ASO Mammoth Guide to Ultralight Hiking

If you’re going to go, why not go as far as you can?

Ultralight hiking is trekking with the goal of carrying as little gear as possible so you can hike further, faster. When you’re hiking through an area as beautiful as the Eastern Sierras you’ll want to cover as much ground as you can, so the ASO Mammothteam has combined our ultralight hiking knowledge into a basic guide. Whether you read this guide and decide you need to buy your first hiking backpack or that you need to buy a replacement for your old framed backpack that is weighing you down on the trail, come into ASO Mammothfor all your gear needs!

Why Ultralight?

The obvious advantage of ultralight hiking is in the name.

By hiking with the bare necessities, you can hike faster for longer which means you get to see more. For this reason, ultralight hiking is typically used on long thru-hikes where the hiker will be exposed to nature for days, weeks, and even months.

Reducing your load by just a few pounds can make a huge difference when hiking for several days straight. However, ultralight hikers also benefit from doing extensive research about their hike and planning out exactly what they will need to be safe on the trail and only bringing exactly that. In fact, the process of making plans that result in efficient packs in which each piece of gear will be used is a meticulous and satisfying process for many ultralight hikers.

How to Convert Your Traditional Pack to Ultralight

While you may think the best method to turning your traditional pack into an ultralight pack is to empty everything out and start over, the first step is to know where and when you’ll be hiking and what conditions you can expect. Ultralight hikers will tell you that you that fear brings gear because the more unknowns you’ll face the more gear you’ll need to stay safe. That’s why it’s vital that you not only research the trail you plan on hiking and what weather you can expect, but you must also know how to use your own gear as efficiently as possible.

Once you’ve done your research, the next step is to actually figure out what you’ll need and what you don’t. While you can plan your own pack by laying all your gear out on the floor and going from there, there are also tools like GearGramswhich categorize your gear into systems.

Once you have the minimum gear that you need to stay safe on the trail, the next step is to weigh it out. Anything over 20 pounds is considered a traditional pack while packs under 10 pounds are considered ultralight. In between 10 and 20 pounds is considered lightweight, but not ultralight.

If your pack is overweight, then there are three basic categories, or systems, that you can look to reduce weight from. They are your sleeping set up, your shelter, and the backpack you use to carry it all. These components will take up the most weight in your pack, so look here first for cutting weight.

Make Your Gear Count

When it comes to ultralight hiking, the more efficient your gear the better. For example, you may not think of a smartphone as being the most reliable piece of camping gear but they can replace your compass and act as a GPS as well as many other pieces of gear even without cell coverage. However, if you move away from traditional navigation equipment, always make sure you have an extra power source and carry at least a paper map in case of equipment malfunctions.

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