Making every gram count

Submitted by Thorsten on 31st May 2018

Last Sunday I went hiking with a coworker. Since this was his first hike this year, we chose a relatively easy route of about 15km and a total of 1000m ascent. I knew I had done much harder hikes before, so I decided to take the big backpack, as an exercise for our summer trek in Hardangervidda. So I packed our Spitsbergen tent, which has about 5.7kg all in all, but I did not take a lot of extra stuff otherwise. And I was shocked to find that I ended up with a backpack of about 16kg. That means even without the tent this number would land me at approximately 10kg for a day trip. Impossible! That’s way too much!

How could that be? After all, I am a kit nerd, and I take great care always to pick the lightest gear. I needed an explanation, so yesterday I embarked on an exercise to take the kitchen scales and weigh all my outdoors equipment, and make an inventory of everything I have. And it turned out to be more useful than I thought it might be. I would now recommend doing this exercise to every weight-conscious backpacker out there.

I broke down my kit into several groups, such as “Eating and Drinking”, “1st aid and Safety”, or “Sleeping”. These categories help me to identify where most of the weight I am carrying originates. It turns out for me one of the main culprits was “Electronics and gadgets”. If you are starting in the ultralight world, you can get a clue of how much weight should go into every category by reading the excellent Ultralight Makeover Guide published by Backpacking North. Once you’ve listed all your gear, and have identified the problematic areas, you can start looking for lighter alternatives. Sites like ultralightoutdoorgear.co.uk are a great resource to get a quick overview of how much weight you could save on a piece of kit. Be aware that they don’t list all brands, though, so as with every purchase it is worth browsing around for alternatives.

For me, it turned out that there aren’t, in fact, a lot of areas to improve. I was only taking too much stuff. I swear I could hear a sigh of relief from my wallet the moment I realised that. 

Making every gram count

Thorsten

Keen hiker and ├ľAV trekking and hiking guide, in love with Nansen. Owner of the most walk-averse rescue dog ever. Ice cream lover, kit junkie, runner and mad software genius.