Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Five Favorite Weight-Saving Tips

I doubt anyone sets out to carry as much weight as possible on a backpacking trip. Wouldn’t you rather carry less weight on your back while still being able to be functional? Who wants to carry fifty plus pounds on their back while backpacking? You will probably be exhausted at the end of the day and just too tired to enjoy any aspect of the trip.

If you are like me, you research time-saving, space-saving, and other ideas to make your trip more enjoyable. For me, the easiest way to make my trip more enjoyable is not necessarily to take less stuff, but to find ways to take less weight. With a lighter pack, I am able to enjoy the scenery around me, take fewer breaks and I have more energy at the end of the day than I used to.

We all have our favorite sleeping gear, cold-weather clothes, and our favorite hammock so it may be difficult to lighten the loads in these areas without spending more cash, but there are many ways to lighten your load without spending a lot of money. Here are my five favorite tips to that might help to lighten your load just a little bit. I hope you can use these tips and I assure you that your back and your knees will appreciate every ounce you can remove from your pack.

From your personal Kit
·         Toothpaste pods instead of tubes
Ounces saved:  3oz 

Toothpaste can be a bulky item as well as heavy. The tube I have to take weighs 3 1/8 oz. I have tried the “travel-size” and realized that I had the same tube for a couple of years and it was taking a long time to go through it. Why was I taking the same weight each time I hit the trail? And yes I brushed my teeth. Twice a day. Each day on the trail. So I started looking around and I ran across this tip and have used it since the first time I found it.

I call them toothpaste pods. Here is what you will need to make your own pods: Straws, lighter, scissors, paper towels, needle-nose pliers, and your favorite brand of toothpaste.
Straws? Yup, straws. Here is what you do. Get a straw –the McDonald’s straws work great because of the large diameter of their opening. Squeeze a small portion of toothpaste into one end of the straw. Keep in mind that you are making single use items here so you only need enough for one session of tooth brushing. Take your pliers, pinch the straw tight leaving bout an eighth of inch, and wipe the excess toothpaste from the straw. Take your lighter and melt the straw all the way to the pliers. It may take some practice getting the plastic to melt enough to seal the end.
Using your scissors to cut the straw on the other end and repeat the melting process. Make as many as you will need for your trip and unless you skip a day, you will not have any weight on your last day when you hike out.

For a three-nighter trip I will need five or six pods. Five pods weigh 1/8 oz so I saved three ounces. Depending on how large you make your pods, you should still weigh in at less than ounce for a trip lasting only a few nights and if you only brush your teeth in the morning, three pods weigh in at 1/8 oz. what that tells me is that each pod hardly registers when viewing in ounces so I switched to grams. Each pod weighs only a gram or two, depending on their size. Two pods weigh one ounce and five pods weigh five ounces.

Hopefully you can see the benefit of the pods verses a big tube of toothpaste. They are quite a bit lighter.

·         Deodorant
Ounces saved: 3.5 oz 

Leave your deodorant it at home. I have been on many trips where I took deodorant and never used it once. Instead, use Handi Wipes, Baby Wipes or some other cleansing wipes.  Just wash under your arms. I have and it was actually more refreshing. I felt cleaner and it was a real psychological boost for me on the trip.

·         Handi Wipes-vs-antibacterial lotion
Ounces saved: 1oz

I have taken both on trips but all I really needed were the Handi Wipes. As I stated earlier I would use the wipes to wash under my arms. I would use the lotion for my hands. Well, once I realized what I was doing, I started washing my hands and then my arms and it worked out great. So ditch the anti-bacterial lotion and take the wipes instead.

Take enough to wash your hands like usual, and then run them under your arms and be done with it.
From your pack
·         Cut the straps and tags from your pack
Ounces saved: 4oz 

All the packs I have bought in the past had too much length to their straps so I started cutting to the length that I needed. On my Osprey pack I saved about four ounces and since every ounce counts, I was working towards a lighter pack.

From your cook kit
·         DIY stoves
Ounces saved: 1.5oz 

DIY gear can be much lighter than what you can purchase, although it may not be cheaper, so make your own if you have the ability. DIY stoves are both cheaper and lighter so you can have yourself a win-win if you work it right. Search You Tube for DIY stoves, and you will find plenty of styles to choose from. I use a stove I made from an aluminum Bud Light bottle but from I have noticed in the stores you can’t find this style of Bud Light beer bottles anymore. There are still so many DIY stove styles you can make so research it and make your own.

              I have one primary stove that I would take with me. The Soto Microregulator. It is an awesome stove and I take it on the short hiking trips or when I go car-camping. But on longer trips like the one coming up soon, I will take my DIY. The Soto weighs 2.5 ounces. My DIY bud Light stove weighs one ounces which saves me 1.5 ounces

I hope these tips will help you shave some weight from your pack. I’m sure your back and knees will thank you for any weight you can shave from your total pack weight. As we say on GaHammockBros, Plan Right and Pack Light, which means we try to think about every aspect of the trip. The what to take, how to load the pack, and how to shave some ounces from the pack which is the Pack Light part of our motto.

Every ounce counts and it is easier than you might think to shave some weight. Notice the weight saved on each items. While each tip only saved me a few ounces each time, the total amount saved is 13 ounces. All I need to do is find three more ounces and I will have saved a whole pound.

If you can affectively shave four ounces in four areas, that is sixteen ounces which is a pound. A pound is a lot of weight to shave from your pack so if you can find four or five areas to shave three to four ounces in each area, you have done a fantastic job on shaving weight. Pat yourself on the back.
Keep looking at your pack and the items you carry and you to will be able to Plan Right and Pack Right. You may even start down the path to becoming a Gram Weenie –like me.