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Backpacking - Essentials while carrying light

Hey all!

I've recently finally got started on some real backpacking trips.

I am looking for tips on how to pack light when you have a multiday trip. Food? Layers for when it gets pretty cold at night? I have quite a bit of gear, including but not limited to; rain fly, hammock, ground cloth, inflatable sleeping pad, compactable cooking utensils/cookware, trekking poles, compactable down jacket, pack rain cover, poncho, hatchet, multipurpose knife, mylar blankets, water filter, knee braces,etc . I've done hours among hours of research for quality items that are also lightweight.

I went on my first backpacking trip this past weekend, leaving quite a few items behind, and my pack was unbelievably heavy. I didn't have room for a sleeping bag and I only brought essentials. I brought dehydrated foods and light snacks. I was miserable with how heavy my pack was. I do need to invest in a better bag that distributes weight more evenly (I got a free bag in a points exchange program through a previous employer, which I only recently discovered to be of terrible quality), but even then, it still is quite heavy.

I would really appreciate any tips you could give on gear that maybe combines several items into one, thermal gear to cut down on packing extra layers, and any other tips, hacks, or tricks you can think of that you do to keep your load light but still carry everything you need with you! I ended up having to leave my ground cloth, hatchet, and a camping blanket behind because it was too heavy and there wasn't enough room, even though I only had essentials and the bag was decently big.

Thanks a million in advance!!! 🙂 

A

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Re: Backpacking - Essentials while carrying light

I have backpacked and hiked for yearsand on nearly all trips I have never had a need for a hatchet, even when I was cooking over a campfire.  Backpacking is an exercise in safe minimalism.  Experience will help you a lot.

Without a list of specific items, it is hard to give helpfuladvice, although I am confident you can ditch the hatchet.

 

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Re: Backpacking - Essentials while carrying light

We backpack in the Rockies. We didn't bring the small hatchet, but we ended up feeling like we could have used it. Where we were, there weren't any small enough logs around a large area to use for a fire. We made it work but we found quite a few large logs that would have needed to be cut in half, at least, to be built in a fire. 

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Re: Backpacking - Essentials while carrying light

It sounds like you have way too much stuff a hatchet? Camping blanket?.    Time to go back to square one. Start with setting up a list on lighterpack.com. Fire up youtube and google and review videos and blogs covering gear and lightweight packing. Adventure Alan and Andrew Skurka have tons of blog info. Backpackinglight.com is also a wralth of knowledge

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Re: Backpacking - Essentials while carrying light

Here are two resources for information:

REI Ultralight Backpacking Checklist

Backpacking Advice

As you hike more, you'll "shakedown" the items that you can live without. 

As mentioned, a hatchet is not necessary and ridiculously heavy. You could shave a few ounces by getting a simple knife like an Opinel no.8 instead of a multitool. I've never needed a phillips head screwdriver in the backcountry... Worry about the reducing ounces/grams everywhere that you can and soon enough you'll be shaking off pounds.

Water is heavy. At 8 pounds per gallon, you need to consider water sources on the trail. Not sure what kind of filter you're using. I prefer a small water filter like the Sawyer Mini. It screws right onto a standard bottled water bottle (like Life Water). Those plastic bottles are inexpensive, easily replaced, and lightweight.

All cloth items should be packed in compression sacks. This will help with space. Don't pack extra clothes. Backpackers are called dirtbags for a reason. Yes, you might look dirty, and smell a little. That is part of the experience. 

A map, headlamp, and first aid are absolutely necessities. 

As you spend more time out "there"... and you will because it's addictive... you will get stronger too.

How To Train For Backpacking

HowTo Recover From A Hike

Hope that your next trip is a success!

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Re: Backpacking - Essentials while carrying light

The hatchet I have I'd actually a small, handheld one that's quite light.

But if you have tips on breaking up wood when you can't find the right size logs, id love to hear it!

Sawyer mini is also the one k use. I only fill a 2 liter bladder and then rely on water sources on the trail.

Returning my multitool and opting for a simple knife is a great idea, I will definitely look into doing that! 

What do you do for cold nights in a hammock? For layers, sleeping bags/blankets? Do you bring an underquilt? Do you have any tips?

Thank you! 

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Re: Backpacking - Essentials while carrying light

@ALTKey  #1 way to stay warm while you sleep is a hat (synthetic fleece or merino wool) and dry socks made of the same material 

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Re: Backpacking - Essentials while carrying light

Hi!

I think one thing that should be a game changer is a good backpack that has support and attachments to your chest and waist. Also having the down jacket and a light rain cover is enough. Depending on the season you might not need the sleeping bag and I only bring a blanket when I'm not planning on hiking for days, it becomes unnecessary and is very heavy. I personally don't carry knee braces, ground cloth (i do bring an inflatable pad) poles and i have one thermal layer that i wear under all the time, if there's a river i just try to wash it a bit every night. Hope that helps at all

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Re: Backpacking - Essentials while carrying light

At night in the Rockies, even while it's 90 during the day, gets down to 50. In a hammock, that's quite cold. I'd have a down jacket on with a rain fly put up over my hammock, several layers on, two blankets and two mylar blankets (one below and one above). I still got quite cold. Not sure how people do it! My boyfriend had thermal under clothing, shirt and pants, and a sleeping bag for 50 degree weather, and he still got quite cold.

I would love to not bring any blankets or sleeping bags and just thermal clothing, but I have yet to find something that truly keeps me warm enough on windy, 50 degree or below nights in the Rockies, while it still being 90 during the day. A ground cloth for myself is important because if there aren't any trees around, I have to pitch my hammock into a tote of bivy and the hammock should never touch the ground. So unfortunately, that one has to stay with me. I think where I am lacking (besides getting a new backpack - it has front support and a flat back, but it was lower quality and broke!) Is thermal clothing. If I can get advice on great selections for cold nights, I can cut down the amount of clothing I bring, as well as not having to bring with blankets or sleeping bags. That would cut down on a ton of weight! What do you do for cold nights in a hammock? An underquilt would be a game changer, but if imagine they can get quite heavy and possibly take up quite a bit of room? The wind going beneath the hammock makes it even colder. 

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Re: Backpacking - Essentials while carrying light

I am not overly experienced with backpacking, but have done a variety of trips over the last several years and grew up doing lots of camping/other outdoor activities. One thing that might be helpful is to make a list of bare essentials--and bare essentials for normal living vs backpacking will be very different. You want light layers so you're comfortable as the weather shifts, and I would plan to re-wear the same clothes during your trip. I always keep my clothes in a stuff sack and then use that as my pillow. 

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