I am about to embark on the longest backpacking trip I’ve been on – 22 miles. For some that may be a stroll, for others that might be an epic distance. Either way, that’s not a distance I want to carry 35 pounds. I’ve heard various numbers for how much your pack should weigh; including a third of your body weight, in which case I’m good to go. Recently I found a figure of 15 to 25 percent of your body weight; now my pack needs to lose at least five pounds. Here are some weight-loss ideas I put into practice:
- Swapped my camp shoes from Chacos to light-weight slip-ons. That just cut about two pounds, plus the point of camp shoes is to make less of an impact and my slip-ons have no tread left on the bottom – Mother Nature wins too.
- Traded my super-cush Thermorest for a three-quarter length lighter one.
- Lightened up on the trail mix. I always seem to hike back to the trailhead with an absurd amount of trail mix left, not this time!
- Photocopied the section of the trail we’ll be hiking, instead of packing the map of the entire Tahoe Basin.
- Removed the day-pack attachment; we’ll be through-hiking so there was no need for a day-pack besides to add extra weight.
- Combined educational materials. This is a Leave No Trace Trainer Course, which adds instructional materials to my pack weight. I ditched the clips and rubber bands and combined everything in one sandwich bag.
- Opted for a down-feather sleeping bag. Ok, this was done a long time ago because my synthetic sleeping bag weighed five pounds and took up a third of my pack space. My down bag weighs half of that and compresses significantly smaller.
What good did all of that do me? Eight pounds! I’m much more excited about this trip now that I’m only carrying 27 pounds. Pick up a copy of Lighten Up! A complete handbook for Light & Ultralight backpacking by Don Ladigin for ideas on lightening your pack. Illustrations are by Mike Clelland, who also did the illustrations for Allen & Mike’s Really Cool Backpackin’ Book.
The best way to find out strategies for light backpacking is through experience and the experienced. How have you cut pack weight?