You want a light backpack? Any object should have the minimum weight and volume.
Your margin also depends on your means of transportation, and these advice affect you if you plan to walk regularly
1 - The clothes
Warning: cold resistance and adaptation skills differ from one to another. If possible test your body in winter. Go hiking for a few days with your travelling equipment, walk, stay immobile and try it with and without wind.
The thickness of your clothes doesn’t protect you. The air between the layers and the insulation between each of them does. Read more about the “three layers system”. Besides this, the material is important: if your skin is allergic to synthetic t-shirt, think about merino wool and if you cannot do otherwise: cotton. Cotton is heavy, has little insulation, dries slowly, and keep the smell: avoid it.
Find below a list for temperatures above 0°C. Weights and prices are those of my own equipment or have been found online.
|T-shirt||2||220g||synthetic||10€||to clean every days/2 days|
|T-shirt long sleeves||1||300g||synthetic or merinos||10€||optional >15°C|
|Windproof and waterproof jacket||1||600g||waterproof||70€||two-in-one, comfortable and resistant|
|Pants adjustable in shorts||1||270g||synthetic||20€||the shorts can be used as swimsuit|
|Flip-flop||1||200g||plastic||2€||in houses and around the tent|
|Hiking shoes||1||–||waterproof||60€||light and breathable|
|Light bags||2||50g||nylon||4€||light nylon bag to compress the clothes and separate dirty/clean|
To add or replace to resist -10°C.
|Down jacket||1||350g||down||50€||without hood, down 650 80/20 is enough|
|Gloves||1||100g||synthetic||6€||take windproof gloves, it’s more important than the thickness|
|Thicker pants||1||320g||synthetic||25€||replace the adaptable pants|
|Tights (cross-country skiing)||1||260g||synthetic||20€||optional >-5°C, the running tights can be enough but keep warm as long as you move|
|Hiking shoes||1||–||waterproof||80€||thicker sole, less breathable|
Temperature perception: the wind has an influence on it. However a windshell and thick pants should do. As for the air humidity, the impact is important for high temperatures but is almost inappreciable at -10°C. Here is a tool to give you an idea of wind effect:
2 - Camping equipment
Here is the camping equipment for temperatures above 0°C. You can go down to -5°C by keeping your clothes and if your mattress is good enough. Therefore, this list forces you to find hosts or shelters for colder nights. An argument in favor of this list is: why would I carry six months something I use one month? A sleeping bag and a comfortable mattress for -10°C reach staggering prices and weights.
|Tent||1||1720g||–||360€||for 2 people, 1.3kg/310€ for 1 person|
|Ground sheet||1||200g||synthetic||10€||in rocky areas else optional, a cut tarp should do|
|Sleeping bag||1||750g||down||230€||400g of down cuin 800|
|Silk sheet||1||110g||silk||30€||keep the sleeping bag clean, to use alone in hot weather|
|Fleece rag||1||20g||synthetic||2€||if you can clean it, use your towel|
If you sleep above 10°C, take a lighter sleeping bag with 300g of down and a low quality mattress.
If you sleep above 20°C during a summer trip, don’t take any sleeping bag. The silk sheet should be enough if you don’t mind keeping part of your clothes.
The price is high. If you stay in warm regions, the camping budget is far less important. You can save money at the expense of the weight, the comfort temperature, wind and condensation resistance. You can get sleeping bags >1kg and tents >2kg for 80€ and 120€, the budget falls then to 292€ for 4kg+.
Note 1: if you are travelling with someone, the cost and the weight of the tent is divided.
Note 2: the investment return of the tent and the sleeping bag depends on your future activities, other trips and trekking frequency.
3 - Health and hygiene
Health and hygiene
You should add to this list any object you personally need, such as glasses or specific medicine.
About the first-aid kit content, check this article: “Be safe”.
|Drugs||1||30g||–||100€||resist to change in temperatures, price depends mainly on the malaria drugs|
|Antiseptic||1||50g||–||2€||small volume, resist to change in temperature|
|Suncream||1||100g||–||5€||protection SPF 50|
|Sunglasses and light case||1||50g||–||20€||minimum Cat 3|
|Yarn and needle||1||10g||–||1€||to repair your equipment, or to heat with the lighter to get rid of a tick|
|Soap||1||80g||–||2€||small size, to store in a ziplock bag|
|Towel||2||120g||synthétique||4€||small size is enough, 65*90cm|
|Toothpaste and toothbrush||2||160g||–||4€||small volume, thin handle|
|Razor||2||10g||–||1€||to buy on the spot if you take a plane|
|Toilet paper||2||100g||–||1€||one layer only, without cardboard|
|Light bag||1||20g||synthétique||2€||a light nylon bag to collect it|
|Knife||1||80g||–||15€||swiss or simple knife, stainless steel|
On the road, buy some sugar cubes. It is useful in case of faintness.
4 - The papers
Here is the minimum you shouldn’t forget.
Most of this information can be kept as files on your smartphone. It will be usefull if you need to print a new copy. Moreover, send all these documents on your personnal email to have a back-up.
|Notebook and pen||1||140g||–||3€||to write your adventures|
|Bank account details||1||1g||–||–|
|Wallet||1||15g||–||4€||as simple and light as possible|
|ID photos||4||2g||–||5€||as many as Visas needed|
|Other documents VISA||5||10g||–||–||depending on your journey|
|Medical prescriptions and instructions||2||5g||–||–||might be controlled at the border|
|Address list||1||1g||–||–||optional, to send postcards|
|ID card||1||5g||–||–||optional, useful to prove your identity if you lose your passport. To store in a different place|
|Ziplock bags||5||10g||–||2€||to keep your documents altogether and protected from humidity. It is quickly damaged, take more than necessary and check holes regularly|
During your trip you will collect a lot of papers, tickets, coins and cash. Classify it regularly not to be confused.
