Faster, further, freer: Light and ultralight hiking in SA (and how to lighten your pack)


#1

Hi all

Following some interest from others on the forum, I think a thread on ultralight/lightweight hiking in South Africa is warranted. Not only could this help out new hikers, but also those more experienced to refine their gear and get insight into what others are using (or not using), and where they are using it.

Feel free to post anything from questions, to projects and pack lists (so we can see where people are getting their stuff :wink: ). Websites like lighterpack.com are great for arranging your gear.

From Wikipedia “ Ultralight backpacking is a style of backpacking that emphasizes carrying the lightest and simplest gear safely possible for a given trip.

One of the major goals is to reduce your base weight (everything you are carrying minus consumables – i.e. food, water, gas for cooking, etc.) mostly through carrying less and lighter gear.

The cut-offs for base weight are pretty arbitrary, change as technology advances, and are dependent on season. For 3 season hiking in the USA (~ -5 to 25C), the following are commonly quoted:

  • Lightweight: Less than 7 kg

  • Ultralight: Less than 4.5 kg

A lot of gear is personal preference of course, so take what you feel comfortable and safe with, and hike your own hike.

(not mine yet, source cleverhiker.com)

To get this low, Ultra-lighters commonly practice the following principles (in order from free to not so free):

  • Weigh everything. Weigh every item and record its weight. This will give you a better picture of where you may be carrying too much.

  • Carry less. Omit unnecessary items such as coffee makers, multiple items of cutlery and cookware, extra and unnecessary clothing, etc. The focus is to carry only what you really need and will use.

  • Reduce each item’s weight. Modifying items to reduce unnecessary weight (cutting down sleeping pads to suit your height, removing extra straps and buckles).

  • Share gear. Tents, stoves, trowel, etc.

  • Practice skills and get experience (even more reasons to get out hiking). The more skilled you get ant using the environment and gear, the less you need to carry, and the better you can determine what you actually need for a trip.

  • Plan and repackage. Only carry what you need for a trip. For clothes and shelter, check the weather forecast beforehand and throw out unneeded insulation, or if rain is unlikely, take an emergency poncho and wind-shirt instead of full hard-shell. Repackage food and toiletries into lighter weight containers like zip locks and smaller bottles.

  • Make your own gear (MYOG). Many potentially useful items aren’t available in the shops, and if they are they may be expensive and heavy. Hikers make anything from easy mug and food cosies to their own sleeping bags and tents.

  • Multi-purpose items. Try to use single items for different tasks, such as a Buff (scarf, beanie, balaclava, towel, pillow case, sun protection, etc.) or your sleeping pad as a pack frame, sit pad and windscreen.

  • Lighten your feet. Trail runners are lighter and often cheaper than boots, and with less weight on your back you’ll be less prone to ankle injury. Weight on your feet also costs 5 times the energy as weight on your back.

  • And only last, replace items with lighter ones, whether it’s because of the materials they are made from, or giving up extra features for more minimal options.

For more information, here are some good links:

Ultralight Makeover

Adventure Alan’s ultralight backpacking guide for beginners

Darwin on the trail - Youtube

Reddit Ultralight


Going lightweight / compact
#2

^^^Scroll up for some info on light and ultralight backpacking.

So to get something posted, here’s what I’ll be taking on a trip to Mafadi in the Drakensberg at the end of March. I expect minimum evening temperatures of 5C.

Base weight: 5.8 kg

List and weights of all my stuff: https://lighterpack.com/r/abi4gt

This was all put together for cheaper or, at most, the same price as heavier, mainstream counter parts, and all except my headlamp, pack and sleeping bag where purchased locally.

I wear a men’s size small in most of my clothing.

Notes:

  • My tent hasn’t seen any extreme wind or snow. I hike with a friend who has a beefier tent though, so might need quickly escape there if mine fails. Will report back as soon as it survives or is ripped to pieces.

  • For a pillow, I stuff clothes inside my sit pad and use the Buff as a pillow case. The piece of foam from the sit pad doubles as extra cushion for my hips (I’m a side sleeper).

