Camp lighter: how new compact gear makes going out easier than ever

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Before Kata Polano embarked on her first combined long-distance hiking and running trip last year, her biggest concern was carrying the supplies she would need for the 37-mile overnight trip. While many backpackers have long viewed 30 pounds as the ultimate goal of lightweight baggage, Ms. Polano explained that “fastpacking” requires a level of agility that any extra weight can achieve. Thanks in part to the increasing availability of new ultralight camping and hiking gear, the Revelstoke, B.C. tattoo artist was able to reduce her load to less than half that amount. “Why would you carry 30 pounds on your back when you can carry 12?” Ms. Polano said.

Whether you pitch a canvas tent with the Boy Scouts or load up your parents’ car with propane tanks and bulky mattresses, going outside once meant a lot of lifting. But recently, outdoor retailers have started to use high-tech ultralight fabrics, including Silnylon, Dyneema, and Gore-Tex, to make tents, sleeping pads and backpacks that take up less. space and feel better on your back than ever.

The compact gear arrives in the midst of a frenzy of enjoying the outdoors. A 2020 Kampgrounds of America survey found five times more first-time campers in 2020 than in 2019, and two-thirds of those campers expect to be back in the wild in 2021. Gear that doesn’t threaten to overtake his garage makes the hobby even more attractive.

Here, our top picks to lighten your load.

Aerios 30 backpack | 2 pounds.

The perfect bag should balance weight and ease. Too heavy and you are quickly exhausted, light enough and you may lose collarbone saving features like padded straps. Arc’teryx’s new launch reduces weight but doesn’t sacrifice creature comfort. A breathable panel on the shell prevents the bag from sticking to your back, and a padded hip belt takes the tonnage off the shoulders. Plus, its water resistance means you won’t get bogged down. When Vern Dewit, a computer consultant from Calgary, Alta. Who recorded over 700 outdoor trips on his blog explor8ion.com, began exploring the outdoors in the 1990s, he had a large canvas bag. of 90 liters that “absorbed moisture, and if it rained it would weigh 10 pounds more.” This is not the case with this liquid crystal polymer ripstop nylon. $ 190, arcteryx.com


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