Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Trail Tips - How to Cut Pack Weight

The Fundamentals of Cutting Backpack Weight
Your plans for that great adventure are set. A remote destination is awaiting. You've invited your best friends and the food has all been purchased.

The only problem is you have to carry everything on your back; first aid gear, food and cooking utensils, clothing, tents, etc... Not only do you have to carry it, but how are you going to fit it all into your backpack?

The recommended weight for a beginner's backpack is 25% of their bodyweight and for some people that's even pushing it. So how can we lighten your load?

Well, here’s the 6 fundamentals to cutting backpack weight:

Fundamental #1 - Heaviest things first. Get rid of your tent and use a tarp. You can save 8 pounds right off the bat by using a 1 pound trap. Use dehydrated food. Food is one of the heaviest items you'll carry and with new technology the flavors are getting better all the time, so do some taste testing and find out what you like.

Fundamental #2 - Multi-use Items. The practice of using one piece of equipment for more than one purpose will allow you to leave gear behind. Your imagination is the only limit, you can use your stuff sack for a pillow, your T-shirt for a toothbrush, and duct tape makes a great bandage. Really there's just about no limit to how many ways you can use duct tape (but that's a whole other article).

Fundamental #3 - Smaller and lighter. Manufacturers are making new gear in smaller packages everyday. They still have all the same features, just in a smaller and lighter size. Little saving do add up.

Fundamental #4 - Buy a smaller backpack. If you don't have the room you won't pack it. Have you ever move into a smaller house before, it's amazing how much you can get rid of. The same principle applies here.

Fundamental #5 - Don’t pack it. Everything that you put in your pack adds weight, but if you leave something out of your pack you reduce its weight by 100%. So ask yourself if you really need those extras. Do you really need all those cook pots, or a machete, or a camp chair?

Fundamental #6 - Analyze what you take. Finally, take time before, during, & after each hike to inventory your gear and packing habits. Keep equipment lists and analyze what you used and didn't use at the end of every trip. You may be surprised at the amount of unnecessary weight that you carry. In time, you will see patterns and ways to shave weight, but keep in mind it is a process and takes some time to get the hang of it.

That reminds me of a backpacking buddy I had that would bring every thing and the kitchen sink. He was a nice guy and would always share if someone didn't have something, so I started not bringing things and just borrowed his.

I remember I was almost to the point of just bringing my pillow in my pack, when he figured it out and decided to go lightweight. Well, all good things must come to an end.

Well, here's to lightening your load.

See you on the trail,

All Day Energy Runners

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