You can spend a lot of money on the latest ultralight gear to lighten your backpack, but some of the best tips don’t cost anything at all. I’ll cover five easy ways you can lighten your load on the trail.
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- Mix ingredients before hand. There are many meals where you can cut weight by mixing things up before you head out. Pancakes are a great example. Mix up your flour, baking soda, salt and sugar before you head out, vs. packing them separately. Not only will it be easier, it will be lighter too.
- Purchase products that have multiple functions. Don’t do this if it sacrifices quality, but if it saves weight it’s worth it. The Leatherman Signal and the Zippo 4-in-1 Woodsman are good examples of tools that can accomplish multiple tasks and eliminate the need for separate items.
- Rethink your tent and sleeping system. These will most likely be the heaviest items in your pack. This is the area where spending some extra money on ultralight gear makes a big difference. Also, consider an ultralight tarp over a tent. This isn’t ideal in all situations, but can make all the difference if you’re able to make it work.
- Use the weather report to your advantage. You’re lucky. Chances are that you have a 24/7 weatherman in your pocket with the ability to magically look at a radar anytime you want. If it’s going to be a warm weekend, ditch the base layer. If it’s clear skies all weekend, leave the rain gear at home. I’m not advocating for reckless behavior by any means, because you could get into a dangerous situation. That said, use your head and you can cut a few pounds this way.
- Don’t carry water. If you’re camping near a water source there is no need to haul water in. These days there are water filter styles that can accommodate any size of group. LifeStraw’s product line does a great job with this. If you’re camping solo you can just grab the LifeStraw Go, which is a water bottle with a filter attached to the cap. Dunk it in a stream and bam – you’re set. If you’re group camping the LifeStraw Mission can keep the whole crew hydrated. At just under a pound, the gravity fed system can filter about three gallons per hour. The compact roll bag reservoir also rolls up so it doesn’t take much room in your pack.