While searching for bodyweight to backpack ratios I stumbled upon this awesome article on ultralightweight backpacking. Upon discovering the recommended max load of 25% of one’s “ideal body weight,” the discovery was quite timely. In reading it, I was greatly intrigued and inspired to rethink my selection of items to carry when we head out on our “long explore.”
Take it from me, investing the time to itemize the things you have decided to add to your load really has a way of making you rethink your selection. Unlike a long car trip, having stuff “just in case” can be detrimental to the fun aspect when you have to carry it on your back up and down mountainous and rocky trails for several days. Now, take the time to weigh these items; it’s a jaw dropping exercise.
My load weighed in at 32+ pounds prior to theMan and me divvying up the shared weight items (stove, water filter, tent). I knew, even before reading the article, that I’d be in trouble if I didn’t lighten up. The most obvious was my sleeping gear: sleeping bag and thermarest (pad required due to my sleeping bag maker’s “bottomless” technique of lightening the bag weight). Together, these two items amount to 4.6 pounds (14%) of the total load. I decided to replace the bag (purchased at REI’s scratch and dent sale for $10) and invest in a lightweight warm bag. In addition, I returned the $100+ (unused) thermarest which I purchased at the beginning of the year. With any luck, the money invested in the bag would be saved in chiropractic adjustments and analgesia.
That was just the beginning. I returned home with my pretty new bag and ran upstairs for my scale. Although not the most accurate, I’d at least have an idea of how much each item in my pack weighed. Within 30 minutes, I had a small pile of items to be left behind. Along with the change in sleep gear, this small pile amounted to 7.6 pounds-not-carried-on-MY-back!
The problem was, I really wanted a few of the luxury items I’d chosen to leave behind. I started thinking out of the box; how could I take these items and still minimize my load? I decided to use my yoga notebook, instead of my journal. Yeah, the laptop would NOT be coming. I would remove the thin wire bound tablet from the cool leather case and only take that portion of the notebook. Using a similar way of thinking, I removed my Kindle from the case, thereby cutting weight but still having the ability to chip away at my reading in prep for my teacher training (India in September). As for my DSLR, although photos of the area have me really wishing I could bring it along, I never intended to bring it. Instead, I will carry my handheld point and shoot (P&S). Additionally lavish and unnecessary are Ms. G and her friend “Sunny,” a solar-powered recharging device (0.8 pounds in total). I can leave behind the Kindle, but Ms. G is definitely coming!
Potentially, I could cut further. I could leave behind my yoga mat (2″ cut from width already) but it does double as a sleep pad. On the other hand, I may try to do my light post-hike yoga on the foam pad I found in my garage. Not only is it light weight, it’s also already torn up so I won’t have to worry about damaging it by doing yoga in the backcountry on it.
I realize that this exercise in lightening up, in and of itself, could be never-ending but seeing as how I am seeming to LOVE backpacking, I want to do it right. Putting forth the effort now, will greatly reduce the effort out on the trail and make for a long and happy future in, as Pooh Bear says, going for many “long explores.”