Ultralight Backpacking Essentials – The less you bring, the more freedom you get

The most important part about going on an ultralight backpacking tour is how and what you pack. Regardless where the trip should go to check what you really need and research on the essentials you want to bring. A heavy backpack keeps you from having the time of your life.

The backpack – most important essential for your trip

Make sure that your backpack is comfortable to hike with for multiple hours a day. It should be water resistant or come with a pack cover to keep the gear dry during rain (you can also buy a single pack cover). You want to have quick access to your water bottle, snacks or any other small things like a camera. Nothing’s more useful than having it on the sides of the backpack in easy reachable pockets.

The best size for a backpack for an ultralight backpacking tour depends on the length of the trip and where you go. A 35l – 40l backpack is clearly enough for a few months in southeast Asia but can be too small for a hiking trip to the mountains. It should be at least 50l in winter. Find out which essentials you need to bring first and then look for a backpack that suits your needs.

An organized backpack makes a smooth trip. Packing cubes help finding everything without unpacking the whole inside. If you bring electronics, a dry bag might be useful to keep them save and dry.

What to bring for an ultralight backpacking trip to the mountains

Shoes! For a day trip or more, shoes are the most important thing to bring on a hiking trip. You will be on your feet for a few hours a day and want to be comfortable and without any pain. Take your time in finding the right ones – they serve you for a long time.

Clothing for every possible weather. A light windbreaker / rain jacket or a winter hiking jacket should be on everyone’s packing list. Be aware that you will sweat and get warm while hiking and a thick jacket would be too heavy and not comfortable with a backpack on top. There are a few great brands for light winter hiking jackets.

Bring water and a refillable bottle for longer hiking trips and enough food which you can prepare quick and easy. In case you want to go camping, a cooking set and a gas cooker are necessary. There are foldable sets made out of a ultralight material for camping trips.

Speaking about camping – a tent or a hammock must go on the list, too. A hammock is mostly lighter, smaller and the better option for an ultralight backpacking tour. But sleeping in it is not for everyone. And of course, you will need a sleeping bag. Make sure that it keeps you warm in cold temperatures and doesn’t make you sweat when it gets warmer.

A few other things like a headlamp, sun protection, hygiene essentials, a first aid kid, a knife, some extra clothes and personal items must be in the backpack, too. If you don’t have a navigation system on your phone you should get an extra one or download an app.

What to bring for ultralight backpacking in southeast Asia

There is not much to bring since you will find yourself shopping at the traditional markets and shops. Things like sun protection and hygiene products are easy to buy in the country you will go to. And it is mostly cheaper than in other parts of the world, too. Plus, you won’t have the struggle with how to bring it with you on the flight.

Bring sandals or flip – flops and one pair of comfortable shoes. Packing hiking boots is not necessary since backpacking southeast Asia mostly includes sleeping in hostels or homestays. Finding a place to sleep does not include long hiking trips.

It gets chilly during the night in these countries and a light long sleeve keeps you warm and cozy even on late night bike tours. Swimming gear must be on the packing list for relaxed beach days or jumping in pools. And a few other clothes are necessary such as underwear, socks, a skirt or short pants etc. – but don’t overpack.

Buy a multiple – type adapter for the electronics before flying to southeast Asia, so that you are prepared for every new country.

These are the things you will need on those kinds of ultralight backpacking adventures. Everything else is just more weight on your shoulders. And don’t forget that flight airlines only allow a certain amount of weight without paying for checked baggage.

Make sure that you research thoughtfully on every item and compare. Don’t buy the cheapest and first option that crosses your way. Ask friends who hiked before or the staff in outdoor shops for help. These essentials will serve you for a long time and not just for one single trip.

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