Not All Who Wander Are Lost: A Blog for Adventurous Women

Boots for hiking vs boots for backpacking

Posted by Jan Latham on Oct 21, 2013 5:34:00 PM

Hi Jan!
 
I’ve been looking into boots and I was checking out the Keen’s Targhee II Mid Hiker that you prefer. The guy at REI suggested I go with something a bit more stout (backpacking boot vs hiking boot) since it is a multi-day backpacking trip, rather than just a day hike. Do you have an opinion on that mindset?
 
Let me know what you think.



Hi Beth

Wow --- asking me if I have an opinion is sometimes quite dangerous --- and (surprise, surprise) I do have an opinion.

The Grand Targhee II mid hiker is actually a pretty 'stout' boot and is considered a backpacking boot and not just a hiking boot.   Unless you have some medical issues with either your feet or your ankles the lighter you can go, still maintaining support both in the ankle area and on the sole of the boot --- the better.

My preference is to have some ankle support  (so the mid height is perfect) and have a sole with at least a 1/2 shank support and thick vibram (or vibram-like) soles.  Many backpackers are good with the lower shoe-like profile of other boots that are even more lightweight.  The Keen company has actually added a great innovation to their Grand Targhee II hiking shoe  --- a tightening mechanism that holds the heel in place much better than before.  You may even want to give them a try.  

We will also be carrying 30 pounds or less which makes a difference.  Perhaps the guy at REI is not familiar with Lightweight Backpacking and is thinking heavier loads?  I've actually not heard of anyone thinking the Grand Targhee II is not a backpacking boot.  

I'd also like to interject that recently a couple of the women who have taken the Intro trip and have continued to do the Appalachian Section trips with me have gone from the heavier, full leather (really stout) boots to either the Grand Targhee or the Asolo boot that is similar.

Best scenario --- buy the boots that feel the best in the store and take some hikes in them.  If you find that for some reason you feel you need a heavier (or even a lighter) boot then REI will take them back as trade in.  

Remember --- no matter which boot you purchase to get at least 1/2 - 1 size larger than you normally buy and do purchase a pair of Superfeet (or the equivalent) to use as the inner soles.  The inner soles of even the best boot are not sufficient for comfort --- just toss 'em!  You'll love the Superfeet!

I love these kind of questions!  --- can't wait to hear more of the story.


Jan

P.S.  Just so you know, I checked with my local REI store and spoke with their 'shoe person' and she was quite surprised that you received this advice.  Their training is in line with what I also advocate --- the lighter the better (barring any medical/physical issues) and the 'stouter' boot is generally recommended only for carrying 60 pounds and/or for winter and over and even then, they still feel that you should purchase the lightest weight boot your feet can handle.  I would take this guy's advice 'with a grain of salt' though.  

Have a gear question? Ask Jan, our very own gear head!

Ten ways to lose weight from your backpack - click here

Topics: lightweight backpacking, clothing and gear, backpacking, hiking

Choosing Trekking Poles for your Next Hiking Trip

Posted by Jan Latham on Oct 9, 2013 4:43:00 PM

We are all huge fans of using trekking poles on almost any hiking, trekking or backpacking trip. They so clearly contribute to your safety (by improving your balance and stability) and health (by saving stress on your knees), plus conserve your energy by transferring some of the work to your arms and chest, that we can't imagine why anyone would choose not to use them. Yes, they may take a little getting used to and instruction is helpful when you're first starting, but that should not deter you.

But there are so many options, how do you choose the right pair?

If you're just starting out, our advice is either to purchase an inexpensive pair or borrow a pair of poles from a good friend - and then come on one of our hiking trips where you can not only learn what they are all about but the correct way to use them.  You’ll also see what others have chosen and after gaining a bit of experience, you can make a more informed decision regarding the ‘perfect’ pair of poles.

If you're ready to commit to a pair, below are a few details to pay attention to.  I have listed them in the order of what my experience has led me to believe are the most important.  I dare say that you can find these same details on most any internet site you search regarding hiking poles although they could be listed in a different order. (But mine is the correct one!) 

1.  Weight

2.  Pole adjustment mechanism

3.  Sections

4.  Material

5. Grips

6. Baskets

7. Shock Absorbers

 

 1.    Weight: 

Being the lightweight backpacker I am, this has to be at the top of my list.  The lighter the better!  Remember, you will be picking these poles up and down hundreds (or thousands) of times during your hike/backpack and weight will be an issue. 

