One of my favorite things to do when I was a Boy Scout was backpacking, but back when I was a middle teen in the late ’70s and early ’80s, it was quite a task. I doubt the term “ultralight’ had yet been invented, at least not for backpacking. Our packs back then probably weighed in the neighborhood of 40 to 50 pounds, complete with external frame canvass backpacks, sleeping bags, metal canteens and mess kits, puptents, etc.
This made backpacking more of a test of endurance than something to be enjoyed.
Fast-forward forty years (wow that sounds like a long time ago!) and backpacking has changed dramatically. Weight is now a primary consideration.
I’ve been slowly collecting gear to begin backpacking again. My son and I are going to go out on a day hike next weekend, and I’ll be bringing my pack to sort of test how I’ll do with the weight. I plan to go on a short overnight the following weekend.
Currently, my pack (less food and water) weighs about 16 pounds, which is insanely light compared to what we had when I was a kid. Every time I pick the backpack up, I shake my head at how light it feels. Here’s what’s included (note: these are Amazon affiliate links):
An Outdoor Products backpacking tent, a King Camp camping blanket, Wise Owl foam camping pillow, Stansport butane stove kit, Sawyer Squeeze filtration system, a small first aid kit, toiletries, and other essentials.
Much of this stuff I haven’t used yet, but I have used some on camping trips.
Most specifically, the King Camp camping blanket. When I go camping, I no longer take a sleeping bag. I just take one or two of these blankets. They’re stuffed with a synthetic down, and if I don’t need the second one, I can keep it in the bag and it acts as a small, but usable, pillow.
I tested the Stansport stoves, though I haven’t used them hiking yet. The one thing I noticed is that the little sparker failed to ignite the stove. I had to use matches. That’s right out of the box. I pack lots of matches and a lighter anyway, but that could be a problem.
The pack I got is a Naturehike 65 liter. First impressions: it’s basically a sack. Unlike the backpacks of old, which had lots of side pockets, upper and lower pockets, sleeping bag straps, etc., this thing is mostly one giant compartment. It does have two front compartment: a smaller one with adjustable straps to close and a mesh compartment large enough for a backpacking tent. I’m assuming that’s by-design, as tents tend to pick, up moisture (either from condensation or weather) during the night, and the mesh section will at least help that moisture evaporate some. It has a rainfly in its own pouch at the bottom, two small belt pouches and a cellphone pouch on one of the shoulder straps.