Ultra-Average in an Ultralight World
Being ultralight isn’t for everyone.
There are many reasons for wanting super-light gear. It’s less weight you have to carry, takes less toll on your body, and some people just like to brag about light gear. The downside to lighter gear is, unfortunately, a heavier price tag. Most of the time you get what you pay for, but I do believe there is a middle ground for average hikers like myself who want lighter gear, but don’t have the means to pay for it.
Comfort Is Key
I have hiked with an Osprey Atmos for years now, Sydney hikes with a Deuter 65L, and we don’t plan on switching anytime soon. Sure, the packs weigh just over four pounds, but they can carry a ton of weight without our shoulders or back ever feeling it (and I love to eat so there’s always a little extra weight.) I bought my pack at an REI scratch and dent sale, so I didn’t break the bank either.
The tent Sydney and I are using is a three-person tent weighing in at four pounds, six ounces. Of course, we would like something lighter, but it has a ton of space, and we got it at over 50 percent off, so it’s hard to beat.
Having lighter gear is great, but we aren’t willing to totally sacrifice our comfort, our our bank account for that matter, which I’m sure a lot of y’all understand. But this stuff does cost money, and you have to be willing to spend to lower your base weight.
Cut Weight Where You Can
Luckily for Sydney and me, we hike together, and this allows us to split the weight of a lot of items. I carry the tent and stakes, she carries the footprint. She carries the stove and cook set, I carry water filtration. If you like hiking with a partner, we suggest splitting weight. It will make your life so much easier. Even with splitting weight, we still have an “ultra-average” base weight, and had to spend money to reduce some of that. Some ways we did that were:
- Purging our packs of everything that we don’t use on a daily basis.
- Switching from sleeping bags to quilts.
- Splurging on sleeping pads.
If you don’t use it every day, you don’t need it. It really is that simple. Switching from our old mummy bags to quilts not only dropped our weight by over a pound apiece, but also allowed us to sleep more comfortably. We found our sleeping pads on sale, and we both went from a Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol, to the REI Flash sleeping pad. That added a couple ounces apiece, but the comfort definitely makes up for it.
Hike Your Own Hike
This phrase gets overused a ton, but it’s true. Hike with the gear that you love, and ignore the people who constantly tell you your pack is way to heavy. My base weight sits at just above 20 pounds and Sydney’s is right at 17 pounds, and to some that is absurd. But we found it works for us, and we’re hoping it will continue to work for us on our thru-hike. There’s nothing wrong with not being ultralight. Be proud of yourself for getting out there.
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