Ultralight backpacking packs and shelters are often times very expensive, but you can save just as much weight by focusing on smaller areas of your gear. For instance, multi-use items like a cook pot that can also be used as a bowl and a mug are great because they can serve two or more functions and allow you to carry less. Solutions like these can lighten your pack without having to spend hundreds of dollars on fancy lightweight packs, sleeping bags, and shelters.
Here are six of the many ways to lighten your pack in the backcountry:
- Use disposable spoons or chopsticks instead of expensive titanium utensils. A long plastic spoon from Dairy Queen is as light as a $10 titanium spork, and the long handle can allow you to reach the bottom of a tall pot. Take-out chopsticks are another option if you prefer them to a spoon, as many hikers do. The chopsticks are a bit more durable and weigh about the same.
- Make your own dehydrated food instead of buying it from the store. Dehydrated food is an excellent and very light way to carry nutritious food into the backcountry. However, at over 10 dollars a bag, it can be incredibly expensive over the course of a trip. Food dehydrators can cost as low as $40 and with minimal instruction you can learn to create your own dehydrated food.
- Make a ultralight alcohol stove instead of using a canister stove. Alcohol stoves can weigh under an ounce, and they can be free to make by using common household materials. Alcohol stoves also run on a much cheaper fuel than canister stoves do. One fluid ounce of denatured alcohol can boil almost four cups of water with an efficient stove, and costs only 25 cents per ounce.
- Use plastic water bottles instead of Nalgenes. One-liter plastic drink bottles are great for carrying water, and weigh considerably less than a Nalgene does. Bottles like Smartwater won’t have BPA in them, so they are as safe as Nalgenes are. The drawback to these bottles is that they need to be replaced, however they will definitely be able to last 2 to 3 weeks.
- Use a rain kilt instead of rain pants. With a rain kilt you can save 8 or more ounces, and is also more effective than you would think at keeping the rain off of your legs. Rain kilts can be easily made from 1.3 ounce silnylon, or they can be purchased.
- Finally, make a silnylon tarp instead of buying a tent or other type of shelter. A silnylon tarp can be only 60 dollars to make, and can weigh just 8 ounces. Despite it not being enclosed, a tarp can still provide a lot of shelter from the wind and rain if it is pitched correctly and is in a good spot. By making a tarp instead of buying one, you can save over $100.