Light & Fast: 14 Ultralight Backpacking Tips

For backpackers, going ultralight is easier (and less expensive) than you might expect. Our contributor stepped back to give tips on reducing pack weight for weekend backpacking trips and thru-hikes alike.

Every ounce you cut from pack weight will make you faster and more comfortable on a backpacking trip. But switching to a lighter setup can be daunting, and commercially made ultralight gear is not cheap.

After years honing my kit, I have a few ideas on what to bring (and what to leave behind) before hitting the trail.

Skip The Stove, Eat ‘Cold’

The easiest way to drop weight from a “kitchen” setup is to simply leave the stove at home. In summer, it’s not that bad. Eat cold food, including reconstituted meals like oatmeal or simpler items including summer sausage, hard cheese, nuts, and even packed sandwiches. I drink coffee cold, too, using Starbucks Via packets in a mug.

Tip: Those “add boiling water” dehydrated food pouches? Many can be prepared with cold water; you simply need to let the H2O sit for 30 – 45 minutes inside the packet to slowly “cook” the meal.

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