In our last post we talked about getting weight down by looking at the pack you are carrying. That is an important part of the process of getting your base weight down.. so now lets talk about ways that you can shave weight on the stuff you put in side.
1. Make lists. Make a spreadsheet or list of everything that you have. Weigh every piece of gear. Now, I am no gram weenie and the thought of looking that close at gear at first was just plain wrong, but then I noticed how quickly ounces add up.
2. Prioritize your list of needs and wants. What do you need and what do you just want to have out there. Some folks think that they need something, but then learn that it really was just a want. Look closely at your gear. One thing that I do is after each outing I dump my pack, clean and dry everything and then lay it all out. If I did not use a piece of gear I assess whether I want it in my pack or I need it my pack. A first aid kit is a need even though it may never get used (hopefully). I have found that in most cases if I did not use a piece of gear on one outing, I probably won’t use it on the next.
3. Look at your seasonal gear. I store my winter gear in a separate tub. I pull it out when needed and put it back when the weather turns. Don’t get in the habit of just keeping seasonal items in your pack. Winter tent stakes or anchors are heavier than your regular stakes. Gloves and other cold weather gear just adds un needed weight in the summer.
4. Food. Plan, Plan, Plan.. You can shave lots of weight in food. The best part of food packing is that meal after meal your pack gets lighter. Repackage your meals. Do not take any boxes, cans, or heavy wrapping. Zip lock bags work great and can reduce the size and weight of your meals. Even if you use Mountain House of other Freeze dried meals. Take them out of the original packaging. Cook it in your pot instead of the bag. Mountain House (and other brands) bags are heavy and bulky.
Plan your meals. Just because you are in Scouts does not mean that you need to cook a 3 course meal every meal of the day. Trail foods, Gorp, energy bars, breakfast bars, jerky, and peanut butter packets make a great trail lunch and will fit in 1 ziplock sandwich bag. Eat hot meals in the morning and night, but repackage them and take out the stuff you are not going to eat anyway.
5. Water. Purification tablets like the Aquamira tablets or the Katadyn tablets work great and take up little or no space in your pack. You don’t get the instant drink of water, but you do shave some significant weight. Also, ditch the Nalgene bottle. Go with a bladder or even an old Gatoraid bottle. They both are lighter and now a days.. just as durable.
Just like everything when it comes to backpacking.. planning and preparation are the key to success. You can shave weight instantly by being a better planner. Have a critical eye and accept that you can live without that one piece of gear that was bright and shiny and just would not let you run out of REI without it.
Yep.. These are lessons that I learned the hard way. I used to carry the kitchen sink because that is how I was taught. But as gear gets lighter and my body gets older, its time for the old dogs to learn new tricks and lighten up the load.
Last thought on this. After the last post, I received emails about shaving weight and some folks left comments. I really appreciate the comments and tips and tricks you all use to shave weight and have a great time out in the woods. What I do want to say, and I have said it before, that you need to hike your own hike.. you need to find what works for you and tinker with your set up.
When teaching the Scouts we give them the tips and tricks and then see what they come up with. Some of them really take that critical eye and get their weight and volume down. And those that do find they have a better time on the trail. Their pack is not constantly kicking their butts and they are fresher when they get to camp. Those that choose not to take a look at their gear..well, they do one of two things. Struggle or suck it up.
Upgrade. I know gear gets spendy. Try to upgrade one item a year. Your sleep system, your shelter, your pack, whatever. If it’s not every year, set a goal and look at the one piece of gear that will give you the highest pay off in weight savings and volume reduction and get it when you can. Then set a new goal for the next piece. Spend a few hours at your favorite outfitter and test it all out. Get in the sleeping bag, set up the tent, feel the weight and look it the item packed and set up. See what will work for you and get what you like and what will best fit your kit.
Hike your own Hike and Have a Great Scouting Day!
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