6 Ways to Slash Your Pack-Weight For Multi-Day Hiking

Most hikers would agree that the worst part of a multi-day hike is having to carry a hefty backpack along the trail. Unfortunately, taking a pack is unavoidable if you'll be out for more than a single day, and the weight can really add up if you aren't careful. Of course, there are plenty of ways to keep your load as light as possible.   

1. Upgrade Your Gear

You wouldn't expect to pick up a ten-year-old car and find that it boasts equally good mileage ratings as the newest model. The same is true of hiking gear. Manufacturers are constantly working to cut weight from their products, so buying new pieces of camping equipment, especially when it comes to backpacks, shelters, and sleeping bags, could really lighten up your load in a big way.

2. Ditch (Most of) Your Guidebook

Leaving the guidebook at home could spell serious trouble when you're out on the trail, but that doesn't mean that you need to take the whole thing. Instead, identify the pages that you will need in order to remain safely aware of your surroundings, then photocopy them and bring only the copies.

3. Consider Tarping over Tenting

Alongside sleeping bags and backpacks, your shelter is one of the 'big three' items that make up a significant portion of your base-weight (the weight you carry without adding food and water). You can cut the weight of your shelter right down by using a tarp instead of a tent. These still provide protection from the elements, but they use less material, and many can be pitched using only your hiking poles.

4. Sweat the Small Stuff

It can be tempting to avoid making small changes; for example, the weight saved by switching from metal to plastic utensils probably doesn't seem like a big deal. However, those seemingly-insignificant changes can really add up to slash the weight of your pack, so make them wherever you can.

5. Study Up on Water

Water is one of the heaviest things that you need to carry; unfortunately, it's also the most vital, so you should never try to cut down on weight by carrying less than you need. That said, you can make sure that you study up on water-sources. As long as you have a filter or set of purification tablets, you'll be able to find your own water on the go. Just make sure to check with reliable sources that streams and rivers are still running.

6. Switch Your Boots for Trail Runners

Okay, your shoes aren't stowed in your backpack. However, you will be carrying them over every mile of your hike, so they should really be considered as part of your overall pack-weight. Boots are great if you're heading across rocky terrain because their ankle support can stop injuries from occurring if your foot starts to twist. However, boots are heavy, and you won't need them for most trails. Instead, try a pair of trail running shoes. They are lighter and more breathable than boots; you won't believe the difference once you start hiking.

Nothing can ruin a good hike like the pain of carrying too heavy a backpack, so make sure you take these tips to heart when you head out on a multi-day journey.