Hey campers and welcome to my post outlining my 5 lightweight camping tips to ease the load this year. Camping is a great way to spend some time outdoors and enjoy nature. And for many of us, that ‘nature’ can be a fair way from the car park or road access which means if you want to enjoy it, you will need to walk to it!
So for those of you who are new to the whole hiking-camping experience, or have been caught out carrying everything but the kitchen sink on your treks, I’ve put together a list of lightweight camping tips below:
1. Select a small backpack
Your backpack is the most crucial part of lightweight camping. A lightweight backpack will not only make your trip easier, but maybe even more enjoyable so from the outset try to aim for a weight around 1kg (2 pounds) or less if possible. Now, here’s the trick – It not only needs to be lightweight and durable but the smaller the better.
Why? Because one of the most common mistakes many make when it comes to lightweight camping is to purchase a nice big bag to pack. Trust me, the more space you have, the more “essentials” you will find to fill it with! By all means get one to fit what you need, but don’t get one to fill everything you don’t. One with a cooler pocket in it would work well here too!
2. Only pack the essentials
Ok, so now that we have a small backpack to fill, the time has come to workout what is ‘essential’ and what is not. The trick here of course is to make you trip as comfortable as possible without breaking your back to get to the campground. My dad used to have a rather macabre saying – “You are not going to die without that!” when we packed for our weekend camping treks. And by this he meant that the only things he wanted us to pack were the things we needed to ‘live’ in that:
- We need to eat
- We need to sleep
- We need to stay warm
To his way of thinking, if what we packed was not in aid of the above, then it stayed at home.
3. Is it lightweight?
Now, just because you need it to live, it doesn’t mean that it is not heavy. So regardless of how you have gone with the above, now is the time to look at how heavy it really is. This brings me to my next major tip – Don’t bring heavy things!
Try to aim for a lightweight backpacking list, and make sure to check that everything is lightweight or specifically made for ultralight camping. Here are some options:
- Only pack the things you will definitely wear (always bring a warm layer – even in Summer) however leave the ‘just in case’ at home.
- A lightweight sleeping bag can be a great camping essential in winter months when there is little need for insulation.
- During the summer months, try to use a lightweight tarp over your lightweight camping hammock instead of bringing a tent.
- A lightweight backpacker towel can be useful to dry yourself off.
- Get lightweight aluminium or titanium cookware and utensils.
- Pillows are heavy – is there anything else you can use?
- Use a fire for light, or at the most, choose a lightweight candle lantern.
- Camping chairs can fold up to the size of a pair of socks.
4. Consider the way you eat
Above we have listed a lot of the things (and there are plenty more) that can be purchased as a lightweight option. The trouble is however that food, water and cooking fuels tend to just weigh what they weigh – especially water. The thing here of course however is that we don’t want to starve either. So when it comes to our culinary camping delights, the place to start is to consider how we will cook them.
In general, you have three options:
- Lightweight propane stove – These are usually the best option as they are light and will fit in most backpacks without having to worry about options at the site itself.
- Fire – A good fire can not only keep you warm in winter, but also provide a place to cook on. The only considerations here are that you will need to make sure there is firewood at your destination. Oh, and fires usually need heavier duty cookware as well.
- Camp kitchen – If you are lucky enough to be camping in a place where there is a camp kitchen (which is usually not in a place that you have to hike too), then you don’t need to take any cooking gear with you.
The advantage of having any of the above is that if there is a freshwater source at your campground, you can boil or use sanitizing tablets meaning you only have to take a water bottle with you for the hike.
In the case of food, the following are considered good for hiker-campers due to the fact that they are light in weight, take up less room and don’t need to be kept cold:
- Nuts, seeds, nut-based bars or nut butter packs.
- Fresh fruit (that won’t crush)
- Pastas, rice or cereals
- Long life milk
- Tortillas or Rice breads
- Pre-made salads
- Individual sauce/mayo/salt/pepper satchels
- Canned fish – small or packets
- Small chip packets for snacks
- Chocolate – I mean who cares what that weighs!
5. Bring multi-use equipment
And finally, there are often a number of tools etc. that we may need such as axes, shovels, hammers etc. as well as the cooking gear we have mentioned above. The trick here is to try and include gear that can be used for more than one purpose including:
- Multi tools – knives, forks, screwdrivers, scissors etc. all in the one spot.
- Shax – these are a shovel and axe all in the one spot – good ones have a hammer on top too.
- Hammock – in summer, maybe sleep on the hammock and leave the tent.
- Pot/bowl – find options that you can cook in and eat out of as well.
- Camping chairs/backpacks with cooler pockets.
Again, there are many more options here but you get the picture. At the end of the day, the more dual-purpose options you have, the less you need to carry.
And there they are – my 5 lightweight camping tips to ease the load this year. I hope it has been helpful and as usual, please let me know of your experiences or any other tips you may have.
Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections or would like me to check anything else out for you.
Until next time