Take a look at your gear. Each new piece of gear adds weight to your base pack weight, so you choose carefully. There are bound to be items in your pack that don’t weigh very much at all, yet you find them indispensable. Here are a dozen items that each weigh less than an ounce (28g) – some of them much less. And more often than not I’m thankful they’re in my pack.
- Earplugs. Snoring tent mates. Crazy katydids and crickets. Talkative travelers on buses, trains, and planes. Loud campers at a nearby tent site. There’s nothing worse than trying to relax or get to sleep in the midst of a noisy racket. A few pair of earplugs tucked away in your pack can save the day, or the night. Urethane foam earplugs can be molded in your fingers to fit comfortably in your ears. They come in two flavors: corded and uncorded. Corded plugs are easier to keep track of I think. You can hang them around your neck when you’re not using them. Uncorded earplugs are cheaper and you can buy several pair in case you lose one. REI offers an earplug set with 3 individually packaged pairs of earplugs.
- Ferro Rod Fire Starter. As a primary or backup fire starter, I carry a ferro rod. It’s actually a ferrocerium rod that can be purchased from many sources. I inserted the rod into a drilled opening in a small dowel and added a lanyard. It weights 0.6oz. The fire starter throws sparks equally well when wet or dry by using a knife blade or other striker. Commercially made versions like Swedish Fire Steel are widely available, too.
- Streamlight 73001 Nano Light. This anodized aluminum light is smaller than it looks! It’s only about a 1.5 inches in length and weighs 0.8 ounces. The end twists like a Maglite to turn the unit on and off. It offers a long-lasting white LED and up to 8 hours of light output. A clip attaches the light to a lanyard, to a D-ring on my pack, or to a ridgeline in a hammock for easy access. A pink version is available. The Photon LED Light is also a great option, especially the models with an on/off/momentary switch.
- Aquamira Water Purifier Tablets. A single Aquamira tablet added to one liter of water kills bacteria, viruses, giarda and cryptosporidium. The 12 pack of tablets is ultra light and compact (weighs 0.4 oz.). You can use the tablets as your primary system, or as a backup to a filter purification system as I do. As an alternative, for about the same weight (about an ounce), repackage Aquamira Water Treatment Drops into 0.25-oz fluid capacity mini-dropper bottles sold by Backpacking Light.
- Recipe Rescue Kit. Soy sauce, cocktail sauce, hot sauce, horseradish sauce, chopped onions, and many other types of condiments may be available from restaurants in your area. When you have extra packets from your visits to these restaurants, put them in a zip lock bag in your refrigerator. Then take a few on your next backpacking trip as a Recipe Rescue Kit to add a bit of pizzazz to a meal that’s a wee bit boring. Remember to pack out the empty plastic and foil packets.
- Sun MiniComp II Compass. Sun markets this as a Micro Orienteering Compass. It measures 1.1″W x 2.0″L and only 0.4 oz. It’s a good little compass, whether you use it as a primary tool, or as a backup compass. The liquid-filled luminous compass has a rotating 360 degree bezel. It comes with a lanyard, though you might want to exchange it for a longer length of Spectra cord.
- Mini Fox 40 Safety Whistle. Get one of these for your whole family. They’re great for backcountry and urban travel. At only 0.5 ounce you won’t even notice it clipped to your pack strap until you need it. It’s a pealess whistle, and it is loud. It comes in various colors. Keep it accessible when you hike and teach the kids how and when to use it. The Fox Micro Safety whistle is good too.
- Mountain Hardwear Micro Dome. Cover your head to stay warm all over. The 100% Polyester 1 oz Micro Dome keeps your head covered and warm. Excellent to wear while sleeping to stay nice and toasty. It packs small and easily stuffs into a coat pocket. Also works great as a hand warmer.
- Hacksaw Blade Knife. You carry a knife while backpacking of course. Do you have a backup? Think about taking along this high-carbon steel knife made out of a hacksaw blade that packs flat and takes up almost no space. Oh, and did I say that it costs about 10 cents? This is an awesome idea that I saw on the M40 Survival site. You owe it to yourself to make one and carry it in your kit. Learn how to make your own hacksaw blade knife on the M40 Project 10 Cent Survival Knife page.
- The StickPic. This ingenious invention enables you to take self portraits or shoot a video of yourself without having your forearm in the shot. You can also use it to take other types of photos that would be almost impossible without it. The StickPic screws into the tripod socket of your camera and then slips on to the tip of your trekking pole. It weighs a mere 1/3 oz. The StickPic is a simple gadget, but it’s amazing!
- Cotton Bandana. The simple, unassuming bandana. It has dozens of uses: potholder, sweat-wiper, signaling device, first aid sling, water filter, and an evaporative cooling device for your neck. The list goes on and on. Most bandanas weigh less than an ounce and only cost a few dollars. You can buy them at REI, or Wally World, or a craft store. A cool Blaze Orange Survival Bandana and a green What Knot Bandana are available from Antigravity Gear. (Those are a tad heavier than an ounce though – maybe the cotton is heavier.)
- Backpacking Light Ultralight Headnet. Mosquitos and black flies are kind of annoying. Keep the buggers at bay, away from your head and neck with this headnet from Backpacking Light. Unlike most nets, this one offers better visibility and is lightweight (only 0.3 oz). The pore size of the mesh is not as fine as a typical noseeum mesh headnet. However BPL advises that a good treatment with permithrin will dramatically improve its effectiveness against tiny insects, such as midges and gnats.
What gear do you recommend that weighs under an ounce?
Leave a comment and let us know.
Photo by Al_HikesAZ