“The wise man doesn’t give the right answers – he poses the right questions.”

- Claude Levi Strauss (1908-2009)

Once you have made the decision to lighten your pack load, the next step is to educate yourself in regards to the myriad of lightweight equipment options on the market.


  • Jardine, Ray. Beyond Backpacking (Adventurelore, 01) and Trail Life (Adventurelore, 09). Basically the same book with a different title. Jardine was the man who popularised the current movement towards going lighter in the early 90’s. Whilst some of his ideas may not be for everyone, there is no denying that his innovative approach is founded upon extensive personal experience in a wide range of environments. Quite simply, the guy gets out there and does it. See Jardine’s website for details:
  • Berger, Karen. Hiking Light Handbook (The Mountaineers Books, 2007, 3rd Edition). Aimed at recreational hikers who want to lighten their loads without going to extremes.
  • Ladigan, Don. Lighten Up!  (Falcon Guides, 2005). A great introductory guide to lightweight and ultralight backpacking.
  • Clelland, Mike. Ultralight Backpackin’ Tips (Falcon Guides, 2011) Includes 153 tips on going lighter, courtesy of the same guy who did the excellent illustrations for Ladigan’s book. Practical information mixed in with liberal doses of quirkiness and humour. Makes Ultralight backpacking sound fun and enjoyable………….thumbs up.Trail Tested by Justin Lichter
  • Townsend, Chris. The Backpackers Handbook (4th edition, 2011). A comprehensive guide to backpacking written in a personal, down to earth style by a man who definitely knows his stuff. Highly recommended.
  • Lichter, Justin. Trail Tested (Falcon Guides, 2012). A wealth of useful information on lightweight backpacking techniques from a guy who has walked the walk for more than 35,000 miles. One of the most experienced long distance backpacker’s on the planet, Justin’s journeys have taken him from Africa to the Himalayas to the Appalachian Trail in the middle of winter.


  • Backpacker Magazine The annual gear guide gives an overview of prices, weights and other product specifications for hundreds of backpacking items.

Websites & Email Forums Magazines

  • Backpacking Light: A wide-ranging source of gear reviews and ultra lightweight backpacking techniques. If you want to take the step from lightweight (ie. base weight of 10-20 lbs) to ultralight (ie. below 10 lbs), this is your best bet for online advice.
  • Gear recommendations, email forum, online store and lightweight backpacking tips.
  • PCT-L & White Blaze:  Email forums for the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and Appalachian Trail (AT) respectively. Whilst some of the information on these sites is specific to the trails themselves, they are also full of interesting advice from long distance hikers who practice lightweight techniques.
  • One of my favourite websites for all things hiking. Practical, too the point and with a little bit of humour thrown into the mix.
  • Section Hiker: Gear reviews, how to’s and trip planning. Philip Werner, the site’s author, is one of the most prolific outdoor writers on the web.

Gear Company Websites

  • Gossamer Gear, Ultra lightweight packs, hiking poles, sleeping mats and shelters.
  • Granite Gear, Lightweight, durable, well-made backpacks. Their Crown VC 60 is an excellent choice for hikers looking at lightweight internal frame models.
  • Marmot, Although not specifically a lightweight gear manufacturer, Marmot nonetheless produce some of the best lightweight sleepingbags on the market.
  • Mountain Laurel Designs, Ultra lightweight gear. Reputation for quality and workmanship. Their tarpsbivyspacks and ponchos all consistently gain high marks amongst the ultralight hiking community. The MLD Burn has been my go-to backpack for three season conditions since 2009.
  • Six Moon Designs, I have never personally used it, but I have a couple of hiker buddies in the States who swear by the Gatewood Cape, a shelter/rain wear hybrid which weighs in at 312 grams (11 ounces).
  • Tarptent Tents - UltralightTarptent, The standard in single wall silnylon Tents. I have had my Squall since 2004, and it still rates as one of my favourite two-man tents. Well designed, lightweight, durable, reasonably priced products.
  • ULA, Arguably the most popular Lightweight packs in the US long distance hiking community.
  • Western Mountaineering, Quality down sleeping bags and  jackets. Amongst the US long distance hiking community, their products invariably rate right near the top.
  • ZPacks, Specializes in super light outdoor gear made of cuben fiber. Shelters, packs,sleeping bags and bivys. Their tarps consistently receive good reviews amongst ultralight hikers.