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Eight Ways To Carry Less Backpacking Gear

We’ve all heard the phrase, “It’s better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it”, but is that really true and is it at all applicable to lightweight backpacking? > Pack light, go fast.

Jack and his Hoboroll

Jack packing everything he needs in his Hoboroll. Pack Light, Go Fast!


By far the most common requests I get via email are to help lighten someone’s load (pack), which I secretly love doing. Usually they’re new to lightweight backpacking, are in the 60+lbs pack weight range and are stuck trying to trim things down. It’s easy to apply the basics principles of weighing all of your gear, reducing your “big three”, starting to pick multi-function gear, and taking less stuff. That’s usually how we get started, but for some people it seems that deciding what should stay in their pack and what can go is an almost impossible task.

Need vs. Want?

This got me thinking about how much gear you really need to carry for a successful backpacking trip? How easy is it to make the distinction between need vs. nice to have or just want? If you really knuckled down and evaluated every piece of gear that you carry, in your pack and on your person, how many items could be categorized as “nice to have” or “just in case”?

If you want to get totally zen about this you can apply to all areas of your day to day lifestyle. For example I like to pack light and travel fast when flying (example) and I’ve written many times about my minimalist approach to the things I carry every day – oops now I’m getting side tracked.

A Year of Living Without

One of the best blogs that I subscribed to is called Zen Habits and is written by Leo Babauta. If you’re not already familiar with it or subscribed, I highly recommend you go check it out. It has nothing to door with backpacking, but the information contained there is priceless and can be used in almost every situation.

I was inspired by one of Leo’s recent posts entitled “A Year of Living Without” in which he shares the outline of his experiment of go without one thing or habit for an entire month (July is coffee!) and then reflecting on whether or not he really needs that thing or habit. One thing a month for an entire year. Hmm… I wondered if I could apply that to backpacking? I think I could and maybe I even have a few times without knowing it. I gave up my cooking gear so that I could go backpacking without a stove.

Fire starting items

I’ve gone on several trips where I didn’t take any electronic devices with me, not even a camera. That actually backfired on me because I was testing some new gear and didn’t have photos to share afterward. I’m sure there are other categories of backpacking gear some of us could slim down on or go without.

Eight Ways To Carry Less Backpacking Gear

So, here are eight easy ways that I can think of to help you carry less gear or possibly whole items that you could go without:

  1. Extra bundles of paracord: You’re most likely not going to need to lash several trees together to make a survoval shelter on your three-night backpacking trip. If it’s an emergency use your shoe laces or scavange some of your tent’s guylines
  2. Spare changes of clothing: You don’t need to carrry a full change of clean clothing for each day of your trip. Trust me, you don’t
  3. Multiple ways to start a fire: I get that you want to have a backup in case your other backup doesn’t work. Pick one way of starting fire that your comfortable with and which suits the type of environment your going to be in. Tip: a mini Bic lighter will last a very long time and may be all that you ever need
  4. Multiple knives for “redundancy”: I don’t think I need to flog this dead horse. Pick a blade that can do what you need of it and use it for everything
  5. Extra batteries: If your device is rechargeable, make sure it is fully charged the day before you are due to leave. If not put new batteries in it and make those do. Cut back on the number of photos that you take, post a few less status updates of pics to Instagram
  6. Multiple repair kits – one for each area of gear: Duct tape will patch almost anything, so will GearAid’s Tenacious tape. Take one small repair kit and hope for the best
  7. Rain covers for your pack: I’m always amazed at the price of custom made pack covers. Moreover by how many people use them. Put a good quality trash bag on the insode of your pack, stuff everthing in it and you’ll never have to worry, or stop hiking for rain ever again
  8. Outrageously comprehensive first aid kits: We’re probaby not all going to see eye to eye on this one, but I willing to bet that a lot of you are carrying pieces of First Aid gear that you will never, ever have to use. Or worse yet, you are carrying items that have been in your kit for so long that they are out of date because you’ve never had to use them. Take enough to get you patched up and heading home, usually small cuts, blisters/burns, and stomach upsets

My Challenge To You

Sometimes getting your pack weight lighter isn’t about saving up your hard earned money to buy the titanium version of your favorite piece of gear or modifying it until it’s half the weight it originally was (I’m guilty). Sometimes going lighter is as simple as carrying less, or to be more specific, carrying only what you need and improvising for everything else.