There are several factors that influence the weight of your poles including the following: 

  • material they are made of  
  • the locking mechanisms
  • whether they have ‘shocks’ on them
  • if they have baskets
  • what the handles are made of

Each of these details will be discussed below.

 2.     Pole adjustment mechanism:

There several types of locking mechanisms for pole adjustment. My favorite for many years has been the ‘twist’ type of mechanism because it was less ‘weighty’ and was quite reliable.  Unfortunately most of the companies have turned to newer technology – currently I use what is called the lever locking mechanism.  The types of adjustment mechanisms are:

  • Lever Locking system
  • DuoLock,
  • Super Lock System
  • Stop Lock. 

All of these locking systems weigh in about the same so just make sure you understand your particular locking system and can operate it well under the conditions you will be using the poles.

 

3.   Sections:

You can get poles that separate into either 2 or 3 sections.  My preference is for a 3 section pole for hiking and backpacking which allows the poles to be more compact in it’s collapsed (or broken down) position and fits into my luggage easily for travel.  The 3- section pole is what almost all hiking/trekking/backpacking poles are.  A 2- section pole is a stronger pole and I would suggest this  if you were using your poles for mountaineering or ski-ing where there may be more stress exerted on the poles.

 

4.  Material:

The most common types of material for hiking poles is aluminum or carbon fiber.  The lighter weight material will be carbon fiber but that will be reflected in the cost of the poles as well. 

 

5.  Grips:

This is definitely a personal issue, keeping weight in mind as the top priority.  Options are:

  • Rubber, which is good in situations where you don’t want your handles to absorb water such as mountaineering or winter sports --- it also insulates the hands from cold.  Rubber is not generally recommended for warm weather hiking simply because rubber can be more abrasive to bare skin (when used for cold weather activities you are usually wearing gloves) 
  • Cork, which ends up ‘molding’ to the shape of your hand/grip.  Cork tends to not absorb moisture which can result in slippery handles if you have particularly sweaty hands.  
  • Foam, which is softer and many hikers/backpackers feel keep your hands cooler.  Foam does absorb moisture but does not become ‘sodden’ or misshapen with just hand moisture. 

 

6.  Height:

  • Make sure that the poles you purchase are for your height --- yes, some of them come in regular and tall, plus some have weight recommendations.
  • If purchasing one of the newer (and extremely lightweight) Z-type poles please make sure you understand their limits.  Many of these poles DO NOT extend for downhill hiking.  My personal opinion is that my knees really do want the extra support for those downhills so I would not choose this type of pole. 
  • If the brand you are considering has a ‘woman’s pole’ do check this out.  These poles are often shorter (decreases the weight) and have smaller hand grips (comfort) 

 

7.  Wrist straps:  Using your poles correctly is very important and having wrist straps that are adjustable are fundamental in learning to and using your poles correctly.  

  • Make sure that the wrist straps are adjustable and that you understand how to make those adjustments

 

8.  Baskets:

My suggestion for hiking/trekking/backpacking is no baskets unless you are planning on doing your trip in the snow.  If your poles come with baskets they can be easily removed and saved for a trip you may need them for. 

9.  Shock Absorbers:

This particular detail can be a bit more controversial.  They do definitely add to the weight of the poles and the vast majority of hikers/backpackers feel that the shocks do not make a difference in comfort.  In fact, poles with shock absorber can actually create a feeling of instability due to the movement of the poles and especially create that feeling in situations where you need to have good balance (rock hopping, narrow ledges, crossing streams, etc.)  My personal opinion is that they are un-necessary weight and that the small amount of give in the poles is not sufficient to make a difference in comfort.  So --- I do ‘nix’ shock absorbers. 

10.  Use:  What will you be using your poles for?  Will they be multi-use poles for both hiking and snowshoeing for instance or are they just for hiking/trekking/backpacking.  Personally I have different poles for different uses but often you can get away with using the same poles for multi activities. 

 My personal preference for poles currently is the Komperdell C3 Carbon Powerlock.  These poles fit my basic criteria, lightweight, reliable locking mechanism, good grip and collapses/separates into a size that fits into my luggage. 

Topics: lightweight backpacking, clothing and gear, hiking trips

Advice on Backpacks from AGC’s Lightweight Lady

Posted by Katie Flanagan on Jul 19, 2013 6:00:00 AM

Our resident (and self-proclaimed) outdoor gear geek, Jan Latham, is always eager answer questions and pass along purchasing advice to inquiring minds searching for pieces to add to adventure travel gear selection. One of Jan’s areas of expertise and passions is lightweight backpacking. She continuously stays abreast of new developments in the lightweight backpacking arena with a focus on women’s gear. Recently, she was asked for guidance on purchasing a new backpack. Below are her reviews on and experience with (some firsthand, some second hand) the brands and products below.

