Packing light: A guide to minimalist camping

Lightweight camping involves taking only what you need rather than everything you want, and allows for quicker and more comfortable travel. In your quest to cut grams, however, just make sure you’re not leaving crucial safety gear behind.

Minimalist camping is all about finding quality gear that’s lightweight without being flimsy – and taking a little bit less of everything! Items that serve multiple purposes will help save weight. Can you get by with 2 pairs of socks instead of 4, one less pair of hiking shorts, a compact poncho instead of a rain jacket and half your toiletries? If you’ve carried a particular item on your last 3 hiking trips and never used it once, consider leaving it behind this time.

If the terrain allows, wear hiking shoes instead of heavy boots. Choose a nylon pack instead of a canvas one. Plan your trip so you have access to drinking water along the way, so less water is carted on your back. Carry freeze-dried food to cut down on overall weight during a multi-day journey. A headlamp will be much lighter and more practical than carrying a torch.

Here are some of our favourite super-lightweight gear ideas:


At the heart of the lightweight movement is the idea of using a simple tarp for shelter instead of a camping tent. Depending on your environment, a hammock tent may also be a good option: they’re quick to set up, perfect for soggy ground and there are no poles to worry about. Any shelter system that doesn’t require a groundsheet means less weight.

Sleeping Bag

For the lightest weight sleeping bags, choose quality goose down. A bag that fits your body snugly will be more thermally efficient and take up less space than one that’s too roomy for your body size. In warmer Aussie climates, there may be times when you can leave the sleeping bag at home and just use a sleeping bag liner instead. Don’t ignore the need for a sleeping mat, though – when sleeping in lightweight tents, most of your body heat escapes from underneath you.

Handheld GPS

A small, handheld GPS unit will take a load off your mind while adding only the barest weight to your pack. The Magellan Explorist 110, for example, weighs in at 147 grams – an insignificant amount of weight for a highly useful navigation tool.


Minimalist camping also means taking the smallest, lightest backpack that will hold your gear – in fact, choosing a slightly-too-small pack is a great way to train yourself to pack lighter! A sturdy pack of lightweight nylon in a basic style will do the job.

Contributed by: Wild Earth

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