Are you planning an upcoming backpacking trip, or looking for ways you could lighten your pack? Sometimes it's hard to know what we should and shouldn't be packing to bring with us on hiking trips. We know we want our packs to be as light as possible, but still having enough gear to make for a successful and safe trip. Sometimes getting both can be difficult, and this is when we ask ourselves - "are we packing our fears?"
When you think about the items that you need to pack, you normally think about all the items you may need in an emergency situation. You may pack 2 types of coats, or are you bringing along a 5-day first-aid kit for an overnight trip? Packing your fears leads to overpacking, which is a snowball effect. Once you overpack, you may think you need a larger bag. This in turn, adds on even more weight!
Here are a few tips we've come up with to help you lighten your pack, and consider if you are packing your fears or not:
A good example of this is using hiking poles as tent/tarp poles. Think about exactly what items you are going to use, and how you can make multiple different uses out of the gear that you already own. You can use your cooking pot (or your Bushka's Kitchen Meal Pouches) as eating bowls or drinking vessel, opposed to packing additional bowls & cups. A Bandana is another great item with so many uses like being a towel, water filter, neck protection, pot cleaner, tent drier and so much more. Using an item like this can cut down on so many items that you may deem essential, but already have the resources with you and not even know it!
You can wash on the trail if need be! This is where solid prior research comes in handy. If you know that you are going somewhere like Mount Rainier National Park where chance of rain is going to be high, you'll likely want to pack a rain jacket, but if you're going camping in Arches National Park in June, don't pack more layers than you know you'll need. Weather is a big factor when it comes to packing your clothes, so just make sure you are smart and consider exactly what the conditions will/could be when you go. Saved weight = saved energy!
Trail research is a big one for this point! Before heading out on your expedition, take into consideration your water access points are. If you're hiking along the creek, there isn't much of reason for you to be continuously carrying 3L+ of water, because you know you'll never run out. There are some points to take into mind here, like water flow levels and water quality, but overall, there are many lightweight options so you don't have to lug around tons of water. From Lifestraws, to Gravity Filters, there is something that works for everyone!
Chances are, you're not going to get hurt. Depending on the trail difficulty and your skill level, there are some items you may need compared to others. For 2 night trip, you likely won't need a whole pack of advil, or big box of bandaids. Being smart when it comes to packing your first-aid kit can be a great step at shaving a few pounds in your backpack.
We found a great blog post over at Hyperlite Mountain Gear about making your own ultralight first-aid kit. Click to read here
You can be prepared, while still trusting yourself during the gear lightening process. No one knows better about what you'll use that trip than you. Open up your fears of backpacking and think, how can I remove these fears, while lightening the weight of my backpack (figuratively and literally, we think!). Food fear on long hikes can be something people struggle with - "will I run out of food?" The chances are - no. I think we've all been on a hike where we've packed way too much food!
As you hike more, you'll become more familiar with exactly what items you'll need, how your items can become more multi-purpose, and how to plan these items out according to the conditions of your hike. All of these in turn can lead to lesser fears, and a lighter pack!