The 20 litre challenge: Ultralight Challenge part one

I’ve set myself a challenge to be able to carry enough kit for a one, or two, night backpacking trip using a 20 litre daysack. The criteria are:

  1. Everything must fit inside the pack and nothing must be strapped to the outside.
  2. The shelter must be water, wind and midge proof
  3. If it rains, I should have a fully waterproof layer while hiking
  4. The pack will contain sufficient food and water for the trip. Obviously, water carriers can be refilled as required.
  5. Ideally, the shelter and sleeping system should weigh less than a kilo.
  6. Sufficent insulated clothing for the trip should be carried
  7. A first aid kit, map, compass, stove, cooking pot, eating utensils and hygeine kit should be carried.

This is a tall order. I plan to use a Sea to Summit waterproof Daysack as I’ve used (and blogged about) its non-waterproof brother for several years and I know the materials and construction are up to the job. I always use some thin foam as a backcushion for the pack and I plan to keep this as it doubles as a seat and a foot insulator when sleeping. Here is a picture of the pack with my kit inside.

Sea to Summit Waterproof Daypack

Sea to Summit Waterproof Daypack

My first attempt at gear selection took some time. Below is a picture of some of the kit.

2 season kit for 2 nights

2 season kit for 2 nights

On the top row there is a Montane Prism jacket for insulation, a Travel Tap water bottle that allows me to drink water from any source apart from sea water, a sleeping bag liner, a SOL escape Bivvy which can act as a sleeping bag down to around 10-12C, Mountain Laurel Chaps to act as waterproof leg coverings, an Esbit solid fuel cooker with fuel with my cooking pot on top  (the cooking pot contains a brewkit, matches/lighter, spork,washing kit).

The green pack on the right is my Gatewood Cape which will double as my raingear and shelter while next to it is the matching Serenity Net tent to act as a groundsheet and to keep midges away. I will also carry a Platypus rollable water bottle for extra water while in camp.

At the bottom are four ready meals that will provide the main fuel for two days.

I can (just) fit in a short NeoAir sleeping mat and a printed map with compass but its a very tight fit indeed. The weight (minus water) comes to around 2.8kg which is pretty good. However, I don’t like the pack to be as tightly crammed as it is because it stresses the zip and silnylon material.

To conclude, I’m very pleased with the weight and that I can carry enough for two days in a 20l pack but there is more work to be done in reducing the volume. The food is the main problem as its vacumn packed and comes in lump form withing the packaging which occpies a lot of space. So, one day is no problem but two is tight with a capital T.  Also, the Montane Prism takes up a fair amout of volume – I suspect it might pack better if I just stuffed it in the pack. Likewise the SOL bivvy and liner. I could use a Polycro groundsheet and headnet instead of the Serenity Net Tent but I really don’t want to as I am a midge magnet and like the protection offered by the Serenity.

To be continued……………..


About ReidIvinsMedia

After working for many years in Higher Education I've decided to drop out and join the real world. Here I blog about my interests which include education, politics, backpacking, poker, photography and real ale.
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