Learning how to pack lighter on your camping trip is definitely a skill that takes some practice. Our hiking and camping tips will teach you how to pack like a pro, so you can avoid many of the same mistakes that are common with beginners. Our tips will teach you how to identify unnecessary weight and what type of gear to take with you and the type of gear you definitely need to leave behind.
A GPS, maps, and a compass are all must-haves for hikers of all skill levels, but if you want to save on some serious pack weight, all you need to bring along is a great outdoor watch. Models such as the Garmin Fenix 5X are equipped with GPS functionality, altimeter and barometer features, fitness tracking and much more.
Packing Like A Pro
If you follow these tips you’ll be headed down the right path toward becoming an extra light packer. Our compilation of the best camping tips will help you to perfect the art of lightening your load. Some of these tips can even help to shave off several pounds from your pack, while others will only help you to ditch a few ounces. Either way, you’ll soon find that paying attention to every little detail can help you to save big in the long run.
Using a Trash Bag for a Backpack Liner
A standard backpack cover is heavy, bulky, and just plain awkward. Some are even pretty ineffective. Instead of covering your backpack with one of these heavy covers, try lining the inside of your pack using a large trash bag instead, storing all of your gear inside the trash bag. These bags can easily be replaced, are waterproof, cheap, and weigh a fraction of what a backpack cover does.
Stakes Versus Rocks
Instead of hauling around a heavy set of stakes for your shelter, tie your shelter down with the help of some nearby rocks. You can easily add a pile of rocks to make your setup more stable. Rocks can also be a better option than stakes if the ground is too hard or soft for stake use.
Shoulder straps, sternum straps, excess hip belt straps, and compression straps should be trimmed in order to get rid of several ounces. If you pack correctly, you shouldn’t need to use compression straps at all.
Sharing the Load
Are you camping and hiking with friends? If so, consolidate your resources. The odds are you don’t need to bring along two tents, two camping stoves, etc. Take time to meet up with your camping buddies prior to your trip and plan who will be bringing along what gear. You’ll be surprised at how much lighter your load is when you and your friends plan ahead and share the load.
Drinking Water at the Source
Often, water is the heaviest gear you have to haul. Try to drink as much water as possible at the nearest water source. You can plan how far the next water source is so you’ll only have to carry enough water to get you comfortably to the next watering hole.
Be Sure to Keep It Dry
Did you know that morning dew can add some serious weight to your pack? Morning dew will cover your shelter, adding several ounces if you pack it away without allowing your tent to dry out. Make sure you dry out clothing, tents, tarps, and other gear before you pack it up. You can hang some of your wet gear on the outside of your pack while you’re hiking or if you plan on spending the day in the same spot, leave your wet clothing and gear lying flat on a rock in direct sunlight.
Avoid Cotton at All Costs
When you’re planning your camping wardrobe, never bring along clothing made out of cotton. Instead, choose synthetic, lightweight materials over denim and cotton. Synthetics weigh less, dry faster, and are more water resistant than cotton and denim.
Water bladders are pretty popular these days, but they have too many excess parts and cords. A simple plastic water bottle is cheap, durable, and lightweight. Most pro campers recommend using the Smart Water bottles, which are great for their size and sturdiness.
A Great Ground Cloth Alternative
Ground cloths act as a type of protective barrier between the floor of the tent and the ground. They also help to prevent water from seeping in from the ground. Instead of purchasing a special, expensive ground cloth produced by a camping gear manufacturer, use a painter’s tarp instead. You can find these tarps at any local hardware store and they’re available for a fraction of the cost.
Shopping for a Lightweight Camping Cot
The best camping cot for hikers is one that features a simple, lightweight design. Make sure you choose a camping cot that’s specifically designed for backpackers. Cots such as the Therm-A-Rest LuxuryLite Mesh Cot weighs in at just a little over two pounds and folds down to a nice small package.
Bring Along Duct Tape
Duct tape can be used for pretty much anything. It’ll come in handy if your tent springs a leak, and even works as a great barrier between blisters. It can also be used to repair a variety of your gear. A smart hiker always brings a roll of duct tape along.
Other than working as a great moisturizer for your lips, Vaseline can be used for a variety of things. It’s a slow-burning fuel that can be used to start fires, it can help to speed up the healing process if you’re getting blisters on your heels and toes, and it can help to shield minor wounds from infections.
Keeping Important Gear Ultra-Light
Keep your sleeping bag at no more than eighteen ounces. A warmer bag contains a lot of insulation and can weigh more, so if you’re backpacking in the winter, you’ll have to accommodate a heavier sleeping bag. The tent you choose should weigh no more than two pounds for a one-person tent, and one pound or less for a camping tarp.
Ditch the Sleeping Pad
A sleeping pad can make your cot a little more comfortable, but it’s really not a necessity. Ditching the sleeping pad can save two to three pounds of pack weight.