  • I haven’t tested my sleeping pad below -2C. The sleeping bag is also new, but is comfort rated to -12C. It’s definitely overkill for this trip, but its the lightest bag I’ll have. I think I’ll be OK down to -10C or so, but will carry an extra foam and insulating clothing if the weather is looking this cold.

  • I don’t use stuff sacks for my tent and sleeping bag, just stuff the sleeping bag directly into the pack liner, and shove my tent in the bottom of my pack. This saves some weight, makes it easier to pack up in the morning and may even be healthier for your gear.

Questions, comments and criticisms are welcome, fire away!


#3

This is great!
My biggest problem with the Berg is the rain and subsequent cold. Make no mistake, summer can bring blistering cold in the wink of an eye! I still have to encounter a proper lightweight rain jacket and was thinking about getting the “Shell” from Hyperlight. But at R5000 I resort to having two rain jackets. One for the day and one for sleeping in. I have the First Ascent Down Light which is at 500g not too bad but I add a liner and then warm clothing (down jacket with rain suit + thermals) and that seems to do the trick for me if caught in unexpected cold. Having proper insulation from the ground is critical. In middle winter I don’t take chances and just take my -15 deg C First Ascent sleeping bag. I’m busy looking into ordering a Enlightened Equipment or Zpacks quilt to shave another few grams and will hopefully have it here before winter…
Ever tried solid fuel?


#4

Definitely can’t say I’ve experienced the worst of the cold in the Berg, both excited for and dreading it! I’m trusting the -12C quilt will be enough buffer for any drops in the summer, and add an extra down jacket, down beanie, a fleece, thick gloves, merino base layer, thermal balaclava and heavier socks (+ 600g) in winter, coupled with another foam mattress (+ about 300g) and should avoid hypothermia at least. A winter sleeping pad is definitely in order. What do you use atm for a pad in those conditions?

I’ve been looking at upgrading my rain jacket too. R5000 is an arm and a leg though :sweat_smile:. There are quite a few available in the USA for less than that (from the Montbell Versalite - $199, 182g for DWR/GORE to the silnylon Lightheart gear jacket - $99, 175 g in medium), but in South Africa, some of the trail running stuff looks pretty good for under R2000:

The First Ascent X-Trail (R1499, 150g) is one, but only has a 3000mm water-head, so not sure how it’ll do in a thunderstorm.

Salomon also has quite a few, and look to be more waterproof (10000mm):

And one from Adidas (R1649, somewhere around 230g).

How they’ll do for hiking is up for grabs though. Make sure to read a load of reviews before you buy right? They also don’t have pit zips, but should be reasonably breathable given they’re made for running.

For the quilts take a look at Loco Libre, UGQ Outdoor and Hammock Gear! $100 cheaper and pretty much the same quality, maybe a few finicky differences. Z-Packs seems to have a bad rep atm over on Reddit ultralight though.

And no I haven’t. Been thinking of how best to deal with cooking in the cold actually… What is it like?


#5

I like my Jetboil too much! But solid fuel might be worth the while for the weekend trips. But I’m not willing to give up gas or do the cold soak thing if need be. I must have coffee :grin:
I swear by the Thermarest prolite sleeping pad for winter, with the Mr Price 6mm foam mat with the silver insulation. In summer I use a First ascent Aero mattress which is very light, again with the foam mat- mainly for protection from sharp objects.
I can definitely shave off a few grams but I’m comfortable with my current base weight and my double rain jacket set up in rainy weather can improve. I guess one just have to accept the rain and live with it until setting up camp. But getting into wet clothes the next day, that is what gets to me :slight_smile:
But for the Visrivier hike I go very light on base weight, tent included (don’t like bugs, spiders etc.) Because I ditch the GPS, rain jackets and rain pants (20g poncho only), sleeping bag liner, extra dry bag, pillow (enough sand for comfy sleep) and use only one 1l water bottle, I can go as low as 5kg. Clothing can be washed so only one set of clothes suffice but the food makes up for it… We take meat and wors for each night. Yup. Lightweight hiking but not giving up the braai!


