Backpacking Light- Weight

Backpacking Light- Weight

Page Type Page Type: Article
Activities Activities: Hiking

Light Weight Backpacking (An Essay I Wrote for English 102)

Although most people who participate in backpacking through different
areas of the world with a heavy load of over forty-pounds for a simple overnight camping trip are comfortable and well equipped once he or she reaches their destination, the fact is that people need not overburden themselves on the trails with the unnecessary weight on their backs brought on by carrying anything more than the necessary camping essentials, because more damage is done to the person and the ground that he or she walks on, light weight alternates for backpacking gear is available, and a person gets more in tune with the land and enjoys the journey more when he or she takes only what is necessary for the backpacking trip.

The human body and the environment people live in are very fragile and delicate. When a person sets out on a backpacking trip with a load of over forty-pounds on his or her back, he or she is putting his or herself as well as the ground he or she walks on under an excessive amount of stress. The human body is not designed to carry an excessive amount of weight on its back. Over packing for a one night backpacking trip is a common cause for many injuries sustained while hiking such as: heels budding yellowish pus oozing blisters, backs developing chronic tight pains, and brain-pounding headaches. These ailments are just a few brought on by the body working too hard under a heavy load. Like the human body, the grounds on which people hike are also not always the sturdiest. This fact is especially true in the Olympic Mountains. Many popular areas of the Olympic Mountains have been deemed for re-growth because of the constant bullying of the land by inexperienced or insensible backpackers. Minimizing impact on the land is the only way to keep popular sites from being shutdown for a few years while re-growth projects take place. Minimizing impact on the terrain can easily be done by staying on marked trails and not cutting switchbacks along the way. Another easy way of being kind to the land is by carrying smaller volume backpack loads. Smaller dimensioned pack loads significantly reduce the amount of wear and tear on the land not only on the surface, but in the surroundings. A person who carries a small pack can easily maneuver through narrow trails while not disturbing the shrubbery. On the other hand, a person who carries a large pack load cannot easily make his or her way through narrow trails without breaking branches on trees and taking away from the exquisiteness of an unblemished land.

Traditional backpacking may seem like the only way to go camping and be comfortable, but times and backpacking gear has changed. A person can be very comfortable backpacking with less than twenty-five pounds of weight. This remarkable weight loss stems from light weight backpacking alternatives. The first way a person can shed weight from their gear is by trading in their cotton filled gear for fleece or synthetic down. This can be applied to things such as: clothing, headwear, camp towels and sleeping bags. Cotton soaks up water, does not dry easily and keeps a person very cold when he or she is wet. Materials such as fleece and synthetic down dry easier in cold weather and still keeps a person warm when he or she is wet. Another way a person can rid their packs of unnecessary weight is by switching their canvas rain gear or tents to lightweight nylon. Nylon can be water proof or water resistant, just like canvas. Nylon also weighs less and compresses easier, which reduces both pack weight and pack volume. There are other ways of reducing pack weight which may seem unordinary, but work very well at shaving two or three pounds of weight off of a pack. This is the method of cutting off all tags, extra straps, unnecessary pockets and liners from a persons gear and trading in their stainless steel cookware for titanium.

When a person takes lighter weight gear and only what is necessary for backpacking, he or she gets more in tune with the land and with his or herself. Instead of worrying about how far the campsite is because the pack weight is immobilizing the person, people are freer to take in the scenery and enjoy nature in its entire magnificence. When a person arrives at his or her destination after traveling with a lighter pack, he or she will be more refreshed and may even consider venturing farther than he or she originally thought possible. Lighter and smaller pack weights can help a person become one with nature instead of being against it.

People who go backpacking are usually there to escape something. Instead of backpacking with a huge amount of bulk and weight, a person should remember why he or she is there in the first place. A person does not venture out into the wilderness to fuss with his or her pack and be miserable on the way to his or her camp site. A person goes backpacking to enjoy his or herself, be at peace with his or herself, and to be one with the beauty of the land.
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Viewing: 1-6 of 6

high_octane - May 5, 2006 9:36 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Spaces, please?

sorry about that, if this isn't better tell me and i'll fix it again

Jeroen Vels

Jeroen Vels - May 9, 2006 11:09 am - Hasn't voted

Very usefull

I love the Thanks for sharing.


high_octane - May 9, 2006 7:09 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Very usefull

No problem, glad I could be of help to you.


JasonH - May 12, 2006 12:12 am - Voted 9/10

Good artical

My buddy and I were on the John Muir Trail last summer. And we got a chuckle every time we saw someone with their 50 pound pack with a folding chair straped to the side of it. They would always say "How much father to......".


high_octane - May 13, 2006 10:43 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Good artical

thanks for the comment. this article hits close to home for me as well. i can be out for a week with under 30 pounds and still have a blast. i miss sacramento


NewDayRising - Jun 10, 2007 4:27 am - Hasn't voted

reducing weight

you made some good suggestions on reducing pack weight. im sure this article was not meant to be all encompassing, but you left out the major weight reduction techniques: reduce the weight of your 3 most heaviest items- your pack, sleeping bag, and shelter. all these items you can get down to 1lb each, by using an ultralight pack, down quilt, and tarp. In addition, finding multiple uses for the same item. a poncho tarp can be used as raingear and also a shelter. carry less water if there are abundant water sources, sleep in your clothes and carry a lighter sleeping bag/quilt, use trail runners instead of heavy hiking boots, homemade alcohol stove/cannister stove instead of white gas, customize your gear to fit you, many more techniques... backpackinglight is also a good site.

Viewing: 1-6 of 6



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