As a Scout leader we teach our Scouts to “Be Prepared”.. then we ask, Be prepared for what.. the reply.. “Anything”  Typically translates to lots of stuff going into the pack which means more weight.  We try to keep the packs of our Scouts down to around 25% of their body weight.  And we all know that sometimes that just is not possible.  But we can work to reducing the weight.  I have said it before.. I don’t pretend to be an Ultra Light Backpacker, but as age creeps up and the knees starting feeling each pound in my pack, I do look at shaving weight where ever I can.

So how can we do that while maintaining an appropriate level of “Preparedness”?
One way is to look at your gear with a critical eye.  Lay out everything that you take and see if there are two of anything (ok.. band aids don’t count).  If you have two of any piece of gear.  Loose one.  There is no need for a back up of any gear when backpacking.  First, you never hike alone, so chances are between at least the two of you.. you will always have a couple of any piece of gear.  So loose the redundancy.
Look at how long you are going to be out.  If it is a weekend.. ramp up your critical eye a notch.  How often do you change clothes?  Socks?  How do you cook?  What’s the weather like?  These are just a few questions to ask yourself when you look at your gear.  Then ask.. What if?  What if this happens or that happens?  Add a piece of gear you may need or can’t live without.  Your water pump for example.  Really look at your meal planning and cook ware.   Again, look at redundancy.  How many spoons do you need?  A fork or a spork?  How many knives do you carry.  A pocket knife really is enough… keep it clean.  Bowl and Plate?  Loose one.
The moral of this story is shave weight by loosing redundant gear.  You have to be willing to trust your skills and the gear you carry.  To be prepared take what you need, leave behind what you don’t and use what you take.  Preparedness starts with planning and knowledge.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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