#6

My first hike in the Berg was during July and a cold front hit us on the first day. We had it all, ice rain, sleet, and then later that night a massive thunder storm and then snow. The second night was unbelievably cold and windy. The next morning I thought it snowed again but it was hoarfrost! The wind blown it into big piles against rocks and bushes. It was covering everything to such an extend that I had to tear some of my clothing outside my tent from the ground by force. Even the water in my insulated bottle froze inside the tent. Luckily I had everything in my 27kg 80litre backpack to deal with this as a newbie and realized there and then how dangerous the Berg can be. Since those days my pack scaled down to a 45litre, 5-8kg frameless pack that cover all the same situations for even longer periods of time. Light weight hiking is a personal thing that takes into account ability and willingness to be uncomfortable with certain things. Better planning, better weather forecasts, better equipment all contribute. It is just a learning curve and my preferences change every now and then as new materials and improvements are coming out. If I can find a way to go stove less (coffee-less) and live with it I would do it if it means to go lighter and faster but why do it if I cant enjoy it? So there’s always that balance that needs to be kept in mind. Because that’s why we do it, for the sheer pleasure of it.


#7

Lol yeah, food and that I could probably get by with being cold… Coffee though, that’s life! I think I’ll take a shot at a MYOG cat food can alcohol stove this weekend though, see how it works? The convenience of gas is a difficult one to move away from, but at 10 grams, 20 bucks and the fact it should work well below freezing its worth a shot!

I’ve heard good things about both, been looking at the Xlite actually, but its so damn expensive that I can live with hard foam for a while longer… or one of these (Klymit Ultralight V insulted) if I can find someone in the USA who’ll sneak it into their bag for me.

Still need to do the Visrivier! Somehow its been out of my radar… Have you considered a tarp and bug net (or even just a bug net) instead of a tent? Not sure if you use trekking poles though.

As for the braai… what is the point of lightening our packs if we aren’t gonna sneak in some luxuries every now and then right?:joy:

And yeah, I totally agree with your sentiments about going lightweight. You’ve gotta get out there and get the experience on what you need before you can safely leave things at home. Planning and being aware of what you may encounter is really important. And also, its not a competition about who can carry less (used to be about who can carry more lol), but about being more in tune with what you really need to still enjoy yourself, and what’s extra baggage.


#8

Lol! we had that competition too, taking photos of our >25kg packs with the luggage scales, moaning and groaning when picking them up !
I have the Tarptent Notch Li tent, setting up with two trekking poles. Its a thing of beauty. I feel Dyneema is the best thing ever. Just expensive…
Please let me know how it worked out with the alcohol stove. Seriously considering it for the upcoming Visrivier…


#9

Thanks Colan for putting this one up, I think the discussion about lightening what you carry can help everyone. I’m sometimes staggered by the difference you can feel even after dropping off a small amount of weight. A lighter hike is almost always a more pleasant hike. I’m sure it is quoting someone, but the line that has always stuck with me about this is ‘Don’t pack your fears’, which I find gets easier as I get more time out and try new things.

MasterMo some of those Tarptent’s are lovely, very jealous :stuck_out_tongue: I’m with you on the Dyneema, which is addictive and dangerous haha. Had a friend bring down a Hyperlite 2400 Southwest which I think might be my favourite thing I own in the world, there is nothing quite like Dyneema for seeming like we might be living in the future. Was a little bummed when they fixed every one of my complaints with the pack last year after having ignored them for ages!

Have actually just made a couple of alcohol stoves to test with. Zen Stoves is probably the be all and end all of resources on them, as well as Adventures in Stoving which is an amazing resources (The gas usage calculator is great). I made a little jet burner out of a couple of aluminium beer cans which worked pretty well burning Meths, will need to run some actual tests on it for times though. Stuffed the wall lining with some fibreglass and actually really like that, wicks the fuel up as soon as you pour it and gets rid of any chance of spills.

My big take away has been that the stove needs to be part of a system with a well designed windshield, as they are staggeringly sensitive to wind. Think I’m going to get hold of some aluminium and try put together a caldera cone like Trail Designs, also combine some aluminium makeup tins with insulated matting for a take on their Kojin stove which is beautifully simple. Will report back! But overall, if you are heating water for more than 2 of you, I found that the fiddliness starts to feel like it outweighs the weight savings over a good gas burner like a Soto.

