“The burden which is well bourne becomes light”

In the quest to lighten the load I have to carry into the jungle I continue to try out new products and ideas and, in this video, you can see my new hyperlight hammock system in action.  I have had it for around 6 months now but wanted to give it a few test runs in the field before reviewing it.  One thing I forgot to explain in the video is that you will notice orange tags and dayglow drawstring on the bags I am using: the reason for this is simply that the green parachute material I used to make the bags is perfectly  camouflaged in the jungle and this makes it very easy to accidentally leave the bags behind (something I have done in the past!).

For those of you with fast internet speeds, this video can be watched in 1080 HD.

Ultralight camping makes all kinds of sense, however there are some items that I carry where I am not using the lightest option for one reason or another:

hyperlite_hammockRucksack: these are going to get quite a lot of punishment as you push through the jungle and snag on rattans and the like.  As such the material needs to be reasonably tough (and therefore heavier).

Water bottles:  I like the Sigg bottles as they are unlikely to let you down and can take a fair amount of abuse.  Water bladders can split and be a problem.  My preference is to have two 1 litre Sigg bottles in outer pockets and a back up Platypus 1 litre collapsible bottle (usually unfilled) in my main compartment.

Torch: I like a lot of lumens and I like a torch that uses standard (and thus easy to find) batteries.  My preference at the moment is for the Fenix LD 12.  It’s bigger and heavier than the Fenix E01 that I used to use….but you are much less likely to step on a snake if you can really light up the jungle.

Bedding/spare clothes: If you really want to go ultralight you could forgo these items altogether and simply sleep in the hammock in your underwear.  However, is it worth being cold and getting bitten by mozzis though the night for the sake of 1.5kg of extra weight?  I think not; the discomfort of carrying an extra kilo and half is more than made up for by a good nights sleep.

grand_trunk_nano_7However, for items where the ultralightweight option performs just as well….then I go as ultralight as possible.  No question.  Why carry heavy ropes for the hammock when you could use amsteel or dynaglide instead?  Why carry a heavy tarp when a light one is just as waterproof?  Saying that, these lightweight options are often more expensive than the heavier versions and I understand and sympathise with people who carry heavy items simply because they can’t afford the lighter version (think Titanium!).

Ultralightweight camping is, at heart, a matter of careful planning.  If you walk along a trail by a river with 4 litres of water in your pack (which equals 4kg) then you are basically carrying a weight of water you didn’t need to carry and the fact that you saved a few grams of weight with your titanium cookset is neither here nor there.  Or, if you are walking along a well used trail then you probably won’t need a super heavy 14 inch parang as there won’t be much heavy chopping to do and you could carry a smaller and lighter parang instead.

headnetAlso, if you use ultralightweight equipment you will need to plan and find ways of protecting that gear from the jungle (particularly in the case of ultralightweight tarps).   The better you plan, the lighter you can go.

As Keong points out in the video, ultralight camping suits those who are ultralight themselves.  I am skinny and don’t weight much and so can get away with using ropes rated to 90kg and find hammocks like the Grand Trunk are ample enough in width.  However, I read a review of the same hammock where the writer mentioned that he would have preferred the Grand Trunk to have been a bit wider.

And, as Keong also points out, the other factor that will determine how light you can go is your personal comfort zone….if you’re happy to sleep on the jungle floor then you don’t even need to take in a hammock in at all!