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overnight ultralight bushwalking


  • IF you can get your weight to ultralight levels, a frameless pack MAY be a possibility and further save weight
    • BUT heavier loads > 9kg weight will be uncomfortable in a frameless pack
  • overnight walkers should not carry more than:
    • 25% of body weight if female
    • 1/3rd of body weight if male (eg. around 20-25kg max, preferably 14-18kg)
  • one should carry 2L water per person per day and 3L if hot weather although most hikers carry 1-1.5L as well as water sterilisation gear IF they know that water WILL be available to collect during the hike.
  • one set of dry clothes is sufficient along with wet weather gear, good shoes, map, EPIRB, shelter, sleeping mat, etc.
  • preferably, the backpack design and packing should distribute the weight 80% to hips and 20% to shoulders - too much on the shoulders and you will have sore shoulders, sore neck and back, and tend to walk bent over which is not how we are designed
  • the hip belt thus becomes a key factor in comfort:
    • it needs to efficiently transfer weight to the hips to take it off the shoulders
    • they should not sag in the lumbar region causing it to slide off and this generally requires a horizontal metal lumbar plate
    • the hip belt should fit snuggly over the top of your pelvis - should be well padded with dual adjustments on each side
    • to maintain an upright gait with a heavy load, the centre of gravity should be high and close to the body (heavier gear such as water should be high and central rather than on outside bottom pockets) - load lifting compression straps can aid with this and a rigid structure is then needed to transfer this load to the hips
  • examples of ultralight back packs:
  • how to load a backpack:


  • fly and floor material:
    • nylon is weighted by the Denier scale with the lightest tent fabrics being 10D while a tent floor might be made of 70D
    • waterproofing is rated according to head of hydrostatic pressure in mm that it can resist
      • many ultralight tents are rated at only 1200mm
    • polyurethane coated nylon (PU nylon)
      • cheaper, heavier option and as PU coating is generally applied to the interior surface to protect it from UV and abrasion, it is hydrophilic and becomes waterlogged and takes longer to dry out so you end up carrying a heavy wet tent and you need to ensure it is completely dry before storage. Wet, humid environments such as the tropics will quickly hydrolyse the PU causing it to degrade, become sticky and peel off.
      • some also have an external Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating (eg. MSR Hubba Hubba' Durashield PU/silicone)
      • some add polyether to reduce hydrolysis “PeU nylon” (eg. Nemo)
      • flooring can be made of double-sided PU nylon for extra waterproofing as UV resistance is not an issue (unless fly is not in place to protect it from the sun)
    • silicone nylon (silnylon)
      • lighter, more slippery,more UV and temperature stable, and stronger than PU and unlike PU it becomes embedded in the nylon not just coating it, and being hydrophobic, it rapidly sheds water by shaking it rather than the water being absorbed but these too eventually break down with UV exposure if left in the sun for very long periods. It does stretch when it gets wet and thus guy lines will need to be re-tightened, and it can sag in rain.
      • it is slippery so:
        • snow slides off it easily in winter conditions
        • silnylon seams can't be taped
        • one can't easily tape things to silnylon with duct tape and thus some flys are made with silnylon or outer surface and PU on inner surface, but these are heavier and less durable than double sided silnylon
    • SuprSil is same weight, but 2x more waterproof and has 50% stronger tear strength than generic silnylon although is very slippery and attracts dirt which is not so easy to remove.
      • in heavy rain, you may also need a groundsheet to reduce moisture seeping through the SuprSil or silnylon floor and wetting your sleeping bag
    • Kerlon
      • made for Hilleberg tents, it is silnylon with both sides coated with 3 layers of 100% silicone for more waterproofing and tear strength. Kerlon 1000 is 20D nylon and 2000mm waterproof.
    • cuben fibre or non-woven Dyneema (NWD)
      • very expensive (~4x cost of silnylon), but is lighter (half the weight of silnylon), much stronger and UV resistant, more translucent, more vulnerable to abrasion and puncture but are easier to repair than nylon and doesn't stretch which can make it harder to pitch. It is not as slippery as silnylon but this makes it not quite as good for snow conditions. It is also less resistant to high temperatures so don't cook inside the tent.
  • most one or two person hikers will be best served by a good 1.3-1.5kg 2 person tent that is easy to set up and gives good room and more livable than a 1 person tent, plus better storm proofing than an extreme ultralight setup.
  • be aware that during the night while you sleep, native mice can eat through a tent tub floor, through a cuben fibre stuff sack and through a zip lock plastic bag to access food that their sensitive noses have detected! Consider using Loksak Opsak waterproof bag to reduce this temptation as they are designed to block any odors
    • many hang their food on a tree well away from the tent in the hope that this will reduce the risk of a predator such as a bear investigating their tent - fortunately we do not have bears in Australia, but goannas, rats, dingoes, etc can be troublesome and wombats can destroy your tent if they smell food or deodorants, etc inside the tent!

