Updated: Sep 15, 2021
The origin of Herder can not be found in ultralight hiking - we are about going outside to enjoy the world traveling on foot. A pack on your back, stuffed with the things you need for your next move is the base for so many nice experiences. It could contain your towel and picnic to enjoy at the waterfall close to your camp; your favorite outfit for a night out in the city; or maybe a set-up that allows you to sleep under the stars wherever.
For none of the above going light is a pre-requisite. Carrying more than the 'essentials' can even be essential for what you want to do. Then why light? Once you have tied your shoes and start your hike's first climb, your legs will give the first suggestion...
"Everything you put in your backpack, we have to carry!''
You might have read it time and time again. Hiking is more enjoyable if you have had some form of training. It's true, but there are two important ways to cheat a bit and get a headstart on your share of outside joy.
The first cheat sounds easier than it is to put into practice. It's the trick of taking it easy, pace yourself, take plenty of time catch your breath and enjoy the view. Remember that you are on the trail to enjoy nature, not to win a medal or set a record.
The second cheat is the answer to the question Why light? Every 100 gram you can trim of the load you carry will have a noticeable effect on your soar legs and racing heart. The benefit of a light backpack comes at a cost though.
The consensus of light
The easiest way to lose kilos in your backpack is to trim down on the stuff you bring. For your first few week-long trips you might bring two pairs of shorts and three shirts. Then you end up wearing your favorite shorts every day, after the discovery that each piece of clothing has become equally dusty and sweaty. Then you notice you haven't read a page of that book you planned to devour and you can hear your legs thinking again...
"Did you need those extra shorts, are you going to read that book sometime soon?"
So the price of comfort is paid in grams. However, Trimming down the weight can be a double-edged sword if you are not careful. The next time you go out, you ditched the book and find yourself on a sweet breezy spot without anything to read! The picture below shows the content of what a light pack for any solo adventure could look like, including the possibility to camp and cook anywhere (as you can see, the e-reader and guide of the hike are still essential to me).
For those who come here to geek out about the gear a bit. Packed, without food & water, this set-up makes you carry about 8kg on your back. Assuming you hold your hiking poles in your hands and wear your boots.
There are loads of checklists with must-takes and pages full of ways to trim down on your weight. Just remember that besides what is necessary to protect yourself from the elements, it all boils down to personal preference and the experience you are looking for.
As long as your legs are willing and able.