Friday, October 23, 2009

Lighten Up

Hey Everyone,

With the fall backpacking season in full swing, I have been seeing a lot of large packs out there. One of the first things people assume when they see my pack is that I am sacrificing comfort somewhere. I have had the chance to show my camp setup to a few of these people and the most common response is, "man I need to lighten my pack load". The best way I have found, to lighten your pack, is to make a gear list. List every little thing in your pack, and next to it list the weight (be as close as possible). Once you have made the list, look at the heaviest items, and find a way to either lighten it, replace it, or eliminate the need for it. I have made a list of what kind of weights to be looking for with the major pieces of gear.

Pack - under or around 3 pounds. There are several packs in the 50 to 65 litre size in this range.

Solo Tent or Shelter - around 2 pounds. Of course, more money = less weight, but I know of a tent that is 2 lbs 9 ounces for $80.00

Sleeping bag - 2+ pounds. Down can be much lighter, but even a good synthetic bag can be in this range.

Cook set - -1 pound. OK-OK, I'm way under that weight, but my setup is custom. A pocket rocket and a snow peak mug or GSI soloist pot are great and you can buy them anywhere.

Water treatment - This depends on your method but most filters are in the 1 pound range

Clothing - this is the one killer of hikers. I carry one pair of shorts or zip-off pants, 2 or 3 pairs of socks and underwear, two shirts (one for hiking, one for camp and sleeping). In really cold weather I may pack a light fleece, but a rain jacket is a great warming layer because it holds in a lot of heat.

I hope this helps those of you who are in the "I need to lighten up" mode. If anyone has questions, feel free to post a comment. The important thing to remember is that ultralight may not be for everyone, but I'm sure anybody would appreciate shaving a pound or two.

See you on the trail,


  1. The struggle for lightening a load is rough. Finding a good pack is a start. I've got an Osprey Exos 46 (50 liters, in reality) and that's been a real Godsend for me. Gives you more or less a quality pack, but still being ultralight. My only qualm is that I wish it was a little bigger of a main pocket. Front to back, not width wise.

  2. Izzy G,

    You are right on with it being a struggle. Its hard to except that some times you have to just start over with some gear. This is the main reason why ultralight backpackers are usually very experienced hikers. They have slowly gotten lighter over several years. As far as space in your pack, try loading things in a new way I like to put my gear in where I want it then I suff food everywhere I can, thats one way in which Im able to hike for seven days out of thirty liters.