Hiking is a fantastic pastime; it is relaxing, fun and a great form of exercise. But if you don’t prepare properly you could end up hauling an unnecessarily heavy bag.
If you find that your backpack is always heavier than you want it to be, use these five tips to help you pack lighter for your next hike.
Break Up The Weight
It doesn’t matter if you are going for a quick day hike or an overnight trip; either way you will need to bring a few heavy items. From water to tents, lots of items can be fairly heavy, and the best way to pack lighter is to distribute the heavy items among the group equally.
If you are hiking with a partner, ask them to carry a couple of heavy items so that neither of you has to carry too much. This is even easier in a big group as everyone only has to carry one or two heavy things, which really lightens the load!
Choose Light Equipment
If you are thinking about buying a new tent, a new sleeping bag or even a new water bottle, consider the weight of the item before making a purchase. Normally the lighter items are more expensive than the heavier ones, so it can be tempting to go for a cheaper option, but be aware that it is likely that the item will be heavier and harder to carry.
It can also be useful to buy a light backpack with wide straps, as this will reduce the weight even more (and the wide straps help to distribute the weight even more).
Be Stingy With Clothing
One of the most common mistakes that amateur hikers make is packing too many clothes. If you are going for an overnight hike it can be tempting to pack a few different outfits to wear, but in reality this is totally unnecessary. You don’t actually need a clean outfit for every new day; if you want to pack lighter it is much more practical to reuse your clothing, especially if your outfit has layering.
The ideal hiking outfit has base layers, middle layers, and an outside shell. The base layers should be leggings, vest tops, thin T-shirts, pants and socks; the middle layer should be jumpers or items with long sleeves; and the outside shell will be a coat or a jacket.
Realistically you only need to change the base layer of clothing as this will keep you clean (and you should only need to change the top two layers if they get wet or very dirty). For this reason it is best to pack spare tops and spare socks, but extra jumpers and jackets tend to be unnecessary—unless you are expecting the weather conditions to change halfway through the hike!
Lots of hikers pack more than they need as they are being overly cautious, but this means that they spend days carrying around items that don’t get used once. This adds weight to your backpack and takes up space, so next time you go on a hike make sure you only pack the items that you need to make your pack lighter.
Of course you can pack a few luxury items (such as extra food) if you want, but be aware that this will increase the weight of your backpack. If you constantly over-pack, take a good look at your pack after you get home from a trip; what did you not use that you can get rid of? Don’t keep packing things that you might need to use only once a trip.
Use Items With More Than One Purpose
Savvy hikers fill their backpacks with items that have more than one use, such as camping tools that include can openers, scissors, knifes and other useful tools. This should help to reduce the weight of your backpack so that you can pack lighter!