Packing Lighter – Increase your Miles and Smiles

Backpacking is something that people seem to either love or hate. Those of us that love it might think of the simplicity of travel by walking, mountain sunsets and sunrises, and peaceful solitude. Those that don’t might equate backpacking with heavy packs, sore shoulders and feet, bugs, and bad food. If you’re in the love it crowd, you either forget the occasional pain and suffering, or you’ve found ways of packing lighter, eat better, and up the fun to misery ratio. Here I’ll discuss ways to lighten your pack, which is a good way to start enjoying your hikes more.

Perfect early September weather - I'll leave some 'just-in-case' items at home
Perfect early September weather in GTNP – I’ll leave some ‘just-in-case’ items at home

The Big 3
————————
Lightweight backpackers often discuss the Big 3 as the key way to lighten your load. The Big 3 are: backpack, sleeping bag & pad, and tent/shelter. Choosing light versions of these items is the easiest way to cut weight from your backpack. It’s also potentially the most expensive way to do it.

High quality down bags, for example, are built the loftiest down to create a light, packable, and warm bag. A high quality down bag costs a lot more than a bag made with synthetic insulation. A good down bag will also last longer, and is a true investment; you’ll have it for many years. Can you go backpacking with a less-expensive synthetic bag that weighs more and still have a good time? Yup.

Tents and other shelters (tarps, mainly) are another of the Big 3. Most campers and occasional backpackers use a tent. Shelter choice should be dictated by your environment more than anything else. Around here, I want something enclosed, to provide a barrier (even if only psychological) between me and wildlife. Camping in grizzly bear country with an open ended tarp is something I’m not going to do often. In other environments, I might use a tarp when I expect weather, or sleep under the stars.

Sleeping in a hammock, with a lightweight tarp is both light and comfortable. You’ll need a sleeping pad; more for insulation underneath you, not so much for padding. In fact a thin foam pad works really well for this, and such a set up costs quite a bit less than some fancy ultralight tents. If you are looking for a great lightweight backpacking tent, Big Agnes is a brand worth checking out.

Backpacks, the last of the Big 3, should match the overall weight category of your sleep system, cook system, and other items. Ultralight backpacks are great, if your load is truly ultralight. Once the load is heavy though, they’re very uncomfortable. For hikers around Jackson Hole, who might have to carry extra clothing, climbing gear, a bear canister, or other heavy supplies, usually do better with a good light internal frame backpack that can still carry a substantial load. We carry packs like the Deuter ACT Trail and Gregory that can handle an overnight or a week, as well as a trip up the Grand.

IMG_1461
Packing light in Arizona

Cooking and Eating
————————
Backcountry food can be so much more than just oatmeal and mac & cheese. Ready made dehydrated and freeze-dried meals from brands like Good To-Go and AlpineAire are easy to make, and tasty. The offerings go way beyond mac & cheese and beef stew. Alpine Aire offers some interesting choices like Himalayan Lentils and Rice, and the protein-rich Black Bart Chili. Good To-Go’s gluten free, and vegetarian or vegan offerings are distinctly worldly; the Thai Curry is a good backcountry version of the classic, their Korean Bibimbap ‘mixed-rice’ is spicy and flavorful, and Indian Vegetable Korma is savory and satisfying. All of these are easy to prepare; just add boiling water, and wait about 15 minutes.

Beyond that, you can make your own meals with a food dehydrator. It’s surprisingly easy to dehydrate foods that you love to take into the backcountry. Fruit is easy; the hardest part is just cutting it all into slices or pieces that’ll dehydrate well. Pineapple has become my favorite.

As for dinners, I recently took a long backpacking trip, and came up with some light, tasty and nutritious meals that were pretty inexpensive as well. Quinoa is one of my new favorites for the backcountry. I cooked a batch in a rice cooker, then spread it out on parchment and dried in my food dehydrator overnight. I then added dried veggies, and what could be described as a curry bullion cube. This was all put together in a freezer bag, in meal-size portions. One can then add hot water, wait about 10 minutes and eat. Another favorite was dehydrated canned chili. I know, kinda sounds gross, actually pretty good!

