Hiking Light: Get Light Gear

The less you carry, the more fun you'll have. Cut down your weight with these easy ideas.

    Photo: Marco B/Shutterstock

You know that sturdy old backpack—the one you got in college. Get rid of it. How about the white gas or old Coleman camp stove? Save it for car camping or sell it at your next garage sale. In the past five years, the top trend in backpacking gear has been to lighten up.

Many tents, including Big Agnes’ three-season, freestanding Fly Creek UL 2 (2 lb. 2 oz., $370), are now made of silicone-impregnated nylon with fewer tent poles to take the load off. And sleeping tarps, like Integral Designs two-person 14 ounce Siltarp2 ($120) are increasingly popular for people willing to brave insect bites, or those hiking in climates with few biting insects. Stoves, like Optimus’ Crux Lite (2.5 oz, $40) now weigh ounces instead of pounds. Sleeping pads are constructed to be insulating without heavy foam, like Cascade Designs NeoAir XLite (12 oz, $160), and rain shells have become paper-thin, including Outdoor Research’s Helium (6 oz., $150) or Rab’s Pulse Pull On (6 oz., $165).

Upgrade your gear for weight savings, and you'll be in for a surprise—it probably works better. Modern tents have more liveable space, stoves are more efficient, sleeping pads put more cushion between you and the ground, and rain shells are more breathable. Select the lightest, most efficient gear appropriate to where and when you’ll be hiking. And don’t be afraid to replace one piece of gear at a time. Lightening you pack any amount is a move in the right direction.

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