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Filed under:Features, Features Spotlight, Ice & Mixed Climbing, Mountain Running, Mountaineering, Rock Climbing, Scrambling, Ski Touring, Top Lists, Walking / Trekking, Top 100 Lightweight Tips
You want to travel faster and lighter, but how can you reduce your weight to the absolute minimum? We bring you 100 of the best tips for trimming off the grams…
If there’s one thing that modern technology has achieved for trekkers and mountaineers, it’s to reduce the amount of weight they have to carry. Whether it’s ice screws, axes and karabiners; tents, sleeping bags and sleeping mats; or boots, rucksacks and trekking poles – everything that we wear or carry in the mountains today is now significantly lighter than it was just a few years ago.
But what does this all mean for us? Well, for one it makes our outdoor experiences more enjoyable, as we can focus more on the ‘doing’, rather than the carrying and grunt work. And it also means we can go further, faster, higher and longer than we ever have before, freed from the excess weight that may have slowed or stopped us completely previously. But there are limits to lightweight, of course.
It would be a mistake to try and emulate the likes of UeIi Steck or Kilian Jornet in terms of equipment, clothing, food and objectives. These athletes are in a league of their own, and their years of experience and knowledge, combined with incredible fitness and just sheer talent, allows them to attempt things that will be dangerous for mere mortals to try. There are too many stories of hillwalkers, trekkers or mountaineers coming a cropper (particularly in winter) because of inadequate clothing or equipment, and in cutting too many corners when it comes to weight, you run the risk of ending up in such a scenario yourself. Sleeping in sub zero temperatures? Then you must take a sleeping bag that will keep you warm enough – no argument.
But there are plenty of ways in which we can safely reduce the weight of our clothing and equipment when in the mountains, and in this article we have brought together 100 of the best tips out there. Some are well-known (e.g, cutting off your toothbrush handle – we just had to include it) while some are gear-specific tips while others you might scratch your head and say ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ Many of the tips will save you just a few grams, but with the same ‘marginal gains’ philosophy that has permeated much of modern sport, all those handful of grams can easily add up to a quite significant overall weight that you will be pleased not to be carrying.
So sit back and enjoy the following selection of weightsaving tips, and if we’ve missed out any good ’uns, then let us know and we’ll add them to this article!
CLOTHING & FOOTWEAR
1. Wear down instead of synthetic
Although the battle between synthetic and down-based insulation rages on, the fact is that down still remains lighter and more compressible for a similar warmth rating. Water repellent treatments have made them more resistant to the elements too.
2. Merino can be worn for several days
Carrying a spare baselayer for multi-day trips seems sensible, given how ‘fragrant’ synthetic fibres can become after a few days of busily wicking sweat from your armpits. But bear in mind that merino wool is naturally anti-microbial, so although potentially weightier to start with, a merino baselayer may well negate the need for a spare.
3. Replace your belt with a lighter version
Many branded outdoor trousers come with a built-in belt, often made of slender plastic and light fibres. These often prove ideal for purpose. However, if you’ve picked up a pair with a less well-thought-out unit, consider changing it immediately – even paracord will do, if you find it comfy enough.
4. Wear convertible shorts/trousers
Why carry both shorts and trousers when a single hybrid garment will do? In the seasons when wearing shorts make sense, a thin and zippable shorts/trousers combo could be all you need for trekking, hillwalking and camping too.
5. Forego the hood
Not every layer you wear needs to have a hood. And, in fact, wearing a baselayer, fleece and jacket which all carry one doesn’t just add to your overall weight rating, but adds a great deal of unwanted faff too.
6. Camp/hut shoes
On multi-day trips, it can feel essential to carry thongs, sandals or flipflops to let your feet breathe on overnight camps. If you must, then consider taking flimsy (but free and light) hotel slippers. Also consider whether your actual hiking shoes are light and comfy enough to fulfil that purpose too. And if you’re staying in huts, ring ahead to find out if they provide crocs or other footwear themselves (many alpine huts do).
7. Don’t bring cotton
Cotton quickly absorbs rain and sweat (and thus weight) and takes longer than many synthetic fabrics to dry. So don’t bring any! Quality synthetic or wool blend baselayers – and this includes your undies – are better in every way, no matter what your outdoor adventure.
