Outdoors Travel

10 most essential things to keep if you are planning for Ultra-light Backpacking

Are you a newbie to ultralight backpacking? Well, packing light doesn’t mean that you compromise your safety. On the other hand, ultralight backpacking requires a lot of self-reliance. You might have to compensate for lack of equipment through advanced backcountry skills. For instance, ultralight backpacking may not allow you to keep a GPS with extra batteries. This means you’ll have to use traditional tools like a map and compass to select better campsites.

At times you might feel that sometimes packing more clothes, food and safety items is better. But the problem is that even a bunch of small extra items can add up to a lot of weight that can slow you down. The secret behind a comfortable hike is to strike the right balance between safety and comfort. With a bit of research and experience, you’ll learn to pack only those items that are essential.

Here is a list of must-haves that you should pack for your next ultralight backpacking trip:

1- Navigation tools

One of the most important things for successful ultralight backpacking is a map, compass, and a whistle. While a map and compass will help you navigate your way around, a whistle will ‘find you help’ in case you get lost.

The best part about these tools is that they are lightweight and extremely useful if you know how to use them properly. Even if you bring a battery powered tool like GPS units, don’t forget to keep a map and compass because batteries can run out!

2- Food

One of the heaviest items if a backpacker’s pack is likely to be food. So be smart and eliminate heavy packaging. Select foods that are high in calories and have excellent nutritional value. Pack the right portion sizes and you won’t be stuck with a heavy backpack. Keep a few extra lightweight snacks in case you get stuck at the campsite.

Even if you run out of food, don’t panic. As long as you have a clean source of drinking water, shelter, and a positive attitude, you can tackle any emergency.

3- Water purifier

Water is more important than food. Always remember to purify your water before drinking so that you don’t fall sick. Pack plenty of water whenever you shift from one water source to another. You may never know if a seasonal source may have dried out.

4- Clothing

Before you take off, study the weather forecast for the days to come and prepare accordingly. Be prepared that the weather can take a turn and it may be chillier than you expected. So, keep a hat, mittens and mid-weight synthetic or fleece-lined jacket especially if you are camping in mountainous regions. Make sure that you keep a lightweight rain shell in your backpack even if the forecast says ‘sunny!’

5- Shelter

One of the main necessities of an extended backpacking trip is a good canvas tent. It not only serves as a protection against turbulent conditions but also saves you from insects and other wild animals. Hence, choosing a lightweight and sturdy tent is essential. Look for one that weighs approximately 2 to 8 pounds and can house a maximum of four people. Other key features to look for include quick and easy set-up, minimum storage space after rolling it up and proper ventilation.

Always keep an emergency bivvy in your backpack. It weighs only 3 ounces and can act as a lifesaver in an emergency.

6- Fire starter kit

We all know how important a fire can be. It not only keeps you warm but also provides you with food and pure water. You can also use a flame torch for signaling and source of light. But lighting up a fire in wet conditions isn’t easy. Keep a fire starter and ample waterproof matches and a lighter. All these things are light, so you don’t have to worry about exceeding the weight limit of your backpack.

7- Flashlight

You can’t undermine the importance of a lightweight flashlight or headlight, especially during nocturnal backpacking journeys. At times you are running behind schedule due to weather conditions, a flashlight can be a blessing in disguise. Make sure you choose one that is waterproof and has rubber linings with space to store extra batteries. Additionally, you can also keep a small LED backup that can come in handy if your flashlight or headlight runs out of battery.

8- First Aid Kit

Don’t forget to stock a first aid kit with ample sterile dressings, Band-Aids, cotton wool and basic medicines and antiseptic ointments. We also suggest you carry a book which explains backpacking first aid procedures.

9- Miscellaneous items

Don’t forget to keep these small yet handy items in your backpack. These may seem like extra items, but you’ll be thanking us later.

A small knife or multi-tool – Don’t leave the house without a small knife in your backpack. It barely weighs an ounce and can easily be the most useful item in your backpack. Use it to cut ropes, meat, rough weeds on the surface of your campsite – the uses are endless. You can also look for a lightweight multi-tool that can be a permanent item in your backpacking list.

Sun protection- There’s nothing like a bad sunburn after a long walk in the wilderness. Always keep sun protection handy. A good sunscreen and a lip balm with added SPF will keep you safe.

Insect repellants- It is quite that your campsite is rampant with mosquitoes and other bugs. Keep an insect repellant handy so that you don’t spend scratching yourself.

Ropes- Known as the survival cords for a backpacking trip, it is recommended to always keep them handy. You can use it to tie up your luggage, use it for rock climbing and so much more. A sturdy nylon rope is strong and lightweight and a bunch of 100ft in length is enough.

10- Trekking Poles

Using trekking poles is an optional gear that depends on how rough your trail is. If you need something to ease your climb and walk, then invest in lightweight trekking poles. They’re useful while walking and can also double as a safety precaution in case you want to shoo away wild animals.


An ultralight backpacking journey is a great way to test your body limits and make great memories. Whether you are traveling alone or in a group, these ultralight backpacking gear will help you carry out a successful backpacking trip. With a little monetary investment, you can plan the best trip of your life.

Do you have any other essential things that should be a part of an ultralight backpack? If yes, share your ideas with us in the comments:

Kate Sanders

Kate Sanders

Kate is an author and admin at Ippio.com, writing useful articles and HOW TOs on various topics. Particularly interested in topics such as Interior design, lifestyle, health, beauty, fashion, technology, and more.

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