Techniques & Best Practices

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ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Members Only Learn to Packraft! Episode 2: Stillwater Basics
by Ryan Jordan
Episode 2 of "Learn to Packraft!" provides an overview of stillwater packrafting gear and techniques. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Members Only Lighten Your Heaviest Gear: You!
by Jeremy Pendrey
As lightweight backpackers, we obsess over the weight of every piece of gear we carry, but many of us give little thought to the weight of the heaviest piece of gear of all: ourselves. How do we begin to treat our own weight with the same care that we treat the weight of our gear? By doing what we already do well: going light. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Lightweight Backpacking for Couples
by Alison Simon and Alan Dixon
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ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Lightweight Backpacking with Young Children
by Stephanie and Ryan Jordan
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ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Members Only Lightweight Stove Systems for Group Cooking Part 1: Basic Framework for Selecting A Cooking Pot and Predicting Fuel Needs
by Ryan Jordan
A series of tests exploring the winter performance of inverted canister and integrated canister stove systems for large water volumes and snow melting. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Members Only Lightweight Stove Systems for Group Cooking Part 2: Exploring the Effects of Cold Temperatures, Canister Inversion, Snow Melting, and Heat Exchanger Systems
by Ryan Jordan
A series of tests exploring the winter performance of inverted canister and integrated canister stove systems for large water volumes and snow melting. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Members Only Lightweight Stove Systems for Group Cooking Part 3: Performance of Inverted Canister and White Gas Stoves For Boiling Water and Melting Snow at Subzero (F) Temperatures
by Ryan Jordan
A series of tests exploring the winter performance of inverted canister and integrated canister stove systems for large water volumes and snow melting. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Lightweight Testimony: Jim Sweeney's Enlightenment via Lead Weights, Helium Balloons, and Yachting
by Jim Sweeney
"I guess I first realized my pack weight had to change when I was in intensive care recovering from a bad fishing trip." Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Lightweight Testimony: Lighter, Farther, Faster
by Steve Hinkle
Steve Hinkle relays that carrying all the comforts of home ultimately made for a miserable trail experience, and how shedding "comforts" was actually more pleasant in the long run. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Lightweight Testimony: Mother Nature Insisted I Go Light
by Carol Crooker
Carol Crooker's essay on enlightenment shows that Mother Nature can be a pushy broad, but she gets the job done. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Lightweight Testimony: My Journey into Lightweight Backpacking
by Jamie Shortt
The true story of how Jamie survived in the woods with his paper coat. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Members Only Make Your Own Gear: Igloos
by Tad Englund
Build an igloo using the “hub and spoke method” and lightweight backpacking tools. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Members Only Map and Compass: A City-girl Walks Western Wilderness
by Anne O'Regan
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ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Members Only Mountain SuperUltraLight Backpacking – Going SUL in the Mountains with Adequate Shelter, Insulation, and Rain Protection. Part 1: Concepts and Scope.
