Love the Backcountry’s Guide to Lightweight Backpacking

Love the Backcountry’s Guide to Lightweight Backpacking

Love the Backcountry’s Guide to Lightweight Backpacking


When going backpacking many take the concept of being prepared a little too far and end up throwing everything that they think they might possibly need in their pack. Being prepared is vital but a big part of preparation is knowing exactly what you need to take with you versus what’s just nice to have. Lightweight packing is obviously important because you will need to carry all that gear in your backpack throughout the trail. Too much gear and too much weight can easily make your trip a lot harder than it has to be.

Here are our tips for packing light enough to make your time on the trail a bit easier.

Weigh Your Gear

Buy a scale and weigh all the gear that you want to take with you on the trail. As you prepare, write each piece of gear’s weight down as you weigh it to help you determine how much weight you will be taking, as well as compare the weights of similar items that you might want to replace or pick up.

Be Smart with Food

You need to plan your main meals on the trail but remember that snacks are easy to manage and eat. It’s recommended to keep snacks that contain around 125 calories or more per ounce, they will give you plenty energy out in the wild. Snacks such as peanut butter, gorp and cashews give you plenty of calories per ounce.

Don’t Pack for the End of the World

Chances are you don’t need to take everything you think you do on the trail with you. Whether you’re out for four days or four weeks, it’s more than likely that you’re thinking you need more than you really do. With proper planning, you can schedule cache drops for longer hikes to make sure that you don’t have to pack more than you absolutely need.

Use Nature When Nature Calls

For the truly extreme ultralight hiker, you can probably even get away without toilet paper on the trail. You’re not going to find any toilets out there but you’ll find plenty of smooth rocks and fallen leaves that will help you answer the call of nature.

Save Pennies While Saving Ounces

More often than not when people think “ultralight” they think ultra-pricey. There’s plenty of ultralight gear that doesn’t have to hit your wallet too hard. Shop around a bit and you’ll find the gear that works for your pocket and your pack.

Watch Your Water Weight

Water is heavy, plain and simple. The less water that you can carry with you the better. Unless you’re in the desert, keep the water supply on your back limited to two or three liters (even less if you’re around lakes and rivers) and keep a filter with you to refill as often as you can.

Keeping your pack light will work wonders on your enjoyment of the trail so, even if you’re not going for a truly ultralight experience, keep it as light as possible and see how much easier your trip will be.

Ian Campbell Ian Campbell is the founder of Love the Backcountry and a long time lover of adventure travel. When not writing about the backcountry, he can typically be found hiking, backpacking and camping in the mountains and looking to lay his head beneath as many trees as he can find.