Lightening your load when it comes to backpacking is a skill developed over time. Shedding the non-essentials down to the most essential and efficient items is a challenge, and a small thrill in an of itself. Here are 10 tips for backpacking light that are not only creatively smart, but will keep money in your pocket, make you more nimble, and enjoy your trip even more.
10 Backpacking Tips To Trim Pack Weight
1. No knife.
Use a razor blade. Very rarely do I ever miss my knife and I certainly have never needed my knife. A razor blade can be great an ultralight alternative.
2. Multi-use bandana.
A Bandana (yes, cotton) can be used for:
- Head wear or sun blocking neck tie.
- Hanging food or other delicate items off your pack.
- A slow drip coffee filter.
- Dish cleaner and sponge.
- Hot hand for your pot.
3. Multi-use Vaseline.
Other than the obvious lip moisturizer, Vaseline is essentially petroleum jelly which can be used for a variety of things.
- Got blisters? Rub a little Vaseline in between your toes or on your heel before you get going in the morning to reduce friction.
- Vaseline is a great slow burning fuel that can be used as a fire starter.
- If you have a fresh, uninfected wound, Vaseline (plus some duct tape) can help shield the sore from outside infection.
4. Tarp, not a tent.
Tents can weigh twice as much as a tarp shelter. A tent provides two walls – an outer one for shelter and inner mesh one for a bug-free enclosure. You only need the outer one for shelter (a tarp). What about the creepy crawlies though? Use a mosquito net for your face, everything else will be covered by your sleeping bag.
5. Trekking poles, not tent poles.
Two trekking poles (plus your guylines) is all you need to keep your tarp supported. Many tarp systems only require one pole.
6. Baking soda vs toothpaste.
Baking soda is essentially dehydrated, ultralight toothpaste.
7. Prep by activity.
You are either hiking on the trail or resting at camp. Your clothes should be broken up accordingly. You have your hiking clothes that can get sweaty (typically short sleeves) and you have your at camp clothes which stay dry (typically long sleeves).
8. Boots, Shoes & Laces
Cut off excess shoe lace–for two reasons (1) excess shoelace means unnecessary weight and (2) excess shoelace means safety hazard in the bush. Ever have a big lace-loop catch on an exposed root or tangly bush ? After you cut them, scorch/burn/melt the ends so they won’t unravel.
And secondly, as your pack weight goes down, your requirement for heavy boots is reduced, as well. Since each pound on your feet is supposedly equivalent to 5 pounds on your back, you can reduce the relative weight of your pack by getting a pair of lighter weight boots.
9. Scouring Pads for dirty Pots & Pans
Use dirt, moss, finger nails instead of soap & a scouring pad. No soap suds in the water & no dirty pad to mess with.
Alternate tips for pot cleaning (submitted by Rich Hawes)
10. Multiple Purpose Gear:
- Parachute Cord–clothesline, securing splints, line for traction splint, food bag line,
- Swiss Army Knife–knife, scissors, saw, awl……
- Candles–light for reading/writing, wax as fire starter, wax as waterproofing agent
- Duct Tape–moleskin substitute, bandage wrap, gear repair (packs, boots, poles…), splint wrap, emergency sunglasses
- Sleeping Bag–emergency stretcher or litter
- Cooking Pot–bowl for eating, cup for hot drinks
- Water Bottle–cup for hot drinks
- Backpack Metal Stays–splints
- Ski / Hiking Poles–avalanche probe, splints,
- Snow Shovel–sled for fun, sled runner for emergency litter,
- Stuff Sacks–pillows,
- Socks–hand warmers,
- Safety Pins–securing bandages and cloth slings, clothespins, fish hook, hook for hanging items, ….
- Clothing–slings, pillow stuffing, adds loft to sleeping system.
- Stove Aluminum Wind Screen–candle light reflector, funnel for pouring liquids.
- Dental Floss–sewing thread, ties,
- Zip-Loc Freezer Baggies–carry items, bowl for preparing & eating food, carry-out container for garbage.
- Backpack w/weather shroud–emergency bivy sack (for the lower half of the body).
- Compass sighting mirror–personal mirror, emergency signaling device.
- Tent Pegs–slender tent pokers with relatively sharp ends (like the titanium pegs sold by Simon Metals Company) can be used as a piercing tool- for instance, to pierce thick fabric or leather in order to run a cord through, to make a repair. Also, for grilling food over a flame.
Tips 8-10 via Backpack Weight Reducing Tips – BACKPACKING LIGHTWEIGHT
Hey, want to be even more resourceful? Check out some additional information here–> Ultralight Backpacking: 10 Creative Ways To Lighten Your Load