I’m a weird mix of lightish gear at the moment (Jaxz’s Lighterpack). That is missing a lot of sundry, but the best I could do from the office, will have to pick up a scale and do all the bits and pieces. But my approach is generally to avoid being stupid light, and as I tend to hike in groups rather make up for a lot of things by buddying up.


#10

Also in terms of general resources, I have a lot of love for Andrew Skurka, his blog is an amazing combination of introductory stuff and pedantic detail. And can’t imagine there are many people alive with that much hiking experience, so always nice to see his take.

Clever Hiker is a bit more clean cut and gear focused, but some good lists and videos as well.


#11

Hi. Some advice from a very experienced Drakensberg hiker. Never under-estimate the Drakensberg weather on the escarpment. Not even in summer. Rather be prepared for the worst. Your clothes look a bit thin to me. Remember the principle of layers. Good waterproof and windproof gear are very important. And a very good sleeping bag. Take enough nice food. Do you want to just survive, or enjoy it? It is good if you can travel light, but always strike a balance between lightweight, safety, comfort and enjoyment. Have a great trip!


#12

Awesome thread.
I have started collecting light gear since October and weigh every item.
Have a spreadsheet running and my goal is under 10kg excluding water & food.
Heaviest item I own is my tent at 1.2kg

I have seen tents on Amazon that are under 1kg and you use your trekking poles as the tent comes with no poles.


#13

@MasterMo yeah, it used to be a contest of ‘manliness’, now it’s almost one of resourcefulness, at least in these circles, playing lightly on the word contest, because I still like that hiking is not the most competitive of sports.

I’ll be staring starry eyed at DCF for many years to come still. Hopefully its gets cheaper ASAP, because I’d love some (all) of that stuff. One tent would cost the same as half of my kit though (including all the things I’ve tried out and ended up tossing aside lol). Tarptent just brought out a new 1 person, the Aeon Li, weighs a whopping 448g! Hopefully I’ll bump into you sometime so I can truly appreciate the beauty of the Notch.

@Jaxz, indeed, other than actually being out there, the process has been one of the most rewarding parts of the hobby for me. Perhaps I’m a bit OCD, but obsessively analysing each piece of gear brings me a good amount of joy. So do the strange looks I get from my friends when I tell them I’m using half a sleeping pad and my pack under my feet :sweat_smile:. Added to it being more enjoyable on the hike is the long-term health side – less pressures on your joints, less chance of injury, and, if you already have joint issues/lasting injuries, the ability to actually continue hiking the way you used to (also goes for newer hikers who may be worried about such issues).

I think the true skill comes in knowing where your legitimate fears end and irrational fears begin. There are two sides to the whole lightening your pack game. The first is free: planning, experience and testing - seeing where your edge of comfort lies and then building in a bit of buffer, but not too much. The second is us drooling over DCF and all the latest gear. I hope through these discussions the bug can bite more people on the first one, and by default drive up the interest in the second - maybe we’ll see some cottage manufacturers or at least the bigger brands begin to explore lighter materials if we can do that (I mean FA still hasn’t even used silnylon). We have Hex Valley Down for instance who manufactures bags, if there was some demand for a quilt maybe they’d start doing one.

Awesome pointers on the stove! Guess what I’ll be doing this weekend lol. Any experience on using them in sub-zero temps? The stove I have is good for up to 4 pax (gets a bit wonky if you put more than 1.5L of water on top of it), but I’d like to have the option of something lighter, even if it ends up just so I can say I do.

Your lighter pack looks good man. The prices seem like maybe some were in $ and others in R though, but I’ll look forward to an update. I’ll put my R and $’s in too. Shakedown from my side, if you get a ‘sports cap’ like this (couldn’t find my one for a pic) you can back flush the sawyer with it - no need for that syringe.


#15

@Derekrits, some great advice! I think that’s the major goal of lightweight/ultralight hiking (besides the focus on cutting edge materials/designs etc.) – to find your own line between comfort and survival, and being able to take this into account beforehand for any trip. I’m still experimenting with where exactly mine is, and this will be the most minimal I’ve gone in terms of clothing yet. I’m quite sure you already know where yours is (lucky!). For someone like you, maybe discussions on the new gear would help save some weight, if that’s your thing.

