Light backpacking tips!

Be Prepared?
Did you know, for each extra pound you add, you slow your hiking rate down?

  • For varied terrain, and a 100 lb hiker, going 10 miles
  • Each pound you add slows you down by about 1%
  • Requires more rest stops
  • Reduces the distance you can hike in a day by ~ 2%
  • Increases you chance of injury by ½%* plus blisters
  • At the end of the day, you’re tired!

Carrying a light backpack is easy.

1. Analyze your current equipment
Know the weight of everything, and create a gear list. Weighing all of your equipment is the foundation for lightening your load. The ability to visualize every item in your kit – and their weights – allows you to see the impact of gear selection on the big picture.

2. Plan according to season and weather
Carefully look at your clothing, shelter, and sleeping bag, to make sure that it’s appropriate for the season.

3. Only take what you need
Question everything. This type of activity is best done at the first troop meeting after a trek so the Scouts learn from one another. What did you take but not use? What do you really need? The best way to save weight is leave it at home! Can you find a smaller or simpler version? Can you use another item to perform the same function? That leads us to…

4. Look for items that have multiple uses.
Select multiple-use gear. The lowly bandana is likely the best example of this – there are many different uses for one so that’s potentially a lot of other items you don’t need to bring. The corollary to this is don’t bring that heavy multi-tool when you will never use all of its functions.

5. Develop your skills
Get out there and logging some trail miles provides the best foundation for reducing your pack weight. After every backpacking trip review what equipment you used and did not use. The experience you gain facing challenges, and working through them, can allow you (over a period of years, probably) to comfortably reduce weight of your equipment. Attending backpacking clinics, wilderness medicine courses, and wilderness survival programs.

6. KISS or “Keep It Simple, Scouts!”
A Scout is thrifty and simplicity could be thought of as fundamental to that. Taking less and simpler gear while making better use of your knowledge and skills (which weigh nothing) allow you to see more of the backcountry, be more rested, puts less strain on your muscles and joints. It is safer for you as you’re less likely to experience strains and sprains, and less likely to trip, stumble, or lose your balance. Tired hikers make poorer decisions so they’re more likely to get hurt.

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