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October 2013 Issue
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How to lose (gear) weight

With a combined weight of 1900g, Peter’s overnight tramping load easily fits into a 35-litre pack. Photo: Peter Clough

Lightweight tramper Peter Clough share his tips for a lighter trip

Travelling light is a state of mind, being continually aware of what’s carried and paring weight. Take what you can’t do without rather than what you could do with.

Think about what’s required of a particular trip and pack accordingly. If you take a family-sized tube of suncream for a weekender, you’re not trying hard enough.

Beyond this there is the option of reducing weight and bulk with specialist lightweight items like titanium cutlery and stoves. But changing gear also lightens your wallet.

There are four types of load with potential for reducing weight. Core weight, comprising the basic kit of waterproofs, clothing, sleeping and cooking gear; Base weight, the core gear plus the pack; Consumables such as food, water and fuel; and Worn gear, like boots and clothing.

By targeting these areas you can get your pack weight down:

  • Focus on function and versatility, such as multi-layered clothing with numerous combinations to fit varying conditions;
  • A 2-3 season sleeping bag up-rated against cold by wearing layers is lighter than an over-warm four season bag;
  • Freshen clothing over longer trips by alternating day and night;
  • Take food proportional to trip length, decanted into plastic bags, and remove superfluous packaging, copying or cutting out instructions from the packet if you need them
  • Simplify. If your bush cooking is just boiling water for a brew or heating pasta, a stove burning methylated spirits or solid tablets is much lighter than pressurised gas cartridges or petrol stoves;
  • Load expands to fill the space available, so a smaller pack lessens the temptation to carry more. Few overnighters need 60-70 litre packs that weigh 2-3kg when empty.
  • At the end of each trip, refine your gear list by removing those items you didn’t use.