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Packing Light for a Hiking Expedition


Few things in the outdoor world can raise as much ire, or expend as much hot air, as discussions about lightweight equipment. I generally stay away from kit discussions because I’m not and expert, nor am I very interested in it. My stance is generally: it’s better to do 20 extra press-ups a day and lose a bit of weight than it is to spend a fortune on a titanium spoon.

However, there is no doubt that quality equipment will serve you well on a journey. And, especially for a trip where you are carrying all your gear on your back, every ounce of saved weight is a genuine bonus.

Over the past few years Leon McCarron has walked many thousands of miles on several very long expeditions. I’ve picked his brains about his favourite expedition equipment for a hiking journey in this quickfire interview…

  • Favourite backpack?
    Osprey Atmos AG 65
  • Boots or trainers?
    Boots – Keen Liberty Ridge for tough terrain/colder weather
  • Hiking poles?
    Always when carrying a pack. Leki make nice collapsable ones.
  • How do you carry your water?
    Sometimes Nalgene bottle, more often than not plastic Coke-style bottles. Environmentally unfriendly, but light and easy to get hold of. Try to reuse them for as long as possible.
  • In a warm, dry place, do you prefer to take a spare set of clothes to wear in the evening, or save weight by staying in the same kit day and night?
    Same kit
  • Tent, tarp or bivvy?
    Depends massively on weather. Tent good if there’s a chance of rain and any electronic stuff needing attention at night (footage review etc.) Also nice for a small amount of privacy on long journeys. Otherwise bivvy.
  • Sleeping mat?
    Thermarest Neolite
  • Pillow?
    Rolled up down jacket
  • Stove or fire?
    Stove – MSR whisperlite
  • Fleece or down jacket?
    Down jacket
  • Is there such a thing as a stylish sunhat?
    No. Get a leather Indiana-Jones style hat like I did
  • Preferred expedition camera?
    Canon XC10
  • Preferred expedition phone?
    iPhone 6s
  • Navigation – paper map or digital GPS?
    Gaia GPS
  • How do you charge your phone when you’re in the wilderness?
    Powertraveller adventure solar panel with built in battery (plus mophie battery pack)
  • How do you charge your camera when you’re in the wilderness?
    Extra batteries, plug in when I can
  • Do you carry a spare charger battery for all your gear?
    Only for phone
  • How do you back up your video footage?
    Macbook air and 2x Lacie hard drives

Do you have any other suggestions? Please do have your say in the comments below.

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  1. Barry Davidson Posted

    Hi Al,
    What food do you carry and what’s in your kitchen kit?
    Thanks, Barry

  2. Paul Carter Posted

    no mention of a sleeping bag – what weight do you reckon for this amount of kit?

  3. Osprey Atmos AG 65 ??
    2,1kgs, that’s not a lightweight backpack, that’s an anvil !!!

    • Alastair Posted

      Haha! True! But I feel a weighty pack is usually (not always) worth it.

      • Weighty pack can be very fragile and uncomfortable because of lot of useless accessories, zip, lot of pieces of fabric and thin fabric.
        And a lightweight backpack (less than 500gr) can be very stronger with stonger fabric.
        Less pieces of fabric and sewing.
        Simply but smart conception and minimalist smart accessories.
        Very comfortable because of lightweight pack and gears 😉
        (I make ultralight backpack and gear :p )
        Many thanks for your blog and all your (micro)adventures.
        Cheers from France 🙂



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