MARIPOSA Ultralightweight medium backpack with hipbelt at www.GossamerGear.com

describe the imagePROS: When these packs first came out I did not like the support system or the shoulder harness/hipbelt systems but this generation looks like those areas have been given more attention.  There is an internal frame (removable aluminum curved stays) which is good (before you used your sleeping pad as the 'frame', which I don't like that at all) and the shoulder harness and hip belt have been beefed up and look good.  It is really a great weight (27 oz) and I do find that the Gossamer Gear brand holds up and is good.  The fact that you purchase the belt separately is a good thing, therefore you can get the correct size.  

CONS: There are NO load lifters which does give me doubts about the way this pack will carry.  The lack of this feature would probably keep me from purchasing it.  

JAN’S EXPERIENCE: I have had one participant use the first generation of this pack.  Her complaint at that time was that the weight felt more on her shoulders (lifters would decrease this weight)  and although the improved aluminum stays should help some with that I know that the lack of lifters would eliminate this pack immediately for me. 

Circuit pack at www.ula-equipment.com.    

youtube review:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0C0Ah11MRjc

PROS: The weight of the pack at 39 oz is good.  I like that it has hip pockets built in.  Capacity is 4200 cc which might be a little big – it would be for me, but depending on the size/weight of your sleeping bag and tent, it could be a good size.

CONS: This pack really does 'look' good – wide hip belts, good shoulder harness.  It has a single metal stay running down the center of the back of the pack for structure.  It also uses rigid, foam padding for the back of the pack to increase comfort and structure.    

ULA Air X Backpack at www.hikelight.com

PROS: This one looks like it has the same features as the Circuit pack --- does have a carbon frame so you're not using your sleeping pad as the frame structure.  Not sure how this will carry --- no experience with it but it does have all the right features, lifters, padded shoulder harness and good hip belt.  

CONS: The capacity on this one is big at 4600 cc.  If you liked this one then I'd suggest trying the Circuit which is the same but a smaller capacity version. 

Starlite at www.hikelight.com

youtube review:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PihkAAwmNGc

PROS: I do love Six Moon Designs and think they've done a great job with re-designing gear to be both lightweight and functional.  Again, this pack is basically without structure but I do like their optional hoop stay --- it appears to be dynamically shaped (similar to the Granite Gear support system)  They also offer different belt and shoulder harness sizes and I like the weight at 30 oz (including the optional stays).describe the image

JAN’S EXPERIENCE: One of our participants used an earlier version of this pack without the hoop stays.  It put a lot of tension on the shoulders with a 30 pound load so I would definitely recommend the hoop stays. I think it’s worth a try. 

4400 Porter Pack at www.hyperlightmountaingear.com

PROS: OK, I have to say that this pack brings the 'gear geek' out in me!  It is Cuban fiber, the lightest fiber available right now, plus its waterproof so no need for a pack cover.  Has good hip belts and shoulder harness AND has some internal structure.  

CONS: I do think the 4400 will be big but not sure you can fit your stuff into the next size down, the 3400. It is most expensive but personally I'd love to give it a try!  

Golite Pinnacle Backpack at www.ultralitegear.com

youtube review older model http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vo-JS0XV8Sk

PROS: This backpack does have a 'frame sheet' type internal structure which is what Granite Gear uses as well.  Is has really good support with great transferability.

CONS: The minimal hip belt would discourage me from trying.  

JAN’s EXPERIENCE: I did have a participant who used an earlier version of this.  She did not have a problemwith the smaller hip belt and was quite happy with the pack.  

Granite Gear's Crown VC 60

http://www.granitegearstore.com/Crown-VC-60-P313C7.aspx

PROS: I like the Granite Gear suspension systems (good weight transfers) and their hip and shoulder belt/harness.    

CONS: Down side to this style --- torso is fixed so either a short or regular in women's sizes.  

JAN’S EXPERIENCE: I actually have the Crown VC one but have yet to use it --- will let you know what I think after loading it up and giving it a try.  describe the image

What to do with all of this information…

Choose 2 or 3 and order them, give them a 'try on' loaded and just send back what you don't like.  It's a hassle but that's what I end up doing too.

