While discussing the details of the Gila trip, we decided to challenge ourselves to go ultralight. The total weight of our gear, including backpack, could not exceed 20lbs. It seemed fairly simple, but after pulling out my backpack I was shocked to learn that I’d been carrying around 50lbs of gadgets, gizmos and outdoor accoutrement on previous trips. Shuddering at the ridiculousness of trying to take so much of the world with me when the point was to leave it behind, I began to scrub my packing list.
I started with a quick kill of substituting a one-man bivouac sac (1lb 10oz) for the two-man tent (9lbs) I had previously carried. Next was less clothing, a foam pad instead of an inflatable one, a small aluminum pot rather than a cooking set, etc….it took a while, but I finally got it down to 20lbs. Then the “what if’s” began to flood my mind. What if we got stuck out there for longer? What if we didn’t have enough food, clothing, and emergency gear? I threw in a few extra granola bars just to calm my nerves.
After one day on the trail my fears were alleviated, and Lucas and I knew we were on to something big – the benefits of going ultralight far outweighed any losses in comfort or feelings of security. Nights around the fire were previously spent nursing sore bodies; now we felt great. The amount of mileage we comfortably traveled in a day doubled as we found ourselves jogging down small sections of the trail when we got restless. Scrambling up steep sections would have been slow torture with 50lbs on our backs; now we were able to go explore remote areas that offered the best scenic views.
After 4-days we had covered over 25-miles, but it had seemed much less. To say the trip went well would be an understatement – in going ultralight we had unexpectedly discovered the benefits of minimalism – simplicity, efficiency and freedom.
Do go read the whole thing, especially if Britain's culture of excessive consumption bothers you. You'll enjoy it.