Over the last year I have been experimenting with reducing the weight of my hiking pack when out on track.

Reading books on ultralight hiking, has me with some strategies for doing so.

Stacked packing system

Maximising the space in a 35L is essential. Using the stacking method, I discovered on the amazing Darwin Hikes - 35L how to pack walkthrough, is a modular system, that involves stacking components up in a specific sequence.

Some benefits:

  • Dry things stay down the bottom.
  • Easy access to rain jacket, food and tent.
  • The food bag is often the heaviest item. Locating it in the centre of the pack, keeps the pack squared securely on your back.

packing system

Inner pack

  1. Sleeping pad folded up against the back of the pack (great for providing some structure to frameless packs)
  2. A bag liner (garbage bag is best)
  3. Quilt
  4. Clothing
  5. Puffer jacket - at this point seal the bag liner off
  6. Food bag
  7. Tent
  8. Rain jacket

Side pockets

  1. 1L water bottle on bother side (to balance the pack out)
  2. Cold soak container
  3. Snacks
  4. Water filter

Front pocket

  1. Tent stakes
  2. Trowel and toilet paper.
  3. Ditty bag.
  4. Empty 1L platypus bladder.


These mostly come down to weight trade-offs:

  • Depending on weather forecast, consider taking out a freestanding tent.
  • Don’t bother with hiking boots, trail runners are king
  • In colder seasons don’t scrimp on warm gear to save grams
    • booties
    • heavy quilt
    • high R value sleeping pad
    • gloves
  • A 1L nalgene bottle is great as a hot water bottle
  • Cook system is optional (see cold soaking below)
  • Try a single hiking pole

Ditty bag

All the utilities, bits and pieces.

  • Toothpaste tablets (repackaged)
  • Toothbrush
  • Baby wipes (repackaged)
  • Hydralite
  • Band-aids
  • Deoderant (repackaged)
  • Mini swiss army knife
  • Chapstick
  • Shower gel (repackaged)
  • Mosquito repellant (repackaged)
  • Earbuds
  • Sunscreen (repackaged)
  • Water treatment tablets
  • Telfast
  • Patch repair kit for sleeping pad
  • Needle + thread
  • Feet tape


Things that have worked for me, over trial and error:

  • Plan for at least 700 grams of food per day.
  • At least 3L of water per day.
  • Drink as much water as possible directly from water sources, using the Katadyn BeFree or Sawyer Squeeze.

Cold soak meal recipes

A method for rehydrating meals using just cold water, over a couple of hours. The plus side, no need to bring a cook system, and they optionally work great with boiling water.

Refried beans

  • Dehdrated refried beans (or Quinoa)
  • Seasoning
  • Corn chips
  • Olive oil

Pinto beans

  • Dehydrated precooked pinto beans
  • Taco seasoning
  • Corn chips
  • Olive oil

Cous Cous

  • Couscous
  • Sun flower seeds
  • Pine nuts
  • Raisins
  • Vegetable soup mix
  • Olive oil
  • Curry powder
  • Sun dried tomatoes
  • Tuna packet


  • Dehydrated vegetables
  • Cous Cous

Oil wrap

  • Almond butter
  • Dried fruits
  • Tortilla

Potato Bomb

  • Powdered potatoes
  • Corn chips
  • Summer sausage

Rice Bomb

  • Knorr rice side (mexican or spanish)
  • Tortilla
  • Corn chips
  • Refried beans


  • Oatmeal
  • Protein powder
  • Dried fruit
  • Paleo mix


  • Cereal (ex nutri-grain)
  • Protein powder
  • Dried fruit

Useful resources

Lessons learned

April 2021

  • always use R value mat for cold earth
  • heavier sleeping bag
  • dromlite not great, take more bottles instead
  • more training, to lessen leg pain
  • look into getting done 1L platapus bladders
  • fast flow chunk filter, carbon disks?
  • stove, hot water is too good in the cold
  • coffee, miso soup, noodles
  • more hydralite
  • befree how to clean, it blocked up badly
  • get some lightweight fishing gear
  • feet tape essential with trail runners
  • normal woolen socks next time, not the injinji toe socks
  • ditch the poo shovel
  • bring fire lighting kit
  • convertible pants
  • warmer sleep system will reduce clothing weight
  • one nalgene bottle, for hot water bottle
  • 700g of food per day next trip

November 2021

  • pivot to a free standing tent when weather is poor
  • fix thermarest neoair xlite air mattress leak
  • aluminium foil wind shield for stove
  • velcro pillow to air mattress
  • experiment with potato bomb
  • make coffee tea bags
  • experiment making damper from raw flour
  • use normal sunscreen (the sticks suck)
  • small usb micro charger for bindi head lamp
  • gossamer gear “the two” is terrible in heavy rain and strong wind
  • didn’t use list:
    • thermal top
    • water proof socks
  • things that worked well:
    • trail runners in the rain
    • only needed one pair of socks
    • running shorts performed well in the wet drying quickly while walking
  • things that didn’t work well:
    • mont gortex jacket way too heavy
    • mont zero jacket too light and cold
    • gossamer gear the two tent was windy and wet inside and sand pegs kept blowing out
    • thermarest neoair xlite had a slow leak
    • lightweight stove setup used up all gas within 3 days due to lack of wind shield
    • loose blister tape gave me a blister on left heal