Over the years, backpacking has evolved on so many levels. Everything from the type of gear you carry, the food you bring, and the trips you take are becoming more demanding and extreme. Over the past fifteen or so years, backpacking has really seen a new trend: going lighter. Going lighter can mean many different things to different people. Ranging from pack weight to measuring down to the ounces in water you’ll carry, there are many reasons you want to go lighter.
Gear can be heavy – Heavy gear can make for a very long backpacking trip. It can make you uncomfortable and even possibly cause an injury. The heavy weight of all the gear on your back can really impact your muscles, joints and mental strength while out on the trail.
Take away from the experience – Gear that is too heavy can take away from your overall experience on the trail. For example, you may be focused on the weight or bulkiness of something you are carrying instead of focusing on your experience.
Slower pace – Carrying heavy gear for extending periods of time fatigues the body more quickly. This fatigue results in a natural slowing of your pace which can lead to a need for increased sustenance and potentially unfinished hikes.
There are many things that contribute to the idea of going lighter that can help to enhance your next hike.
Your brain – Your brain is a very powerful tool that should be utilized as much as possible. Learning new skills for hiking is so important. When you learn new skills you are able to carry lighter weight gear that may be a bit more complicated (knot tying skills for example) over gear that is simple and heavy.
Get more experience – Hiking in diverse environments and seasons allows you to learn more techniques. These techniques and skills will allow you to be more confident in yourself which could really help in your goal of going lighter.
Gear – Over the years gear, has gone from being very heavy to light as a feather. The way gear has been made, the fabrics it’s made out of, fabric strength, and more, are just a few examples of how gear has advanced over the years
Going backpacking is so much fun. It is something I highly recommend to anyone, but try to make sure to lighten your load some before you head out on the trail by learning new skills and selecting lighter weight options (trail runners over traditional hiking boots). Making the decision to go lighter will allow you to be safer, have more fun, hike faster, and just have an overall better experience in most situations. Taking some of these steps will hopefully allow you to get out on the trail more often and explore all that nature has to offer. What are some lightweight tips that you have? Feel free to tweet me @BenOnAdventures and connect with me on Instagram @BenOnAdventures