How to reduce the weight of your consumables

Water, food, and fuel are the most heavy items in your backpack. These items are called “consumables” because they can be used as you travel.

It’s amazing that so many people put so much effort into reducing their base weight and buying lighter gear. Consumable weight is often more heavy than all of your other gear. Shouldn’t every opportunity count when you go on a hike?

Common Consumables

  • Water
  • Food
  • Fuel
  • Toothpaste
  • Soap
  • Hand soap
  • Bug dope
  • Chapstick

SunscreenToilet paperWet wipesButt pasteFoot salveSpare batteriesLeukotapeDrugs/Pills

  • Sunscreen
  • Toilet paper
  • Wet wipes
  • Butt paste
  • Salve for feet
  • Spare batteries
  • Leukotape
  • Drugs/Pills

These are some ways to reduce the weight of your backpack’s consumables.


Water weighs two pounds per liter. To reduce the amount you have to carry, you can mellow at water sources and drink more.

A map can help you calculate the distance to the nearest water source. You should only carry as much water as you actually need. Keep some extra in reserve for situations (such as the desert).

You can switch from water bottles to see how much water is left. You don’t need to carry 3.5L (7 lbs.) of water in a container when you can carry 1 liter or 2 liters.


You shouldn’t take more food than you are able to eat. This is a common mistake. A backpacking trip is not going to make you starve.

You should carry high-calorie, fatty foods such as potato chips (smashed to save space), coconut milk, olive oil, coconut milk and sunflower seeds. You can reduce your food intake while still eating healthy foods.

Instead of carrying multiple portions, combine them into one box. This will reduce the packaging weight and amount of trash you need to take out.

Instead of buying heavy prepared meals, make your own meals.

Stove fuel

Instead of carrying a Jetboil, a fuel canister or an alcohol stove, a collapsible stove will be useful to cook with the wood that you find.

If you can, cook without a stove. Rehydrate food as you go along the route in a jar.

Bring Less

All creams and gels can be repackaged into smaller plastic containers or tubs to avoid carrying the full amount in their original packaging. This includes sunscreen, bug spray, water purification drops and hand sanitizers.

You can pre-cut strips of leukotape blister prevent tape and attach them with release paper.


Reduce or eliminate your use of toilet paper. Use natural materials (leaves, sticks, rocks) instead.

Use soap and water to wash yourself. This will reduce the amount of packaging you have to carry and the water weight.

All electronic devices should be replaced with USB batteries. Get rid all spare batteries of different sizes.

Full Skin, No Weight

Full skin weight or FSO, as it is sometimes known, includes the gear’s base, your clothing, and your consumables. Base weight can be a useful starting point to compare hikers. However, it is not the actual weight that matters. It is the total skin-out weight of all the gear you carry on hiking and backpacking trips. To make your FSO easier, think about how you can keep your consumables weight down.