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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hiking and Backpacking Tips: Lighten Your Load

The lighter you go the better you feel.

Reducing the load in your backpack by even just a pound can have a positive effect on your body and spirits. Your shoulders will benefit. Your hips will benefit. Your knees will benefit. And your feet especially will thank you for reducing the load that you make them to carry.


Here are some tips on how to take off that pound and many more:

1. Take only what is essential for your hike. This is not easy to follow through on. So, with every item that you consider putting into your backpack ask this question: What is the worst thing that could happen if I didn’t take this? If the answer does not include some terrible consequence, leave it out.

2. Make everything you can do double duty. If you are considering a plate and a bowl, leave out the plate. A bowl can be used for cereal, soup, drinks and anything else you might want to eat or drink. The same goes for a spoon. It can replace a fork. So leave the fork at home. But, you might say: “A fork is so light. It only weighs ounces. So, I’ll just throw it in.” Saving ounces on many items adds up quickly to saving pounds. So, goodbye fork.

Another multitask item is a candle. It can be used to produce light, help start a fire, and do some waterproofing. Beside that, it is much lighter than a lamp.

Parachute cord is one of the most versatile items that you can take. It can serve as a clothesline, a guy line for your tent or tarp, emergency shoelaces or a whole list of other things.

3. Buy light versions of items that you really need. Titanium cookware is lighter than stainless steel or even aluminum. Purchase light sleeping bags, backpacks and tents. Or consider using a tarp instead of a tent.

4. Benefit from the land. Cut down on the water that you carry by including purification tablets or a very light water filter. Of course, you must be sure that you can find water on your route.

5. Reduce the weight of containers. Reject anything that comes in a can. Take dehydrated meals.

6. Take along foods that are energy rich and have a high nutrition-to-weight ratio. Energy bars are a good example of this type of food.

Put emphasis on foods that provide longer-lasting energy. Sugary snacks will give you a burst of energy but will leave you hungry in a short time. Nuts, on the other hand provide energy over a much longer period of time. A mixture of nuts a dried fruit is ideal for energy.

Leave behind foods that are nutrition poor.


Be kind to your body parts. Lighten up while hiking and backpacking.

by Richard Davidian, Ph.D.


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