8. Use multi-function layers
In the pursuit of efficiency, every layer has to justify its role. So look at each one. Is the weather warm and dry enough to simply wear a softshell as both your mid and outer layer? Is your baselayer warm enough to ditch the mid and simply wear a shell over the top? If you wear a meaty enough fleece, do you need an insulated jacket for your overnight camp?
9. Use the lightest shoes/boots that still do the job
It’s tempting to wear a do-it-all mountain boot in most situations, but think what you’re actually going to be tackling. Do you need a hard-toed boot for this trek? Do you need crampon compatibility? Will there be scree? If scrambling well above bogs, could you just wear a grippy, low approach shoe? Consider your insole too – some are heavier than others.
10. Paracord has many uses
If you want a single, light repair tool of many uses, paracord is worth investigating. It can be cut to length and used for shoelaces (possibly only in the top half of the eyelets), used to replace your belt and is ideal for strapping items to your pack too.
11. Cut off labels and hang hooks
To seriously count the individual grams, nothing beats taking a knife to the extraneous decoration on every bit of your kit. You don’t need labels in the wild, and removing the hanging hooks for your jacket, trousers and sack will (albeit on a very small level) lower your weight ever further.
12. The lightest of rain gear
Rain is an ever-present threat in Britain, but if you only expect occasional wet weather then investigate ‘emergency’ gear such as the Berghaus Hyper 100 Hydroshell jacket (74g) or the ULA Rain Kilt (82g), both of which will keep off light weather for absolutely minimal weight.
13. Buy a neck tube
The most famous and established (and colourful) brand is Buff, but alternatives are available. These multi-use items can keep your neck, face and head protected from sun, insects, wind and even rain. Those that try them seldom leave home without one ever again.
14. Reproof clothing and gear
…so that they don’t absorb water and weigh you down. Thanks to the wonder of the metric system we know that one litre of water weighs one kilogram, which quickly illustrates how much weight is saved by treating your gear to shed as much of it as possible.
15. Buy a cheap watch
GPS-enabled watches can make great tools for wilderness use, and may only weigh in at around 80g (in the case of the Suunto Traverse, for example). However, if you simply need to tell the time you can pick up a £10 rubber-strapped budget piece that weighs little more than 12g.
16. Cut back on stuffsacks
Stuffsacks are superb tools, and can keep your gear compartmentalised and dry. However, to really cut down the weight, consider taking a single packliner for your rucksack, and help organise the gear within by choosing jackets with integrated stuff sacks (typically the pockets).
17. Reduce your total zips
Buy a smock rather than a jacket and avoid pit zips like the plague. The more teeth and metalwork (no matter how minimal) on your garment, the more it will weigh overall.
18. … and avoid pockets too
… because jackets without pockets weigh less and are more breathable. Consider how many times you actually use the pockets while out hiking or trekking. Can you make do with the pouches on your rucksack instead?
19. Wear more efficient down
Yes, down is more efficient than synthetic – but down also comes in many stripes too. Compare jackets by how much insulation they have in them (‘fill weight’) and what the quality of that down is (‘fillpower’). The best you’ll find is 850 fill and above. 700 and below will be bulkier and heavier for the same warmth rating.
CAMPING & CARRYING
20. Share the load
When hiking with another person there’s no need to bring two of everything. Splitting the tent between packs can help distribute the weight, and planning ahead of time can prevent doubling up on items such as your stove, water filter etc.
21. Don’t pack wet gear
All your gear (tents, clothing) will weigh more when wet than when dry, and while you may not be able to dry everything out completely, when possible dry it out the best you can. Sticking around camp for an extra hour or two may be worthwhile; and you may even be able to make up the time as you’ll likely move quicker with a lighter pack! Other times, it may make sense to hang wet clothing, such as socks from your pack, allowing them to dry as you walk.
22. Pack for one night
This doesn’t apply to food, but for the most part you’ll need the same amount of kit whether you are spending one night out in the mountains, or several nights. While you may want to bring an extra pair of socks, you’re not likely to require loads of additional layers – one pair of trousers, one base layer and so on is all you’ll truly need.
23. Skip the pillow
Bringing a pillow may help you get a good night’s sleep, but rather than bringing one just for that purpose, try using items that are already in your pack – a stuff sack filled with clothing or down layers works well. You can also make it cosier by wrapping a fleece around it or using a neck tube as a pillowcase.
