Having Trouble Achieving Targeted Pack Weight?


Hitting a target zone for backpacking is a common difficulty, no matter what the target weight or volume. It is even more difficult if committed to lightweight backpacking. Consider the following possible courses of action. Many are obvious, but others might  provide some new ideas. 

1.    Research those who practice lightweight or ultralight backpacking to see how they do it (e.g., gear lists, web sites, backpacking books);

2.    Bite the bullet and spend some serious backpacking bucks to buy lighter versions of your heaviest items (e.g., shelter, pack, sleeping bag, boots).

3.    Partner up with others to share selected gear and consumable items.

4.    Offer to calculate and allocate the shared group items; work it so you end up with more of the consumables that will lighten up your pack towards the end of the trip.

5.    Significantly reduce the heavier weight consumables carried (water, fuel, food); acknowledge that you are not going to die if you end up hungry and thirsty for awhile.

6.    Share your gear list with others asking for suggestions on reducing weight.

7.    Reevaluate the goals of your trip; modify if necessary to reduce weight.

8.   Examine your motivations. Can you come up with even stronger reasons for achieving a targeted weight? To assist in this endeavor, review the numerous motivations espoused by lightweight backpackers in this article: The Challenge From the Lightweight Backpacking Movement.

9.    Try packing only according to what meets your needs (not wants or desires); see how that goes and then reevaluate optional gear that is not essential for your safety or for trip goals.

10.  Do a serious analysis of your “essentials.” To assist in this, consider reviewing the following article: “Seeking Truth About the Ten Essentials.”

11. Adopt a relaxed, “If I don’t have it, I don’t need it” philosophy.

12. Review the gear taken on the last few outings, especially gear that has not been used in recent memory. Chuck out most of the unused items that have any significant weight or volume.

13. Consider expanding your comfort zone; change your thinking about the amount of discomfort with which you are willing to tolerate. To assist in this, review the article titled, “Maximizing Comfort and Minimizing Discomfort in the Wilderness

14. Evaluate gear items that will do double duty (i.e., duplication of function) to reduce both bulk and weight. Granted, these are often not the problematic items, but every ounce adds up.

15. Consider not weighing your pack at the start of a trip; eliminate the entire “target weight” concept by removing the total weight calculation from your gear lists; focus mainly on the functionality and safety needs of specific gear categories (e.g., shelter-sleeping system).

16. Give in and purchase a larger volume pack with better weight carrying capability; get in better shape to carry it. Give in only after you have tried many of the other suggestions on this list.

17. Strongly consider having someone else (e.g., a horse packer) pack in most of your gear to a base camp and day hike out from there.

Granted, this is a long list covering a wide range of suggestions. Nevertheless, it should give you a lot of ammunition to work the problem. Consider going back and circling those suggestions that have the most promise.