Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Packing light

When we went backpacking last weekend, my friends said, "Dude, your pack is huge." In fact, it didn't weigh more than my friend Pinky's, but it's a large-capacity pack with a lot of pockets. Even half-empty, it looks like I'm carrying a whole lot.

Even so, I'm carrying a little more weight than I would like, and part of that weight is the pack itself. It's a 5500 cubic inch pack (90 liters) - that's expedition-sized. And it's not light even for it's class at 6 pounds, 14 ounces. Hey, I bought cheap, because I didn't want to spend too much starting out. My tent, sleeping bag, and pad together weigh less than the empty pack. Plus the pack, I start off with 13 pounds, 10 ounces, before I put any other food, water, or gear in.

So the first place to cut weight is the pack. I can easily shave three pounds off by buying a smaller, better-designed pack. Now I just have to shop around and find one I like. (No, I still haven't picked up a new day pack.) I have only a few requirements: External pockets for water bottles. Lid that doubles as a day pack. That's it, aside from requiring that the pack fits and is comfortable. Actually, I could give up on the lid if the pack itself is light enough.

The next improvement would be a lighter sleeping bag, since mine is 3 pounds 12 ounces, but that's not going to come anytime soon. I love my bag and am willing to make the weight tradeoff to carry it.

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