Beyond dehydrated foods, my go-to backpacking ingredient is couscous. You can add all sorts of ingredients, add boiling water, and eat within a few minutes. And to be honest, the water doesn’t even need to be hot. You can add cold water, let it soak for an hour, and eat. No fuel, no stove, no problem.

What all of these foods get you is lighter weight; because you’ve eliminated water from the food itself, and because you’ve reduced the amount of fuel required to cook them.

Cooking dinner in Alaska Basin. Packing light makes getting there more enjoyable.
Evening in Alaska Basin

 

Everything Else
————————
If you’re primarily going on trips up to 5 days or so, a lightweight setup is just fine. Saving weight is as much about packing the right amount of things needed as it is in having light gear. If you’re doing a single overnight hike, you don’t need to bring an 8oz tube of sunscreen, or a large tube of toothpaste. Travel size toiletries, small Nalgene bottles and GoToobs allow you pack only as much as you need. This also eliminates heavy glass bottles.

I have one SilNylon stuff sack that includes my first aid kit, headlamp, space blanket and other necessities. It’ll get me through an emergency, but is packed with a minimum of luxuries. It goes with me on day hikes and backpacking trips, and weighs about 1.5 lbs. I keep it stocked, so I know I have the basics with me, just by throwing it in my pack.

Depending on the trip, I usually keep ‘extras’ to a minimum. If it’s a social trip, I might bring extra stuff like a lantern, a kite, fishing gear, etc. But if it’s a trip where I’m trying to hike more miles, and do it quickly, I’ll forego the fun stuff, and focus on hiking. This is especially true for solo trips; in this setting, I prefer to walk all day. I sometimes find hanging out in camp by myself to be boring, so instead I spend all day walking (taking breaks throughout the day), and hiking until not too long before I’m ready to go to sleep. When I find a nice place to camp, I set up and lie down. I’m often sleeping as soon as it’s dark out.

Having the lightest possible stuff isn’t the most important. Having pretty-light stuff, and leaving out unnecessary items works well for the average backpacker wanting to hike more miles, spend more time looking at the mountains, and less time at the trail in front of their feet.

By: Andy Edwards

Read more about Andy’s adventures at outgettinglost.com

47 Responses

  1. www.smore.com
    |

    very discreet product packaging and rapid delivery.

  2. Alfredo
    |

    After that 1 pill half an hour prior to lunch or dinner with
    an 8oz glass of water or as directed by your medical professional.

  3. Fletcher Gould
    |

    I like this website its a master peace ! Glad I found this on google .

  4. website whenever
    |

    It’s the best time to make a few plans for the longer term and it’s time to be
    happy. I have read this submit and if I could I desire to suggest you some attention-grabbing issues or suggestions.
    Maybe you can write subsequent articles referring to this article.

    I wish to learn even more issues about it!

  5. home loan
    |

    Great post and right to the point. I don’t know if this is actually the
    best place to ask but do you people have any ideea where to get
    some professional writers? Thank you 🙂

  6. Lorena
    |

    Hola! I’ve been reading your blog for a long time now and finally got the bravery to
    go ahead and give you a shout out from Lubbock Texas!

    Just wanted to tell you keep up the fantastic job!

  7. reverse phone number
    |

    It’s enormous that you are getting thoughts from this article as well as from our dialogue made here.

  8. Samara
    |

    Hurrah, that’s what I was searching for, what
    a material! present here at this weblog, thanks admin of this website.

  9. Hung
    |

    I wanted to write down a quick note to appreciate you for all the awesome tips
    and tricks you are posting at this website. My prolonged internet investigation has
    now been honored with reasonable content to exchange with my family.
    I ‘d mention that we site visitors actually are definitely endowed to
    live in a notable site with very many special people with interesting ideas.
    I feel really blessed to have discovered the website and look
    forward to plenty of more thrilling moments reading
    here. Thanks a lot again for everything.

