How To Lighten Your Backpack
Tips To Lighten Your Backpack
Don’t you just love getting out into the great world outside of suburbia? There’s nothing more invigorating than packing a hiking backpack and hitting the trails. You pack only what you need, or so you thought, and after testing your packed bag, you feel your backpack is light enough for you to carry. Right? You might want to re-think the weight. What feels light for a minute or two in your living room will feel like a ton after several hours on the trails.
The key to comfortable hiking is to lighten your load. That means planning ahead, choosing the right items and doing everything you possibly can to lighten your backpack. Here are some great tips on packing light and not feeling overly weighted down.
1. Choose The Right Backpack
When you go shopping for a backpack, the vanity in us draws our eyes to the flashiest looking backpack on the shelf. Don’t automatically do this. Take the backpacks off the shelves and test their weight. Most modern backpacks are made from high tech materials that are durable but light so choose the one that is light but still has all the features you need. Multiple compartments are also a good idea as you can better organize the contents of your backpack.
2. Get The Right Shoes
Hiking boots are essential for trekking on rough trails but they can be quite heavy. Unless you are hiking in winter, you may not necessarily need hiking boots. If the weather is warmer, get yourself a pair of hiking shoes. You won’t need any more shoes in your backpack except for maybe a pair of camp shoes or flip flops that will fit neatly in your backpack ready to wear when you stop to rest.
3. Cut Down On The Packaging
Before heading off on a hike you’re going to go on a shopping trip to pick up all the essentials you need such as food, water, and personal hygiene items. Don’t pack all the boxes these items come in. For example, if you buy boxes of muesli bars, take them out of the box and only pack the individually wrapped bars. Do the same with all the other food items you want to pack and buy travel-size toiletries to take up as little space and weight as possible. Dried fruit and nuts are a great food to take hiking. They are packed with nutrients and the absence of water makes them lighter and easier to pack. Store them in zip-lock bags for added convenience.
4. Get A Down Sleeping Bag
When you look at a down sleeping bag side by side with a synthetic sleeping bag, you won’t notice much of a difference in size. However, down will keep you considerably warmer than synthetics so you’ll eliminate the need for additional blankets. Don’t bother packing pillows either, these only take up more precious space. Instead, remove the hard items from your backpack and use that as a pillow.
5. Pack Clothes Made Of High-Tech Materials
Hiking in the mountains can be cold. Even in the middle of summer, the weather can be unpredictable. Serious hikers will be prepared for all weather conditions and that means having several layers of clothing packed and ready. Sweaters and jackets are usually bulky and heavy so instead of omitting them from your backpack, invest in thermal clothing that is thin, lightweight and has been specifically designed for hiking in all weather. Best of all, these clothing items usually dry fast and wick-moisture away so you’ll be warm and comfortable for the duration of your hike.
6. Keep Your Gear Dry
Water is weight so keeping your gear dry means less water weight in your bag. You can’t control the weather but if you do get caught in the rain or sweat excessively, take these items off at the end of a day’s hiking and let them dry completely. Best of all, if you make camp near a brook or take shelter in comfortable accommodation, you can give them a quick wash and ensure they are fresh and dry before repacking them.
7. Plan Ahead With Food And Water
If you plan on hiking for several days, you may be tempted to pack all of your food before you head off. This is going to result in a very heavy backpack. Plan ahead with food and water. See where stores will be along the path so you can replenish stocks along the way. Do the same with water. You definitely don’t want to be carrying 5 days’ worth of water from day one of your hike so check the locations you will be passing through to see where you can top up your water bottles and purchase additional food supplies. Apart from lightening the load in your backpack, you’ll reduce wasting food and avoid eating the same boring food for days on end.
8. Ditch The Books
You may love taking all those travel guide books with you when you hit the trails but think of how much weight you’ll be adding to your backpack. Ditch the books and download eBooks or PDF guides to your smartphone. You’ll still have all the information you need with you, but in a portable, compact form.
9. Make A List Of Unused Items After Each Trip
We, humans, are odd creatures and like to be prepared for everything. This usually means packing a lot more than we need, only to bring them home again untouched. At the end of each hiking trip, make a list of everything you did not use or consume. This will give you a clear picture of what you won’t weigh down your backpack with the next time you head out.
Whether you are a hiker or just a person who likes to travel light, follow these tips to lighten your backpack whenever you travel. Even transiting through airports can be more difficult with a heavy backpack so do what you can to only take the absolute necessities. You’re back will definitely thank you for it and you’ll be focusing on how much fun you’re heaving and not the heaviness perched on your back