How to Make Your Backpack Lighter and Easier to Carry
One of the never-ending quests of any hiker is to find ways to scale down the bulk and weight of their backpacks. Lighter loads and better weight distribution helps to improve endurance, lessen fatigue, reduce the risk of strain or injury and contribute to a better-quality hike all around. Let's take a look at a few practical considerations that can help you to whittle down your supplies without making too many sacrifices along the way.
Start with the Backpack
The first thing to consider adjusting is the backpack itself. A general rule of thumb to follow is that a good backpack shouldn't weigh more than 5 pounds. While this doesn't seem like a lot, a heavy backpack itself can place unnecessary strain on the body, interfere with balance and the ability to be as agile as possible. Not only that, but a big, heavy backpack can end up being dead weight as you may be forced to leave other items behind to lighten the load.
There are many quality and durable backpacks that are made with ultra-light material and designed with optimal weight distribution in mind. Take some time to explore some of the options out there, and choose a backpack that is just big enough to meet your needs without costing you a lot of extra weight in the process.
Pack for the Occasion
Consider the type of hike that you will be making and pack accordingly. If you're not expecting to be in freezing temperatures, then you can leave some of heavier, bulkier clothes at home. If you are not planning on being in the field for more than a couple of days, then you don't need a week's worth of clothing. If you plan on doing some fishing, hunting or foraging, then you can whittle down some of your food rations. You get the point. Take time to plan out your hike, and scale up or down as necessary. You'll be surprised at how much stuff you don't really need, and all of that adds up to less weight.
Downsize Your Supplies
Remember that compact is key when choosing items to bring on your hike. This applies to the gear that you bring with as well as how you pack. Take things out of their original boxes and place them in baggies. Downsize your water filter. Replace your tent with a camping hammock. You get the idea.
A good way to assess whether or not you're packing too much fluff along with basic essentials is to lay them out in front of you, look at each one, and decide whether or not you really need those items. This also gives you the opportunity to consider replacing them with smaller and lighter alternatives as well. Remember that the more that you can do without, or the more substitutions you make can transform your backpack from a bulky, heavy nightmare into something more manageable and practical.
Finally, once you've decided on what to put inside of your backpack, it's important to arrange them so that the weight is as evenly-distributed as possible. Heavier items should be near the bottom whereas lighter ones should be near the top. This will help to take some of the workload off of your shoulders and place it near your hips where it belongs. Don't forget that you can also utilize the outside of your backpack in order to secure bulky or oblong items as well.
Take a closer look at your backpack as well as what you're putting inside. Focus on packing essential items first, and then consider what optional things to bring along. Only you can decide on how much weight you can carry, but chances are that you will be glad that you took time to pare things down before you headed out on the trail.