Twenty Most Popular Ultralight Hiking Posts

Just to whet your appetite as to what this blog contains I have gathered together some of my most popular posts over the last three years into one spot – and here they are. Each of them has been read by tens of thousand of people. Hope you enjoy them too:

Sambar Deer Stalking #101:

I have hunted sambar deer for over 40 years in the Gippsland mountains (and elsewhere). Mostly I did it because it was fun and an excuse for a day out in the bush which I love. I still prefer lamb, and having been a sheep farmer for just as long, I always had plenty on hand. These days I rarely shoot the deer I see, and I see many – more than half a dozen a day usually, and I hardly ever bother any more to hunt the mornings and evenings. If I did, I would see over a dozen a day I guess!

Ultralight Chair/Groundsheet:


ul chair

I found this image on Pinterest but could not find who to recognise/praise for it (my apologies to the clever inventor). I have been going to make one of these (see: out of Tyvek (will be soon for my new tent). I think it will be a simple matter to add some ‘pockets’ as illustrated in the first picture so that a one person groundsheet can do double duty as an ultralight chair with the addition of a couple of hiking poles (as shown) or a couple of broken off sticks. Maybe a couple of webbing straps need to be added. I will experiment. As I have said before: ‘Watch this space…’

Does Spot like to hunt deer?

This is our Jack Russell, Spot. Does Spot like to hunt deer? Say, ‘Yes’ Spot. Good Dog! Spot is three years old. He came into our lives on our 40th wedding anniversary. Perhaps we should have called him ‘Ruby’. Naturally he started out as ‘JR’ or “Jack’ as they all do,  but ‘Spot’ seems to fit him best.

He is the greatest Jack Russell in the world. Aren’t you Spot? You see!

The Deer Hunter’s Tent:

I decided it was time to upgrade my Tyvek Solo Fire Shelter ( into something much better and which could accommodate two – and dogs! I also wanted to use my ‘Holeless Poncho ( as the floor. Such instructions as there are so far are can be found in these two posts.

I intended that this should result in a ‘roof’ (in Tyvek for its ‘fireproofness’) that was around 400 grams, and a poncho ‘floor’ in silnylon that would be around 170 grams. Adding another 80 or so grams for tent pegs should still result in a tent which was under 600 grams…

A Tiny Life

1st May 2000 – 8th Feb 2018 – a good innings. Over the years you will have noticed many posts which featured our beloved Jack Russell Tiny, (who would have been 18 this May). During that long life, these ‘Tiny’ paws covered a lot of country.
It all began like this when my son Bryn was 15 years old. That Tiny pup spent a lot of her time in his bed or even inside his shirt!

Ultralight Poncho Tent

This is going to be a 160 gram poncho which is also an excellent single person tent. It doesn’t get much better than that. This is my second prototype of this wonderful piece of equipment. I have altered the dimensions slightly and changed the taper so it is long enough to lie out in without touching the sides. It is (usually) open at the front so you can enjoy a warming fire. There is plenty enough overhang so you are going to stay dry in a heavy downpour. Its dimensions are approximately 5′ x 8′.


Delorme Inreach SE @ 190 grams is a good choice if you are in the market for a PLB or Satellite Phone. It is only slightly dearer (and heavier) than a stand-alone PLB (& so much cheaper than lighter than an Iridium Extreme) but with two way SMS messaging functionality from anywhere on earth. Whenever you send someone an SMS with it your exact GPS location goes with the message. The service is also much cheaper than a satellite phone – from less than $20/month.
Today is using a 1 oz (30 gram – including a selection of flies and leaders) hand line made from a 100 ml plastic ‘spice’ bottle which easily and accurately casts 30 – 40 metres – as you can see! A pill bottle of roughly the same size though slightly heavier, would work just as well. I tried an empty Nurofen bottle, for example. Another half an ounce or so would add a couple of lures, hooks, split shot, etc suitable for bait fishing as well. (This particular bottle is 14 gram 100 ml about 43mm wide and 80mm long and has the advantage you can see through it).

Smoothtalker passive pad

It is a delight to venture into the mountains far from ‘civilisation’; when we do however we don’t have to forego the opportunity of all contact. A carefully chosen antenna system will draw in mobile phone and internet connectivity to quite surprisingly remote places.
We have two antennae conjoined (with a balanced splitter/joiner) 6.5 Db fibreglass antennae such as these ( Joining two together like this increases the gain by about 3 Db (so to approx 9.5 Db). You should remember that each 3Db equals approximately a doubling of the signal, so that this arrangements represents an over eightfold increase in signal strength…

As part of a series on economy backpacking, I bring you my new poly tent made from a ‘standard 8’ x 10’ poly tarp bought from the local Churchill Australia $2 shop. This one cost me A$7.99 and took only minutes to make. Mark out the tie-out positions as shown. Use Tarp clips (eg or polystyrene balls as tie outs – so actual tie out position will be about 2” inside the fabric edge. Tie Apex to an extended hiking pole (4’ height) as shown. Peg out Rear point, then two End points approx 6” forward. Then loosely tie out two Front points (as shown) then two Side points about 6″ further out. Cut 2′ slit. Attach tie downs to Flaps for closure. These make a perfect guy lines: Place ground sheet, (dog and grandson) inside. Enjoy. As you can see it has my grandson’s and Spot’s ‘seal of approval’.