So here’s my challenge to all of you. Take a look at your packing lists and see if there is one thing that you usually carry that you could give up on your next few hikes in order to determine if that item is something you truly need, or whether or it’s just a nice to have. If you’re feeling particularly brave, post a comment below describing what you’re going without and why. Maybe we’ll all follow along and check back in with a few of you to see how it went.

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  • Birch

    I always check my lighter before we go, and I went to light my stove last time, and there was no spark. What can break in a Bic? Magnesium sparker worked great. But I was so annoyed.

    I am guilty of excessive blades, but I am trying to decide what I want to carry. And to remember to empty my pocket knife out before leaving the car…

    • I’ve put my Bics and mini Bics through hell and they’ve always come out working. I’ve accidentally driven over them and they’ve still worked enough to take with me, that’s just too funny that yours broke without you knowing. In this case it was good that you had a backup!

      I’m curious to know how you’re going to approach your knife problem? Is there a favorite knife you could carry? Could you narrow it down by weight, size, functions, features, cost (of losing it)? Be happy to help you work through it.

      • runbot

        Have had Bics go bad on me too. Biggest problem is that the “wheel” that you flip with your thumb goes off track. Have lost a couple to heat when leaving them in a pack in my car. I’ve found them dry and cracked, I guess the propane just burst the frame and evaporated.
        My 2 cents on knives: Can’t beat Cold Steel for quality & price. For backpacking, I carry the Rajah II ($ 85), a 6 inch folder that could pass as a mini machete. Doesn’t come with a sheath though, so use a M4 mag pouch. On a long hike, I take the Voyager XL Tanto ($ 53) , 5.5 inch blade, folder, 7 oz.. Both could do a good job chopping.

      • Rich Bailey

        just a thought because I also am guilty of carying multiple knive but what about a utility knife and tape a couple of extra blades together so you always have a sharp blade handy

        • Carol

          Use a snap-blade utility knife. No extra blades needed.

      • Rich Bailey

        just a question for for Mr Brian Green I recently have read about a titanium hexagon wood stove at REI it is called a Vargo it weighs like 4 oz I know very expensive but it burns small twigs as fuel so you just need to find small twigs and sticks what are your thoughts on this have you used one or know much about them I would greatly appreciate any feed back you might have to offer

        • Rich, wood burning stoves like the Vargo Ti one are great, so long as you are hiking in an area where it’s possible (allowed) to gather sufficient fuel for cooking food or boiling water. You can actually make a pretty decent wood burning stove yourself for a couple of bucks and easy to find materials. Google for DIY wood gasification stoves videos and you’ll find a bunch – they are loosely based on the Bushbuddy stove.

          The other consideration that always comes up with regards to wood burning stoves is the dirt or soot that they create. You’re pots and cookware are going to get covered in soot from the burning wood, it’s unavoidable despite what people say about wood gasification stove burning clean.

          With all that said, I personally find wood burning stoves fun to use and easy to work with. Even if you plan on buying a production made titanium version, I would encourage you to tinker with making one on your own first in order to become more familiar with them and how they work. Let me know how it goes, hope this was helpful. // Brian

  • The_Jason_Meister

    I’ve just started going without the extra set of clothes. I’m going to try going with the single fire starter. I’m also thinking about going with a single map source, either GPS unit with fresh batteries our just a map and compass.

    • Jason, try going without one of those for a few trips. Evaluate how it went and then decide if you need to add it back in or if you can continue to go without. This is an exercise, if you end up deciding tat you need it, add it back. Then try something else :) Good luck.

      • Rich Bailey

        Hey Brian Green Thank You so very much on your input about the Titanium wood stove I will definitely look into making my own first I have the whisper light stove and with fuel the stove and all it weighs in at about 2 or 3 lbs so going with the other seems to drop weight and yes like you say as long as I wont get into trouble for picking up wood and I agree with the soot part THANK YOU SO VERY VERY MUCH for the inptut

  • Matthew Forsythe

    I dig your suggestions, but none (besides extra clothing) really shave off more than a pound. Unless of course, you are carrying 300 ft of paracord, firewood from the supermarket, three machetes and a kitchen cutlery set, and enough D batteries for your 1990s boombox…

    Also, I think that a first-aid kit should contain more than splinter care and tums. Backpacking is a high-adventure activity and should be treated as such. Everyone should have a SAM splint, sanitizing materials, ACE bandage, Aspirin, and an anti-histamine incase of allergy.