24. Use a lightweight sleeping bag
The ‘big three’ of weightiness are tent, sleeping system (sleeping bag and sleeping mat) and pack. The middle of these can easily be cut down if you’re willing to take a lighter sleeping bag and to kip in some of your clothing. Do ensure you have some margin for error though.
25. Tent pegs
Swap your stock tent pegs for lightweight titanium ones immediately, or – if you’re heading somewhere with guaranteed benign weather – leave them at home and use rocks instead.
26. Use a tarp or hammock
In good weather, you simply won’t need to keep the wind and rain off yourself while you sleep… as hopefully there won’t be any. In cases such as this, a hammock (for use in the treeline, obviously) or tarp (the Alpkit Rig 3.5 weighs just 300g) make fun choices for shelter.
27. Strip down your pack
There’s an awful lot of weight that can be cut from most packs… if you’re willing to make sacrifices. Try: removing any foam padding, the waist strap, any extra webbing or cord that you won’t use, and even consider replacing particularly heavy buckles.
28. Use the right size backpack
Worth bearing in mind during the transition from winter to spring/summer. You’ll no longer need a heavier 30L+ bag for day trips into the mountains. In fact you can probably get by with less than half of that. An overnight trip is absolutely possible with less than 40L of capacity too.
29. Use a waterproof pack
Brands such as Arc’teryx and Mountain Hardwear make solid waterproof rucksacks that negate the need for any liner or stuff sacks at all. If you’d like to go even lighter, then a slim pack cover can prove sufficient if there’s only a faint chance of rain.
30. Leave the electronics at home
Smartphones (big), smartwatches (heavy), action cameras (awkward) and the like can all add to your experiences of the outdoors – or certainly your ability to share them online afterwards – but are any of them actually essential?
31. Bring a lightweight solar panel to recharge batteries
A valid point for adventures in the sunnier parts of the world (the Alps, North Africa and beyond). Well-designed solar panels can transfer energy directly into your devices, negating the need for a battery unit of their own to act as a weighty middle-man.
32. Leave the bulky GPS at home
There are many excellent satnav apps available on smartphone (OS, Viewranger and the like), but it’s inarguable that bespoke GPS units make a more reliable and sensible choice. However, they’re also a lot heavier. So eschew both, learn solid map and compass skills, add in a GPS-enabled watch if necessary and rely on your own navigation skills, not on devices.
33. Take a simple phone
Older, non-smartphones are not only slighter and hardier than most modern units, but they offer days and weeks (instead of hours) of battery life too. If your only need is for emergency communications, this is a no-brainer.
34. Choose the right headtorch
It’s tempting to buy a single, high-energy headtorch and stick with it for all your adventures. But do you really need that heavy 200-lumen lamp for a trip in which you aim to be comfortably back before sunset? You can still allow for emergencies by taking something like the Black Diamond Wiz (56g, 30 lumens).
35. Use a shorter sleeping mat
A full-length mat is ideal for comfort. But that’s not our concern here. Instead, investigate a half-length option (most manufacturers do them) which will keep your more important upper body off the ground at the expense of your legs… for nearly half the weight. Your rucksack or map can help keep your lower half off the cold ground if necessary.
36. Use a quilt instead of sleeping bag
The full encapsulation of a sleeping bag is not the only option (indeed, the down fill beneath you is compressed whilst you sleep, thus limiting its insulating properties). A quilt on top of yourself and your mat can be far lighter and still keep in much of your body heat. PHD’s Single Ultra Quilt (£260), for example, weighs just 385g and contains ultra-efficient 950-fillpower goose down.
37. Try tooth powder
Not just the preserve of the eccentric or the agonisingly hip, tooth powder was actually the cleaning method of choice from pre-Egyptian times up until the 20th century advent of toothpaste. Mainly based on baking soda and friction, specialty outlets still produce it and it’s inarguably a lighter way of ensuring oral hygiene on an adventure.
38. Decant, decant, decant
All of your toiletries should be decanted out of their original containers and into suitably small plastic tubes and pots. This includes your suncream, insect repellent and anything else you might need. Only take the exact amount that your trip will require.
39. Leave tent and pole stuffsacks at home
A small point, but every gram counts. So ditch the secondary stuffsacks (the drawstring toggles can be particularly weighty) and keep all the tent essentials in a single container.