Jan’s Top 3

1.  Circuit Pack 

2.  Six Moons Starlite

3.  Porter Pack

Jan’s Honorable Mentions

Granite Gear Nimbus Meridian Ki

http://www.granitegearstore.com/Nimbus-Meridian-Ki-P12C64.aspx  

This is remains my favorite and the one I use. This can be used with or without the hood.  

Leopard VC 46 Ki

http://www.granitegearstore.com/Leopard-VC-46-Ki-P338C64.aspx 

 

  Ten ways to lose weight from your backpack - click here

Topics: lightweight backpacking, clothing and gear, backpacking

Sweet Dreams on the Trail Part II: Sleeping Pads for Lightweight Backpacking

Posted by Jan Latham on May 30, 2013 5:00:00 AM

Sufficient rest is a main ingredient of a safe and enjoyable hike. While sleeping on the ground may not seem enticing, a proper sleeping bag and sleeping pad can make all the difference on camping and backpacking trips. This blog is part two of two. In part one, we gave recommendations about how to select a sleeping bag and in this blog we will focus on sleeping pads.

Purpose:  Insulation and Comfort

Comfort may initially seem like the most useful function of a sleeping pad, and it does usually have the biggest effect on a good night’s sleep, but this is actually a secondary purpose of using a sleeping pad. Insulation, in terms of bodily function and survival trumps comfort in the purpose arena.

How Do Sleeping Pads Work?

Sleeping pads are your 'layer' between your body (inside your sleeping bag) and the ground or shelter floor.  Sleeping pads trap and hold a layer of dead (non-circulating) air between your body and the cold (the ground and/or shelter floor). Your body heat will gradually warm this layer and it becomes another insulating barrier. Keep in mind that any part of the sleeping bag you are compressing (while sleeping) loses all its ability to keep you warm. Underneath your body it's the pad that will keep the ground or shelter floor from sucking all that precious body heat you've built up inside you sleeping bag.  That's why you need a pad to buffer you from heat-depleting contact with the cold ground (this is known as "conductive" heat loss). The insulation property of a pad depends upon how much air it holds inside and how free that air is to circulate.

Types of Sleeping Pads

Air Pads pad1 resized 600

These pads use air for comfort and must be manually inflated. There are models that are just air filled and others that do add a bit of insulated fill and/or reflective materials to increase the warmth factor.

Pros: Comfortable and lightweight.  Air- filled pads are great for backpacking or camping in warm conditions; insulated models can be used year-round.

Cons: Can puncture, though field repairs are not difficult.

Self-inflating Pads

self inflate resized 600 These pads were originally created by Therm-a-Rest®, and offer a combination of open-cell foam insulation and air. They come equipped with a unique type air valve that, when opened, allows air to enter the pad and thus are self inflating.  It is important to blow in additional air to inflate them completely.  There are several sizes, shapes, weights and women specific models. 

Pros: Comfortable; excellent insulation; firmness is adjustable; compact

Cons: Heavier than simple foam pads and more expensive. Can be punctured or ripped (field repairs are not difficult)

Foam Pads foam resized 600

One of the original backpacking pads that feature dense foam-fill with tiny closed air cells.

Pros: Lightweight, inexpensive and durable; excellent insulators; won't absorb water.

Cons: Less comfortable.  Stiff, firm, more bulky. 

Air Mattresses

These pads are the 'king' of sleeping pads and are designed for car-camping and comfort!  Many of us use these in our own homes for those unexpected 'extra' guests we have once in a while so they are as close to a real bed as you can get and use regular sheets.  (Yes, we know they would be wonderful on some of those nights backpacking when you’re dreaming about your bed back home, but they are way too heavy for backpacking!) 

Pros: Very comfortable. Easy and quick to inflate with a hand/foot/electric pump. Suitable for car or boat camping, or as a guest bed at home.

Cons: Relatively heavy and bulky. Pump required for proper inflation. Can puncture or leak. No insulation; for mild conditions only.

 

Want some more lightweight backpacking tips?

Ten ways to lose weight from your backpack - click here

Topics: lightweight backpacking, clothing and gear, backpacking tips and trips

Choosing a tent for lightweight backpacking

Posted by Jan Latham on Feb 27, 2013 12:11:00 PM

If you're making the switch to lightweight backpacking, one of the easiest ways to decrease weight is to get a new tent. Yes, it can be hard on the wallet but it can make a big difference. describe the imageSo here are some things to consider.

