One of the most surreal moments I had while hiking the JMT came at the very end. As I descended the trail from Mt. Whitney, many hikers were ascending, and many of these wore big, gear-stuffed packs like the Osprey Aether 70. It wasn’t a pack I’d seen too many times on my hike, and these folks wearing it looked like they were really struggling under the weight of such a heavy pack.

Every so often one of these folks and I would start up a little trail chatter. I’d ask what they were doing, and nearly every one answered they were doing an overnight to Mt. Whitney. It seemed like a pretty big pack to carry for an overnight trip.

My pack, on the other hand, which I’d had on my back for upwards of 12 hours a day for the past 13 days, was an Osprey Exos 58. It weighed no more than 30 pounds but carried everything I needed for nearly two weeks of hiking.

The Aether on the right. The Exos on the left.

The Aether on the left. The Exos on the right. Photos via Osprey.

I certainly wouldn’t call myself an extreme ultralight backpacker, but I realized early on that the less my pack weighed, the better my days would be. And so will yours, especially if you’re only going out for a weekend hike.

So if you’re looking to drop some weight in your pack, Gear Patrol has a great primer on how to get started with the ultralight mentality and lighten your pack.

Ultralight Backpackin’ Tips

Ultralight Backpackin' TipsBy Mike Clelland

I also highly recommend reading Ultralight Backpackin’ Tips, an excellent, slim volume jam-packed with 153 useful (and often humorous) tips about the finer points of going ultralight. It’s full of Clelland’s great illustrations, like this one from the author’s site:

Mike Clelland | Ultralight Gear-Up Illustration

The best illustration (not shown here) is how to clean yourself after going to the bathroom (and that’s why it’s not shown here). I’ve never tried the method myself, but it can’t be any worse than the more common methods of taking care of business on the trail.

 

 

Written by Tom Fassbender

An amateur hobbyist, expert generalist, and outdoor enthusiast who recently traveled around the world with his family.

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