Our Top 10 Lightweight Backpacking Tips

Lightweight backpacking can be a bit daunting, but hopefully these Ten Lightweight Backpacking Tips will help you feel more confident about this fun challenge!

1. Carefully plan your menu. This is one of our favorite lightweight backpacking tips. While food in not included in the base pack weight, it will add a considerable amount of weight to your pack. With a little more effort, you can benefit from carefully planning your meals. Bring food that doesn’t need to be cooked so you can forgo bringing the extra weight of a stove, fuel and cooking pot. If you know you’ll be at a camp with a water source, bring dehydrated food. If you know you’ll be at a camp that doesn’t have water available, bring regular food so you don’t have to carry extra water for dehydrated items. For more information on lightweight backpacking food, click here.

2. Use teamwork. Share gear! It’s safer to go backpacking with other people and it’s usually more fun too. Each person doesn’t need to bring their own tent, lantern, cooking utensils, first aid kit, etc. Think about what you can share and you’ll ultimately lighten your load.

3. Downsize items. Instead of bringing a whole bottle of sun block, put what you’ll need in a smaller container or buy travel sized items. This can go for things like toothpaste, food condiments, vitamins or medication and more.

4. 3 lbs or less for the “3 Heavies”. Your backpack, sleeping bag and shelter are typically the heaviest items. If you’re buying gear, go for as light as possible on these items, making sure each of them weighs 3 pounds or less. Visit the following links for more information on these items: Ultralight Backpacks, Ultralight Sleeping Bags, Backpacking Tarps, and Ultralight Tents.

5. Do a test run. This is one of the lightweight backpacking tips we found very helpful. Before you go on your trip, take a day hike with your pack packed up or take the opportunity to weigh each item you want to bring and write down the weights. When you actually experience the weight of your pack either by wearing it or seeing the totals of each item, it really helps you see the big picture and analyze what you truly need.

6. Plan ahead. Proper planning can save you a lot of trouble. For instance, if the place you are camping has a water source, there is no need to bring extra water. Looking at a map or talking with others who have hiked the same trail can provide helpful information for knowing what to pack.

7. Use efficient gear. Try to buy gear that is efficient and can be multi-purpose. For instance, during warmer weather, wear a wind shirt. This extremely light clothing item can help you keep warm at night or, in some cases, can double as rain protection. Your hiking stick can be used as a pole for your shelter. Use a tarp that can double as a poncho or shelter.

8. Bring what you need. While you don’t have to sacrifice every luxury and comfort, remember that any “extras” beyond the essentials are only extra weight. Books, camp chairs, electronics, etc can be nice but try to keep your goal in mind. Learn to go without, find lighter alternatives or limit yourself to one or two luxuries.

9. Expand knowledge and skills. When you become more knowledgeable and skilled, it really helps in being able to pack more efficiently. Focus on educating yourself with on-line resources, going to seminars, reading books, etc. Also a lot of this comes from experience, so just get out there and start learning by trial and error.

10. Change your thinking. This is probably the most important of all lightweight backpacking tips. One of the biggest parts of being a successful ultralight backpacker is to challenge your thinking. You have to really want to go ultralight in order to truly understand what’s necessary and what’s not. This also helps challenge you to find alternatives to what you think is or should be the norm for your gear. Maybe you can actually use a tarp instead of a tent. Maybe you don’t really need a sleeping bag. Some of these ideas can be daunting at first, but try doing some test runs either in your backyard or on short trips. It can really help in changing your thinking.

We hope these lightweight backpacking tips help you in your endeavor!

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