When do you intend to use the tent?  It's hard to get a tent that's suitable year round in any condition but also lightweight. But if like most of us you're mainly thinking of backpacking during the spring, summer, and early fall,  you don't need the heavy duty, double wall 4 season tents. A good three-season tent can be quite lightweight.

How much do you want to pay? The hardest part is balancing the weight with the price.  Unfortunately the lightest weight tents are usually the most expensive.  That being said----any solo tent that is 3 pounds or lighter is a good tent and often you may be able to find a really good deal in a very unexpected place.  I found a Eureka Spitfire on sale at Gander Mountain one year for $50.  The tent weighs in at 2 lbs 12 oz and is a great little tent!

Be aware that occasionally the tents come in pieces.  For example, the top and the floor may be sold separately.  Not many are like this but there are a few, and when you first look at the specs, they may seem really lightweight. But in actuality there is no floor and often no rain fly so they would need to be added.

What kind of shelter do you want? Tents aren't the only option. There are basically 4 types of shelters:

  1. Tents  These have enclosed sides, floor, and a rain fly. There are 2 types of tents.  
    • Freestanding, which means they do not require stakes to set up and are 'stand alone' type shelters  These shelter are usually the easiest and fastest to set up.
    • Non-free standing which means they need to be staked out to stay erect.  These tents take a bit more 'practice' to set them up quickly.
  2. Tarps These are really just a big rectangle of fabric that you set up as a shelter.  This is actually fun to do but does take practice.  Tarps are not generally completely enclosed shelters and do not have a floor.
  3. Hammocks  Yes, they are hammocks but they are completely enclosed (with mesh), rear entries, and a rain fly.  
  4. Bivy Sacks   This is a waterproof, breathable 'tiny' tent that is just big enough for you, inside of your sleeping bag.  There is a structured part of the bivy sack that elevates the fabric from about your chest to over your head.  These structures fit closely around the sleeping bag and there is no space for gear or sitting up.

describe the image

What features do you want? There are a lot of really cool features that come with some tents.  However any feature is usually going to add weight, so a really good lightweight backpacking tent is pretty devoid of features. If the tent you end up purchasing does have extra features (such as gear lots, extra ties, extra loop, etc) you can eliminate them and reduce the packed weight of the tent.

Additional things to consider when purchasing are the following:

  • how do you get in and out
  • how much head room is there
  • same for foot room
  • make sure that you 'fit' in the tent.  Not all 1 person tents are created equal!
  • is there room for gear in the tent or is there a vestibule (this is not a necessity)
  • how easy is it to set up
  • what kind of rain fly is there
  • are there mesh panels or vented flys for ventilation to reduce condensation? Condensation is created by breathing inside the tent, which warms the air. When that warm air hits the sides of the tent, which are exposed to the chiller night air, the moisture in the air condenses out. Keeping this to a minimum reduces the moisture build up inside of your tent and keeps you and all your gear dryer. 

Below is a list of great websites and tents.  Each has a bit of a different twist on design and set up but these are definitely the lightest 1 person tents out there right now.  A couple of the websites for the tents also have other lightweight gear as well so I'll tell you from experience it's really easy to get sucked in and end up spending lots of time 'looking'! 

1.  My personal solo tent is a Tarp Tent and the model is the Contrail, weight 24.5 oz. They have another tent that I am hoping to purchase shortly----the Sublite at 19.5 oz

2.  http://www.lightheartgear.com/    A great website---business is owned by a woman who designs and makes all the stuff.  (although I think she is now into production)  Her tent, Lightheart Solo Standard, is 24.5 oz and a beautiful tent.  A bit pricy but good tent! She also has a Cuban Fiber LightHeart Solo  tent (the newest fabric on the lightweight market and usually quite expensive)  

3.  Six Moons Designs can be found at http://www.hikelight.com/shelters.html Their Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo is 23 oz . They also have a cuban fiber one at just 15 oz.  

4. REI  They carry several mainstream tents.  The following weigh in at 3 pounds or just a bit under and are excellent tents as well.  

REI quarter dome  (excellent value and can be under 3 pounds)
hubba by msr
northface Mica
NEMO (unique structure---air filled chambers are used for supports)
Big Agnes
Marmot EOS


5.  Finally----another type of shelter that many really like is the Hennessy Hammock.  These are very lightweight and only require 2 trees for set up.  You can see the Hennessy at www.rei.com  

Happy (lightweight) backpacktng!