by Will Rietveld
Adapting SUL for mountain conditions, where frequent weather extremes necessitate more capable gear. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Members Only Mountain SuperUltraLight Backpacking – Going SUL in the Mountains with Adequate Shelter, Insulation, and Rain Protection. Part 2A: Selecting the Lightest, Most Functional Gear - Backpack, Shelter, Sleeping Bag, Sleeping Pad
by Will Rietveld
Adapting SUL for mountain conditions, where frequent weather extremes necessitate more capable gear. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Members Only Mountain SuperUltraLight Backpacking – Going SUL in the Mountains with Adequate Shelter, Insulation, and Rain Protection. Part 2B: Selecting the Lightest, Most Functional Gear - Rainwear, Insulation, Headwear, Handwear, and Footwear
by Will Rietveld
Adapting SUL for mountain conditions, where frequent weather extremes necessitate more capable gear. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Members Only Mountain SuperUltraLight Backpacking – Going SUL in the Mountains with Adequate Shelter, Insulation, and Rain Protection. Part 2C: Selecting the Lightest, Most Functional Gear - Cooking, Water, Trekking Poles, and Accessories
by Will Rietveld
Adapting SUL for mountain conditions, where frequent weather extremes necessitate more capable gear. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Members Only Mountain SuperUltraLight Backpacking – Going SUL in the Mountains with Adequate Shelter, Insulation, and Rain Protection. Part 3: M-SUL Base Weight Gear Lists
by Will Rietveld
Gear lists that demonstrate how easy it is to “make weight” for M-SUL and at the same time have all the shelter, insulation, and rain protection you need to stay dry, warm, and comfortable in the high country. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
My UL Frenzy: Twenty-Five Weekends of Backpacking in the White Mountains and Beyond
by James Bailey
2008: A Year of Change. Follow Jim Bailey on his rabid quest to hike every possible weekend between March and November, despite living in New England with its record-breaking weather. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Necessity vs. Importance: Considering Ultralight Essentials
by Ryan Jordan
Essentials commentary from BackpackingLight Publisher, Ryan Jordan. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Not a Day on any Calendar
by Bill Stadwiser
Backpacking Light's Wilderness Trekking School Photo Essay. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
One Night At A Time
by Mike Clelland!
Quit making it so hard: jeepers, just cram a few things in your pack and let's go! Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Members Only On-Trail Route Finding: When the Trail is Hard to Follow
by David Chenault
"I've never been lost, but I was once a mite bewildered for a few days." - Daniel Boone Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Members Only Overboots as Mukluks: Basecamp Footwear for Ski Mountaineers
by Ryan Jordan
Hardshell double boots, common amongst ski mountaineers using modern alpine touring or telemark equipment, make for miserable discomfort during extended stays in camp. Adding a pair of thin neoprene overboots at less than a pound allows one to kick off the plastics and enjoy basecamp slippers while keeping feet warm and dry in the coldest weather. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Members Only Packing for Adventure Travel: Ultralight Tips to Integrate Wilderness and Urban Kit
by Ryan Jordan
Packing to combine adventure travel and wilderness recreation. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Packrafting: An Introduction to Wilderness River Running with a Packable Inflatable Boat
by Jim Jager, Sidebar by Sheri Tingey
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ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Packraft Rating (PR) System
by Roman Dial
Roman Dial demystifies whitewater for the packrafter wanting to understand the natural progression of learning to packraft in the context of increasingly difficult whitewater. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Packraft Wet Reentry Photo Demo
by Matt Hage (photos) and Roman Dial (text)
Foot entrapment among submerged rocks is the leading killer of whitewater boaters. Think about it: the most common way to die while boating is by doing something OUTSIDE your boat! Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Philmont Scout Ranch: How Light Can You Go?
by Doug Prosser
After taking a Wilderness Trekking course from Andrew Skurka and Don Wilson, I wanted to try the Philmont Scout Ranch in a UL style. By stepping out of my existing comfort zone, I discovered a whole new one. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Members Only Pitching a Tent in the Snow
by Roger Caffin
Want to try tenting in the snow, but haven't done it before and not sure how? Haven't time in the evening to build a snow cave or an igloo just for one night? We walk you through the basics of what gear you need, how to choose a good site, how to create a platform, and how to pitch your tent (or a tarptent if you are brave). Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Reader Tips: Best Way to Pitch a Tarp with Fewest Stakes or Guylines
by the BackpackingLight.com Readership
We asked, you answered! Responses to our solicitation for the best tarp pitch using the fewest poles, stakes, or guylines. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Members Only Reducing Winter Pack Weight: Wood Fire Cooking in the Snow
by Kevin Sawchuk
