Hey there, trailblazers!
Isn't it ironic that in our everyday lives, we strive for convenience and comfort, yet when we're out hiking, it's like we flip the script entirely? Suddenly, simplicity becomes one of the most important things. But let's face it, our backpacks shouldn't feel like a black hole of random bits and bobs or a never-ending game of Tetris trying to fit everything in. Instead of going to either extreme with our gear selection, it's important to find balance in order to prioritise what's important to you, and what's going to weigh you down.
So, let's talk about lightening that load, shall we? Below are five trail-tested tips to dial down the weight and complexity of your gear setup.
1: Dress Smart, Pack Light
Ah, clothing—the crucial balance between staying snug and not becoming a pack mule. Pack for the weather you’ll face, not the entire range of climates on Earth. Keep it simple and split your gear into hiking and camp setups to avoid overloading. Although we all develop attachment to our tried and tested vintage hiking gear, the technology found in modern hiking clothes allow for high performance with a fraction of the weight. This means if you're wanting to save on weight, it would be worth changing up the old bulky rainproof shell and jacket for a newer puffer jacket and lightweight shell. Some fan favourites from the team are the Montane Fireball and the Enlightened Equipment Torrid for synthetic insulation and the Montane Anti-Freeze XT for down insulation.
A simple guide would be a set of warm camp clothes that are only worn at camp and a set of hiking clothes. When travelling into cold environments, a proper layering system should be considered with a base layer (thermal), a mid layer (fleece or lightweight hiking shirt depending on temperatures) and an outer layer (a windproof and waterproof shell). A tried and test example of this would be the Smartwool Merino 250 Baselayer (accompanied by the pants) coupled with the Montane Protium XT Fleece Jacket or the Montane Alpine 850 Lite Down Hoodie as the mid layer with the Montane Phase Lite Gore-tex Jacket and the Montane Pac Plus XT Waterproof Pants as an outer layer of protection. When picking a shirt if the weather is warmer then remember, stay away from cotton! A good option would be the Montane Dart T-Shirt which has odour control and moisture wicking technology.
2: Sleep Smart, Rest Better
Sleep gear can make or break a hiking trip with sleep being fundamental to recovering from a long day of hiking and tackling the days ahead. One thing to always remember is preparing for the conditions. If you are mainly a summer hiker then you don't need a 4 season mat with a high R-value. This also goes for your sleeping bag or quilt. With sleep systems being so subjective, the following advice can be incorporated into what you find comfortable rather than advice that can be applied across the board. The weight saving from a quilt can be reasonable in comparison to a sleeping bag matched at the same temperature. If you're upgrading from a synthetic sleeping bag and thinking what's the next step, a down quilt will get you the lightest setup while maintaining good comfort. The Enlightened Equipment Revelation, Neve Gear Waratah and Sea to Summit Ember all some high quality quilt options that could cut your pack weight. Although quilts are the new lightest option, if you're a big fan of the sleeping bag then there are definitely still ways to cut the weight. By buying a sleeping bag with high quality down (850fp or above) you can cut a lot of weight from your sleep setup. A team favourite is the Sea to Summit Spark (male bag) or the Sea to Summit Flame (female bag).
3: Lighten Your Cook Game
Weight-saving in the cook system? Bet that wasn't your first thought! But trust us, titanium can work wonders. A pot that doubles as a mug? Genius move to shave off some grams. Pair a titanium pot like the Toaks 650ml or the Evernew Titanium TI Mug Pot with a titanium spoon like the Toaks Long Handled Spoon and you’ve got a winning combination. As for burners, there's some hot options out there that shave even more weight like the Soto WindMaster stove which only weighs 67g when coupled with the Tri-Flex. If you want a more ‘all in one’ solution Jetboil has you covered with a range of all in one systems to fit the capacities and requirements you need.
4: Food as Fuel, Not a Feast
Oh, the food conundrum! Overpacking on munchies happens to the best of us. But canned goods and bulky fresh food weigh you down faster than you can say "trail mix." Opt for dehydrated or freeze-dried meals - they're not just light; they're like the energy boost your hiking soul craves. Some amazing options are the Backcountry range, the Radix range and the Campers Pantry range. And remember, when it comes to food, a little maths goes a long way. Calculating your food needs based on your BMR and hike intensity can keep your pack from feeling like a grocery store aisle.
5: Ditch the Extras
Sure, bringing along that foldable chair or hefty novel might seem like a cozy idea, but on the trail, every gram counts. Think twice about those creature comforts that bulk up your pack without adding real value to your journey. If these items are a MUST, then alternatives such as an e-book or sit mat could be the solution. It's important to creatively cut weight when you can! If an item is a must such as a fold out chair, then it's worth seeing if you can cut weight somewhere to allow for the little luxuries that could make a big difference in your experience. A good way to do this is set a pack weight goal that you'll be comfortable with carrying on the trail and stick to it. If you really want any extras, then find a way by saving weight elsewhere or upgrading your gear.
So, fellow adventurers, here's to a lighter load, simpler setups, and a trek that's more about the trail and less about wrestling with an overstuffed backpack!
The team at Backpacking Light Australia is here to help with getting the best fit and setup for all your outdoors adventures, If you are looking for advice or want a little more guidance on how to improve your setup, come on in to our store at 373 Little Bourke St, Melbourne VIC 3000 or contact us via email@example.com