for fast and light trips
Backpacking gear is expensive and purchasing backpacking gear for yourself is serious business. At ProLite GEAR we don’t want you to waste your money on gear that doesn’t work for you. Before purchasing ultralight backpacks, ultralight tents, and ultralight sleeping bag read the articles on our website.We try to provide as much detail as we can on the products we carry, including product features, technical specifications, product reviews, and our own staff comments.
Selecting The Right Gear For You
Over the years we have worked with a broad range of customers, and can help narrow the choices you are considering, and perhaps direct you to clothing and equipment that works best for a particular situation.
Here are some tips…
Choose A Backpack Last
Backpacks are frequently the first piece of equipment a customer wants to purchase. However, we suggest that you select a backpack after you have decided on all your other gear. Selecting the proper pack depends on how much weight you need to carry, and how much volume you will need to carry all your clothing and gear. A common mistake backpackers make is selecting a lightweight pack first, and then trying to figure out how to stuff all of their clothing and gear into it. This frequently results in a bad experience on the trail due to trying to carry more weight than a pack was designed to carry, or blown out seams on a silnylon pack caused by trying to stuff 4,000 cubic inches of gear into a pack designed to only carry 2,500 cubic inches.
Lightweight and Ultralight Backpacks
Using a Lightweight or Ultralight backpack can shave several pounds off your total carrying weight. However, lightweight backpacks are also our most frequently returned items. We strongly advise our customers to consider more than just the weight and volume of a backpack. You can save 2-4 pounds by going with an Ultralight pack that does not have a suspension system, or padded waist belt. However, after carrying 25 pounds of clothing, food, and gear in that pack and you may wish you had a pack with a frame sheet and padded waist belt. Bottom line, 25 pounds in an ultralight pack may feel heavier on your back than 25 pounds in a similar volume pack with a frame sheet and padded waist belt.
How Much to Carry
Don’t carry too much weight. Even the most fit people can hurt themselves trying to carry too much. If properly equipped, carrying a lighter pack is almost always best as long as you have not left something important behind. One method to evaluate how much weight to carry is to look at pack weight as a percentage of your body weight. An individual in good health should be able to carry 20% of their body weight – a 40 lb pack for a 200 pound person. Intermediates should be able to carry 25% of their body weight – a 50 lb pack for a 200 pound person. Experienced and well conditioned backpackers can carry 35% of their body weight – a 70 lb pack for a 200 pound person. Does this mean you should carry this much? Of course not! Go as light as you possibly can. Current trends indicate that more and more backpackers are hitting the trail with packs in the < 30 lb range, with many venturing out for a week or more with less than 20 pounds of gear and food.
A frequently debated topic is how much distance you can travel each day. There are several variables that determine how far you should plan to travel each day including your physical condition, weight of your pack, starting elevation and elevation gain, numbers of days on the trail, and your experience. For well maintained trails a common estimate is 2 miles an hour. Add one half hour for every 1000 ft. of elevation gain and add fifteen minutes for every 1000 ft. of elevation loss. Of course your physical condition and experience are the most important variables.
Day Hiking Gear List
Many backpackers create a gear list for each backpacking trip. Each list varies depending on the location of the trip, length of the trip, weather, etc. High altitude and winter trips will require more backpacking gear. A gear list for backpacking is a highly personal decision, and one that will undoubtedly change as you gain more experience. However, there are some things in common for most backpacking trips.
Following is a list of the primary items carried by most day hikers.
- Day Hiking Backpack
- Water Bottles
- Rain Gear
- Trekking Poles
- Insulating Jacket
- Water Treatment
- First Aid and Emergency Supplies
- Navigation Supplies (map, compass, GPS)
Multi-day Gear List
Backpacking gear for multi-day outings depends on your abilities, level of conditioning, season, current weather, and geographical location. Here is a list of the primary items you should consider for any overnight backpacking trip:
- Tent or Tarp
- Sleeping Bag
- Sleeping Pad
- Overnight Pack
- Base Layer Clothing
- Wind Shirt
- Insulating Jacket
- Rain Gear
- Warm Hat and Gloves
- Trekking Poles
- Backpacking Stove