“To equip a pedestrian with shelter, bedding, utensils, food, and other necessities, in a pack so light and small that he can carry it without overstrain, is really a fine art.”
– Horace Kephart, Camping and Woodcraft, 1917
- Alcohol stoves are ultralight, cost next to nothing and require zero maintenance.
- The Pepsi Can model I have used the past few years, tips the scales at a gossamer-like 9 grams (0.3 of an ounce). This is a fraction of what multi-fuel and canister stoves weigh, with the added benefit of never having to worry about mechanical parts clogging or malfunctioning. Perfect for extended backpacking trips in developing countries.
- Alcohol stoves are slightly less fuel-efficient than other stoves, which means you will have to carry a little more fuel than you normally would. That being said, I have found the difference to be negligible in relation to the weight saved by the actual stove itself. In addition, by utilizing a pot cozy (which saves on cooking time and fuel required) once the flame has extinguished, you go some way in negating any weight disadvantage caused by the alcohol stove’s comparative lack of efficiency.
- If you would like to make your own alcohol stove, check out Zen Stoves or Roy Robinson’s Cat Stove for step-by-step instructions.
- For an overview of alcohol stoves, see Stoves in the GEAR section.
- The lightest options are chemical treatments such as iodine and chlorine dioxide (eg. Aquamira). Of the two, the latter is the better tasting and generally more effective (see Intestinal Disorders in HEALTH & SAFETY).
- For non-chemical forms of treatment, ultraviolet light purifiers (eg. SteriPEN) are generally lighter than filters, however, can be unreliable when treating murky water. See Water Purification in GEAR for an overview of treatment options.
- Plastic soda or sports drink bottles are much lighter than their polycarbonate or polyethylene (ie. hard plastic) equivalents. I normally carry two, one for each side of my pack. In addition, I will often carry a collapsible Platypus bladder.
- Weight: From a gram counting perspective, closed cell foam mats are still lighter than their inflatable equivalents. Companies such as Gossamer Gear produce closed cell mats that weigh less than 4 ounces. That being said, the gap which was once substantial has now been closed dramatically. As of 2013, inflatable mats such as the Thermarest NeoAir (small size) tip the scales at under 9 ounces.
- Torso or 3/4 length: Many lightweight hikers utilize torso or 3/4 length mats and sleep with their feet on top of their pack. Having your feet raised in such a fashion has the added advantage of reducing swelling in the lower extremities after a long day on the trail.
- Individual Needs: Light is not necessarily right when it comes to sleeping mats. Experience will teach you what level of comfort you require in order to obtain a good nights sleep. There is no point in having a super-light mat, if you spend your entire night tossing and turning. Listen to your body, work out what you need in order to get a good night’s sleep, then go out and buy the lightest version.