On a backpacking trip every ounce of weight can be felt, especially on an extended expedition. By taking a few simple steps, hikers and backpackers can cut extra weight from their loads. This means that a hiker can go farther in a day and with greater ease than someone carrying a heavy pack.
Inventory Gear To Trim Pack Weight
Before going out on the trip, take an inventory of all the gear and equipment that will be taken. This allows the backpacker to take a visual inspection of everything that could be taken, and decide what can go, and what can stay. Some questions to ask include:
- Are there any redundant pieces of gear that can be left behind?
- How many clothing layers will be needed for the trip, and what will be the actual weather conditions?
- How much does the pack weigh fully loaded? (Use a hanging scale to determine how heavy the pack when it is full with gear, food, and water.)
Ways To Trim Pack Weight
There are some easy ways to trim pack weight. These include:
- Carrying a smaller pocketknife: Instead of a big, heavy knife, carry a smaller multi-tool such as the Leatherman Micra, which has a pair of scissors, a small blade, and other tools, but only weighs 1.75 ounces.
- Use items with many uses: A bandanna has several uses. It can be a washcloth, a headband, a handkerchief, a sling for a an injured arm, etc.
- Carry a smaller stove: Only need to boil water to make noodles or coffee? The Jetboil stove boils water quickly and weighs 10.5 ounces without the stove canister.
Using Down Products To Trim Pack Weight
Sleeping bags and clothing such as puffy jackets and pants that are insulated with down feathers can be more lightweight than those with synthetic insulation, but can still keep a hiker warm at night. Down can also compact a lot more tightly than synthetic, which means more space in the backpack. The disadvantage of down is that when it gets wet it can be difficult to dry. This can be a problem if hiking in an environment where the weather is often wet and cold.
Using Footwear To Trim Pack Weight
Even the kind of footwear worn on a trip can help reduce overall pack weight, and increase travel efficiency. Instead of wearing a pair of heavy, leather hiking boots, consider switching to a pair of trail running shoes, especially for late spring, summer, and early fall trips. These can help shed a pound or two from your feet, and help you feel lighter on the trail. However, be careful if you are prone to rolling ankles. In addition, these shoes are not appropriate for winter backpacking conditions.
Trimming pack weight means operating more efficiently in the backcountry while saving ounces and pounds that aren’t necessary to carry.