Ultralight Backpacking - Navigation & Accessories

Posted by Bryan on 2020 May 4th

Ultralight Backpacking - Navigation & Accessories

This is merely one section of many on Ultralight Backpacking. Refer to this post for other categories.


Paper map and compass skills are a must here. Learn how to use a compass. There are plenty of short YouTube videos on this topic so dive in with an apple cinnamon muffin! A lot of map publishers print on waterproof paper or thin plastic so getting them wet doesn't matter. These two pieces of gear will save your butt if your phone dies so definitely bring them on every trip.

Having said all that, there are many apps for smartphones that should be used as well. Most GPS apps work on airplane mode and sip battery power. Remember too that the more apps you have open on your phone, the more battery power it will use. These apps work great in emergency situations like being above treeline in the fog when you are lost. Simply hitting the locate button can solve the problem in an instant. Canada Topo and Avenza are great ones. For the Desktop, Caltopo is super useful for planning. They have an app, but it is a bit clunky compared to the other two and you can create your own custom map on it and export a PDF to Avenza anyway.


The last category! Just a few odds and ends left that I find useful.

  • First aid kit, even if it is minimal, it is better than nothing. Some Antibiotic ointment and some Band-Aids with a smooth backing for blisters are good to have. Athletic tape much like the kind climbers use is versatile and tough.
  • 1.5mm cord, Good for clotheslines when you have a sunny day and need to dry a few key pieces of clothing. and a few clothes pins. Carrying a little extra can help solve shelter set up problems in tricky areas as well.
  • Sewing kit, A needle and some waxed nylon thread are a must have to repair a torn garment or tent.
  • Inflatable sleeping pad repair kit. You'll need it one day.
  • Leatherman or some other multitool. Anything with pliers because a lot of repairs need pliers or wire cutters.
  • Waterproof matches and a lighter in a waterproof container.
  • Small waterproof phone case. A must when the weather turns soggy for several days.
  • USB battery bank. Some are small and only provide one extra charge while others can charge 5-7 times, although the latter are much heavier. Most airlines have restrictions on how many mAh (Miliamp Hours) they can have so check that before any flights.

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