The Ultimate Ultralight Camping Checklist

Your Ultralight Camping Checklist

Today on the Thrifty Hiker blog we’re going to take a look at what you should be bringing with you on your next ultralight camping trip. We know it’s easy to take the kitchen sink with you if you’re going away for a few days. Which is why having a camping checklist to hand is always a good idea!

Today we’re just focusing on the bare essentials you’d need to get by for a few days on the trail. Let’s take a look:

Camping checklist item #1: Sleep system

A good sleep system is an essential part of any camping checklist!
A good sleep system will be make or break for your camping trip!

First things first – you probably won’t be gone for very long if you haven’t got a warm, comfortable sleep system! At best, an ill-thought-out sleep system will leave you tired and in a bad mood – not the ideal start to your adventure. At worst, it could potentially put your life in danger, if for example, you’re going to a very cold destination with gear that isn’t rated for it.  

It’s important to always do your research on the climate of wherever you’re going, particularly if you’ve never been before. We all know that Google is our friend when it comes to research, but it’s also worth getting opinions from other hikers or friends you may have in the area. As much fun as dry statistics on humidity and temperature are, there’s often no substitute for a bit of local insider knowledge. 

Sleep systems are usually comprised of a tent, sleeping mat, sleeping bag, and a pillow. However, there are a lot of options available here. Instead of a tent, you could have a bivvy bag or a hammock. Rather than a sleeping bag, many ultralight campers choose a quilt. If you’re going down that route, then the Aegismax Wind Hard comes very well rated and is super cheap (for down).

Pro tip: If you’ve got a sleeping mat that comes with an integrated pillow, then that’s one item off your gear list!

Camping checklist item #2: Clothes

Next on your camping checklist should be clothes. Don't forget a good pair of walking boots!
Always remember a good pair of boots 🙂

Believe it or not, there’s a little more to this one than just remembering not to walk out of the house naked. Although that is important. Having the right kind of clothes for your trip is pretty much essential. Just like you did with your sleep system, you should research the local climate in order to plan what clothing to take.

First of all, you’ll almost certainly want a decent pair of walking boots (though some prefer trail running shoes). When it comes to your bottom half, we find that you can’t really go wrong with cargo trousers and shorts. If you can find some that are quick drying, then so much the better. For a t-shirt (and underwear), moisture-wicking material is your friend. For socks, it’s difficult for us to recommend anything other than Merino wool – it’s lightweight, breathable and anti-bacterial. So long, smelly feet!

Lastly, don’t forget to bring along head to toe waterproofs, no matter how sure you are that it won’t rain 🙂

Pro tip:  One thing that always makes our personal camping essentials list is this super cheap unbranded down jacket from Ali Express. We’ve been using it for a while now and found it to be warm, comfy, and very packable.

Camping checklist item #3: First Aid and toiletries

A first aid kit should be on everyone' list of camping essentials.
You never know what might happen on the trail! Image Source:

Safety first and all that, eh? We know that some people may want to throw caution to the wind if they’re only going away for a couple of days. Still, we’d always recommend taking a first aid kit with you, even if it’s just a small one. You never know what might befall you on the trail, and often it’s just worth having that extra piece of mind. Even something so simple as having a patch for a blister can make a big difference to how much you enjoy your trip! Besides, it’s not like you have to spend a lot – there are plenty of affordable options out there. So, no excuses! 🙂

When it comes to toiletries, try to find small travel-sized packets of toothpaste and soap to save space in your pack. And don’t forget your towel!

Pro tip : A first aid kit is definitely not something you want to leave off your camping kit list. But… nobody said you had to take the whole first aid kit. If you’re comfortable leaving a couple of plasters behind on a shorter trip, who are we to argue? Anything to shave a few grams off that pack weight.

Camping checklist item #4: Stoves, cookware and food

The Trangia stove is a great cooking set for those who don't know where to start in this area
The Trangia Stove is a solid ultralight cooking option

Here be dragons! Ask ten ultralight campers what cooking gear they take out on the trail, and you’re likely to get ten different answers. There are a tonne of options out there to choose from, and it can start to feel like a case of the Choice Paradox. 

We personally recommend Titanium cooking gear as a cheap, super lightweight option. However, you also can’t go far wrong with the tried, tested and much-loved Trangia Stove Kit as an entry-level cooking setup.

When it comes to food, it’s all a matter of personal preference. Some people take a ‘food as fuel’ approach and focus on packeted goods and dehydrated meals. Others prefer to have a little bit of home comfort and do some good old campfire cooking. It’s safe to say that Thrifty Hiker is in the latter category. There’s nothing like a tasty meal to lift your spirits after a long day on the trail!

Pro tip: Why not make your own coke can stove to cook on!

Camping checklist item #5: The personal stuff

Wallet... keys... phone... check!
Wallet… keys… phone… check

This is the easiest thing to remember on the whole list, because it consists solely of those things you want with you for a few days away from home. Like a lot of people, I never leave the house without my wallet, keys, and phone. But there may be a few other things you want to bring with you if you’re ditching civilization for a while.

For example, I wouldn’t dream of going camping without a cheap and cheerful set of headphones. Listening to some music or radio can be a great way to drift off to sleep if you find yourself tossing and turning in the night.

Pro tip: Why not download your favourite podcasts onto your phone before you go away, and listen as you drift off to sleep.

That’s all folks!

We hope you enjoyed reading this ultralight camping checklist. Did we miss anything out? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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* Disclaimer: Affiliate links are used in this review, and it should be assumed that we have not personally tested any of the gear featured.

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