poncho emergency shelters

  • can also act as very large “ponchos” for groups to huddle under in the rain
  • Sea to Summit Ultra-sil tarp/poncho for one person 230g 1.45 x 2.65m tarp $A135
  • Gatewood Cape Shelter ($A249) - can also be used with Six Moon mesh bug tent

tarp as shelter

  • light, compact, versatile - as long as you know how to pitch them
  • can also use a ground sheet to reduce risk of water (even if using an enclosed tarp tent)
  • tarps require use of mosquito nets or a bivvy to keep you from the bugs, but in the desert can be used primarily as a windbreak without a bug net
  • flat tarps in A-frame pitch takes longer than with catenary cut tarp
  • in storm mode, flat tarps only provide 3 sided protection which can be more problematic compared to pyramidal tarps
  • Hyperlite Mountain Gear Square Flat Tarp
    • 2.5m x 2.5m 280g cuben fibre $US340
    • 16 LineLocs are spaced around the perimeter of the tarp, and five guy out points are located in the middle
  • Sea to Summit Escapist 15D
    • 15D Sil/PU coated Ultra-Sil® Nano fabric
    • eight Hypalon tie-out points will each hold the tip of a trekking pole
    • medium 2 x 2.6m 270g
    • large 3 x 3m 350g
  • Wilderness Equipment's Overhang Shelter
    • engineered tarp 30 denier high-tenacity nylon 66 fabric with a silicone elastomer coating on BOTH sides
    • 3m guy lines supplied on corners, 2m on sides - strong reflective fleck, with sliding cleat adjusters
    • Tear drop guy cord pockets
    • small 2 x 2.95m 550g
    • medium 3 x 2.95m 700g
    • large 4.5 x 2.95m 1060g

300-400g 1 person trekking pole single wall tent

  • examples:
    • Big Sky Wisp tent - available in 300g-600g designs although the 300g version is $US300 more expensive as it uses lighter, stronger, more UV resistant, Let-It-Por Cuben fibre fabric
      • not recommended for high humidity areas as poor ventilation
    • Sea to Summit Specialist Solo tent
      • 625g with poles, 445g when used with trekking poles; packs to 25x10cm
      • Duo version for 2 people, 846g and 663g w/o poles;
      • not easy to set up

400-550g cuben fibre 360deg tarp + 2 person mesh tent

  • ZPacks Hexamid Twin Tent:
    • 540g with cuben fibre tub which clips inside the mesh floor and allows handling of torrential downpours very well, 400g without the tub; $US530
    • made to order only

500g Cuben Fibre tarp tent

540g 360deg tarp/poncho and 1 person bug tent

580g cuben fibre 1 person dual wall tent

600g single wall Dyneema 2 person tent

800g A-frame tarp and 2 person bug tent

    • uses trekking poles or trees
    • needs practice to set up and requires 8 pegs for tarp and 4 pegs for tent
    • bug tent is 385g and 2.2 x 1.2 x 1m with mesh upper and 15D ultra-sil tub floor and is ~$A229
    • tarp is 350g 15D Ultra-sil 3x3m with eight Hypalon tie-out points will each hold the tip of a trekking pole and have cord adjuster and reflective guy lines pre-attached and costs ~$A199
    • in heavy rain, you may also need the Escapist Groundsheet (2.2 x 1.2m) which is an extra 165g
  • for a little extra weight, consider the similarly sized Big Sky Soul 2P tent which works nicely as a free standing bug tent as well as 360deg weather protection and much easier to set up.

750g freestanding double wall tent incl. bug tent and tub floor

750g-1kg 360deg shaped tarp shelter and 2 person bug tent

1.1kg 1 person tent

  • these generally have their own carbon fibre or aluminium rod frames - either internal or external (exo-skeleton design)
    • external frame designs allow setting up the outer shell first then completing the inner shell under the outer shell and out of the rain, and vice versa for taking them down - very handy indeed.
        • double wall: SuprSil outer wall, nylon mesh inner wall with 2 doors/vestibules; 17“ poles
        • bug mesh or breathable fabric inner options
        • 2.3 x 0.75 (0.6 and 0.92m ends) x 0.99m plus vestibules
        • see Rev 2P below
      • MSR Hubba

