How to Pack Lighter

Big PackSome people get crazy about shedding pack weight. They cut the handles off their toothbrushes, or leave their toothbrushes at home altogether, thinking that those two ounces will be the ones that do them in. These are the same people who will gladly pay an extra hundred dollars if it means shaving a few ounces off their cooking pot. Of course, you don’t have to be that extreme to want to make your hiking pack weigh less. Here are some tips to help reduce pack weight without spending a fortune.

First things first. The fastest (and easiest) way to reduce the weight of your pack is to stop packing things that you don’t need. You probably don’t need 10 changes of underwear and 3 pairs of hiking boots for a week long trip. It’s easy to overpack, but if you want to make your pack weigh less, you’re going to have to take some things out. Find out what you don’t absolutely need and leave it behind, but always carry the essentials, regardless of how much they weigh.

Food and water are backpacking necessities that tend to take up a lot of weight. While you can’t simply not pack food or water, you can do a few things to cut out unnecessary weight. Stick to lightweight, dehydrated meals, and dry snacks. Also, bring a water filter or water purification drops instead of trying to pack all the water you need for a week (you can’t do that anyway).

It’s important to find gear that can be used for multiple purposes. This can save weight by removing unnecessary items from your pack. This will also save space, and make it easier to find the items that you’re looking for.

Lean towards gear that weighs less. This isn’t specific to materials, but to the items themselves. A hammock or a bivy, for example, is going to weigh less than a tent. A solar charger and a map on your phone might be a lighter option than a trail guide.

Get rid of the excess. Some people prefer stuff sacks, but if you can do without them, you can save some weight. The same can be said for the extra bags and packaging that come with tents, sleeping bags, and many other items. Organization will take a hit, but you might find the weight loss worth it.

If you’re hiking solo, you have to carry the load on your own. If you’re hiking with others, however, you can distribute the weight with your group. For example, John carries the tent, Jim carries the rain fly, and Jack carries the footprint.

If you’ve done all that you can to reduce the weight of your pack, and it’s still heavier than you would like, that’s when you should start looking into lightweight backpacking gear. Of course, this is a very slippery slope. Ultralight hiking gear is pretty sexy, and once you start lightening your load, you won’t want to stop.

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