If you look through the internet, there are a ton of packing lists and different ways to cut down on the weight that you are packing. As you hike and camp more, you will naturally cut down on the things that you bring as well. Today I want to address some easy items to take out of your pack that you really don’t need on your next adventure. I do want to emphasize that I am not saying that you can’t bring these items. If they are the luxury items that you really want for your next trip, then you do you. We also pack our fears. Some of the items that I talk about leaving at home you may not agree with or feel comfortable going without. That is ok, just go ahead and pack it. You don’t have to answer to anyone but yourself for what you bring along.
If you are trying to cut down your weight, or you are unsure whether you should bring an item on your next trip, here is a list that can lead you in the right direction. Full disclosure, I am not a lightweight or an ultra-light hiker. Base weight is important to me, but not to where I am willing to give up certain items to get to the weights that I need to make the claim of being a lightweight hiker. With this in mind I hope that you can look at this list and realize that if I am willing to leave these items at home, you really don’t need them.
Let’s get started.
✓ Extra clothes
✓ Soap/cleaning supplies
✓ Extra technology/gadgets
This is not to say that you should not bring layers. You should however only bring the layers that you are planning on wearing throughout the day. You don’t need new clothes every day, or extra clothes in case you get dirty or wet. The truth of the matter is that you are going to get dirty and/or wet throughout your adventure. Bringing extra clothes doesn’t avoid this, it just means you are carrying more weight to get dirty and wet all over again.
While clothes and layers are a huge part of your comfort, you still don’t want to have a bunch of clothes in your pack that you will never wear, or rarely wear. The prefect scenario is for all of your layers to fulfill all of your needs. I personally hike in high altitudes and layer for four seasons every hike. While this is not a system that will work for desert hike, I hike in areas that have the possibility to snow all 12 months of the year. If you don’t have this to worry about, I have good news, you can actually pack LESS clothes than I do.
Again, you are going to get dirty, you are going to get stinky. That is ok. I have found that this is difficult for some new hikers to get used to. At some point you just need to get used to the idea that you can shower when you get back to civilization, but out in the woods, you just need to embrace the dirt and grime. If you really feel that you need to clean yourself, you can always jump into a river or a lake during the day and wash yourself off. Be careful doing this however and make sure that you can get dry before the sun sets. Especially if you listened to me and didn’t pack any extra clothes (hint, hint), the clothes that you just got wet are the only ones that you have.
The water that I have in my areas are glacier fed. This means that they are still barely above freezing even in the dead of summer. Jumping in this water is a shocking experience. Especially in these instances, you want to make sure that you can get dry before nightfall. Otherwise you can just get used to the idea that you are going to be dirty. Soaps, shampoos, other cleaning products are honestly just extra weight. There are biodegradable soaps and shampoos, but these are expensive and bluntly, not worth your money.
Some people will bring wet wipes or baby wipes along on their hike to give themselves a quick “bath” at the end of the night. Just remember that you still have to pack out the now dirty, used wipes. For a weekend hiking trip especially, I would give these a pass.
This is probably the most controversial item that I am going to cover. I don’t bring a lot of technology with me when I go hiking. I know that people like to bring E-Readers, an extra GPS, multiple head lamps, the list continues. If your luxury item happens to be one of these items, then again, bring it along. This is not meant to say that you cannot bring these items. Just that you really don’t need them to have a successful hiking trip.
If you do bring these items along, I do suggest that you look at these as luxury items. What I will challenge you to do is seriously look at your gear and be willing to leave a lot of your gadgets at home. Again, I am not trying to say that you need to, but a lot of us pack items that we think that we will need. My first aid kit especially is guilty of this. There are several items that are in my first aid kit that I have never used. Hopefully I will never will, but I will probably always pack these items because of my job as a paramedic and the stuff that I see on a daily basis.
While my gadgets might be different from yours, most of us have a few extra gadgets that we bring along, that we don’t really need. The gear that we bring will always straddle the line between weight and comfort. While we want to have the ability to be comfortable in any situation that we encounter, we also can’t carry 200lbs while hiking. These items are the easiest to leave at home and help to cut down on the weight for your next adventure. While we all have our comfort items that we want to bring, we also need to be critical of the gear that we bring and be willing to leave those items at home if they just sit in our packs, weighing us down.