I have recently been working towards replacing my backpacking gear with ultralight stuff. I have been doing a lot of research and trying not to spend much money. With all the space-age materials and everything plastic these days, I decided to see if it is possible to go completely metal-less. It likely sounds silly but I was surprised to find it is basically possible. Although the metal-less options I came up with are not always lighter, they usually were. I have concluded that I can reasonably get to about 95% metal-less by weight. Below is the original list I came up with, pricey options are marked $$ and below it is the list of gear I have acquired and used on my first ultralight trip recently.

Original Research List

Fire - Strike anywhere matches
Backpack - This Hyperlite one is light and cheap.
Shoes - These Inov-8 Terroc’s. $$
Alt These Crocs are only 16 oz.
Clothes - Clothes with plastic zippers and buttons.
Knife - A Ceramic paring knife Or this ceramic tactical knife. Only 0.5oz more than the Swiss Army Classic SD and bigger! Alt Cold Steel has these neat plastic knives > 1oz!
Light - Glow stick small/flexible
Cookware - Silicone oven-safe bowl by To-Go Ware and cook over fire or pack food that needs no cooking/heating
Alt MRE heater bags
Utensil – Wildo Plastic spork
Navigation - Topo map w/o compass
alt survival style navigation or location with labeled trials
Shelter – Outdoor Research bivy (no stakes)
Alt Any ultralight tarp tent
Sleeping bag – SOL Escape bivy
Alt no zipper bag by Feathered Friends $$
Pad - Foam sleeping mat
Trekking Poles - Carbon fiber poles. Use the rubber boots and remove the metal tips. $$
Water Purification – Sawyer filter
Alt coffee filters and iodine.
Sun glasses – Sport Eyz glasses or none!
Pillow – stuff sack and extra clothes
Trowel – Coghlan’s plastic trowel
Rain gear – Frogg Toggs ultralight poncho
Water Container – Camelbak Bladder
Communication – None!
Car key – None!

Actual List Used (* = metal present)
Fire – Bic lighter*
Backpack – Zpack carbon fiber Arc pack $$
Shoes – New Balance trailrunner shoes
Clothes – Synthetic clothes* (pants had metal zippers)
Knife – CRKT Minimilist* (have not purchased a ceramic knife yet)
Light – Princeton Tec Scout headlamp * (ok so glow sticks are impractical)
Cookware – Plastic microwave safe takeout bowl. No cooking or heating done.
Utensil – Light My Fire spork
Navigation – Topo map, trail blazes, and Suunto Clipper compass * (the compass needle has metal in it but I found I only used it a couple times and could have done without it because of the blazes, especially in a place I was familiar with)
Shelter – Outdoor Research bivy $$
Sleeping bag – SOL Escape bivy
Pad – Thermorest NeoAir mat $$
Trekking Poles – Wooden hiking stick (one of these weighs about the same as my two metal trekking poles. And I had no money for carbon fiber poles.)
Water purification – Sawyer filter
Sun glasses – Sport Eyz
Pillow – stuff sack and extra clothes
Trowel – U-Dig-It Folding trowel * (In TN where I live all the clay, roots, and rocks will break a plastic trowel quickly)
Rain gear – Frogg Toggs poncho
Water Container – Camelbak Bladder
Communication – Cellphone* (my wife made me take it)
Car key – Left in a magnetic hid-a-key on car.

While this was primarily an experiment, I concluded that going 100% metal-free is a bit impractical. I realize there are certain metal options that may be more practical, like in the case of a headlamp (with batteries) vs glow sticks, a lighter vs matches, or the Sunnto button compass. There is hardly any metal in these items. So a bit of metal is still necessary. However, I think that going 95%-99% metal-free by weight is beneficial for reducing weight. I found it was not hard nor much more expensive in most cases. Ultralight gear manufacturers are going metal-less with much of their gear through material like carbon fiber. Finally, I do not believe this philosophy is for everyone but it was a fun experiment non-the-less! I am interested to hear your feedback!!

Edited by DavyGTN (01/13/17 02:11 PM)