New DIY Pack Raft:

You have probably caught up with the price of a brand new Alpacka raft ( and put your canoeing dreams on hold, but there are cheaper options. There is for example my home made pack raft (which costs less then A$40) that I posted about way back here: for example. I have since thought that it would be better to attach the reinforcing bottom with a circle of tarp clips (such as these: connected together with a thin rope. It can be easily taken off to dry and put back on again before you re-inflate. And it is easy to replace if it wears out.

Walking the Line

You have one leg slightly shorter than the other. Therefore if you are blindfolded you will walk in a circle. Clearly you need some other clue to stop yourself from doing this in the wild. There are a number of ‘tricks’ to learn. I have already mentioned how to use your observations of the ‘lie of the land’ to find your way:

I have mentioned before many times how you should train the tools you were born with (which you can count on having with you, hopefully in a working condition) whereas artificial aids (such as GPS, PLB and etc) can all too easily fail. Using the outstanding features of the landscape as a guide to your location is an obvious and necessary skill to develop.

I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked by a person with a GPS in their hand where they are (were), to which my reply has always been (simply looking around), ‘Isn’t it obvious?’

Ultralight Pack:

It is quite difficult to buy a sub-600 gram pack (@55 litre) ‘off the shelf’ for reasonable money. I have tried a number over the years and would not carry anything else. The ‘list’ below is not exhaustive but intended as a good starting point:
(Correction: 17!) I just finished making this pair of US Size 9 ultralight camp shoes for my Dusky track walk which I start on Monday. They are made from 3.6oz/yd2 Dyneema fabric. Together with a pair of  down socks from (approx 50 grams per pair), I should have nice dry, warm feet at the end of what is usually a fairly wet slog each day. I will post the pattern and instructions when I get back (promise). I made these in a hurry . I could have trimmed a couple more grams off the back pieces which i simply sewed inside. I will see how much the next pair weighs. My guess is 16- 17 grams.
Reader Jenny wrote to tell me about these wonderful chairs she makes when hiking. She thinks she could get the pack weight of her chair down to 50 grams. She writes, ‘The material is just a rectangle of fabric, with big seams top and bottom (bottom for the cross piece of wood to thread through; and top for the cord to thread through and tie off at the top of the tripod).
I know lots of you have seen this photo before as I have used it as a signature image for some time. Unsurprisingly a number have asked, ‘There must be a story behind that stag, Steve. Tell us about it’. Well, here goes…You can no doubt tell by how much I have aged that it was a number of years ago. I was working my way up an overgrown, neglected river in East Gippsland making a trail, opening up some country that had pretty much closed over with regrowth and blackberries. (No, I am not going to tell you which one – go find your own river!)

2016-05-22 14.42.22 comp

This Egg-Ring Stove is a development of the traditional ‘three-stone fire’ using three tent pegs (21 grams) and an egg-ring (8 grams). NB: My latest model = 12.5 grams! The aluminium (easy drill) egg-rings cost $8 for 3 on eBay and stop the pegs from falling in/out. You need to drill three equidistant holes around the edge. Presumably you already carry tent pegs. These are the Vargo’s Shepherd’s Hook Titanium Pegs I wrote about here:  The unpainted ones weigh 7 grams each The shepherd’s hook shape is what make this so stable and work so well You would be better with the plain ones for this purpose, though the paint will quickly burn off I’m sure. The pot is Vargo’s Titanium 450 ml ‘Travel Mug’ with the stay-cool rim (62 grams)

Bush Shower: Mechanical Advantage


This is an excellent idea: it would work well with a solar shower or camp shower too such as this one sold by Sea to Summit which weighs about 100 grams (if you ditch the stuff sack). I find two 1300 ml billies of cold water (add FIRST!) + 2 of boiling water gives a perfect shower in the woods:

Cookset Woes:

Some people seem to think it is fashionable to lug around the kitchen sink and a range simply to warm a couple of evening snacks, so you see people all the time with a food prep setup which weighs maybe a kg – or more. The empty canisters of such systems typically weigh more than my ultralight pot and Caldera Cone system together – and I need carry no fuel! Evernew deep pot with frypan lid = 123 grams plus Caldera Cone and two titanium tent pegs @ 44 grams = 167 grams. I think people need to seriously reprise their cooking/cookset options.

Car-Camper Conversion: $50

We have recently been on a car camping holiday in Scotland where we wanted to stay away from people as much as possible on such a crowded island, and save on accommodation costs by sleeping in the rental car wherever we could find a pleasant spot. The car we hired turned out to be a VW Golf which you might think would be a tad small for this purpose, but when the front seats are all the way forward and flipped over there is over 6′ of room. All that was needed was to create a platform to fill up the well in front of the rear seats once they were folded down into the stowage position.

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