Lighten up – ultralight hiking gear

Posted by Matt Sterne on 30 October 2018

There’s a growing movement of hikers who embrace the ultralight approach. These gram counters believe less is more and are fanatical about getting their pack weights down to under 10kg. Some of their tactics include: leaving the stove behind and eating cold meals; taking only one outfit; using trail shoes instead of hiking boots and a black rubbish bag for rain cover; cutting excess straps; shortening your toothbrush handle; and leaving the sleeping-bag sack at home. Luckily, with the following items in your backpack your approach won’t need to be so extreme.


Sea to Summit ultralight mat

R1 899,
Weight: 355g

When this mattress is rolled up, it’s the size of two Coke cans and only just heavier than one. That alone makes it an attractive option, yet the unique air valve takes it a step further. It’s the best system I’ve come across for inflating a mattress – all it takes is a gentle breath into the adjoining sack and then a squeeze, (repeated twice) – plus it deflates instantly on its own. The Air Sprung Cell technology ensures a surprisingly comfortable night’s sleep, but keep in mind that in cold temperatures it’s probably best to add a towel underneath for extra insulation.

CW280 ultralight down sleeping bag

R1 799,
Weight: 570g
Climbing into this is like putting on a winter jacket over your entire body. Made of 95% goose-feather filling, it’s insulating, warm and lightweight. For extra insulation, there’s a cord at the neck that can be tightened to trap the heat. The bag is a slightly slimmer cut than average, so bigger people might find it a little too snug. The temperature guide suggests you’ll be comfortable down to 8˚C, with 2˚C being the lowest limit.


Cloud Up 2 ultralight two-person tent

R1 799,
Weight: 1,8kg

The secret to this tent’s lightness is its streamlined profile and pole system. Erecting it is easy: there’s only one Y-shaped pole and the flysheet, which is silicone-coated and waterproof, snaps into place using familiar backpack-style clips. There’s a vestibule area to stash your kit, and a ground mat offers extra protection and insulation.


GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Soloist

Weight: 308g

This set nests together for easy packing and covers all your basic cooking needs. It comes with a 1,1L pot, a lid with an integrated strainer, a spork and a bowl that doubles as a cup. The pot handle locks into place for cooking and also secures the entire set for transport. As the name suggests, it’s ideal for one person, but there’s also a Pinnacle Dualist for two (R1 375).


Jetboil Mightymo cooking system

R1 150,
Weight: 95g (excluding gas canister)

This single-burner stove is the size and weight of a salt shaker. It differs from its competitors by having a regulator that allows for simmer control, and it performs consistently well in temperatures as low as -6˚C. The push-button igniter means no matches are needed. Heat isn’t well distributed, but it’s difficult to find a smaller stove that works this well.


Black Diamond Distance Carbon trekking poles

R2 495,
Weight: 285g (110cm)

Made from carbon fibre, these folding trekking poles are as light as a paper plane. They transform from folded to extended in an instant – simply click one segment into place and the rest follow automatically. They’re ideal for endurance runners and adventure athletes who require extremely light poles that can be easily stowed. The interchangeable rubber or carbide tips suit different surfaces and terrains.getaway


Salomon S/Lab Sense Ultra 8 Set

R3 199,
Weight: 137g

This vest is so light you won’t even notice it, which is great if you’re spending a long day on the trail. The pockets are thoughtfully laid out, easy to reach, and come with two 500ml soft fl asks on the front. There’s a slight bounce when running with fully loaded front pockets, but not enough for it to be problematic. Ultimately, it’s for top athletes taking on long distances, and it ticks all the right boxes.


Black Diamond Iota Headlamp

Weight: 56g

I love the simple, yet effective, design of this tiny headlamp. It’s comfortable to wear and powerful too – its beam of 150 lumens has a reach of 40m. The dimming feature is particularly useful as the headlamp can be used both for night hikes and around the campfire without casting unnecessary light. It’s rechargeable and can stay on the highest power setting for two hours, and the lowest (four lumens) for 40.


Salomon S/Lab Sense tee for men

Weight: 40g

This is another barely-there item from Salomon that won’t weigh you down when tackling road or mountain routes. It’s as light and fluid as an afternoon breeze, and has a good cut too. The fabric is highly breathable – vital for a running shirt – allowing for a sense of freedom, even if you’re perspiring heavily. It’s slightly see-through but not enough for it to be an issue.

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