    If your uncomfortable with your fire-starting skills, DO NOT “save weight” by bringing one lighter instead of two. Traveling light is important, your pack should never be 60+ pounds—that is absurd. Never sacrifice safety for weight.

    I am an Eagle Scout and avid backpacker of 10-years, I have packed in hot, cold, and difficult terrain.

    • colokeith

      if you have a tent, sleeping bag and food that can be consumed without cooking (if needed) is fire really a survival essential?

      • Name

        Depending on where you are and when yes

    • Matthew, it’s not just about saving weight. That’s a great goal, but it’s not about achieving a pre-determined weight just to be able to say that you did. It’s not about sacrificing safety either, if you do then you’ve missed the point. My boombox takes AAAs now BTW ;)

      I disagree on the first aid though. I think a lot of people overpack their first aid items. Many of whom don’t know how to use half of it. Most will never have to ever use it and it will expire without them knowing. I don’t sacrifice first aid on a whim, I’ve learned what I need and I’ve based it on many years of being outdoors. I need to write something up about this in more detail – it’s gonna be a hot button topic for sure. When I do I hope you will chime in on that.

      Quick Question: Do you carry one knife or two?

      As for the need for fire, well we’re told that it’s a critical safety item. We “must be able to start a fire to survive”. When was the last time you needed to start a fire to survive? Ever? I carry just a mini Bic most of the time. All other times I carry just a flint and striker. No backups. That’s served me well for over 30 years on and off.

      Your advice is sound and I appreciate you sharing it with us. I may not agree with you 100% but I respect that you’ve learned what you need and have probably fine tuned that over the years. The bottom line is you have to do whatever feels right for you. BTW – total respect for all Eagle Scouts!

      • Sean Dziedzic

        Mathew, I think your first aid kit items are great, but you can improvise a little bit there. You can make any sort of splint with sticks(I’ve done it once), I wear a 350 paracord bracelet all the time, plenty to string together a splint. Ace bandage? How about using a sock, or for me I’d just use the hockey tape I carry. Something like aspirin or tums, carry if it makes you feel comfortable, they weigh nothing and take up no space, but refresh it occasionally. And to chime in on the fire starters, I carry a couple REI stormproof matches and a small flint/steel.

    • Rich Bailey

      well I also am an avid packer and have done many trips but I never cary a sam splint or any other splint if you need to splint use to branches and duc tape WOW amazing how much weight I just dropped so carry your 3 machetes if you like but REALLY mister eagle scout

      • Matthew Forsythe

        You’re right Rich, after reading the comments that you have posted previously, you appear to be a very experienced outdoorsman. Lol, some peoples kids.

        • Rich Bailey

          I was in the Military did some High Mountain search and rescue and try to spend as much time as I can in the woods the last trip I took was into arkansas and spent 2 weeks in the woods with my step daughter we worked on her fire stating skills and such I used a cotton ball with vaseline to help her get her first fire going the next morning I taught her how to restart the fire with nothing more than her breath and some small twigs to relight it after I let her do that for 2 days oops all cotton balls GONE now we are going to gather twigs and bark and leaves and truly make the fire bundle for tinder she made her first birds nest and had her camp fire rebuilt pretty quickly but she got it figured out nicely she has learned her knots and how to set up shelters either a tent or a tarp or building a debris hut for emergency she knows how to fish using different methods she can successfully set up different traps using what is available she can procure water in different methods the funny park we ran into a D and R man and he saw the traps and such and she told him she was learning so he showed her to set a snare trap so she knows that method so yea I do have some experience you might say

          • Jax25

            Now if there were just some punctuation in that wall of text. Yikes.

          • Rich Bailey

            sorry JAX25 did not realise I was in GRAMMAR SCHOOL

          • Play nice kids – I won’t tolerate any crap in my comments. The second strike is a ban. We’re all friends here, so keep it constructive. // Brian

    • yurnotsoeviltwin

      A SAM splint and ACE bandage aren’t necessary, those can be improvised from found and carried materials. But I agree that a first aid kit should have a few bare essentials. I carry some gauze, alcohol pads, butterfly bandages, and single-use antibiotic ointment for wound care. Duct tape pulls double duty as a repair and first aid supply.

      Pills can be handy too, and you don’t need to carry many. Antihistamines as you mention are good. I also carry some anti-diarrheal medication. I live in SoCal, so water is often scarce and diarrhea could cause very serious problems. Aspirin for heart trouble. I only carry 4 pills of each of these, plus a handful of ibuprofen.