Given that, the coldest I’ve gone in the Berg so far was an overnight trip up to the Amphitheatre last August during a cold front to see the snow. We spent the night in Crow’s Nest Cave, and temperatures were predicted to be around 0 before wind chill. The wind was strong enough that I could maintain a good lean into it (still working on being able to judge wind speed), and sounded like a jet engine outside of the cave mouth. Despite having extra clothing, I didn’t end up using more than what I’ve included above, apart from sleeping in a fleece (the bag I had then was only rated to -3). With the -12 bag, I know I’ll be safe for this trip, and with previous experience, I’m hoping for comfortable. But the latter is a chance I’m willing to take to build up better experience for future trips. I will also of course remain open to including additional layers if the forecast looks worse than what I’m expecting it to be now.

Looking forward to your continued contributions, it’s always great to hear from people who’ve actually been there and done that.

@Chuckmyster glad you’re keen on the discussion! The more talk we can get going the sooner we will see the trend picking up! At this rate we might just have to start a whole section instead of just one thread :wink:

The trekking pole trend is indeed the ‘new’ big thing, if you feel like spending a good few bucks you could get fully featured, double vestibule tents under 600g (see the Aeon/Aeon Li and Notch/Notch Li mentioned above as just two of the many examples, Z-Packs Duplex was one of the originals). I don’t have a few hundred dollars though, so I think the Chinese 3F UL Gear Pedestrian 1 will be my new upgrade (or downgrade, these terms are a bit confusing in this context lol) – a $65 tent from Aliexpress. Will likely add an extra guy-out point on the large panel on the back to increase wind resistance, but other than that I’d probably trust its structural integrity more than the one I currently own. There are also a few larger double walled models like the Lanshan 2.

I think under 10 kg’s is totally achievable, probably without spending much (or any) more cash even. I’ve dropped a good few kgs over the last few months just by cutting things down and chucking things out. In fact, I’ve actually been able to lower my weight while carrying more items (never used to carry a filter for example). Maybe migrate your spreadsheet to a lighter pack list, think we’d be happy to help check out where you can lighten up.


#16

The lighter the total weight you carry, the easier the hiking, as simple as that :slightly_smiling_face:

There are limitations though, so you will have to find a balance between cost, comfort, size and usage. My “problem” is that at 2m tall everything uses more material and therefore weighs more. Extra length sleeping bag, XL pack size, 12 1/2 size boot etc. No matter what I do, these will always make my weight more that a smaller person.

So working with the above limitations in mind, here is my take on the matter:

Multi use gear is a must to reduce weight, and sharing stuff definitely helps. Although, not when sharing with your wife as I have to carry the tent and kitchen stuff :frowning: ,
Weather: when the Berg throws a temper tantrum, you will be in serious trouble if you don’t have the right gear, i.e. 4 season sleeping bag, proper shelter etc. These add weight but will help you to survive. Just a word of caution here - your experience in the mountains isn’t necessarily all there is to mountain weather. Just because for the past 10 years you haven’t experienced 100km/h windstorms doesn’t mean they don’t occur. Spend enough time in the mountains and you will eventually encounter these, which might cause a paradigm shift in how you view mountain weather,
Comfort: a very subjective matter. I know guys who leave stoves, sleeping bags, sleeping mats etc. at home. They go in light and fast, aim for a cave for shelter (hope it isn’t occupied), sleep for maybe 3 hours on the cold floor, and when they can’t stand the cold anymore they get going again. On the other extreme end I know guys who arrive with a salt and pepper grinder (each weighing about 1kg) and I’m thinking, are you going to consume all those spices in 3 days? :flushed:. For me, the right balance is somewhere between these two extremes. I go to the mountains to enjoy my outdoor experience. This involves some creature comforts (like boiling water for coffee, food etc. i.e. the stoves comes along), but I don’t need a clean shirt for every day - 2 will do, the one from yesterday is washed and left to dry to be ready for tomorrow. You need to find your own balance
Cost: I find that the gear curve is exponential, not linear. As costs increase, the additional benefits becomes more marginal. You will pay substantially more towards the top end of the price spectrum, without receiving a corresponding increase in benefits. For me, the sweet spot lies at somewhere along the section where the curve starts to steepen a lot, somewhere between the start of the steepening curve and where it starts to go more vertical. You need to find your own sweet spot along this curve.

