The first beginning steps in lessening your load and transitioning to lightweight backpacking are focusing on the big three (your sleep system, backpack, and shelter). These will be your biggest weight savings, and even if you can only shave weight with these three gear items you will really feel the difference!
Camp bedding will likely consists of a sleeping bag, ultralight sleeping pad and a lightweight ground cloth (under your sleeping pad). Think of the typical conditions you will be camping in and plan accordingly. Think realistically about your trip. What will be the average temperature be at night? Having this information and knowing how you tend to sleep can help you save pounds in your pack while staying comfortable at night.
There is a huge variety of shelters available now and if you’re using an old tent, you may be surprised by how much weight you can save by upgrading your shelter. There are many varieties including those that use trekking poles to support your shelter; eliminating the weight of tent poles (like our ultralight tarps).
Switching to a lightweight pack can save you pounds. Before making this purchase, make sure you know how many liters you will need to carry your gear and learn how to size a pack. Gossamer Gear has a wide variety of packs for all types of backpacking needs.
We really live by our motto: take less. do more. In addition to leaving certain items behind, you can repackage items such as toothpaste, sunscreen, and bug spray into small containers or eye dropper bottles. A simple Ziploc bag is a great way way to store small items.
Buying new gear is the last option to consider, as you should be focusing on eliminating unnecessary gear before you spend any money on new items. However, there are opportunities to save weight and money by replacing items. Two examples include using a plastic water bottle instead of a Nalgene and swapping out your tent footprint for a polycryo ground sheet. Most shelters don’t come with a groundsheet so you can save good chunk of money by using the polycryo instead of buying the manufacturer’s ground cloth. You should also look to see if a bear canister is required in the area you plan to camp in.
1. Think multi-purpose
One of the biggest weight savings is bringing gear that can serve multiple purposes. A pair of trekking poles can be beneficial for your knees on climbs and ascents, but can also be used at night to support your shelter. A lightweight bandana can function in multiple ways such as a washcloth, towel, bandage, hat, water pre-filter, and handkerchief.
2. Learn some skills
It may take a little work (and lots of practice) but knowing how to set up (and where to set up) a lightweight shelter makes all the difference.
Go on multiple shakedown hikes before a big backpacking trip. When you return home take a look at your gear and makes piles of gear used a lot, sometimes used, and never used. Unless it was a first aid or safety item (such as a location beacon or rain jacket), if you didn’t use it, leave it out.
But if you really want to nerd out and go all in– create a gear list spreadsheet. Get your typical setup for backpacking and weigh everything. To weigh your gear, you will need to use a kitchen scale so you can measure your gear in ounces. Once you know how much each item weighs, you can begin to eliminate that weight.
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