When going camping, the decision of what to take along can be very daunting.
Things like whether or not a ratchet belt will be fit for a camping trip, are one of many controversial decisions a camper (especially a newbie) might face. This is why we are going to be discussing a few pointers. So read along.
Differentiate between wants and needs
In reality, you don’t need very much. Of course, food, oxygen and water are apparent essentials. So is being warm, comfortable, and having your peace of mind.
But it is in our nature to be easily swayed by our wants. It is not your fault; it is just how we are wired. Some things, like the backpack, and compass are mandatory requirements.
But what about a tent? Is that something you think you WANT or NEED? These are blatantly different, and it can be a human testing exercise to attempt to split them from each other.
Can you substitute a piece of equipment you WANT with something you truly NEED? Is there an alternative that is lighter, economical, simpler, or even multipurpose?
Can it be entirely avoided? It should be relatively easy to forego the tent and choose a tarp as an alternative, but all too often, this choice can be clouded with emotion.
Say for example; you have a beautiful camping knife. And you love this elegantly crafted tool, and you feel a genuine WANT associated with your well-designed (and seemingly expensive) toy.
This will be an excellent item to evaluate with, using ultralight eyes. Perhaps you have found a way to convince yourself into believing that a knife is a consequential essential when all you really do is WANT a knife?
From personal experience, I’ve come to find that a 0.1-ounce single-edge razor blade, void of decorations and charisma, solves the need for a sharp thing in the mountains. Thus the elegant knife stays on the shelf at home, and that release feels good!
Completely eradicate stuff from off your gear.
Your typical carbonated plastic bottle has a rubber lid, and under that lid is a small rubber ring. That tiny extra piece of plastic serves no other purpose than acting as a factory seal, and it serves no evident purpose after the bottle has been opened for the first time.
Make use a small pair of wire cutters (or your fingernails—if you have solid nails like me) in getting that ring off.
The negligible mass is insignificant in the broader sense of things. But in this regards, it’s more of a frame of mind. If you choose to ply yourself to these commonly unnecessary items, you are inadvertently setting yourself up with an immense plethora of general camping etiquette.
This frame of mind will subtly add up and influence the big decision faster than you can imagine.
Get a pair of cutters or scissors and cut off anything that comes across as unnecessary attachments, after which you want to go ahead and reweigh such items. The act of cutting off meager unwanted stuff will go a long way in reinforcing your goal.
Your bag, no matter how well made it is, can most often time use a little trimming. Get a razor blade, and go all out on it!
Make a list of your gear
You have to train yourself into the habit of making a proper list of your gear. You unquestionably need to weigh everything and put it into writing.
This may seem a little over the edge for you, but trust me, this deliberate or conscious effort makes it a breeze in deciding what is really needful for your camping trip.
And while you’re at it, endeavour to write the weight of each item right across it. This simple action of weighing your gear gives you resolve and focus that’ll enable you to really cross-examine every piece of item.
Make a sum of the totals, and ensure to add a space titled “Why” for each item. If you can’t answer “why” you need something—don’t take it!
Know the lingo or terminologies
Base weight over 20 pounds; In most cases, this just means a pack weight of over 35 pounds.
Lightweight: Base weight below 20 pounds. This is realistic, with just minimal dedication.
Ultralight (or UL): The term ultralight has acquired a precise meaning in the realm of the weird lightweight camping community. It means having a base weight of UNDER 10 pounds.
That means everything in your pack that isn’t a consumable and isn’t worn on your body while camping totals less than 10 pounds.
This may seem overwhelming, but it can be done with a minimum of dedication. There are a series of skills required for success, but it’s more of a mindset than a skill set.
Sub-ultralight (or SUL): Base weight below 5 pounds! The domain of passionate zealots, it’s achievable with a few essential items and a more focused mindset.
The Big Three: These are the three most cumbersome items (or systems) you’ll carry: the backpack, sleeping gadgets, and shelter mechanism.
PPPPD: An acronym for Pounds Per Person Per Day. This gets used in food calculations. A similar acronym is noted as PPPD, meaning Per Person Per Day.
This is a shorthand tool for figuring fuel and rationing.
Multiuse: Some gear can do double duty, and you can subtract at least one unneeded item from your pack. The mosquito head net doubles as a super lightweight stuff sack— and triples as a coffee filter.
Base weight: The weight of the pack or bag itself with all the items won’t change during the camping. The weight of consumables are NOT included; neither is the weight of the clothing worn.
Consumables: Anything that will be used up while camping. The weight of these items will change throughout the trip. They will be eaten, drunk, burned, or rubbed on your face.
Food, water, and fuel are weighed and documented. Sunscreen and other toiletries will get used too, but these are difficult to weigh accurately, and their data is usually ignored.
Pack weight: Base weight plus consumables. The weight of the fully-loaded pack at the trailhead on Day 1 of your camping. This is a significant number. If you meet a fellow lightweight camper, you’ll get asked: “What’s your pack weight?”
Gear-worn: This is the weight of your camping outfit, meaning anything that’ll be worn during the day. This includes shoes, socks, sunglasses, watches, and your hat. This figure is hard to narrow down because you need to (somewhat arbitrarily) pick your prototypical camping ensemble. This will obviously change with weather and terrain.
Skin-out weight: The weight of absolutely everything that is going in the field on the trip. The collective sum of your base weight, consumables, and gear-worn—everything! This is a nice techie number to know, but it’s rarely used, even by the nerdiest.
A model camping trip should be an ultralight experience, especially for a beginner meaning the base weight should be below 10 pounds.
Length of days should be ten days Solo, meaning the trip should be ten days long—a comfortable length, because you can easily carry ten days of food, and doing the math of that should be relatively easy. There’s nothing, or should I say—there should be nothing— complicated about this hypothetical camping trip.