Today we have a special guest post from Patrick, a camping addict and nature lover, who runs the site TakeMeCamping.org. He’s got some great information on cutting down your pack weight, something I’m starting to get more serious about as I look to explore more multi-day hikes. A big thanks to Patrick for sharing this great information with us!
Ever since I first joined the Boy Scouts as a kid, camping has been my favorite activity ever. Cold, hot, rain, or snow, I have just always loved to be out in nature, building fires and finding new trails to hike.
Over the last 15 years or so, I’ve learned quite a bit. One thing I’ve learned is that hardcore camping isn’t for everyone. There are many aspects of camping that some participants would rather avoid, such as sleeping on the hard ground or getting rained on.
But today, we’re going to talk about some tips on cutting weight for camping. Camping can involve a lot of gear, but hiking with a heavy pack may not sound fun to beginner campers. For that reason, I’ve compiled some of my best tips to keep your pack light and your adventure exciting.
Refine Your Packing List
If you’re trying to keep your backpack as light as possible, your best strategy will be to make a camping checklist and stick to it. Take a significant amount of time developing this list.
At this point in my camping career, I pretty much know what I need to pack by heart. But early on I would approach my list in the following way.
Begin by writing down everything you think you could want or need on your camping trip, and don’t leave anything out. These items will be a part of your preliminary list. Be sure to start this list well in advance of your trip, but at least a week or two ahead of time.
Over the next couple of days, go through your list and cross out items that you can live without. For example, if you’ve listed a blanket along with your sleeping bag, cross out the blanket. Each time you go through this list, seriously consider each item with the following questions:
- How much does this weigh?
- Is it worth the weight?
- Can I live without this?
- Is this item necessary?
After you’ve gone through your list a few times, you may be good to go. If it still seems like a lot, have someone sit down with you to make tougher cuts until it’s light enough for you to carry.
Choose a Lightweight Tent
One of the biggest and heaviest packing items on your list will be your tent. Thankfully, there are plenty of lightweight tents on the market today that can cut a significant amount of weight from your pack.
Some two-person tents weigh as little as two pounds. They may not be the biggest tents in the world, but if you’re the only one using them, it’ll be perfect. These days, advanced technology has allowed for one or two-person tents under three pounds, so searching for one shouldn’t be too hard.
If you’re really looking to cut down on weight via your tent, you can try using a non-freestanding tent. These tents use your trekking poles as tent poles. So basically, you can kill two birds with one stone.
Not only will your trekking poles help you navigate some tough hiking, but they will keep your tent standing during the night and prevent you from carrying additional weight in tent poles.
Pack Appropriate Clothing
When you pick up a single shirt, it’s hard to imagine that it could ever add too much weight to your pack. But clothing adds up, and it can quickly make your pack much heavier than necessary.
The heaviest clothing material is cotton, so you can start by avoiding this fabric. From there, cut your options down to the absolute necessities. Remember, when you’re camping, no one expects you to wear a fresh, clean, new outfit every day.
Save space and weight by packing multipurpose items, such as cargo pants that zip off and become shorts. Light layers work well for keeping the sun off and keeping you warm throughout the night.
Lightweight, long-sleeved shirts are also a great staple piece. You can layer this item or wear it alone to keep the sun off of your arms.
Consider practical advice as well, such as only bringing one jacket or one sweatshirt. Variety is nice when it’s convenient, but it truly does not matter when you’re trying to keep your pack light.
Try Compact Camping Kits
These days, there are so many genius inventions that make compact camping a breeze. For instance, did you know you can buy a cooking set that includes a pot, a pan, a plate, utensils, and cleaning supplies that fold up and take up no more than six inches of space?
Take advantage of the market that camping has created. From cookware to first aid kits, you can find almost anything you need in a small, lightweight, and compact size. Don’t worry about spending too much money either; if you’re an avid camper, you will most certainly be using these convenient tools again.
Some other items you can find in compact form include multitools, micro stoves, freeze-dried food, collapsible water bottles, and multipurpose watches.
Use a Water Filter
Water is extremely important to everyday life, but even more so when you’re camping in the woods. For one, you’re probably exerting more energy and sweating more than you usually do, meaning you need even more water.
And second, planning for water becomes extra important when you realize you might not have a faucet nearby.
But can you imagine how much extra weight it would be if you carried your entire trip’s water supply with you? I can, and it doesn’t sound fun.
Try using a fancy, high-tech water filter instead of packing and carrying your water supply. Many filters these days are engineered to filter out 99% of bacteria and germs in natural water sources like lakes and streams.
If the thought of carrying an overpacked, heavy backpack throughout your upcoming camping trip is keeping you up at night, then you need to seriously consider some of the tips I’ve laid out for you today.
You can ensure your trip is fun, exciting, and safe while saving you tons of back pain and headaches. Be sure to stay practical in your approach, and remember that it’s only a few days – you can go without your favorite pillow and stuffed animals.