  • coloradokeith

    Nice list! I would add the following

    Cut the water for the trail. Lots of people fill a 3 liter bladder for the hike in. That is 6.6lbs of water. If I properly hydrate before hand I can do a 5hr hike on about a liter of water. Or just stop and filter.

    Second if you walk off the trail with a full stomach or extra food you brought to much. The best way to manage is to carefully plan meals and ration. don’t bring ‘grazing’ food.

    Third sunscreen: bring a good high spf sweat proof sunscreen. Wear light weight long sleeve shirts / pants this provides bug and sun protection with no extra pack weight.

    4th reading material. I use my cell phone as gps, camera, and entrainment (kindle / ipod). If you bring a magazine tear out the adds.

    • Some great options there, thanks for sharing Keith. I have to admit that you had me laughing out loud at the “tear out the ads” suggestion. It reminded me of UL hikers that remove the manufacturer labels to save weight ;)

      • Rich Bailey

        for clothing might I suggest wind or sweat pants for at night and shorts during the day and at most 2 extra pairs of socks hopefully you can find a stream to wash them up and let 1 dry while wearing the other

    • TiffanyinTexas

      I have to second the long sleeve advice. Most people probably don’t even know what I look like because my fair Irish skin is covered from head to toe in gray. Big hat, lightweight longsleeve shirt, sun gloves, long pants, and often sunglasses. You’d think it would be hot but the sweat on the shirt evaporates and cools me off and anytime I come to a stream I soak my sleeves and gloves and it keeps me cool for a bit.

    • Rich Bailey

      just for me I use a compass and a map no phone or Iphone or GPS and for me I find it more of a challenge and alot more fun

  • I guess I could leave the solar microwave at home.

    • Those solar ovens are so stupid and slow – “stupid slow” I think Andrew Skurka would call them!

  • TiffanyinTexas

    For my next few five day sections, I’ve given up my GSI Pinnacle Pot and only have a spoon & my 2 1/2 Cup GSI Halulite cup. I’m also only carrying only 1 x 4oz container of fuel for my Snowpeak Giga stove so no coffee and eggs for breakfast anymore. Figure if I run out of fuel then I won’t starve if I miss one hot dinner.

    I’m also going to try having one longsleeve sun shirt for hiking in and one mid-weight wool shirt for sleeping in. Hopefully, I can get a sunny afternoon every so often so I can rinse out the one shirt. I can’t imagine how ripe I’m going to be.

    The next thing to give up is my rechargeable battery that I carry to recharge my GPS, Phone, & MP3 player with. I’m going to carry it on my next section but if I can keep my GPS charged up all 5 days (I have a battery pack that uses 4 AA’s for when the Lithium runs down) then I’m going to mail it back home.

    It’s just frustrating at this point because that only takes off 3 pounds. All the really big changes like getting a new pack, new sleeping bag, & doing away with the truly “camping” only stuff were done already and now its down to ounces here and there.

    • Wow Tiffany you’ve really done a great job of going without. I’m impressed and I thank you for sharing this with others so that they can be inspired to do the same.

      Ah yes, electronic devices. GPS. That’s your call I guess and probably comes down to a judgement call on comfort and personal safety. I gave up on GPS last year and have felt oddly liberated ever since. I plan ahead and set timed rally points that I know I have to make in order to let my family know where I am and how I am doing. I adjust along the way when possible. I’ve even scrounged a few emails off of others to make updates.

      It sounds as though you’ve shaved off all the big areas and are pinching ounces now. Please understand that the end goal is not a pre-determined weight, moreover it’s a simplification goal. Less stuff does mean less weight (hopefully), but it also means less to go wrong and more time to relax and enjoy your surroundings. That’s my goal these days!

  • runbot

    Go on EBAY, they sell metal holders/covers for mini-bics. I’ve really pared down my First Aid to a couple of bandaids, roll of sponge tape, celox packet & anti bacterial ointment. What do you guys think of carrying a small spool of wire, as well as paracord?

    • A metal holder for a Bic mini? Doesn’t that kinda defeat the point of keeping it light weight? I’ll have to go take a look now, you’ve piqued my interest.

      Funny, I’m in the process of pairing down my first aid kit too. It’s amazing how much trouble and anxiety this is causing me! I don’t carry spare paracord much these days. One small bundle of Lawson IronWire is all I ever need and it’s stronger, lighter, and smaller than 550. What would you use the wire for honestly? One or two tiny zip pull ties are great for emergency fixes.