Lastly, one point that is rarely mentioned, and that has helped me a lot to reduce weight, is to simply lose some body weight. By losing a couple of kilo’s around the mid section, you can save a lot of weight at no extra cost. Over the last 18 months or so I managed to lose about 10kg’s of weight. It has made a huge difference in my hiking experience. I don’t carry much fat naturally, so most of this loss was muscle mass. Losing muscle over fat was preferred in my case, as muscle needs oxygen, blood and energy (i.e. food), whereas fat was just a dead weight to be dragged along. I changed my gym routine to focus more on building strength than muscle mass, so the weight saving has only reduced my strength marginally.

So there you have it, my take on fast and light hiking.
Whether you go light or heavy, make sure you are properly equipped to survive in the mountains and enjoy every moment of it!


#17

@Colan I’m with you on the being a little obsessive about the stuff involved in this hobby, I just bought a nice kitchen scale for example, I don’t really bake haha. I often find discussing gear with people a worrying topic, as you automatically get the ‘well if you spent less time or money on this you could be out doing you hobby more’ or the ‘why do you care about it this much, it’s meant to be fun!’. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance has the best take on this, quality is subjective for people and I can’t be out hiking all the time, so I get to engage with it by thinking about cost weight benefits in materials :sweat_smile:

Sorry no experience with the alcohol stoves in low temps personally, but I know they issue them as survival gear in the Finland for the military, so I would guess fine. Apparently the big thing is warming the fuel, so keeping it in your jacket before lighting up maybe. I’m not sure I’m going to use my mine much, but I’ve had a lot of fun messing around with making them so far. If I start getting more solo/2pep hikes in maybe, might actually be nice for using on long day hikes as well.

Ah awesome, good advice on bottle over the syringe, though I’m starting to think the thing might not need any backwashing over the average trip anyway, flow rate is slow as is :stuck_out_tongue: Think the big two changes for the foreseeable future are moving my water system over to a Sawyer Micro Squeeze and a CNOC bag as a gravity filter, if I’m handling water for more than myself squeezing is starting to feel like a waste of time. And then when I’m not sharing a tent I’m looking to move to a trek pole setup, and really liking the look of the 3F UL new Lanshan 1 mid. I’m a 6ft stomach sleeper with my arms above my head haha, so that is the first one that seems like it might fit me properly.

Thanks, think I have been mixing my Lighterpack stuff up some, I was using it as a buying reference for an american friend coming down for the Fish, so it is quite likely I stopped paying attention and mixed currencies!


#18

I think that is the most obvious and overlooked way of going lightweight. Dropping some body fat is the best!..and the healthiest.


#19

Thanks for all the tips and information in this thread so far! I enjoy experimenting with lighter weight gear, as I’m not a very big or strong person to begin with.

I have made several cat can alcohol stoves (and tomato paste can alcohol stoves as an experiment, but they don’t work as well as the cat cans and are harder to drill holes through) and used them in the Drakensberg, including on the escarpment at a temperature of about 5 degrees Celsius.

Wind is a huge problem with cat can alcohol stoves, so you will definitely need a windshield. You can use heavy duty foil or even (what I did) use something like a large Milo or Frisco tin that you cut in half and then drill some air vents at the bottom.

I found that so long as you just wanted the water to be hot, not boiling, the alcohol stove worked fine. The biggest issues that I had with it was that it required more fiddling and babysitting than a canister stove. In really cold conditions this becomes a pain as you can’t cook inside the vestibule of your tent (I don’t: the open flames are too dangerous), and you need to remove gloves to strike matches and so on.

