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Sore shoulder, an achy back and a foul mood, these are all the symptoms of having an overloaded pack. Though stuffing your backpack with every item you can muster might sound like a good idea, once you hit the trail you’ll realise the impact this can have on both your efficiency and overall enjoyment. So here are some tips to keep your hiking pack light, so you can move fast and take in your surroundings.
Okay so we’ll begin with the most obvious tip first. If you truly want to lighten your load then it's crucial you invest in ultra-light equipment. The ultra-light hiking market has grown considerably in recent years, allowing hikers to travel lighter than ever before. By purchasing equipment that is lightweight, even if it is only a few grams, you’ll begin to whittle down the net weight of your pack.
Wet gear or clothing can add a considerable amount of weight, and you’ll notice it on those climbs. So at the end of a day or in the morning sun be sure to lay out any wet gear - a lightweight clothes line is perfect for this. Once dry, store your equipment away for the night to prevent any dew from getting into them.
If you're travelling in a group, call a pre-trip meet up to divide up the weight of shared essentials (tent, stove, food, water… etc.). It doesn’t make sense for every member to carry their own stove or tent, instead weigh each other's equipment and take the lightest model. This method will save your serious kilograms, but also promote team-work within your trail buddies as everyone has their role.
If it's coming down to grams then it helps to have a ‘critical eye’ when sifting through your equipment. For every piece of gear you are bringing, ask yourself “Can I do without that?”. The idea is not to make your trip dangerous but instead to encourage you to take only what you need and decrease your pack weight. A great example is ditching heavy tent pegs and instead using rocks to weigh down the guidelines of your tent!
So you’ve stripped your gear down the bare minimum but still want to shed more weight, well then there are a few more actions you can take to get rid of excess weight. The dark arts of weight reduction center around stripping down the unneeded components of your equipment. If you're committed to the weight-saving cause, then try cutting off straps, ditch the lid of your pack and yes, even cut your toothbrush in half. These methods may seem extreme to others, but at the end of the day you’ll be the one with the lightest pack.
With these simple, though possibly ‘over the top’, tips you can keep your pack light and your spirits high whilst on the trails. Though it’s important to remember that basic comforts, though heavy, might help boost morale at the end of a long day - so always weigh up efficiency with a dose of comfort.
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