, however, you need the right kit. As well as keeping your pack weight down, the best lightweight outdoor clothing and equipment should provide you with a base-level of personal comfort and safety, night and day. Here’s a bit of lightweight kit inspiration from Webtogs, based around the requirements lightweight backpacking with one companion…
Terra Nova’s Laser 2 has been seen as the benchmark against which other lightweight tents are measured for a few years now – and it’s still a fantastic proposition. Weighing in at a mere 1.25 grams, with the ability to be used in ‘bare bones’ mode with a footprint (available separately) for an even lighter overall weight of 1.13g, the Laser is a great option for those seeking lightweight perfection.
Yes, you really can buy pegs that weight just 1 gram each! Made from ultra lightweight titanium, swapping out weighty off-the-shelf pegs for these bad boys is an easy way to save a noticeable amount of weight. Don’t expect them to be the most durable pegs ever, especially if used regularly in rocky ground: but then what do you expect from a set of pegs weighing just 6 grams in total?
With 400 grams of incredibly high quality 800+ fill power down and packable, gossamer-thin Pertex Quantum fabric, this is a seriously high-performance bag. Weighing in at just 805 grams all in, it features Rab Hydrophobic Down for extra resilience to moisture, and down baffle sizes which have been precisely calculated to optimise loft. The Neutrino 400 is suitable for use down to around -4°C; more than sufficient for this time of year, and well into the Autumn in most of the UK. And the cherry on the cake: it’s hand-filled in Derbyshire, UK.
The ProLite has been around for a few years already, but in terms of balance between weight, pack size and comfort, it’s still a winner. Sure, some of Thermarest’s NeoAir designs are a little lighter and pack smaller, but having used one of these myself for more than 2 years I can confirm that the reliability is extraordinary. Kiss goodbye to the bulky discomfort of your old school carrymat! The ProLite weighs in at 310 grams for the size small.
As most people would agree, even in a British summer heatwave it’s essential to have a decent waterproof jacket in your pack, as you never know when the weather’s going to break! This one, the Marmot Essence, is made from Marmot’s latest micro-porous membrane technology, NanoPro MemBrain. This is 140% more breathable than its predecessor, (plain old MemBrain technology), and comes with all of the features you need in a lightweight waterproof, from an adjustable peaked hood to water-resistant PU-coated zips. At a featherweight 170 grams for a men’s medium (it’s available for men and women), it’s unbelievably dainty too.
The Optimus Crux Cook System is a versatile and efficient 3-piece Cook System, coupling the extremely compact Optimus Crux stove, with a 0.95 litre saucepan, a frying pan that doubles as a lid, a mesh storage bag and a neoprene sleeve to store it all in. You can even slip a gas bottle inside for a compact all-in one cook-set which won’t break your back, or the bank.
Total weight of listed kit: 2,816 grams
In addition to the kit listed above, you will of course need essential extras such as a map, navigational equipment, food and liquids etc., and a backpack to carry it all in. On the latter count, we’d recommend something in the 40-50 litre region. Any bigger and you’re presented with the temptation of filling it, resulting in more weight; any smaller and you may find you have to cut out essential items. For a more extensive list of UK hillwalking essentials, check out our kit list for Walking in the UK – in particular the Equipment & Supplies, and Seasonal Extras sections. Even taking into account extras, the combined weight of the kit listed on this page is still a strong indication of how much lighter on your feet you can be with the right kit. By splitting the stove, tent, or components between 2 of you, the load can be lightened still further.
Hopefully this has given you a few ideas as to how you can lighten your load this summer, or at least something to dream about while you save up… As always, when venturing out into the wilderness be sure to inform someone of your intended route and an estimated timescale, especially if backpacking alone. Other than that, have a great time in the hills!