Wilderness Backpacking: Keeping Your Pack Light


Don’t carry what you don’t need.
A light pack makes a hard uphill trek a little easier. You’d be surprised how much you can lighten up your load by reassessing what you pack.

Layered Clothing – The key to keeping your pack light is hidden in the weave of your clothes. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need more than one outfit in the wilderness. You certainly aren’t going to impress anyone on the trail by having a daytime and an evening look. Two conditions you need to consider are temperature and moisture levels. One pair of pants is more than sufficient if they are convertible to shorts for hotter climates. Consider how cold it gets at night and plan appropriately. Two t-shirts, one long sleeve shirt, and a lightweight wool sweater should cover you for most situations. A lightweight water resistant jacket is a good idea even if it doesn’t look like rain. If you are carrying a camera, you can wrap your jacket around it for protection from collecting dew or knocking around in your pack. A great selection of backpacking clothes can be found at Back Country Gear Ltd. online.
Cookware- Pots and pans are largely a necessity if you want to eat something besides granola and meal bars. Pots and pans sound like a burden, but they don’t have to be. I highly recommend making the investment in lightweight high quality camp cookware. MSR has a wonderful lightweight nesting cook set that includes a 1.5- and 2-liter pots, fry pan, fitted lid, pot lifter, PackTowl, and mesh stuff sack. The pots do not have attached handles to cut down on weight and size. Instead, the single pot lifter attaches to any of the pots for easy removal from heat. The set weighs only 1 pound 10oz. and is easily carried in it’s mesh bag on a carabiner on the outside of your pack. It’s available from REI online!

Tentage- Finding the right tent is a balance between size, weight, and price. Your best bet is to go to an outdoor store and talk with a sales associate about your specific needs for shelter. Here’s some questions you should be thinking about when you plan to purchase a tent: What seasons will I be using this tent in? If you plan only to back pack in the summer, you might consider a more primitive shelter without walls. If you want to expand your adventuring options, you should probably consider a three season tent. How many people are you planning to shelter? Tents are generally rated by the number of people they hold. These range from the 1 person Microzoid by MSR for the solo adventurer to the 15 person Space Station from Mountain Hardware. How much weight are you willing to carry? Back Country Gear has a great tent comparison chart online. It lists a tent’s person capacity, weight, floor space, interior height, number of poles, price and manufacturer.

Deciding what to pack can effect your whole trip. Take your time and think through what you really need to take with you, and what you can leave behind. For further advice, I recommend talking to the helpful staff at any REI or Erehwon store.

Next post soon on the blog:  The PNW Waterproof Backpack

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