So what’s Ultralight then?
When you are hiking and camping, you need what is called your base system. This is shelter, sleeping and carrying equipment. Shelter can be a tent, a bivy and tarp or anything you will be sleeping in to shelter you from the elements. Sleeping gear is usually a mat and sleeping bag and then your carrying equipment is your rucksack/ backpack. Ultralight is considered to be under 4.5kg for this base system. You do have to be practical here and ensure that the equipment you are carrying is appropriate for the environment and weather you’ll be experiencing.
I guess different people have different reasons for carrying an ultralight load out. The main reason for me was that when I go on a one or two night photography trip, I have to carry my camping gear and my camera gear. Neither of them are light, so I had to find some compromise somewhere. I’m stuck with my camera and associated gear, I haven’t the money to spend on a mirrorless camera and new lenses. So I had to look at how I could reduce the load I carry with the camping gear. Prior to me trying to reduce my load, my rucksack was often weighing in at 20kg or more, which doesn’t sound much but over 20 miles in a day you definitely feel it on your back and legs! So something had to be done.
Ultralight often equals Heavy Cost!
So when I was looking for lighter camping equipment I found that ultralight very often comes at a price, a hefty one too! I’m not rich or anything near, I set myself a tight budget with the gear I buy because I have to and I also don’t want to. So finding gear that’s both up to the job and lightweight is often difficult. There are ways around this problem though. You can buy second hand, heavily discounted products and seek out some real bargains. It often takes time and effort though but the rewards are worth it!
What does this have to do with my photography?
Short answer for me is, everything! I don’t drive, I rely on public transport to get me as close to my photo locations as I can, the rest of the way I hike. I often end up camping too, so I can catch dawn and dusk shots. So reducing the load I have to carry for the hiking and camping aspect of my trips is pretty essential. My camera gear isn’t light and I can’t afford to change out my camera gear for lighter stuff, so the only savings in terms of the weight I’m lugging about is with my camping gear.
So my new ultralight base kit load out is:
Tent: Nordisk Telemark 1 LW – 910g with extra pegs
Sleeping Mat: Thermarest NeoAir Xtherm – 430g
Rucksack: Fjallraven Abisko Hike 35l -1400g
Sleeping Quilt (Summer): Thermarest Apogee Quilt -918g
Sleeping Bag (Winter): Alpkit Skyehigh 900 Down bag -1420g
Obviously there is more kit I need when out trekking and camping, such as food, water and clothes. Getting the base kit weight down is an excellent starting point though! I’m waiting for a break in the current crap weather we’re experiencing here in the UK, then I’m off out for a wild camp somewhere to test the new kit out and get some landscape shots in the can! Can’t wait!!