Even with a lightweight backpack, you may find it easy to overload it with unnecessary weight that can grind on you with every step along the trail. Even for the most veteran hikers, saving a few pounds right at the get-go can save you a lot of back pain, body fatigue, and help increase your endurance and enjoyment on the trail. And it’s not that hard to do.
Food is obviously very important to have on your longer hiking trips, so we’re not talking about omitting food. Or even taking less food. Just the type of food and the packaging it is in. A lot of commercial packaging is needless bulk and weight that you can easily shave by repackaging them in sandwich bags or Sumo Companion Bowls if you need to keep food insulated. Think about bringing dried fruits, raw nuts, jerky and other dehydrated power foods that will give you energy along the trail but will not take up a lot of space.
It is easy to overpack clothing. Ideally you would have two outfits, a jacket, and multiple changes of underwear and socks. Think of one outfit for normal activities and another you will use for more extreme activities that will cause you to sweat or get dirty. Here are some additional camping clothing tips that I made in a previous post.
A hatchet can be a great tool to have with you while hiking and camping, but there a couple of tools you can have with you that pack easier, weigh less, and are just as effective. One is a wire saw. A wire saw is very easy to pack, weighs less than an ounce, costs less than $10 and is a great tool once you learn to use it. Another must-have tool is a multi-tool like the Leatherman or SpirtX by SwissTool. They are light-weight, tough, and versatile.
Leave the wood and clunky stoves at home and bring along simple and reliable cooking system like JetBoil. If you plan on building a fire, then only bring what you need to start the fire – matches, lighter, flint. Leave the propane tanks, duraflame logs, and lighter fluid at home.
If you want to reduce weight on the trail, then a lantern is probably not going to be your best option. You can leave the Mag Light at home, too. Instead, pack a compact LED Flashlight, like the NiteGuide 210 LED, which is 5 times brighter than a traditional D-cell incandescent flashlight and the LED bulbs will never need replacing. A headlamp is another great lighting option for hiking and other hands-free activities. Even though you can find inexpensive headlamps in the $10-$20 range, the light quality will be subpar along with fit and longevity. Check out the versatile Solite by Light and Motion. This light is designed to function as a headlamp, flashlight, bike light, and helmet light.
If you have the experience, know the area, and are feeling brazen leave the family camper at home. Bring a lightweight backpacking tent, instead. Both the Solitaire Tent and Spitfire Tents are under 5lbs each and remain compact when storing.
Each pound you save is a pound less energy you spend on the trail. I hope you found these six simple tips for packing lightweight helpful on your next adventure. Feel free to leave your own tip below in the comments!
Lead Photo by Kevin Winzeler