Over the years backpacking has evolved on so many levels. The type of gear you carry, food you bring, types of trips and a whole lot more. Over the past fifteen or so years backpacking has really came into a new style: going lighter.
Going lighter can mean many things ranging from pack weight to your body weight but there are many reasons you need to go lighter.
- Gear can be heavy – Heavy gear can make for a very long backpacking trip. It can make you uncomfortable and even possibly cause an injury. The heavy weight of all the gear on your back can really impact your muscles, joints and mental strength while out on the trail.
- Take away from the experience – Gear that is too heavy can take away from your overall experience on the trail. For example, you may be focused on some item, the soreness of your body as well as other things instead of focusing on your experience.
- Slower pace – The more gear that you carry the more likely your pace will be much slower than desired which could make you not complete the hike that you are attempting.
There are many things that contribute to the idea of going lighter and they all don’t deal with just gear.
- Your brain – Your brain is a very powerful tool that should be utilized as much as possible. Learning new skills for hiking is so important. When you learn new skills you are able to carry lighter weight gear that may be a bit more complicated (knot tying skills for example) over gear that is simple and heavy.
- Get more experience – Hiking in diverse environments and seasons allows you to learn more techniques. These techniques and skills will allow you to be more confident in yourself which could really help in your goal of going lighter.
- Gear – Over the years gear has gone from being very heavy to light as a feather. The way gear has been made, the fabrics its made out of, fabric strength and more are just a few examples of how gear has grown over the years.
Going backpacking is so much fun. It is something I highly recommend to anyone but try to make sure to lighten your load some before you head out on the trail by learning new skills and selecting lighter weight options (trail runners over traditional hiking boots). Making the decision to go lighter will allow you to be safer, have more fun, hike faster and just have an overall better experience in most situations. Doing this will allow you to get out backpacking more as well as others.