Eliminating Non-Essentials (Backpacking)

This article will help you reduce your pack weight by removing non-essential items such as extra clothing and supplies. This phase will require some more real world experimentation because you’ll probably need to make some weight-safety-confidence trade offs to get that last extra 1-4 lbs out of your backpack.

Unused backpacking gear

Keep track of everything you bring along on your next backpacking trip. You may have brought along a lot of clothes and accessories, which you don’t need. These are some common examples:

  • You can buy more than one pair of socks
  • Additional underwear, pants, or a shirt
  • Pesticides weighing more than 1 oz
  • Guidebook
  • A whole tube of sun tan lotion
  • Extra food

Get rid of unused backpacking gear

You’ll probably find a few things you can instantly get rid of from your backpack after you’ve completed the experiment. You can take, for example:

Repackage trail foods and lotions

Repackaging food and ointments can help you save weight. You can reduce the amount of packaging you use for commercially dehydrated backpacking meals by transferring their contents into a ziploc freezer bag.

You should also only take as much sun tan lotion or bug dope, soap and zinc oxide as you will need during your trip. For a 3-day overnight, it is rare to exceed 1 oz.

This is best done by visiting your local REI shop, purchasing small dispensing containers and then repackaging only what you use. Instead of taking a large bottle of Purell (hand cleaner), I bring a small 1 oz. The bottle shown below will last for about three days. I refill the bottle with Purell 12 ounces when I return home. Purell, and I’m ready to go for my next adventure.

Parting thoughts

It may sound silly to others, but it really does add up. It’s not just the weight of your pack that is important. You will notice a difference in your awareness when you get rid of all the extraneous junk from your pack.

Simplification is about increasing your problem solving skills. I have spoken to many lightweight backpackers, and they all share the same desire for simplifying their lives, even if it’s only for a few days.