When you get on the trail and set out for a hiking trip it’s sometimes difficult to view the world as your oyster, with the weight of your pack resting heavy on your back. While you’ll typically hear from experienced hikers that the first thing you need to do is go out and buy a scale, we don’t think it needs to be this complicated, with there being numerous tried and tested ways you can bring down the weight of your backpack without too much effort.
Here is our list of 6 easy tips that you can use to help keep things light on your next hiking trip.
- Always Repackage Personal Care and Food Items
Who is ever going to use an entire tube of toothpaste or sunscreen on a 2, or 3-day trip? That’s right, nobody. Instead, squirt what you need into a small container to save on space and weight. The same is true for food – discard all unnecessary packaging and put these items into resealable bags, remembering to push out as much air as possible before putting these into your backpack to further save on space.
- Pack Less Clothing – It’s a Hike, Not a Fashion Show
Any seasoned through-hiker will tell you that body odor isn’t worth worrying about on the trail. Unless you’re embarking on a trip for a period long enough to warrant taking additional clothing for unforeseen changes in weather, you shouldn’t need an extensive wardrobe in your backpack. Keep it minimal and light – usually, a second set of dry clothes is all you’ll need.
- Ditch the Tent for a Bivvy Bag
If you currently pack a tent with you when through-hiking, replacing it with a bivvy bag is a no brainer. They’re lighter, weighing in at considerably less than 1 kg – or even less with the best bivvy bags – and are compact, benefiting from a small pack size, as well as both easier and quicker to setup in all weather conditions than a tent. Bivvy bags can be fairly-inexpensive when compared to tents, especially more expensive, ultra-lightweight tents made from premium materials, with a reasonably well-performing bag retailing for less than £50.
- Keep a List of Unused Items When You’re Home
Every time you finish a hike, put together a list of the items you didn’t use. This is helpful as it will help you to lighten the load next time, making it easier to decide which items to leave behind rather than lugging them and their excess weight around needlessly. Sure, some items should remain, particularly those that are required in an emergency, such as a first aid kit, emergency lighter and some duct tape, but you’ll quickly realise that the bulk of other items in your backpack you can make do without.
- Plan-Ahead to Ration Water More Effectively
Depending on where you’re headed and the time of year, there may be an abundance of fresh water streams or reliable springs en route, from which – with the help of a water purifier – you would be able to replenish your water stocks, significantly reducing the amount of water you’ll need to bring with you. With a little research, you’ll be able to map out your journey from stream to stream, making it easy to effectively top-up and ration your water supply along the way.
Another good idea to reduce the weight when carrying water is to ditch the rigid plastic bottles in favour of a bladder system or Platypus Softbottle, both of which will reduce the carry-weight and pack size of your water store significantly.
- Cook and Eat Meals Out of the Same Pot
Cups and dishes may be a nice to have on a camp, however, when it comes to through-hiking, they’re just unnecessary carry weight. Keep things simple, pack a single pot or mess tin to both cook your meals in and to eat them out of. Doing so will not only keep weight to a minimum but also water wastage, as you’ll have a lot less to wash up than you otherwise would.
Keeping your backpack light for a through-hike isn’t complicated. You don’t need scales, or extensive planning, just common sense – taking out and leaving at home the items you simply don’t need for a short, 2 or 3-day trip. We hope you found this list useful, and that you’ll use it to lighten the load on your next journey out into the great outdoors.