backpackLightweight and ultra-lightweight backpacking is becoming more popular every year. Backpackers are finding the freedom and comfort of lightweight equipment much more enjoyable when exploring the mountains. New technology is allowing backpackers to take more gear on mountain vacations. Several of these lightweight items will make a welcome addition to any backpack.

A handful of different portable shelters are now available that will add very little weight to a backpack. These shelters expand into a low pyramid shape. They are made from a special laminated plastic fiber that weights very little but has a high reflective value. The fabric is combined with lightweight poles and rope to make a small package. The shelters weigh just over one pound each with some larger tents that can hold two people weighing less than two pounds. These are a good choice for long trips into the mountains.

Water is a relatively heavy substance to carry when assembling a lightweight pack. Bringing along a large amount of bottled water on a backpacking trip in the mountains could double or triple the weight of a pack. One way that some people avoid this is to carry chlorine dioxide or other water purification tablets. The tablets make it possible to purify and drink water from any outdoor source. This allows backpackers to hydrate while moving instead of carrying around large containers of water.

Every backpacker must carry a knife. This is a tool that has hundreds of uses and that can turn many potential emergencies into a minor distraction. Large hunting knives are too heavy to carry. A better option is to select one of the lightweight knives made by Gerber at These knives use advanced materials and have textured handles with thin or open areas to lower the weight.

Traditional flashlights and even some headlamps require heavy batteries to work and can become bulky to carry. A good alternative is to use a light-emitting diode (LED) flashlight. These flashlights use small high intensity bulbs that cast far more light than an incandescent bulb. They also operate on small watch batteries that weigh almost nothing. The flashlights are useful for camping at night and can run for hundreds of hours.

A thermal blanket is a necessary piece of lightweight gear when backpacking through the mountains. Thermal blankets are made from incredibly thin plastics with a reflective surface. They can be used to reflect radiant heat back towards the body when used as a blanket. They also make a good reflector when used behind a fire. The blankets are valuable in emergencies because they are incredibly warm and provide a high level of visibility when open.