For the hardcore ultralighter, cooking over wood fires in the winter offers a way to substantially reduce pack weight on longer trips, adds a bit of warmth around camp, and forces you to learn fire skills that just might save your life someday. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Members Only Sandals for Summer Backpacking
by Chris Townsend
Chris Townsend shares his sandal wearing experience. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Selling Lightweight: How Retailers Can Help Your Pack Weight
by Brad Groves
The interactions between retailer and consumer can have a dramatic influence on the gear carried and experience had by a consumer. We examine the tools both retailers and consumers can use in evaluating gear and determining the best lightweight options for individuals. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Members Only Smartphone Navigation
by Ken Knight
Use the ubiquitous smartphone to get where you're going, with details on four apps that support maps for more places (not just the States). All you need do is supply the adventure. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Sno-Seal Original Beeswax Waterproofing for Leather
by Roger Caffin
Treat your leather nicely, THEN abuse the ever-loving daylights out of it. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Spring Footwear: Lightweight Footwear Systems Built Around Thin Neoprene Overboots and High Gaiters
by Ryan Jordan
Foremost among the challenges that spring hikers face is the presence of melting snow and the prospect of continuously wet feet. Ryan Jordan presents his two favorite footwear systems for cold or warm spring conditions. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Members Only Spring Snow Trekking Gear List
by Ryan Jordan
Ryan shares his ideal gear list for late-winter, early-spring trekking. By utilizing a snow shelter and making a few adjustments to your kit, you can push the limits of your conventional 3-season gear. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Staff Videocast: Cowboy Coffee
by BackpackingLight.com Staff
How do BPL Staffers stay warm, hydrated, and caffeinated in the backcountry? Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Members Only Staying Dry in a Bivy Sack: Techniques for Managing the Moisture Balance Between External Precipitation and Internal Condensation
by Mike Martin
This article was originally published in issue 7 of the Backpacking Light Print Magazine. It has since been revised and updated by the author for web publication. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Members Only Still My Favorite Cook Kit
by Darin Banner
An Esbit cook system is very lightweight, fuel efficient, and ideal for warm-weather, solo cooking. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Members Only Tarp Camping Techniques for Inclement Conditions
by Ryan Jordan
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ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Testimony: How I Fell for Lightweight Backpacking
by Elizabeth Rothman
Fate stepped in and pushed me down some steps in November 2006, breaking my fibula at the ankle, requiring surgical repair. I asked my surgeon if I could backpack the following summer, and he said "If you can get your pack down to thirty pounds, you can backpack." My lightweight journey was launched in earnest. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
The 45-Year-Old Boy Scout
by Frank Steele
We asked, you answered: Lightweight Testimony Contest Runner Up! Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
The Backpacking Fly Fisherman
by Ryan Jordan
Ultralight fly fishing gear for the backpacker fishing on the move. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
The Beautiful Cup
by Mike Clelland!
Techniques and gear for the lightweight backcountry coffee connoisseur, because under no circumstances should you let a non-coffee drinker brew your bliss. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Members Only The Care and Feeding of Lindal Valves
by Roger Caffin
Lindal valves are what makes your stove work (or not work). Their proper care can keep your stove running for years. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Members Only The Performance of Alcohol Fuels for Backpacking Stoves
Part One: Three Straight Alcohols and Alcohol Blends

by Tony Beasley and Roger Caffin
Light alcohol stoves are very popular, but there is a lot of confusion over what sort of alcohol should be used and whether blending different alcohols together has any effect. In this, Part One, we comprehensively examine the performance and safety of three common alcohol fuels and of a range of blends. Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Members Only The Performance of Alcohol Fuels for Backpacking Stoves
Part Two: Water/Alcohol Blends

by Tony Beasley and Roger Caffin
The performance of a particular alcohol stove fuel is generally related to the amount of heating energy in that fuel, which changes when you blend water into different alcohols. But how does it change, and which blend should you use? Read More...
ARTICLES Techniques Techniques & Best Practices
Members Only The SUL Mindset, Part 2: Less vs. Lighter
by Ryan Jordan
So take your normal gear, just take way less of it! One important goal of SUL is to take less stuff, not buy new stuff. If you have to buy new stuff, then I think that regardless of your pack weight, consider that you may have transcended away from the ultralight philosophy and into ultralight hypocrisy. Read More...

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