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Ultralight tramping is a style of packing which emphasises carrying the least amount of gear, and lightest versions of that gear while still being safe in the outdoors.  There is no textbook definition of what defines “ultralight” but you are generally considered to be an “ultralight tramper” when your baseweight is less than 4.5kg (10lbs).



Baseweight is the weight of your pack itself and all items inside it which remain constant throughout the trip.  This includes things like your tent, cooking gear and spare clothing.  The clothing you wear daily is considered “worn weight”, and the weight of food, water, fuel and other consumable items are considered “consumables”.  Your pack weight is your baseweight plus consumables.


On a personal level, I choose to travel ultralight because it's more enjoyable.  By carrying less on my back, I'm more comfortable while I'm walking and find I'm able to travel further, faster.  This means I can see more in a shorter trip than I may otherwise, and explore areas that I wouldn’t feel comfortable travelling with a heavy, traditional load out (think rock scrambling and off trail adventures).  In addition to this, carrying a lighter pack makes me more agile - river crossings, downed trees and avalanche routes all become easier to navigate with a smaller pack on my back.  Carrying a lighter pack can also reduce the strain on your body, reducing wear and tear as well as the risk of injury.



1. Weigh everything you would usually take on a tramping trip.  Use a spreadsheet or website such as to organise everything you carry.  Sometimes it can be surprising to see right there how much you are really carrying.

2. Think about what you can remove from your pack.  The cheapest way to lighten your load is to leave things at home.  Look at where you have duplicates, and ask if they are necessary.  When you come home from a trip, think about the things you didn’t use - could you leave them at home next time?

3. Try to reduce the weight of some of the things you already have.  For example you can cut off extra straps and leave stuff sacks and storage boxes at home.

4. Think about the weight of consumables as well.  It can be a good idea to carry a water filter, so you can carry less water and fill up at any stream/lake you come across.  Look for foods that have a high calorie density - getting more energy for less food weight means less weight on your back.  You can also look to cut down on the volume of sunscreen, toothpaste etc (and maybe leave the deodorant at home).

5. Use multipurpose gear - leave the bowl and mug at home and eat/drink directly out of your pot, use a tent which utilises walking poles as tent poles etc.

6. Once you have worked through all of these options, look at replacing your gear with lighter alternatives.  Ultralight gear can be expensive, but it can make a huge difference to your pack weight.  Look at replacing the things that will have the biggest impact first: typically your tent/shelter, sleep system and pack.  Replacing your pack can be a delicate balance, replace it too soon and it will likely be heavier/bigger than you may need in the long term.

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