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How To Cut Down Pack Weight While Hiking

Posted by Alex Clasper

When planning an epic hiking trip, the last thing you need is a heavy backpack weighing you down and ruining your fun. People will often go to extreme lengths to shave weight from their hiking packs, however with a little thought and planning, it doesn’t need to be that complicated. When it comes to how to cut down pack weight while hiking, the key factors are preparation and organisation. Make sure a heavy backpack doesn’t spoil your next trip with the following tips:


Repackage Food & Toiletries


When thinking about how to cut down pack weight while hiking, you’ll be amazed at how much space you can save by repackaging food and personal items. For example, rather than packing a whole bottle of suncream or toothpaste, repackage it in mini containers. This way you’re only bringing the amount you’ll actually use, rather than taking up unnecessary space with a full bottle. The same goes for food. Many snacks can be packaged into much smaller containers when removed from their original packaging. For example, trail mix can be packed down into a small plastic bag that’s easy to squeeze in amongst your other kit.


Reuse Clothes


A hiking trip isn’t the time for glamour and so don’t worry about wearing the same clothes over multiple days. It isn’t worth carrying the extra weight, for the sake of having a couple of extra outfit options. You don’t need a change of clothes for every day, just a spare set in case you get wet and need to dry off quickly and get warm. A top tip for how to cut down pack weight while hiking is to choose clothes that are moisture-wicking to keep you feeling fresh and odour-free over multiple days. You’ll also want to prioritise bringing spare socks as you’ll be spending all day on your feet and so it’s essential that your feet are dry and comfortable.


Reduce The Weight Of Your Largest Items


Where possible, choose lightweight options for your sleeping bag, mat, backpack and tent. These are your largest items and so reducing the weight of these plays a key role in how to cut down pack weight while hiking. Investing in lightweight gear will make packing a lot easier and make a big impact on the overall weight you're carrying. If you’re heading out on shorter hikes, the Red Original 30L Waterproof Backpack is made from lightweight CYCLEPET fabric that protects against the weather, whilst air flow straps keep you comfortable.

Close up of person holding a reusable water bottle in a forest whilst talking to someone else
Man hiking through snow
Close up of someone packing a backpack

Be Smart About How Much Water To Bring


It’s essential to stay hydrated when exercising, and so you certainly don’t want to skimp on how much water you bring with you. However, when considering how to cut down pack weight while hiking, you can be smart about rationing your water. If you know that there are water sources on route, and you know the exact distance to reach them, you can carry the water you need in a reusable bottle, and refill at the water source. Make sure you’ve got purifiers with you in case you need to filter the water. If you are unsure of the water sources that exist on your route, make sure you have plenty of water to accommodate this - When it comes to water, it is better to have too much than too little. Knowing how to cut down pack weight while hiking for other less essential items will free up space for carrying water.


Leave Out The Harmless Extras


When you’re packing your gear, it’s all too easy to throw in the odd lightweight extra here and there, such as a face cloth or an extra t-shirt. Whilst items like this aren’t heavy in themselves, they soon add up. That’s why, when thinking about how to cut down pack weight while hiking, it’s crucial to consider the items that you really need and leave out anything that isn’t absolutely necessary. Aside from any safety equipment, if you’re unsure whether or not you might use an item during the course of the trip, the chances are you don’t need it. In order to decide what’s essential vs what’s non-essential, it helps to lay all your kit out in piles on the floor and assess anything you can get rid of before packing. 


Evaluate After Each Trip


The final step in how to cut down pack weight while hiking that shouldn’t be overlooked is evaluating what you used and what you didn’t use. When you get home, take a few minutes to make a list of what you didn’t use vs what was essential so that you know what you can leave at home next time. Remember that the kit you need for winter hikes will vary from what you need for summer hikes. As you take more trips, you’ll get more of an idea of how to cut down pack weight while hiking by getting a clear idea of essential vs non-essential items.