I now use an MSR Reactor canister stove. It is much heavier, but it is very reliable and very fast, which I realised was more important to me than saving weight on my cook kit :grinning:


#20

1 like from me for trying the alcohol stove in the Berg!
I don’t think I will go that route, just thinking of burning a hole in my tent makes me squirm.
It feels like I have reached the balance between weight and comfort/safety for the Berg. To go any lower I will either sacrifice comfort or bucket loads of money.
Food seems to be the last frontier but it change with every hike. Next weekend’s hike will be Smash/Biltong and butter (2x mini tubs), it is simply delicious. Last hike it was Travel lunch from Trappers, but now I cant find it anywhere. But one thing remains, boiling water. I need a reliable, quick way of boiling water. That my Jetboil provides even in strong wind.:smiley:


#21

@Riaang great take on it! I’ve seen you over at VE more than a bit so it’s great to hear from someone with a significant amount of miles (kilometers? Miles sounds better) in the Berg. The limitations are for sure there. After all, it’s a mountain environment. Comparing ourselves to summer thru-hikers in the States where the weather may be gnarly but not quite as gnarly is in some ways misplaced of course (especially for winter kit). Why I’ll never take a tarp and bug net, maybe some will though… I value my sleep. Also love how none of us are willing to give up the coffee yet (or whiskey! It gets decanted into a plastic bottle though).

With regards to the cost – stuff can get seriously expensive. Working out your cost per gram saved (Cost of item divided by the difference in weight between the old and new piece of gear) is an amazing way to decide where to lighten up though. The quilt I ordered for example came in at just over R5 per gram saved, a new pack (Z-Packs Arc Blast for the sake of comparison) would be more like R22.

Good advice on the body weight goals. I’m 173 cm and weigh somewhere between 60 and 65 kg depending on the day, so I have the total opposite issue, both in terms of muscle (I need some please) and gear weight. Given that, the difference from a size small to XL is probably not aaallll that big, so let’s call it even haha. This is one of the main things that drove me to UL hiking actually. The often quoted “you shouldn’t carry more than 20% of your body weight” left me considering how on Earth I was going to go sub-12kg when the packs in the stores weigh 2.5kg just on their own, never mind all the stuff that was supposed to go in them!

@Jaxz I got my scale for free, so I have no reason to feel guilty about it having never seen a gram of flour :wink: I often carry it into stores with me, getting everything from weirded out stares to some pretty serious interest from the employees about what stuff actually weighs. Good plan for the filtration set-up. A Squeeze off of Amazon comes in at something like R650 shipped, including customs fees. Seriously not too bad when compared to LifeStraw or whatever you can pick up locally. For now I’m considering just making peace with the taste of pool water… chlorine tabs save 100g or so but, chlorine… it’s gross, so we’ll see.

That mid looks good, pyramids are supposed to be super strong and the versatility of a two wall structure can’t be beat. I consider myself lucky, I’m small, so UL tents are still palaces for me! They were talking about it over on reddit ultralight a week or so back if you didn’t pick that up.

@Ruth, awesome to hear from you, I’ve seen quite a few of your videos! I get you on the size/strength issue, I’m the same. Very much the reason I got into lightweight hiking in the first place, then the obsession set in haha. Thanks for the feedback on the alcohol stoves. I rarely bring my water to a boil, saves some gas I feel. I built a Coke can prototype yesterday and will be taking it up to the Mnweni (yup, watched your video on that too) this weekend to test out. Feedback will follow! I have a feeling that the convenience of canister stoves is going to win out more often than not though. It’s also easier to share among a group, so the weight penalty becomes negligible pretty fast.

@MasterMo where are you off to next weekend? I’m going up to Mnweni Friday. Dinner will be Mediterranean flavoured couscous laced in olive oil and salami Friday, followed by 2 minute noodles with Cup of Soup and butter Saturday. I try to stick with foods above 1500kJ/100g, both of these end up at about 2000 once they’re mixed together. The best way to lighten up on food is fat, fat, fat. Olive oil, butter, good fatty biltong (seems you’ve got the last two covered though). Cremora isn’t the best but packs 2200kJ so turns your coffee into a meal on its own lol. Things like protein bars, while marketed as high energy, often come in below 1300kJ so I don’t even bother. The vegetable chips from Woolworths are a good way to add vitamins and fiber while still hitting high kilojoules (or at least that’s what I tell myself). Dark chocolate also packs a serious punch! Taking along some fresh herbs, especially basil for shorter hikes really adds to a meal and weighs next to nothing. True UL would be sipping on olive oil (at 3300kJ) for the entire hike, but let’s keep this civil right?