If you are an enthouasiastic backpacker looking for ways to make your gear (and especially that heavy backpack) a little lighter, the website: www.backpackinglight.com is a veritable gold mine of light weight information and advice. The site and especially the accompanying backpackinglight forum have become indispensable resources in the search for a lighter backpack (and for us an inexhaustible source to purchase new gear that is usually found back in our range ). The various gear reviews are incredibly valuable to learn more about that one piece of gear you’re unsure about. And on the forum you get quick answers to your questions, but I find poking around the recent backpackinglight threads sometimes just as interesting.

Why is Backpackinglight.com so useful?

Expert Advice from Real Users: Backpackinglight.com is filled with advice from experienced backpackers and experts in ultralight backpacking. The advice and insights are sometimes a bit focused on the U.S. market, but remain golden for anyone who wants to learn more about ultralight backpacking.

Comprehensive Articles and Reviews: you’ll find really in-depth articles (sometimes backed up with data and facts as well) and honest product reviews. This information can certainly help you make informed choices about which gear suits you best.

Active Community: The forum of Backpackinglight.com is really very active and up to date. You can find basically everything and you get quick answers to your questions, furthermore a lot of advice is shared (about gear, but also about itineraries (though mostly in the USA)).

Membership, moet ik hiervoor betalen?

Not all content is available, there are some articles that are behind a paywall. Pretty annoying, but if you are serious about finding content. Especially if you are planning a thru-hike in the US and want to know more about it, it might be worthwhile to get a paid membership on the website. I don’t know the exact price, but I still think it’s worth it. You then have access to a number of online courses, webinars and additional articles.

Backpackinglight handbook

An incredibly useful reference work (that could use another update) is Backpackinglight handbook. You get it when you subscribe to the backpackinglight newsletter, but you can also find it here: backpackinglight handbook

As ultralight enthusiasts we all know the value of our precious down-filled jackets, sleeping bags and quilts. They offer unmatched insulation with an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio, down is the cornerstone of ultralight backpacking, hiking, and outdoor adventures. Its packability and breathability make it ideal for everything from sleeping bags and quilts to jackets and booties.

However, if we want to keep enjoying our puffy down gear, we also have the responsibility of maintaining our fluffy quilts, bags and jackets. By cleaning it you will prolong its life and performance. We have written up a few tips on how to care for your ultralight down items.

Cleaning Frequency

Your down gear’s cleaning schedule totally depends on how intense you use your hear and how much you expose it to dirt and oils. Spot cleaning can address minor spills, but a thorough wash is necessary when the gear loses loft, breathability, or starts to smell (nobody likes smelly gear). For example you can keep your quilt a bit cleaner when you use a liner (but that also brings extra weight, so leave that at home most of the time)

Washing Ultralight Down Gear: a few tips

Hand Washing

Our preferred method for washing is by hand. It is especially suitable for delicate down items with very fine down (800+ quid) and thin fabrics (10D and under). Use a bathtub or large basin with lukewarm water (don’t make it too hot, feel with your elbow) and a down-specific detergent/soap (there are several good brands we like, Grangers for example). Gently massage and rinse until clean, avoiding wringing. Push the water out and let the item air dry with no heat. I often lay it in the shower on a flat drying rack. You can also use a dryer on a cold program. toss in a couple of tennis balls (yes, with your quilt or bag in the dryer) to break up clumps.
Let’s break it into a few easy to follow steps:

Machine Washing

If you happen to have a good front-loading washing machine with a special program. In that case machine washing can be efficient and effective. Use a cold water program, a gentle cycle (no centrifuging), and again a down-specific detergent. Let it drip dry flat to remove the excess water first and after a while transfer to a dryer on a no-heat setting with tennis balls to fluff the down.

Pros and Cons

Hand Washing:

Machine Washing:

Conclusion

Maintaining your ultralight down gear through proper washing and care ensures it continues to provide the exceptional warmth and comfort essential for your outdoor adventures. Whether you choose hand or machine washing, the effort will extend the life and performance of your valuable gear, keeping you ready for whatever the trail brings (and it smells a lot nicer ;-).

Remember, taking care of your gear means it will take care of you, enhancing your outdoor experiences and ensuring your adventures are as lightweight and comfortable as possible. And always read the manufacturer’s label to see the washing instructions and be careful not to void warranty. Happy trails.