Pack Light and Your Feet Will Love You

We've all done it. Over-packing can happen to anyone. I've done more than once and regretted it every time.  You often start out with the best intentions of "only taking what you need" and then you think "oooh! I might need an extra this or that, or I could go somewhere posh and need to dress up". You get back home after your trip and pull crap out of your pack you never touched. All those extra bits and bobs may not weigh much but add them all up and you are standing on your pack trying to stuff it all in and then you left it off the bed and think "hmmm... not so bad" UNTIL you have to carry it several km at a stretch. 


Why lighter is better

The less you carry the further you go and the more fresh you will feel when you get there. Every kilo you carry extra in your pack is more energy burned and more tired you become. Here at Lazy Way Hiker I am all about hiking and biking further and getting as much out of life as our bodies will permit. Keeping the dead weight off our back is one of the simplest ways to achieve that. 

Your joints will love you for it. Knees, ankles and back are the first things to fail in an aging body. They are the most likely casualties in a sporting injury. Getting the weight off them is the best way to keep them going longer and minimise damage or further trauma. 

You'll feel better at the end of a hike. If you've hiked to a new destination, you'll have more energy to explore your surroundings when you get there if you haven't lugged an extra 5kg or more of unnecessary crap on your back all day. 

Less blisters. Nothing can slow you down like blisters and blisters are statistically much more likely if you are carrying more than 10% of your body weight over multi-day hikes. There is a direct correlation between blisters and backpack weight. 

How to Pack Lighter 

It's all very well to suggest packing lighter but it depends ultimately on what sort of trek you are going on. If you are day hiking or back country camping or something in between. As an a senior woman on wobbly legs multi-day overnight camping treks are no longer an option unless I have someone or something to carry my pack. If you follow this blog you are most likely much the same. Even if you have your pack transferred by camel, cheery sherpa or transit van, you'll still want to keep the weight down for lumping your luggage to and from bus to camel or van to hostel as the case maybe.

Here's some hacks to get your backpack weight below 10% of your body weight, or better, less than 10kg on a multi-day hike; donkey or none.

Pay for quick dry clothes and colour coordinate

Spend the money and buy quick dry, low smell and wicking. When I first embarked on a multi-day hike I took street clothing I already had. I reckoned I didn't need all that fancy schmancy gear. I was WRONG. You can wash the quick dry stuff and it is ready to go the next morning. You don't smell like roadkill and it doesn't wrinkle up like grannies chins when you pull it from your pack.  

Choose a colour scheme and stick to it . NOT WHITE! Choose colours and patterns that don't show the dirt. If all tops match all bottoms less clothing is required.  If you are travelling with a partner they know what colour to look for in a crowd. 

No matter where you go in the world you are sure to be able to buy a t-shirt if you spill coffee on every t-shirt in your pack. And you can always wash. If there is no coin laundry there will be a will old lady that will do a load for a few rupees or if need be you can wash out a couple of items in the hostel/ hotel sink. 

2 or 3 pairs is plenty

You don't need much in the way of clothing. This is where we tend to over pack. 

  • 3 x shirts - spend the money and get quick dry, wicking, low smell 
  • 3 x underwear
  • 2 x pants - 1 shorts and 1 long - again buy quick dry and convertibles are great too
  • 1 x sweater/ jacket
  • 2 x shoes - 1 for hiking & 1 sandals for lazing about
  • 3 x socks - the best money can buy to suit the climate you are in
  • 1 x gloves and neck tube or scarf if you are going somewhere cold
  • 1 x swimwear - I take this no matter where I am going

Smaller is smarter  when it comes to backpacks 

If a 70 litre is suggested go 65l. If 60l is recommended take a 55l. If it doesn't fit it doesn't ship. This approach will ensure you don't over pack. If it doesn't stuff in then leave it at home. When you have a larger backpack, we all tend to fill it. If you find you need one you can buy one where you are going, but chances are you won't. Be ruthless when editing your luggage. You'll thank yourself after 6 hours of trudging uphill in 35 deg C heat. 

Pay for the lighter weight pack. Don't have an attack of short arms and long pockets when choosing a pack. Buy a smaller, high quality lightweight pack. Blister remedies are expensive. The pack will pay for itself after the first trip. If its a good choice you'll come to love your backpack like a childhood teddy bear. 

Your smart phone can carry kilos of cargo

Smartphones are the best thing that happened to travel since the jumbo jet. They are like Hermione's sack. Inside that tiny box is your diary, your library, maps, writing paper with stamps, a bank, a camera and a travel agent. Be sure to carry a universal plug to charge it anywhere and load any apps you may need including translators, local flight finders and maps, before you go. Many places have free WiFi. 

Carry a waist pack or similar to keep your  smartphone, passport, credit cards and critical documents and cash next to your body at the front. 

What not to leave behind

  • first aid kit including painkillers. Check the destination laws on what is legal. 
  • earplugs - essential when staying in hostels
  • sunglasses
  • headlamp - don't rely on the torch in your smartphone
  • sarong or multi-purpose cloth to serve as mat, towel, sunshade, blanket, privacy screen and onsy while you are washing your clothes 
  • raincoat or poncho and rain cover for your pack 
  • toiletries in tiny containers. Take less than you think you'll need. 
  • A hat. I never wear hats at home but always end up buying one while traveling

Wherever you go in the world there are shops and washing facilities. Don't take anything you absolutely don't need. Leave it at home, and that too and the other extra thing and that just in case thingy.  Your feet and knees will thank you and you'll have a more enjoyable trip. 

Happy travels

See the post "Ditch the Backpack"

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