  10. Jacelyn
    |

    I have been exploring for a little bit for any high-quality articles or weblog
    posts on this sort of house . Exploring in Yahoo I at last stumbled upon this
    web site. Reading this info So i am happy to
    show that I have an incredibly excellent uncanny
    feeling I discovered exactly what I needed. I such a lot no
    doubt will make sure to don?t disregard this website and
    provides it a look regularly.

  11. Shaunte
    |

    Hello, yes this paragraph is really pleasant and I have learned lot of things from it concerning blogging.
    thanks.

  12. Loren
    |

    It’s really a nice and helpful piece of information. I’m glad that you simply shared this helpful info with us.

    Please stay us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

  13. colbeck
    |

    Hello my family member! I wish to say that this post is
    amazing, nice written and come with approximately all important infos.
    I’d like to see more posts like this.

  14. Jackson
    |

    I don’t unremarkably comment but I gotta tell thank you for the post on this
    special one :D.

  15. colbeck capital
    |

    Hi there! This article could not be written any better!

    Going through this post reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He constantly kept preaching about this. I’ll send this article to him.
    Pretty sure he’s going to have a good read. Thank you
    for sharing!

  16. Lorenza
    |

    It’s wonderful that you are getting thoughts from this piece of writing as well as from our discussion made at this
    place.

  17. I also conceive hence, perfectly indited post!

  18. www.amazon.com
    |

    The screenshots you will certainly see throughout this GSA Online search engine Ranker tutorial are extracted from
    one of our VPS-s which deals with customers’ projects mainly.

  19. games with gold czerwiec 2017
    |

    Net Leisure has invested severely in its portfolio of cell video games and can proceed to do
    so as the section grows.

  20. games with gold lipiec 2017
    |

    It is a free software and we allow everybody to use it nonetheless, we
    have now one situation.

  21. stubeblog.com
    |

    Many persons who are not used to the internet,
    or perhaps are only going through the chance to start an internet business question when it is really vital to their
    success to get a blog. Many individuals who will be
    researching ways to cut costs have discovered out how easy it really is once you buy generic.
    No matter how big or small the business enterprise is, it may be the most efficient tool for them.

  22. maglia Liverpool
    |

    After I originally left a comment I seem to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on every time a comment is added I receive four emails with the same comment.

    There has to be a way you are able to remove me from that service?

    Appreciate it!
    maglia Liverpool

  23. Easy Approval Payday Loans
    |

    The appliance course oof involves providing confiⅾentiaⅼ
    data (resembling your idеntifʏ, address, employmеnt history,
    c᧐ntact quantity, and many others.). In adcdition to being 18 years outdateɗ you need to have an honest month-to-month
    salary in order that your direct lender ϲan relү on you for thе timeⅼy disburssement
    of funds.

  24. walking war robots mod apk 1.1.0
    |

    On it you will find hundreds of hand-selected online video games that
    you could play in your mobile, pill or work intently with
    recreation builders to carry you the very newest free online games.

  25. bep tu gia re
    |

    Amazing issues here. I am very glad to peer your post.
    Thank you a lot and I’m taking a look ahead to touch you.
    Will you please drop me a e-mail?

  26. Clay Matthews Jerseys
    |

    This design is wicked! You definitely know how to keep a reader amused.
    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well,
    almost…HaHa!) Great job. I really loved what you had to say,
    and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool!

  27. Minecraft Games
    |

    Hmm is anyone else having problems with the images on this blog loading?
    I’m trying to figure out if its a problem on my end
    or if it’s the blog. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

  28. Carroll
    |

    99. Click here to get more info. 12-15 from $11.

    20 per hour.

  29. cheap jordan 2 shoes
    |

    I got what you intend, regards for putting up. Woh I am glad to find this website through google.

