Updated: Nov 10, 2022
Trying to pack light for a hike is something that becomes more and more important the further you hike, trying to do a hike with an overly-heavy hiking pack just makes walking unnecessarily hard so here is our five keys to helping you pack light for your next hike.
1. Only bring the essentials
When starting to pack your bag you need to focus on the very essentials and what you ‘need’ rather than the things you would ‘like’ to bring with you. Avoiding the luxuries and going for only what is needed can seem a little hard at first but once you get into the rhythm of hiking you will find the experience can be much more rewarding when you need to make do with what you have.
Even when you have stripped your bag right down to the essentials you still may find it a little heavy and that's why you must also make sure that the ‘essentials’ you bring with you are also light weight. Take a hard look at what you have packed including things like toiletries, food, and clothes, even if you need these items you might want to opt for a lighter version of the same product and change your menu to something light like a dehydrated meal.
To help you do this you can crack out your scales and a spreadsheet to weigh and list everything in your pack and find those heavier items you didn't spot until you saw all the data in one place. This can dramatically bring down the overall weight of your pack and make your time out on the trail a hell of a lot more enjoyable.
2. Minimise your waste
This may sound like a little bit of a weird thing to say when talking about packing light but it's an important point that people often overlook when trying to reduce the weight of their packs. The more waste you take with you, the more you need to take home and therefore reducing your overall waste is a great idea.
Leaving stuff like plastics out in the bush is never ok so bringing every bit of rubbish home with you is a MUST but I've always personally taken the mantra of 'why bring it anyway?' By simply minimising the amount of plastic and other rubbishes like food waste you can reduce the amount of weight in your pack from the very start of your hike instead of waiting for you to eat through some of your food.
This simple tip with help you lighten up your pack and even minimise some of the space that is taken up by unnecessary food packaging you typically get with most pre-packaged or dehydrated meals.
3. Buy the lighter options
It's no secret that spending money on the lighter gear is going to help you make your pack lighter, especially if the gear you are starting with is already quite heavy. Saving small bits of weight on each item can really start to add up but can be inaccessible to some who don't have the money to splash out on brand new hiking gear.
Even if you may not have the money there are still many ways you can get your hands on some new lightweight gear for your pack such as Aldi special buys or end of season clearance at stores such as Macpac or Kathmandu.
Another way to upgrade your gear while still not going overboard on the spending is to get out your trusty spreadsheet again and find which piece of gear if it was upgraded would save you the most weight. No matter which method you choose, there is no denying that spending money is one of the key parts of trying to get your pack weight down.
4. Multipurpose is your friend
When I say that multipurpose items are your friend, I really mean it! Going for items that are not only light but serve multiple purposes can prove to provide with even bigger results than spending big on the light items because you aren't just removing weight from an item but sometimes the item itself.
A good example of this is in the choice of your cutlery, by combining your fork, knife and spoon into one and buying what most call a ‘spork’ you can simplify three items into one making for a pretty good weight and space reduction within your bag.Though this may be a simple example of what this looks like, it easily shows the affect this small change within your pack can make.
Some other examples of multipurpose gear includes getting a camping stove with a built in cooking pot so you remove the need for a separate pot or having a plate which can double as a chopping board. So when before you set off on your next hike take a look at the gear you can combine and save some weight on.
5. Share the load with others
No one said you need to carry everything on your own, hiking in the minds of most is seen as a team sport so why not get your own team together to share the load with. When you spread the weight of all the items needed for a hike over multiple people you can reduce the load on everyone significantly while also having a team by your side for when you need a little support or encouragement.
You will need to carry a little more food and little more gear but overall you will end up with less weight in each bag making your experience out on the trail a lot more enjoyable and will allow you to take a few more challenges and adventures. So next time you start thinking about going for a hiking trip maybe ask a few mates if they would like to join you before you start packing all your bags and getting ready to go for it.
So those were our five keys to packing light while hiking, these keys will hopefully help you find new ways of lightening the load and make you think about the things in your pack that are weighing you down and stopping you from becoming the best kind of hiker you can. Make sure that when you are packing you aren't leaving anything important behind you might need just for the sake of reducing the weight of your pack, doing this can unnecessarily put you and others in danger so remember to try make your pack as light as possible while still keeping everything you need.
Written by Josh Welch