5 Tips for Lighter Backpacking

Anyone who has ever been on an extending camping trip know how much of a chore backpacking can be. I’ve known many outdoorsmen who after a few seasons and a few miles of trail under their belts seriously consider cutting some weight.

Lightweight backpacking is all about making sacrifices, meaning every ounce lost is a goal in itself. Here are five tips to help you shed some extra pounds on your back.

RELATED: Hiking 101: How to Pack a Backpack

Go With a Lighter Pack

Similar to how a smaller plate leads to eating smaller portions of food, carrying a smaller backpack can help remove the temptation to carry more gear than you should. Think about going to a lightweight frameless pack, like the Golite Jam or Outdoor Research Drycomp. Bonus Tip: Cut off ice axe loops and daisy chains if you don’t use them.

Shelter and Sleep Options

Your shelter can be another opportunity to shed some pounds. If you’re up to it, consider making the switch to a tarp instead of a tent. In warmer seasons, I tend to carry a lightweight sleeping bag rated for warmer temperatures and if it gets cold at night, I wear my clothes while sleeping. If you do bring a tent, shed weight by leaving the stakes at home and tying stake loops to roots and trees instead.

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Trim Your Food and Water

You can help shed pounds from your pack if you reduce the amount of water you carry. Treating water on the trail with a filter leaves water at your fingertips wherever you find it (just make sure there’s enough water sources along your route ahead of time). Where food is concerned, I’d think about going stoveless and not carrying any stove, pots or fuel. Food may be heavier, but as you eat it on your trip, you’ll shed the weight of it.

Don’t Be a Clothes Horse

Instead of packing several T-shirts, carry quick-drying non-cotton clothing that dries quickly and can be worn for many days without stinking. Merino wool socks are lightweight and minimize sticky feet, too. It’s also smart to leave your puffy winter jacket at home, even in cold seasons. Instead, wrap your sleeping bag around your torso and put your lightweight jacket over it.

What Can I Leave Behind?

Lightweight backpacking involves sacrificing the unnecessary for the sake of being, well, lightweight. That being said, there are many items that you won’t need to worry about bringing, such as a pillow, thermometer, books, entire guidebooks for your region (just photocopy pages on where you’ll be), spare shoes for your campsite, and a saw (your knife’s serrated edge will do the trick.)

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