One of the things I love to do as a hiker advocate, educator and ridgerunner is helping hikers eliminate unnecessary weight from their packs in shakedowns. I had the opportunity to do this the other day with a young hiker who was dead tired after four miles and ready to quit. Not only was the hiker carrying heavy items like a seven pound tent and a chair, but the backpack did not fit correctly either, and the hiker carried all the weight on the shoulders.
|Make the right choices to lighten the load|
Not cool and definitely a painful ordeal.
So what do you take out of your pack? Most hikers tend to do overkill with food, toiletries, first aid,etc. They take every part of a cook set rather than just the tools they need. Sometimes half the medicine chest is in the first aid kit. This hiker I helped had two 8 oz. fuel canisters for three days. Also many lightweight times can quickly add up to pounds. Eliminating these in rapid fashion decreases the weight and make a hike more comfortable.
So let’s take a few of the above.
Food. A good rule of thumb is approx. 1 ½ lbs. of food per day. No need for cans. Check my blog on hiker food ideas to give you nutritious meals without the weight.
Toiletries. No need for a deodorant, brush, shampoo. Ladies – you don't need make up. If you are hiking long distance, chances are great hostels and motels have shampoo and soap. A few baby wipes can make you feel refreshed in camp (but pack them out!!). I have never felt the need to take a brush or comb. Take only what you need for trail first aid.
Cooking. Many hikers take an overabundance of cooking gear to make simple meals. Honestly, all one needs for most meals is one pot and one Spork. No need for a plate, frying pan, or extra pots. And don’t forget a simple stove, like a pocket rocket version (there’s a cheap one on Amazon some have said works good) and a canister to cook. I’ve seen hikers struggle to cook meals over a fire with wet wood and go hungry. Bring a lightweight stove. Substitute a Smartwater bottle for a Nalgene bottle saves some good ounces.
Lots of heavy bags, stuff sacks etc. Simple, good quality Ziplocs make organization easy and you can see through the bags to help determine what you have. But do carry a good waterproof food bag for bear bagging. And make sure your clothing and sleeping bag are in good waterproof bags.
Electronics can get heavy. Bring only what you need. A phone in many instances can serve as a camera, music player, etc.
Check your pack. Do you REALLY need that huge book? That chair (try cutting an old blue foam pad or ridgerest and plop it next to a tree)? Leave out the heavy knife and egg container. If you don’t think you will use it, don’t bring it.
Lastly, make sure your pack fits you right. Make sure also you are using the waist belt correctly.
Just few ideas to lighten the load and make it a happy trip.