Tuesday, July 9, 2013

How to reduce your backpack’s weight

When day hiking, you have the luxury of going light. While you still ought to carry a daypack with canteen, first-aid kit, map and compass, snack and a few other minor items, you can dispense with the heavy loads backpackers must carry so they can stay out overnight for several days.

Still, a daypack quickly can get heavy, especially if you’re responsible for several children, if you’re going a distance that will require four or five hours to complete, or if you’re heading deep into the wilds, especially one that is inhospitable.

Fortunately, there are some ways you reduce your daypacks weight:
g Bring only what is needed to be safe – The challenge here is to balance need vs. want. Always ask yourself, “Will I be okay without it, even if lost?” and “Have I used it on a past hike?” If you answer “no” to both questions, you probably can leave it home.
g Go with a lighter option – Cutting even a few ounces out of your daypack can make a big difference if walking more than couple of miles. When purchasing gear, opt for the lighter version.
g Economize, economize, economize – Rather than take foodstuffs in the air- and carton-filled packages they came in at the grocery store, repackage them in re-sealable bags. Rather than take the whole box of Band-Aids, only take a few.
g Choose items serving multiple purposes – Instead of bringing both a rain jacket and a small tarp, go with a poncho, which can be used for either staying dry or as ground cover.
g Delegate, delegate, delegate – If your children are in their teens, they’re old enough to carry some of the gear as well. Get them a daypack but don’t overload it…they probably can’t carry near as much as you.
g Cut off extra gear – A lot of times daypacks and fanny packs come with unnecessary attachments, like pockets and super long straps. If they don’t detach, consider cutting them off.

By taking these few steps, you’ll quickly reduce the weight of your daypack so that you can enjoy the hike rather than suffer the distraction of aching shoulders.

Read more about day hiking with children in the guidebook Hikes with Tykes.