Time to come clean……I am not ultralight. There I said it. Actually I started out kinda light on the PCT but over the years and other trails I caved to carrying more stuff. It wasn’t planned it just snuck up on me. Add this add that…ounces count and add up. When I first thru hiked the PCT I didn’t know really what I was doing nor did I know anyone who had taken on such an endeavor. So I googled it of course, depending on books, blogs, and online resources. There’s no shortage of people ready to share all about their gear and weight issues.
For instance when I read about hikers going stove less, I was like sweet no need to buy a stove! I got one of those Therm-a-rest Z lite sleeping pads everyone else had. It was both lightweight and inexpensive. I even had a tent that was light weight as it didn’t use traditional poles but trekking poles. This is where I have to let you know going ultralight is not actually inexpensive, can be uncomfortable and possibly unsafe. Regardless of weight/cost you NEED to carry what will keep you safe.
My base weight on the PCT (the weight without food, water, fuel or worn clothing) came in at about 18lbs, maybe less as I ditched the ground cloth, extra socks, a charger and stakes. Full disclosure I’m not a weigh everything kind of a hiker so my base weight is ‘based’ on manufactures info and well guessing. Lightweight = base weight under 20lbs, Ultralight = base weight under 10lbs.
Over that last three years and long hikes I’ve replaced and added gear. Traded out that Therm-a-rest for a Nemo Air pad and picked up a Jetboil stove both which increased my comfort and my weight, if only by ounces. But every ounce counts. I’ve also changed out my tent and sleeping bag both increased weight but provided peace of mind. Oh, let’s not forget that ice ax I hauled around Colorado.
I got the opportunity to slack-pack (a day’s worth of thru-hiking without a pack or carrying as little as safely possible) on the PCT and CDT. Both times it was a lot of fun to go from hiking with a full pack to basically just food, water and a jacket. With a lighter pack weight to deal with I found I can really move, so I can totally understand the joys of being ultralight. (hiking faster = cover more miles = carry less food/water) Oh to be practically floating down the trail with a practically empty backpack aka crushing it!
Ultralight be darned I must go I own way, even if that’s a tad slow. Going stove-less was easy. When hiking the PCT, fellow hiker, Goat shared his stove and the joy of having a hot meal or morning coffee. Blowing up my sleeping pad, not fun, but the better night’s sleep is worth it. Personally I’d rather take All The Things then send stuff home when it starts weighing on me (see what I did there). Someday I may swap my ULA Circuit (68L) for the lighter CDT (54L) and by swap I mean have both. Splurging on an light weight Arc’teryx jacket sounds fun but not in the cards right now. But for now, I’m just lightweight (current base weight- 16 lbs) don’t judge.