For those who enjoy the outdoors, backpacking is a popular activity shared with friends and family. However, budgeting for space in a single pack that you plan to carry with you for miles can be incredibly challenging, and it can be difficult to tell what you’ll need and won’t. Still, as a general rule, there is such a thing as too heavy for your backpack.
If your backpack is more than 20% of your body’s mass, it is too heavy for backpacking. If your bag is too heavy, it will throw off your center of balance, putting you at risk of many falls. In addition, you will become sore and tired more quickly if your bag is too heavy.
This article will discuss backpacking, limits to how much one must carry, and types of items that are important and helpful for a much more fulfilling experience.
How Heavy Should Your Backpack Be?
Your backpack should weigh between 10 and 25 percent of your body mass, and the weight should not exceed 35 lbs (15 kg) in most cases. Packing light will keep you feeling energetic and prevent falls and exhaustion.
Other things to consider while packing are the weather, the length of your trip, and prioritizing your needs. Traveling lighter can provide a more comfortable journey and more effortless mobility. You will also be able to cover more ground on your adventures.
How To Save Space and Decrease Weight for Backpacking
If you want your pack to be full of the things you’ll need without getting bogged down in your stuff, you might want to follow these tips:
- Keep your pack tidy. A neat backpack is much more efficient than one that’s had things haphazardly packed. Organizing your items makes finding and quickly locating things much quicker and more comfortable. It also saves space.
- Bring what you’ll need. Moreover, calculating the quantity of each item you need for the duration of the trip can also be beneficial. For example, taking a week’s worth of tissues for a two-day trip isn’t practical. Carrying things in smaller amounts also saves space. Consider taking a small shampoo tube rather than a whole bottle or reusing small containers and filling them up with whatever you need.
- Keep inventory and learn from your mistakes. Another way to eliminate unnecessary items is to keep track of things you often used vs. things you barely used, or not all. Doing this can help you discern which items to carry next time and which to leave behind.
List of Essential and Helpful Items for Backpacking
Note that the items listed here aren’t all mandatory. You should consider what kind of trip you’re going on, how long it will be, and expectations for the weather:
- Water, food, and snacks: Food and water is the most critical thing to pack and will likely be the heaviest thing you carry. Consider the duration of your trip for quantity and go for easy-to-pack consumables (for example, dry and packaged food) to save space and not make a mess.
- First aid kit: Regardless of how short your trip is, this is something that should accompany you at all times.
- Phone and power bank: Having a power bank offers many benefits, not limited to but including navigation, emergencies, and light.
- Sunglasses and sunscreen: Sun protection is crucial during hot summer days.
- Tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pads: This option is fully customizable, but it’s critical to remember the conditions where you plan to sleep. If your campsite is beside the water, pack warmer blankets than you’d think you would want. You’ll rarely regret bringing a bit more bedding than you will need. Don’t forget something to use as a pillow.
- Clothing: An extra pair of underwear and socks is crucial, especially for longer trips. Don’t forget jackets, hats, scarves, and mittens if you plan to hike in winter. You’ll be thankful for them on cold nights. In addition, insulated clothes and layers can save much-needed space.
- Tissues or wet wipes: These come in handy for hygiene-related uses. Make sure you set the trash aside and dispose of it at appropriate places or at the end of your trip. Keep mother nature clean.
- Insect repellant: Bug repellent is necessary, no matter where you hike.
- Stove or lighter: You’ll at least want a lighter to make fires for cooking and keeping warm at night, but a stove can also be handy for quick cooking on the go.
- Knife: Knives are some of the best tools to bring along since you can use them for cooking, making shelter, first aid, and self-defense.
- Money: If you’ll be in the wild, there’s not much use for it. However, eventually, you will be back in civilization, and you never know how it will come in handy.
This list explores a more detailed account of things mentioned.
Tips For Packing Your Backpack
Although packing up to go on a trip may seem pretty straightforward, packing your bag for a backpacking trip is a critical part of the adventure. After all, you’ll be stuck with your bag and everything in it for the duration of your trip.
So, to ensure that you have no regrets about what you pack and how you pack it, you might want to consider these tips:
Understand Your Health and the Risks of Backpacking
There’s no denying a more seasoned hiker or camper can maneuver easier in the wild as their experience helps ease their planning and be more prepared against things going wrong.
Considering your age, fitness, and overall health is vital in planning your trip.
For example, if you have back pain, carrying a bunch of stuff for an extended period can be detrimental to your health. The same goes if you have shortness of breath, are light sensitive, or all in all, your strength is not what it used to be. Be careful and seriously consider your health when planning a trip, especially if it’s a long one.
Divide Shared Items Among Your Party
Sharing the load is always good for traveling with a partner or group. Do five people need five tents? They do not. Sharing is caring and helps reduce the burden. Think of it as carpooling, but in nature.
Another sound plan would be to divide the item list. For example, you can be responsible for the snacks and the stove, while your friend brings the sunscreen and the speaker, and your other friend carries the hammock and food. There is no need for every individual to get all those items separately.
Take Rest Periods and Stay Hydrated
It’s always important to take breaks and rest. Limit your time in the sun and use protection. As mentioned above, your health is paramount. Neck and shoulder pain is no joke, and neither are sore feet.
Make sure to rest and don’t strain yourself too much if you don’t have to. Always remember to stay hydrated.
Plan For The Season and Nighttime Weather
The quality of your experience will be significantly affected by the weather. While backpacking in the colder seasons, you must remember that temperature drops require warmer clothes and covers, especially at night, which might be bulkier than your summer gear. So, prepare for a larger, slightly heavier pack if you plan your trip for the winter.
On the other hand, warmer seasons require limiting exposure to the sun. Wearing sunscreen and sunglasses becomes a necessity.
Replace Expired Items and Keep Your Gear in Good Shape
Everything eventually expires. After every trip, it’s essential to check your gear and items.
Wear and tear catch up with your things, and some might need a replacement. Monitor the durability of your items and replace them before your next trip. It can be highly inconvenient (and even unsafe) to discover a massive hole in your tent from a previous trip while you’re in the middle of a rainy night, for example.
For outdoor lovers, backpacking, camping, and hiking can be some of the most fun experiences. As stated above, plan carefully, smartly, and safely. If you’re new to all of this, it’s a good idea to ask for advice and guidance from someone more experienced. Don’t carry a needlessly heavy backpack.
- REI Co-op: How Much Should Your Pack Weigh?
- REI Co-op: The Ten Essentials
- Decide Outside: How Heavy Is Too Heavy For Backpacking? (We Asked Real People and Got 80 Comments)
- Exploration Solo: How Much Weight Should You Carry Backpacking
- University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics: Is Your Backpack Too Heavy?