1.3-1.6kg 2 person options

  • for the minimally extra weight, a 2P tent is more livable for a single hiker and worth considering instead of a 1P tent
  • these generally have their own carbon fibre or aluminium rod frames - either internal or external
  • dual door designs are better for two people as they don't have to climb over each other to exit
  • most have a insect proof inner mesh (some have optional breathable wall instead of mesh for cooler conditions)
  • some allow pitching with just the fly (eg. Rev2P, MSR Hubba Hubba NX)
  • most in this weight range have thin materials and need to be treated with care
  • generally avoid a footprint as is extra weight - better to carefully choose the camp site
  • the ones below are all relatively easy to pitch
  • external frame designs allow rapidly setting up without inner tent getting wet in the rain
      • double wall: SuprSil outer wall, nylon mesh inner wall; 17” poles; 4 pegs minimum +/- 4 storm guys
      • 2.25 x 1.25 (1.2 and 1.35m ends) x 1.07m plus vestibules +/- optional porch style
      • bug mesh or breathable fabric inner options
      • packed size 6“x19”
      • can pitch the fly by itself if the corners are pegged down and then lay out a groundsheet and later attach the inner tent via the buckles
      • great design although the SuprSil is very slippery and it attracts dirt
  • internal frame, fly over the top of the frame design which allows fly to be removed on warm, dry nights:
      • single front door design but same poles as Rev2P apparently
      • 1.4kg in 40D PU fly or 1.16kg in SuprSil fly and UL poles, or 724g for cuben fibre expensive option
      • dual door design, optional porch design
      • 1.67kg with porch in 40D PU (162g less if buy SuprSil nylon option)
    • Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2
      • a favorite amongst reviewers but can't be used as fly alone
      • 1.5kg, 6“x18” packed size, dual door design, 11 guy points, 20D silnylon fly with 1200mm PU coating
    • MSR Hubba Hubba NX
      • a favorite amongst reviewers
      • 1.6kg, 6“x18” packed size, dual door design, 8 guy points, 20D silnylon fly with 1200mm PU coating
      • a favorite amongst reviewers
      • front door/tunnel design
      • 1.6kg, 4“x17” packed size, 17 guy points, 2000mm Kerlon 1000 20D silnylon fly, 20D nylon solid inner (not mesh), 5000mm double 50D PU floor
      • more durable than the above tents and better for colder alpine conditions as more weather resistant but a touch heavier and for 300g more you can buy the GT version and get almost double the space thanks to a big vestibule


  • there are many factors that affect your warmth and comfort in a sleeping bag:
    • use a good insulating mat, so your body heat isn't drawn into the cold ground you are sleeping on
    • your tent or shelter
    • gender and metabolism, your daily calorie intake, clothing
    • sleeping bag liner
    • use of the hood
    • sleeping bag characteristics
  • people generally do not sleep as well on the 1st night in a new environment as the brain is designed to half stay awake (the left hemisphere stays on night watch during the deepest sleep phase to alert the sleeper to potential danger) 1)

sleeping bag

  • factor in weight, compressed volume, durability and breathability of the outer shell and comfort rating
  • Synthetic filled bags are cheaper than their down equivalents and perform better when wet. However, down models have a superior warmth to weight ratio, as well as being lighter, more compressible and more durable.
  • consider a down quilt instead of a mummy bag as they are often up to 20-30% lighter, less restricting and more versatile
    • make sure you pick one that isn’t too narrow, has a warm neck collar and a good attachment system as they need several straps to secure it around a sleeping pad to improve warmth, and issues with side sleeping, etc, hence a quilt is not just a sleeping bag opened up!
    • you may need to wear a beanie to keep your head warm
    • consider taking a 2nd quilt which is larger with higher down content to layer over the top of your lighter quilt and provide winter warmth - combining a -1C and a 10C quilt can get you down to minus 12C when used on an insulated mat - see also layered sleep systems
    • Sea To Summit Ember EB1 quilt = 415g, 2.1L for regular size, 750+ loft, 15D outer, rated to 4degC comfort
    • Sea To Summit Ember II quilt = 560g, 3L for regular size, 750+ loft, 15D outer, rated to 2degC comfort
    • Sea To Summit Ember III quilt = 747g, 4.2L for regular size, 750+ loft, 15D outer, rated to minus 4degC comfort
    • 600g, very versatile and compact (2L compressed) for temperatures 30degC down to 2degC
    • opens to a duvet and can open foot end as needed
    • 850+ Loft Eastern European Goose Down with WATERPROOF Ultra Dry Down which retains over 60% more loft and absorbs 30% less moisture, and dry out 60% faster when compared with untreated down
    • 2D NanoShell providing the lightest most breathable water resistant shell
    • the MC III adds 110g and $100 but allows temperatures down to -2degC
  • Mont Zero SL
    • 437g, mummy style, comfort down to 2degc, DWR 800+ loft, compresses to 1L, 7D mini ripstop nylon, 1/4 length zip, $AU489
  • Mont Prolite 250
    • 538g, comfort down to 2degc, DWR 850+ loft, 15D nylon, 90cm zip, downless base, $AU489
  • Mont Helium 300
    • 640g, comfort down to -1degc, DWR 800+ loft, 15D Pertex, full length zip, $AU499
  • Mont Helium 450
    • 800g, comfort down to -7degc, DWR 800+ loft, 15D Pertex, full length zip, $AU599
  • Rab Neutrino 400
    • 820g, mummy style, comfort down to -4degc $AU679 (Pertex endurance shell extra 80g and adds 2deg warmth)