5 - Electronic material
An important part of this equipment depends on your project. Here is a simple list to which you could add:
- A camera and its case – this last one as compact as possible and with few zippers. Zippers are rusted quickly and it’s extra weight. Store the extra battery and the charger in a ziplock in the main bag. My own stuff weighted 1200g with a Canon 700D and one lens.
- Microphones and lapel microphones – if you plan to do some interviews
- An electronic book – with backlight to read in the evening
Warning: below 0°C electric material can turn off, have shorter autonomy, or be damaged. The Iphone battery is especially sensitive. Check the recommended temperature range for each item, and keep them close to your body or in the middle of the bag. Almost all of them should however resist -10°C without irreversible damage.
|Phone||1||250g||–||–||it’s better if your phone is compact and comes with a case|
|Phone charger||1||50g||–||–||detachable USB cable, to use it on a computer|
|MicroSD||1||2g||–||15€||optional, if you take many photos and videos your phone storage might not be enough|
|Cigar lighter socket||1||2g||–||5€||optional, to charge your phone in the cars|
|Extra battery||2||300g||–||20€||optional, you will run less often to find an outlet|
|Ziplock bags||2||4g||–||2€||if you have SD cards or a battery to protect from humidity|
6 - The camera pick
The camera pick
Find below two useful links to pick your material:
Be careful with Dxomark: specs don’t really matter if you don’t consider what you really need, what are your competences and the time you want to invest in it. If you consider your phone is sufficient, so be it.
To stay on a budget, an entry-level Reflex is good enough (Nikon D3400, Canon 200D…). Just make sure the camera/lens and the bag are not too heavy. Consider hybride cameras (digital viewfinder) and bridges (smaller captor), it’s becoming a far batter option for quality/weigh ratio than in the past.
Keep in mind the volume of your equipment can attract thieves, and also look too intrusive to your human subjects.
The kit lens 18-55mm is quite good whatever people say, and has the best quality/price ratio. A better zoom with the same versatility landscape/portrait/macro represents a fair amount of money (400€+).
You can also go for primes instead of a zoom, for less versatility but a better image quality. These lenses have the advantage to force you moving around to find the best angle. For a Reflex APS-C (entry-level format), a 35mm or a 50mm is perfect for portrait and street scenes. You can add a second lens of 24mm or 28mm maximum for landscapes or inside buildings. If you have to take one, get a 35mm for an APS-C and 50mm or 40mm for a full frame.
Two prime lenses represent an extra cost of 250€ compared to the Kit’s zoom, but you can be lucky on the second hand market.
To save some money you can create alerts on Amazon with this website (please consider local shops too) :
7 - The backpack selection
The backpack selection
Select it when all the other equipment has been bought and the volume tested. You can measure the volume of your stuff in a big rectangular box.
Don’t forget to take out what you will probably wear, for instance a t-shirt, pants, underwears and socks (-440g). If you travel with someone else and with one tent, one can take the poles and the pegs and the other one the canvas and the tarp (-960g). Don’t forget the volume of the food, usually 2-3L for one day, and the weight of the water, 1kg (the volume of water is not important as the bottles are placed in the side mesh).
Then you should take a margin of 10% for the calculated volume: you will probably bring some souvenirs back home or you will have to buy extra clothes. Beanie and gloves can be bought on the spot, as well as all winter clothes. Be sure you have the corresponding volume.
Against thieves, just keep precious objects close to your body in internal pockets, or in the main compartment of your bag. Generally speaking, external pockets are useless on clothes or bags, add weigh, and increase water infiltration whatever the waterproof technology.
The price of a backpack below 2kg for 50L vary from 40€ to 150€. I will do an exception and quote some brands to guide you, but you can probably find better and cheaper.
For low budgets, I advise you the Décathlon backpack 50L (40€, 1.7kg)
For resistance and comfort above 10kg:
- Act Lite 50L+10 by Deuter (130€, 1.7kg)
- Variant, Kyte, Sirrus, Kestrel… by Osprey (150€, 1.6kg)
For lightness, but some fragility and load below 10kg:
- Osprey Talon 44L or Exos 48L (130€, 1.1kg)
- Camp M5 50L (135€, 1.1kg)
- Le Croz 48L+8 by Vaude (160€, 1.4kg)
Note: You can take out some pockets and strips to lighten your bag.
Weight of the backpack – cold weather
|Health and hygene||755g||164€|
Total solo: 8750g (9190g – 440g worn)
Total duo: 7790g (8750g – 1920g/2 of shared tarp and tent)
Price solo: 1341€
Price duo: 1156€ (1341€-370€/2 of shared tarp and tent)
My own backpack: 7.7kg for 44L, with 6L margin at the beginning of the trip. I also had a case for the camera: 1.2kg.
Weight of the backpack – hot weather
|The clothes||2410||190€||– warm clothes|
|Camping equipment||3000g||622€||simple mattress and lighter sleeping bag|
|Health and hygene||755g||164€|
Total solo: 7660g (8100g – 440g worn)
Total duo: 6700g (7660g – 1920g/2 of shared tarp and tent)
Price solo: 1162€
Price duo: 977€ (1162€-370€/2 of shared tarp and tent)