  30. Fitness Competition Diet
    |

    You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the best sites on the net.
    I’m going to recommend this blog!

  31. Dewitt
    |

    20 before reaching the final figure March.

  32. I really like Wholesale Jordan Dangerfield Youth Jersey and we can show you
    the details

  33. Here is our is wholesale jerseys legit Rasheed Bailey
    Jersey & cheack more details

  34. easy payday loans
    |

    Blaсk and white imɑges are clasѕic and lovely,
    and printing photographs this fasһіon mаkes them look far more exρert.
    Personalized caalendars could possibly be offered
    out as a gift or ѕold to maҝe funds for the folloѡing family membeгs occasion. No
    experience іs required for personalizing them, jhst uѕе yoսr imaginati᧐n. It’s attainaable to print it inside thhe ϲomfort
    off your residence, mut you pοsѕess a pc with an Web connection as wwell as a printer.

  35. https://kientrucac.com
    |

    An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a colleague who has been conducting a little
    homework on this. And he in fact ordered me lunch because I
    found it for him… lol. So allow me to reword
    this…. Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending
    time to talk about this issue here on your site.

  36. xem tai day
    |

    I’ve been exploring for a little for any high-quality articles or weblog posts in this kind of space .
    Exploring in Yahoo I ultimately stumbled upon this site. Studying this
    information So i’m satisfied to express that I’ve an incredibly
    good uncanny feeling I discovered exactly what I needed.
    I such a lot undoubtedly will make certain to do not put out of your mind this
    site and give it a glance regularly.

  37. Minecraft Games Online
    |

    hey there and thank you for your information – I’ve definitely picked up
    something new from right here. I did however expertise a few technical points using this web site, since
    I experienced to reload the website a lot of times previous to I
    could get it to load correctly. I had been wondering if your web hosting is OK?

    Not that I am complaining, but sluggish loading instances
    times will sometimes affect your placement in google and can damage your
    high quality score if advertising and marketing with Adwords.
    Well I’m adding this RSS to my e-mail and can look out
    for much more of your respective exciting content.

    Make sure you update this again very soon.

  38. If some one desires expert view regarding running a blog afterward
    i recommend him/her to pay a visit this webpage, Keep up the good job.

    maglia ac milan donnarumma bambini

  39. Laurel
    |

    Whеn the fan finally ends up being obstructed, you’ll ⅼose on һigh quality
    air.

  40. nv86.ru
    |

    Greetings! Very helpful advice within this article!
    It’s the little changes that will make the greatest changes.
    Thanks a lot for sharing!

  41. bep tu Nhap Khau
    |

    This is really interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger.
    I have joined your rss feed and look forward to seeking more of your
    magnificent post. Also, I have shared your web site in my social networks!

  42. Antonio Brown Jersey
    |

    I have been surfing online more than 2 hours today, yet I never
    found any interesting article like yours. It
    is pretty worth enough for me. Personally, if all site owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the internet will
    be a lot more useful than ever before.

  43. greekvirginoliveoil.com
    |

    GSA Automobile Site Submitter is the most effective directory site submitter software program today, and so is the GSA Search Engine Ranker as the very best collection and forget automated back links tool.

  44. https //openload.com /pair
    |

    claims it’s combined but nothing takes place.

  45. baby memory book woodland animals
    |

    Well, since GSA Online search engine Ranker is an automatic link building device, and uploading on such websites may fall short a great deal as a result of their meant customization and also defense.

  46. Frin
    |

    Greetings! Quick question that’s completely off topic.

    Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly?
    My weblog looks weird when browsing from my iphone4.
    I’m trying to find a theme or plugin that might be able to fix this issue.
    If you have any recommendations, please share.
    Thanks!

  47. Frif Games
    |

    Very good info. Lucky me I found your website by chance (stumbleupon).

    I have book-marked it for later!

Leave a Reply