Packing can be quite the overwhelming activity, no matter if you’re packing for an overnight hiking trip or a trip around the world. You start to think that you’re able to handle it as your journey is still some time away, and then when the date comes closer, you start to get nervous and get that nagging feeling that you will forget something essential. You may start to add things to your packing pile, which starts to become quite large and bulky.
When you finally get around and start packing, you start to worry if you’ve considered everything, and you may feel helpless, especially if you are packing for your first outdoor adventure.
Climbing mountains can be daunting enough without adding the extra weight you’ll have strapped to your back, so regardless if you’re a well-organized travel pro or a rookie, below is a list of great packing hacks to help you have the best outdoor adventure.
Only Take What You Need
This may be the most important tip you read today. You should take only what you need, not what you think you might need, or what might be useful. You can carry certain luxuries such as electronics or books, but try and not go overboard with entertainment options, and always look for the lightest version. Keep reminding yourself of this phrase while packing: “Pack everything you think you will need, then get rid of half.”
Ditch the Water Weight
Water is heavy enough as it is, so there’s no need to add any unnecessary weight with stocky thermoses or bottles. Look for soft bottle waters, which weigh barely anything but have the same functionality as metal or plastic bottles. Another option is to go with the hydration bladder route, which can hold up to six liters of water.
If you feel that you can’t let go of your water bottle, then re-use standard plastic water bottles which only weigh about 2 ounces when empty, compared to an average of 7 ounces for other bottles.
Remember that you won’t need to carry all the water you’ll be drinking during the entire day. If you do your research, you can map out streams and rivers to be found along your route so that you can refill during the day.
Wear Trail Running Shoes Instead of Hiking Boots
To shed a few pounds from your backpack, switch your hiking boots for trail running shoes. There are a lot of great options in today’s market for sturdy and durable trail running shoes that can weigh as little as 19 ounces. They are suitable for all weather conditions and are becoming the go-to shoes for hikers.
Choose a Light Tent
Extremists might want to ditch the tent altogether and just bring a tarp for shelter. A tarp won’t shield you from bugs, but it will partially protect you from rain and the wind. If you are not ready to be that extreme, then choose an ultralight tent. Some of the tents on today’s market can weigh as little as 20 ounces. Granted, you won’t have much room to move around, but you’ll be covered on all sides and protected from the elements. Another lightweight option is a bivy sack, which won’t give you any room to sit up but can weigh a mere 3 ounces.
Use Rocks as Tent Stakes
Speaking of tents, even a lightweight tent can be made heavier when you add in the tent stakes and poles. Take out some extra weight from your pack by using your trekking poles as tent poles, or invest in carbon fiber tent poles which are notably lighter. Instead of packing heavy stakes, try some titanium stakes which are super light, or really become one with nature and use rocks to secure your tent.
Pack a Microfiber Towel
Swap your bulky beach towel for a microfiber towel, which is dirt-resilient and lightweight due to its polyamide and polyester fibers. It’s a lot lighter in weight than a regular towel, plus it’s more compact, dries quicker and cleans better.
Load Up on Calorie-Dense Food
Once you’ve saved a lot of weight by packing smarter, you don’t want to add a lot of weight worth of food. Pick foods that have at least 125-150 calories per ounce, if not more. That way, two pounds of food will yield you at least 3,000 calories. Some food options are string cheese, trail mix, mac and cheese and Snickers. If you want something more filling, some companies offer freeze dried entrees, which are high in calories and surprisingly tasty.
Drop the “Just in Case.”
It’s true that something can always happen. However, you shouldn’t let that make you take some problematic packing decisions and keep you from carrying the lightest possible load. The best way to make sure your backpack is light is to leave non-essential things behind.