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Too Much or Not Enough?

by Matt Johnston

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About one hundred feet from the trailhead you begin to feel the weight of you pack and start to wonder, why is my pack so heavy? There are many people out there who try to convince you to pack as little as possible, but I am here to tell you that weight is OK. Letís not go overboard, there is a limit to what you should take on a trip, but you can also make your trip a little more enjoyable by packing some things which you might otherwise have left at home.

A friend of mine was telling me about a trip where he decided to go ultra-light. To conserve weight he even cut the handle off his toothbrush. This proved to be a big annoyance every time he wanted to brush his teeth. That was the last time he conserved weight to that degree.

Clothing is one place where you can save a lot of weight and space. Clothes may not weigh that much, but they are pretty bulky. The easiest way to make more room for clothing is to pack all your clothes in a compression stuff sack. That takes care of your space, but your weight hasnít changed. If you have a good rain jacket, it can double as a wind breaker. The jacket is already windproof and in case of bad weather you will be prepared. Rain pants are the same way. Your rain pants should already be pretty light, but if you wanted to you could wear them as a your pants while you are at your campsite. The only problem with this is that your pants may begin to wear out easier in the seat and knees. Trail clothes always get dirty, so why not wear the same ones every day? This may sound pretty disgusting, but this will save you a lot of extra smelly clothes. Wear one pair of clothes to hike in and once you get to camp change into another pair of camp clothes. This way you will always have semi-clean cleans while you are in camp. And this gives you a chance to wash or air out your trail clothes. Socks can follow this same principle. For a trip less than 2 weeks you will only need one pair of socks. Some people say that since one of the main rules of backpacking is to take care of your feet, only one pair of socks would get awfully dirty and make your boots a bacterial playground. This is why you should let your socks air out every night and you can even rinse them out by using a nearby stream.

Now that I have convinced you to leave all that extra gear at home, I will really confuse you by telling to you pack in those little goodies. Most people who take trips do it to relax and enjoy themselves out in the wilderness. If you want to relax, why would you want to be uncomfortable? In the past, people have said that sleeping pads were for city folk. Today, the majority of backpackers carry a pad with them. You will never realize how much comfort a pad can add to a nightís sleep. I am one to carry a full length pad. I do not see how people say that a ĺ length pad saves so much weight. The difference in a ĺ length and a full length thermarest staytek light is about Ĺ a pound. That extra Ĺ pound can add that extra hour of sleep. Another accessory gaining popularity is the camp chair (i.e., Crazy Creek Chair). These chairs are great to site around a campfire. They are definitely worth the weight. Shoes to wear in camp are not just a way to be more comfortable, but also to help the environment. By changing out of your boots and into tennis shoes or sandals once you get into camp, you do less damage on the ground. This also gives your feet a chance to relax and enjoy some softer soled shoes. Books, journals and card games are great ways to relax and wind down from a hard day of hiking. On some trips I have even taken a nurf football, frisbee or a travel chess game.

When you pack your gear for a trip, I say you need to weigh your options. To start out with, if you think you will use it, why not pack it? The worst thing that could happen is that you would carry it around your whole trip and never use it. But then you would know for your next trip that you donít need to pack it. Balancing your weight is a thing that you learn overtime; expect some trips to be too heavy and others to be to light.

About the Author

Matt Johnston (matt@budget-travels-tips.com) is the creator of "budget-travels-tips.com" web site.


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