  • bivouac sack to keep you a little warmer, and safe from the bugs if sleeping under a tarp
  • the more waterproof it is, the more condensation you are likely to get, the lighter ones may be best if used under a tarp
  • need to sleep on your side else the mesh gets in your face
  • if raining and no tarp shelter, sleep with opening underneath
    • only 210g, 200cm x 76cm, Waterproof and breathable with taped seams, comes with insect mesh, but costs $AU220
    • tapers quite sharply to the foot and isn’t wide enough for a sleeping mat and not great for tall people
    • packs down to 21x6cm!
  • Terra Nova survival bivy
    • 340g, 215x74cm, no insect mesh, Waterproof and breathable with taped seams, packs down to 21x11cm $AU99
  • RAB Ascent Bivvy
    • 650g, 235cm x 70cm x 30cm H, insect mesh, $AU449
  • Outdoor Research Aurora Bivy
    • 650g, 214 x 64, 3 layer GORE-TEX, insect mesh, $AU449
  • Outdoor Research Alpine Bivy Sack
    • 4 season hooped style, 214 x 66 x 50, 890g, 3 layer GORE-TEX, insect mesh, $AU529
  • RAB Ridge Raider Bivvy
    • similar to RAB Ascent but adds a single hooped pole, bathtub floor, 6 stakes and weighs 1033g but packs to 30cm x 16cm
    • $AU575
  • Black Diamond Bipod Ultralight Bivy Tent
    • 4 seasons, 975g, 234cm long x 76cm wide at shoulders x 51cm high at head,insect mesh, 10,000mm waterhead rating
    • ~$AU650

mattress and moisture protector

fire and cooking

  • animal proof food storage bag (eg. Ursack)
  • waterproof fire lighting
  • stove
    • wood stoves are difficult to control the heat output but can be useful on very long treks where refuelling is not possible, and in many areas are not permitted
    • Trangia methylated spirits Stove
      • great for teenagers as relatively safe but most hikers would be better off with a butane or shellite stove which are lighter, boil water faster and use less weight of fuel for multiday hikes
      • hard anodised aluminium appears to be the best version
      • 825g for 27-8UL/HA model ($A190) with two 1-litre saucepans (1 graded, 1 ungraded), an 18 cm frying pan, 600mL aluminium kettle, windshields (upper and lower), a burner, a pan grip and a strap
      • 865g w/o kettle for the larger 25-1-HA model ($A240) two saucepans (1.75 and 1.5 liters), a 22cm frying pan, upper and lower windshields, a burner, a pot grip and a strap.
      • Two pots, a frying pan, and kettle all come in a package with the stove, windscreen and base
      • fill fuel pot to 2/3rds with methylated spirits (diluted by 1% for better burn) - overfill will cause flare ups
      • will burn for about 30min and it takes about 7-10min to boil a pot of water with lid on
      • simmer ring to reduce the flame
      • ensure windscreen air vents face the breeze, if on wood picnic table, place over the slits in the wood for more ventilation
      • if meth spills in tent, just let it evaporate - you need about 120mL/day per person - consider using a platypus bottle
      • don't leave the pot handles sitting on the pot when you’re cooking else you will burn your hand
      • don't refill fuel pot nor put the fuel cap on while it is hot (you melt the rubber seal)
    • fast, efficient, heat exchanger butane gas canister single person water boiling / freeze dried cooking kits:
    • basic butane canister stoves:
      • Soto OD-1Rx gives better wind utility than more basic canister stoves
      • 360degrees Furno Stove
    • shellite / petrol / kerosene stoves (tend to have more mechanical failures but give better control):
      • SOTO MUKA STOVE 333g with pump $A200 + $30 bottle
      • Optimus Nova Plus $A250 + bottle; 430g uses Optimus Arctic Fuel, white gas/shellite, kerosene, diesel and jet fuel; 450mL gves 2.5hrs at max. burn
      • MSR Whisperlite Universal - as for International but can also use a gas canister with simmer control
      • MSR Whisperlite Internationale $A190 + $40 bottle 460g, uses White Gas/Shellite or kerosene only
      • MSR Dragonfly 510g, can use petrol, white gas, kerosene or diesel and do this with simmer but very noisy
  • cooking gear