      • runbot

        The mini Bic, gram or ounce, is probably the best single survival backpack tool ever devised. The cover/case Bic has is sold on EBAY for 2 for $ 10 (if you can’t find’em in your local tobacco shop). I know it adds weight, but a tool so precious needs a good protective jacket from crushing. I think the wire peaked my interest as a repair tool (saw those Alaska survival guys repair a broken canoe paddle with it). You’re right, I think a larger paracord wrist band should cover immediate needs.

      • Rich Bailey

        I was at walmart and found 300 ft of cord back near the fishing department the spool is approximately 4 inches in diameter and like 6 inches long you can tie what seems like forever with this much cordage the 1 thing with it that I have noticed is that when you cut it you need a lighter or burn source to seal the ends so take and roll of 50 or a 100 feet and it is lighter and smaller than 550 cord if that helps

        • runbot

          Am really impressed with Kevlar cord. Check out Youtube videos on it. Can be used to “saw” through PVC pipe, plastic handcuffs or paracord. xpensive on EBAY (about $ 9 for 50 feet), but worth it for a EDC kit.

          • My friends at ITS Tactical have been teaching the use of kevlar cord as a friction saw to cut through plastic handcuffs (in an illegal restraint scenario) for quite some time. They have some very good videos showing exactly how to do it. This cord is something worth carrying on you at all times. Super handy.

          • runbot

            I got some from Deals on Line & Shomer-Tec. After watching their vids, they got me stashing kvlar cord & plastic handcuff keys in my Eagle Creek money belts. Its starting to feel like I’m wearing a Batman utility belt.

  • Jesse

    I’ve stopped taking an extra set of clothes. I’m contemplating not taking my crocs….hmmm.

    • I’ve never really been one for taking a pair of camp shoes with me. Is that what you use your Crocs for? If they are for water shoes, maybe you could try going barefoot? Don’t give up everything, sounds like you’ve already made some good progress ;)

      • TiffanyinTexas

        Water shoes kinda depend on where you are going. I did a little Missouri crossing on the Eagle Rock Loop in Arkansas barefooted and that was truly miserable with all the sharp rocks….and I have hobbit feet. I keep my crocs with me now.

  • Sean Dziedzic

    I’m absolutely guilty of a couple things there! I usually take my letherman and my 8″ scuba knife with me. I’ve only used the letherman once, that 8″ scuba knife I always use in bear country, granted I may not kill a bear with it, but I’ll have a much better chance than with no knife or with a much smaller one. Also on the knife, the handle is hollow and water proof. But then with a first aid kit, all I take is a small gauze patch and some hockey tape(more like fabric so it’ll work just like a band aid) and that’s it, all I need for hiking/camping. Great post Brian, definitely getting me rethinking my pack!

  • Chad


  • Hoplite3

    What about your actual pack? I scaled down 3 pounds by switching to lighter pack. I also found that with a lighter pack, you’re forced to take less, since the pack can’t hold as much weight comfortably. Hey ColoradoKeith…you are right on!!! I used to fill up my water bladder to the top and it was killing me. I’ve since purchased a Sawyer water filter. Great investment. I plan trips and locate my water sources ahead of time. I’ve also saved weight by going with down over synthetic sleeping bag. Hope this helps someone.

    • Oh absolutely! I had mentioned at the top of my post that the biggest weight savings options are always to be had via your Big Three: Pack, sleeping bag, and shelter.

      Carrying less water is a great tip, depending on location and availability of water of course. Plan smart and carry what makes sense. I try to carry just enough water to stay properly hydrated between known water sources and have just a smidgen to spare for other needs.

      Always ask other hikers about water sources they’ve come past and make sure you have as much good/recent information as possible.

      The Sawyer Squeeze is my filter of choice too.

  • Vortex33

    We just got back from a 6 day Tonto/Rim to Rim Grand Canyon trip where our packs, complete with 3 liters of water and goofy items were, on the first day, 32 lbs. I took my Kindle (I can’t sleep without reading) and a small Thermarest pillow (the added weight worth a solid night of sleep) and my husband had a pinhole camera, film and small Gorilla tripod.

