Aug 15th, 2013

Lightweight backpacking - it's either the new craze or maybe no one bothered to tell me sooner. I may have been too busy oiling my sturdy old leather boots, cleaning my historic 90 litre canvas pack or picking hook grass out of my old woollen bush-shirt.


Lightweight backpacking in essence is about making hiking less strenuous by carrying less weight, but without making compromises on safety or drastic reductions to your comfort. Either way I am keen to know more, yet I will admit that I was known in the past to label hikers that constantly talked about weight, and how many grams individual items in their packs weighed as being a bit over the top.

Lugging 25+ kilos and still smiling

- those were the days!

 Why didn't they just harden up and lug a big heavy 90 litre pack stocked with all those durable and dependable items - like the old woolly  bush-shirt, the big fat novel to read into the small hours and a twenty year old sleeping bag with enough down in it just in case you ever got caught out high on the slopes of Mt Everest!

 

As for the lightweight food, surely the pain of carrying that extra kilo (or so) of some fresh vegetables and meat is worth it when you finally do get to eat your meal at the end of the day? Especially if the light and fast group have already eaten hours ago and they have to endure the delicious aromas and sizzling sounds of your own hard earned dinner being prepared. Surely that would wipe the smug looks off their faces for having arrived hours before you because they are so fast and light!

 Nothing beats fresh food - but its heavy...

But alas time marches on and surely one consolation of getting older is you 'maybe' get a little more wise. Although my forty year old carcase is holding up ok, I have noticed a few complaining joints, some creaking and general stiffness. I have been told, rather unsympathetically, by those older than me that it's just the ageing process, so get used to it, chances are it will get worse not better!

 

So I am ready to embrace "Lightweight backpacking". There will be compromises that need to be made along the way and these compromises should only be in comfort or convenience not safety, but let the journey begin! My plan is to tackle the big items first -  backpack, sleeping bag and boots.

Starting with my backpack, its main problem is I just put too much in it, but even when its empty it's heavy. This built to last, hard wearing canvas backpack of mine might not have a place in my new lightweight world. I am now officially on the hunt for a new backpack, my current one weighs in at a hefty 3.25kgs, I am hoping to change to one that will be around 500 grams! 

There is some good information out there on going lightweight although it seems here in New Zealand we have been a little slow to embrace this 'new way of walking'. The lightweight backpacks in particular are not available in our stores here but can be imported from the States. Time to get on the net and start shopping.

Over the next few months I will be doing my research and sharing some of the 'gems of information' via this blog. I will then trial some lightweight gear on some of our awesome safaris and custom trips. For those of you out there in the same boat as me, hopefully this blog will be interesting and of use, or if you are keen on doing more multi-day hiking but carrying a heavy pack puts you off then maybe this blog might just convince you to look again at the posibilities if you can get that pack weight down? Stay tuned I will be back when I have found a super lite pack that fits all my stuff in and is comfortable to carry on a mission in the hills...

..only fools and horses carry big packs?

 Dan footer new


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