USB power

  • NB. turn phone off or at least put in airplane mode to reduce power consumption with poor reception
  • USB power pack - by far the BEST weight, reliability and cost solution for multi-day hiking easily beating solar power or electricity generators for personal use on multi-day hikes
  • if you are going off grid for LONG periods then consider:
    • take even more USB battery power packs
    • take high end USB power banks:
    • USB solar power but personal hiking solutions are UNLIKELY to be of much use and power banks are more useful
    • thermoelectric generators with USB outputs (probably a waste of time - just take power banks):
      • PowerPot Thermoelectric Generator
        • charge USB whilst boiling water (10W max)
        • $US149
        • portable high tech, fanned wood stove which charges USB at 2-4W (perhaps 8-25% of smartphone charge per hour) and takes 4-5min and only 46g wood to boil 1L water
        • does not need water for USB charging (unlike the above 2 options)
        • about the size of a water bottle and weighs 935g!!
        • $US129 or $US229 bundled with
          • optional 10“x5” 1.5L kettle pot also designed to contain the CampStove in your backpack but adds 465g weight
          • optional 55 sq. inch grill adds a further 850g and folds to 9.5 x 12 x 3.5 inches

waste management

  • trowel to dig holes for toilets (at 50m away from water ways to avoid contamination by giardia, etc)
  • rubbish bags to bring your rubbish back home - leave no trace

example of minimalistic 7-day 40L backpack gear for Overland Trail

  • ultralight tent or bivvie bag (for emergency use - there are huts along the trail)
  • ultralight sleeping bag
  • Silk liner
  • Sea to summit sleeping mat ultralite
  • 2 x sock liners (eg. injini brand)
  • 2 x pairs walking socks
  • 2 x thermal tops (one for walking one for sleeping)
  • 2 x thermal pants (same as above)
  • 1 x shorts, 1 x Tshirt
  • Rain pants, coat
  • Fleece jacket
  • Thinner jacket (mostly worn at night)
  • Beanie, neck warmer, gloves
  • Head torch
  • Bowl, spoon, cup
  • X 3 underwear
  • 36L waterproof bag liner
  • 4L dry bag (used as compression bag for food)
  • gas, gaiters, pot, stove, EPIRB, map, compass, first aid, +/- battery power pack for iPhone
  • 2 x bottles of water: 1 x 1.5 L strapped to side of my bag and carry a 750ml bottle by hand (assumes there is ready supply of fresh potable water en route as is generally the case on the Overland Trail, but most recommend you take and use water purifier tablets (buy from Chemist Warehouse), Steripen or a filter for around the Labyrinth and on the Du Cane traverse, because the water sources are marginal and not fast-flowing up that high)

Minimalistic food: Breakfast: 7 x quick oats (one per day) Bag of powdered milk Greens powder

Lunch/snack: Wraps (x2 per day) Muesli bar (1 per day) Baby food (1 per day) Small block of cheese (enough to last all week) protein powder to drink at end of daily hike

Dinner: 7 x pack cous cous/instant rice ( enough for one per day 2 x Dehydrated peas packets (about 2 servings per pack) 7 x instant soup for snack before dinner Chocolate

another very ultralight outfit used by Matthew Maag

Superior wilderness designs 35L backpack Water bottles Carbon fiber tent pole and stakes. Peanut butter jar for soaking. Misc stuff in jar like toothbrush etc. Frogg Toggs. Montane primino thermals. Montbell plasma 1000 jacket. Down booties Rab gloves. Spare socks. Zpacks hexamid and polycryo groundsheet. Zpacks 20f bag. 1/8 inch sleeping pad.

Fanny pack includes: Spoon. Water filter. 10000 mah battery.

Clothes worn plus shoes and knife (carried on person) NOTE he doesn't take cooking gear and just eats Picnic bars and peanut butter for maximum calories per weight, although not much protein there

other examples

australia/bushwalk_ultralight_overnight.txt · Last modified: 2019/05/12 09:57 by gary1