    We each carry our own maps, compass, first aid kids, knives and ways to make fire just in case we get separated. And unfortunately I really overloaded on food (I am still learning and find I cannot eat anything for breakfast so I had to pack out breakfast foods I couldn’t eat) by a pound or three. The only change of clothes we brought this time are socks and undergarments so we can swap out and wash out at the end of the day.

    This trip we cut back on clothing and jackets, first aid items that were excessive, camp shoes and the lids and extra length of strapping on our Osprey packs. Next time I would leave my sit pad (never used it once) and extra food behind.

    Overall 32 lbs sounds crazy heavy but it never felt bad. We only kept our water bladders filled the second day because we didn’t have any drinkable water sources for about 10 of the 14 miles we would be covering.

  • Audrey LaCrouix

    My huge (transitional) nylon wallet with the noisy Velcro flap weighs down the top interior pocket of my Echo; until my Butterfly Wallet arrives in the mail, I’m only carrying my driver’s license and debit card.

    • Yeah – another Butterfly Wallet convert! I saw that you took advantage of the three for two deal.

      • Audrey LaCrouix

        :) yes,Brian I bought the 3-for-2 and pretty much follow-up on your Facebook posts with more reading. I hit the jackpot with this product. Thanks!

  • Guest

    Great share. For me it simply comes for the balance between lightweight and must haves. I used to have 4 (four!) items for lighting fire, for example.
    Carrying too much water was replaced with appropriate filter. I still have a lot to do, but it is definitely much better than it used to be. I accept your challenge Brian, and will test how it is going.

  • Great share, Brian. For me it simply comes for the balance between lightweight and must haves. I used to have 4 (four!) items for lighting fire, for example. Carrying too much water was replaced with appropriate filter. I still have a lot to do, but it is definitely much better than it used to be.
    I accept your challenge, and will test how it is going.

  • Rich Bailey

    My first trip I was told the trail was dry so I carried 3 gallons of water along boy there was 24lbs and the second mistake I made was carrying a pair of jeans along wow there is another 8lbs or somewhere close my pack seemed to weigh like 500lbs I also was new to my whisper light stove I carried the 22oz fuel bottle plus a 32oz fuel bladder but I have figured out alot of weighs to drop weight I cary a windup flash light I have my water filtration system and 1 bottle 1 utility knife with a couple of extra blades I use my military cup and use a small pan to boil water I found a small screen build a fire to boil my water. I put my cereal in ziplock baggies with a measured out powder milk with a mark in my cup for water measure I use top ramen spam singles tuna singles home made beef jerky oat meal packets I go to fast food and pickup ketchup mustard sugar honey lemon juice salt and pepper for free to carry and I add 1 or 2 other seasonings to my kit for luxury I have a dehydrator that I do green onions to add to the ramen I cary a flint and steel with a small ziplock of vaselined cotton balls if I am doing a 5 day trip I double the days in cotton balls to be able to make 2 fires a day without blinking even if it is raining if you like to go light lose the tent and go to walmart get the small tarp they have in the sporting good section I bought 2 and used some 550 cord to make a bivy sack as long as weather is not poring down rain im good I still have my whisper light stove and dont even carry it

  • Brian,

    These are fantastic tips! I fully agree with your eight ways to cary less and I’ve been able to greatly reduce my pack weight over the years with these types of suggestions. Keep up the great work. I love reading your blog,


    • Thanks Dave, I’m sure there is some material in there for a future video ;)

  • Hike Ultralight

    Brian, this is an excellent list…7 and 8 especially. Pack liners are so much more effective than pack covers.

    And like you said, probably not popular but these days I only carry some Leukotape, a couple of bandaids, and maybe an alcohol wipe.

    • Popular or not, I tend to only carry enough first aid items to address basic field-treatable problems. That’s my call, others have to find their comfort level.

      • Agreed.

        I would also like to add that people need to be aware of the locales in which they are backpacking. While my first aid kit is always pretty basic, it may look a bit different if I am doing a popular section of the AT vs. off trail in a remote area of a park.

  • hotnblak

    I just got back from the black hills and was hiking with 3 former college wrestlers, it was more of death march than a hike,it hit 90 degrees, sweat was rolling and I drank 3 liters of water on one 10 mile leg. I pared and pared before I went and got my pack to 35 pounds, but there was still a shirt I didn’t wear and a dab of food left over, it seems that the big offenders are always the sleeping gear and shelter. On my next trip I am going to try just using a rain fly in lieu of a tent and go as minimal as I can on the sleeping bag. Small items such as a knife and lighter really don’t add up to that much.. We were also given bad information on the availability of water from the Visitor center , they said the creeks were dry , but there was good flow in all of them , so unfortunately we carried water in where we didn’t need to. I haven’t added it up , but the lighter you try to go , it starts costing about $10 per oz for gear.

