Deciding what to bring on a backpacking trip is kind of like the advice your parents used to give you about filling your dish… don’t put more in your dish and you can eat – don’t take more in your backpacking trip than you need!
But how do you know what you’re going to need? Unless you have a functioning crystal ball, how on earth can you tell just exactly what it is you’re going to have a use for while backpacking through the wilderness, the mountains, the snowy ski slopes, the forest, around the lake… you get the picture.
The Real Keys To Packing For Backpacking
Reducing weight whenever possible is a key factor for backpacking particularly if you’re planning on making the long haul. What this means for the experienced backpacker is not only cutting down on unnecessary items but packing items specially constructed for the purpose of being fully utilitarian but particularly lightweight.
Backpacking shouldn’t mean back cracking after all. You may be known by your friends as someone who bends over backwards for people but that certainly doesn’t mean you have to do it because your backpack is killing you.
Backpacking Shouldn’t Be a Weighty Prospect
One way of cutting back on supplies, thereby cutting back on weight, is to pack items that can be classified as multi use. Here are some examples of items that the backpacker or sports enthusiast may have with them that can be used for more than what they were typically designed for:
- A device for signaling, a personal appearance must have, checking around obstacles can all be assisted with a hand mirror.
- Garbage, food items, and endless items in need of organization can be held and almost completely waterproofed with Ziploc bags.
- A walking stick or ski pole can also be used to check the solidity of a brush covered area or a snow bank (for avalanche properties) and – God forbid – as a splint if need be.
- Items can be hung in a tent clothes be hung, fishhooks can be fashioned, slings and bandages can be secured and numerous other uses can be found for safety pins.
- And thank goodness for duct tape because it can be used for no less than 1,000,001 things some of which include emergency repair on prescription glasses or sunglasses, wrapping around a splint, repairing boots or backpacks, a bandage… there that only leaves approximately 999,996 more uses to think of.
3-2-3 Numbers for the Backpacker to Live By
Three, two and three are the numbers to remember when it comes to lightweight backpacking because it refers to three of the most important things to have with you. Your personal tent should weigh no more than 3 pounds, your sleeping bag should weigh approximately 2 pounds and the backpack itself should probably weigh in at around 3 pounds. That is of course when the backpack is empty.
An experienced backpacker probably wants their backpack to weigh in at somewhere between 30 and 40 pounds. Remember too that one of the ways that manufacturers are making tents and backpacks later is by the use of titanium versus other metals. Just a little something to watch for.
What’s Heavy and What’s Not?
In addition to titanium being lighter than some other metals, but sturdy, there are things to avoid taking or using because something lighter can be substituted. With all of the modern technology we rely on today running mostly on batteries you would be well served by remembering that batteries can be extremely heavy.
Don’t take any more batteries with you then you need and try to take things that don’t use batteries whenever possible. Instead of a lantern that runs on batteries, consider oil lamps and/or candles. if you must bring batteries keep in mind that not only do lithium batteries last longer but they weigh about half as much as batteries classified as alkaline. Even your food can be a consideration when it comes to weight. Not all food ways the same so make sure to eat the food that is the heaviest first, thereby lightening your backpack and making the rest of the trip easier.
Remember that ounces add up to pounds. Removing things like manufacture labels and unused parts of backpacks tents and clothing may seem ridiculous because it only subtracts a couple of ounces at a time. Add all of those ounces together however and you’ll find that they can matter.
Remember too that they will weigh a lot more once they get wet if they’re not waterproof. And last but not least… God save the camper or backpacker that forgets to pack his or her Swiss Army Knife (or some reasonable facsimile thereof)!