Lighten the Load – Backpacking Kit Ideas

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…


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Going Lighter – Can you make a vest out of a sleeping bag?

We’re pretty chuffed to have worked with some fairly interesting bloggers in our outdoor testing crew, but one of the most exciting for us has been Antoine Sachs, a french outdoors nut who blogs over at Chronique sans Carbones. When he dropped us a line to say that he was going to start making his own gear we were pretty made up, and we asked him to send us his first creation. 7 months later a rather interesting package turned up on our doorstep.

Antoines down comforter

arty shot

He’s called it his down comforter, and it can either be used as a quilt, as a wrap around insulation vest/piece that will fit underneath an outer shell, as an under hammock insulation piece, or as a seriously warm blanket inside the house when watching Eastenders (Antoine made us put that bit it in!). We’re pretty bowled over by the weight coming in at just 550g. Here’s some more photos of it lying nonchalantly on our conference room table.

dyneema cording

take it from the top

One of the issues with sleeping bags for those looking to reduce the weight of their pack is the dead weight of insulation underneath the sleeping bag that you lie on. As it’s compressed, it offers no warmth at all. The comforter gets rid of this wasted insulation by acting as a quilt with ties to fasten either under your body or under your mattress so that just your top half is insulated. It then has drawcords at the at the top and bottom with your sleeping mattress underneath insulating you from the ground.

You can also with a little fiddling use it as an insulated vest, wrapping it around your head and Torso. We’ve yet to perfect the knack but we’ll hopefully have an online Skype demo from Antoine soon. If that works well it would mean the weight savings from having a sleeping bag and jacket combined would be substantial.

The one we have been sent is a size medium with 350g of 860 European Fill down on the inside. The quality of the piece is immediately apparent, it lofted faster than a speeding bullet. He’s currently using Yeti to manufacture it, but this could change. We’ve stocked Yeti in the past and know that their stuff is on a par with Western Mountaineering as a comparison.

Antoine reckons it will work down to -10 as an insulation piece under a hard shell or external jacket. Your jacket would need to be a little baggier than normal for the comforter to loft and work properly. As a sleeping system he thinks it’s more suitable down to 0c, possibly -5c if you use a close bivvy bag to help trap air more effectively.

top drawcord

We had a chance to test it this weekend, and based on our feedback and others, Antoine is looking to make some adjustments to the connectors. In the meantime the question we want to ask you is, if we stocked something like this, would you be interested in it? What would you expect to pay for the comforter?

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