Ultra-Light - Not Always the Best Strategy
Updated: Aug 24
Now don’t get me wrong, putting thought into how you can reduce your pack weight is a good thing to do. Having said that, I’m of the opinion that you can go too far.
Ultra-light backpacking, carrying minimal gear and supplies in an effort to reduce weight, can be a useful strategy for certain types of trips and activities. However, it's not always a good idea, and there are some potential drawbacks and risks associated with this approach
One of the main drawbacks of ultra-light backpacking is that it can limit your ability to cope with unexpected situations or emergencies. By carrying minimal gear and supplies, you may not have the resources or equipment needed to deal with unforeseen circumstances, such as bad weather, injuries, or equipment failures. This is especially true in the wintertime and shoulder seasons up in the mountains. Fast-changing weather, colder temperatures, wind, downed trees, etc., can all create situations where more durable, but heavier, gear is needed.
For example, if you are caught in a severe storm while ultra-light backpacking, you may not have the necessary gear to stay warm and dry, and this could put you at risk of hypothermia or other health problems. Similarly, if you are injured or become ill while ultra-light backpacking, you may not have the supplies or equipment needed to provide first-aid or seek help.
Another potential drawback of ultra-light backpacking is that it can reduce your enjoyment and comfort on the trail. By carrying minimal gear, you may have to sacrifice certain amenities or comforts that can make your trip more enjoyable, such as a comfortable sleeping pad, a stove to cook with, or a shelter to protect you from the elements.
For example, if you are ultra-light backpacking and are forced to sleep on the ground, you may not have the necessary gear to create a comfortable sleeping surface, and this could lead to a restless and uncomfortable night. Similarly, if you are ultra-light backpacking and are unable to cook your own meals, you may have to rely on trail mixes and other minimal food options, which can be less satisfying and enjoyable than a hot meal.
Overall, while ultra-light backpacking can be a useful strategy in some situations, there remain many situations where ultra-light is the wrong strategy.