    • I’ve never seen a price comparison like that. The cost per ounce of gear for going lighter is highly variable and depends in part on the cost of the items that you buy. I get you’re point though. The biggest weight savings to be had are always on the Big Three items: Pack, shelter, sleeping bag.

    • Jackofalltradesmasterofnone

      I just dropped all my sleeping system and got a sleeping bag liner from academy during the summer and fall and spring thats just about all i need in south texas.

  • hlynn117

    I really love your attitude. One of my favorite parts of backpacking is not having to worry about all the bullshit that can clutter normal life. I’m not trying to take less weight to prove something. It honestly makes my time outdoors easier, so I do it.

  • countryboy73

    Just got a Solo stove. Ditched my MSR Whisperlite and the fuel bottle it required for the freedom of burning free and plentiful fuel that is everywhere in my Ozark habitat. I have unlimited fuel wherever I choose to stop, and carry nothing but a small tinder kit and a flint and steel. Yeah, I know the flint and steel weighs more than a bic, but I love it, and it ALWAYS works.

  • I definitely bring too much with me on every trip, though every year I bring less and less. I think I’ll go without a flashlight next year, though. One thing I will NEVER give up is my hammock! Without that, a trip to the woods just ain’t worth it!!

    • Cut back piece by piece and see what you miss, or don’t miss I guess. Why would you leave the hammock at home – that’s crazy talk! :)

    • Dave

      Personally, I’d hang on to the light. At summer camp when I was a teen we had a medical emergency happen in our group on a river trip, which occurred at dusk, and we hightailed it to civilization. We had incandescent Maglights back then, and while crappy, I wouldn’t want to do something similar with no artificial light.

  • Wesley Smith

    I have cut down on a lot of weight and bulk. New synthetic Sierra Designs Mobile Mummy sleeping bag. Awesome for getting in and out of a hammock. I’m a hanger. New Fire Ant Ti woodburning stove with Snowpeak Ti pot and cup. I ditched my Jetboil, even though I love it. No spare pants or shirts. Just an extra pair of sock. I carry only one multi tool knife instead of carry that and a fixed blade. I went with a Sawyer Mini, hooked directly into my bladder instead of the big Katadyn Hiker Pro. I only carry a few little pieces of firestarter, a flint, and one small lighter. I’m fixing to do a 4 day, 37 mile trip. I can’t wait to test it out! I get a lot of tip from Brian’s blog. Just did the straw filled antibiotic ointment.

  • Zachary Robbins

    I concur with almost all of these good tips, although personally there’s 2 changes or modifications that I always use on trips. For me, I see no issue having 2 methods to start fire. I always have a Bic lighter, and a small box of waterproof matches. I don’t see a reason why this should be one of the 8 tips, since reducing your gear by 1 firestarter is almost negligible in weight savings. It makes a lot more sense with reducing your gear repair or first aid kits, since people can really add a lot of items to these. But adding 1 additional firestarter is minimal. I’d much rather have a little box of foolproof matches as a backup just in case, and personally, starting fires and stoves with matches is easier and sometimes safer than a lighter.

    My 2nd thought is about your extra batteries reduction. I agree bringing extra batteries is a lot of weight, but what I think is a helpful addition about batteries is try to own as many electronics that use the same type of battery. If you have a headlamp, camera, and possibly GPS, you can try to have 3 devices that all use AA or AAA batteries. When I bring backup batteries, I only bring 4 total that can be used for multiple devices. I also use lithium batteries only, no rechargeable batteries anymore. Lithium is by far the longest lasting and lightest battery, and at this point I hate rechargeables due to their weight and unreliability. Between my 3 devices, the difference between rechargeable/alkaline and lithium is around 1 lb.

  • yurnotsoeviltwin

    Fire is so crucial in a survival situation that it’s the only thing I carry redundantly, even in my SUL kit. But the redundancy, when done right, doesn’t have to add much weight. I just keep half a dozen UCO stormproof matches, a striking strip, and single petroleum-soaked cotton ball in a small ziplock inside my first aid kit. For a few extra grams, I can be confident that if s*** hits the fan I’ll be able to quickly start a fire.