Ten ways to lose weight from your backpack - click here

Topics: lightweight backpacking, clothing and gear

Backpacking Adventures: Thoughts on Ultralight and Lightweight Backpacking

Posted by Jan Latham on May 11, 2012 10:58:00 AM

Jan Latham, Adventures in Good Company guideI go to the mountains on backpacking adventures to enjoy natural beauty and solitude. I want to get away from houses, roads, and city life. To do this I take very little stuff with me. Stuff that gets in the way of my mountain experience. For obvious reasons Ultralight is a perfect fit for me.

  • I don't need fancy food or hot meals.
  • I don't mind if the ground is hard.
  • I don't want a big fancy tent that reminds me of the rooms I left behind.
  • Books? I never get bored. There's always too much to see and something interesting to check out in the next canyon. And I need time to think in the quiet and solitude of the mountains. Something I get precious little of in my life.
  • When I'm in the mountains, I like to cover a lot of ground. I want to see as much as I can in the limited time I have.
  • I hate being a pack mule. I like the freedom of a light pack. It allows me to go further and through more rugged terrain without suffering!
  • I sometimes hike with people that are a bit slower or not as fast as I am. Ultralight allows me to carry a little extra weight for them, and substantially reduce their pack weight. With lighter packs we can get to beautiful remote areas that would be unattainable with conventional packs.

Editor's Note: If you want to learn how to go out for a week with less than 30 pounds on your back, please join us for Introduction to Lightweight Backpacking September 16-23. Jan will also be writing blog posts on the hows of lightweight backpacking.

Topics: lightweight backpacking, backpacking tips and trips

7 weight loss tips: lightweight backpacking

Posted by Marian Marbury on Jul 14, 2011 4:34:00 PM

From Jan Latham, one of our guides whose missionin life is making sure no one goes out on one of her trips with a pack that weights more than 30 pounds:

I am passionate about lightweight backpacking. Why? It's a lot more fun and Section hiknig the Appalachian Trailcertainly less fatiquing to carry 20-30 pounds instead of 40-60. Your back, knees, and feet will be a lot happier. It's safer! By decreasing the weight on your back you decrease your chance of injury. Maybe how heavy a pack I could carry was a point of pride in my twenties, but now it is all about enjoying myself in the wilderness. And while challenge can certainly add to the experience, excessive suffering from a heavy backpack just doesn't have to be one of those challenges.

There is an ever growing amount of lightweight gear on the market. It tends to be more expensive and durability is an ongoing (but improving) issue, but investing in some of it is necessary if you're going to get the weight down. Nonethless all the tips below won't cost you anything but a bit of time. So here are some tips to help you shed weight. In your backpack, I mean.

The first 2 are about mindset, and they're really the most important.

1. Evaluate each piece of equipment for its weight and usefulness. Using equipment that has more than one use decreases weight and increases usefulness, for example, instead of taking rain gear and a wind jacket , eliminate the wind jacket since the rain gear jacket can be used for rain and for wind.

2. Let go of those 'luxury' items we have become accustomed to having in our everyday life; for example, excessive packaging, creams, and lotions or that extra pair of underwear for 'just in cases'. Make it a fun challenge to see just how much you can get rid of.

3. Check out your clothing---are the tags still attached? Cut them out. How about your equipment---extra cords, tags or hardware that is never used?Get rid of it. Likewise with items such as toothbrushes, yes---I'm going to say it! cut the handle down.

4. Get rid of all packaging on items such as toothpaste. Squeeze amount needed for the time you're going to be out into a small ziplock. The same goes for extra packaging of food items. Be sure to check out those areas that may often go un-noticed such as the cardboard core in the TP you are taking

5. Wrap about six feet of duct tape on each of your hiking poles or water bottle instead of what it comes on,

6. Place medication in a small, labeled ziplock instead of the bottle it comes in; take the cap off the top of the butane canisters if you use cannister fuel.

7. Buy a postal scale. They are inexpensive and can be purchased at office supply stores or at the post office. They weigh very small amounts down to .001 ounces with the upper end of measured weight at 3.0 pounds. Often the less something weighs the easier for us to rationalize that it won't add anything to our load. Using a postal scale defeats this rationalization process by allowing us to see exactly how all of those 'few ounces' do add up to pounds! If you've done everything I suggest, weigh it all and see just how much weight you've saved.

Some people think I'm a lightweight backpacking fanatic. And your point is...?

Topics: lightweight backpacking, clothing and gear, backpacking tips and trips