40. Stay in huts!
The best possible way to save weight when you’re travelling in the Alps, in particular. You may only have to carry a sleeping bag liner if you’re guaranteed a bed, shelter and food at day’s end.
41. Stay in bothies!
With the proviso that you can’t ever guarantee there will be space in a British bothy, similar rules apply as for huts. You’ll still need a sleeping bag and mat, but no weighty tent is required for this overnight adventure. A minimalist bivy bag might be worth slipping in your pack though…
42. Use a silk liner
Whereas a silk sleeping bag liner might weigh around 130g, a cotton alternative will weigh 250g+. They’re more expensive, but if you’re looking to add warmth to your bag and keep it clean at the same time, the choice is clear.
43. Go minimal with your tent
If you’re willing to see your tent as simply a shelter from the elements, rather than a space to relax and spread out at the end of the day, then there are few limits to your quest for minimalism. If you’re willing to pay for it, a single person tent for less than 700g is a buyable reality (Terra Nova Laser Photon 1, £430).
44. Take a tent that works without its inner
There are plenty of options out there which pitch outer first, with the inner often clipped to it from within. In this situation you could simply use the flysheet and groundsheet as a shelter and forgo the insulating, breathable inner.
45. Use lightweight hiking poles
On multi-day trips or in rough terrain you could rightly view hiking poles as essential items. So investigate carbon-fibre models and try to choose fixed-length units without the extra weight that clips and twist locking mechanisms add-
46. Bring some lightweight biodegradable soap
There are plenty of innovations here to help keep your body and cooking equipment clean and sanitary – the best of which are decantable soaps capable of washing your pots, face and clothes while also being imbued with citronella to help repel insects (see seatosummit.com). Multi-function kit at its best.
FOOD & DRINK
47. Source water along the route
Carrying too much water can quickly add up, easily becoming the heaviest item in your pack. Researching the area and knowing where to find water along the route can help shed excess weight and there are many lightweight purification options – such as tablets/drops or a lightweight filter such as the Lifestraw Steel, Sawyer Mini or MSR’s new Trailshot filter.
48. Use collapsible water bottles and dishes
Collapsible or flexible water bottles are a lighter alternative to hard plastic or metal options and take up less space when not in use. Combine with collapsible dishes or pots (such as the Sea to Summit X-POT) and you may be able to get away with a smaller, lighter pack as well!
49. Bring dehydrated food
Anything that reduces the amount of moisture you’re carrying is a big weightsaver. Good dehydrated meals are just as nutritious as their wet alternatives, but can weigh just over 100g as opposed to triple that.
50. Eat heavier foods first
An eminently logical move. If the heavier foods are in your gut rather than on your back, then they’re already being converted into heat and movement, thus reducing your total weight as you walk.
51. Know how much fuel you need
This is easily done by either a) taking a stove which you self-fill with fuel and have used extensively, or b) measuring how much burn time you get from a single canister of gas with your stove. You can then judge exactly how much fuel you need to carry for the length of trip you’re planning.
52. Cook with the lid on the pot
Another step towards total fuel efficiency. By trapping the steam you’ll boil the water quicker, thus meaning that you can carry less total fuel and save weight from the off.
53. Hydrate food using cold water to save fuel
The best quality dehydrated meals can be rehydrated by cold water, which not only reduces your need for fuel but potential removes the need for a camping stove entirely (if you can make do without a hot dinner).
54. Titanium is your friend
Pioneered in the 1950s – when it was increasingly used in military and aviation designs by the Soviet Union and the USA – titanium is a wonder metal for outdoor gear. Strong, light and resistant to corrosion, a pot, spork or tent peg made of this material represents an excellent way to save weight without sacrificing a robust build – a common failing with plastics.
55. Use the spork
… rather than an entire cutlery set. Because, realistically, there’s little you’ll need to do on a plate that the spork can’t handle. Particularly if it has a lightly serrated edge (which probably makes it a sporkife?).
56. Research supply options along the route
This is particularly valid if you’re planning a trip longer than three or four days. If there’s any possibility of passing through a town or village in which you can buy food, then take advantage of it. There’s no point in carrying lots of meals if you just don’t have to.
57. Drink lots at breakfast
Water in your body will feel a lot lighter than water on your back. And, given that you lose roughly a litre of water through respiration and perspiration per day, it’s logical to assume that the process continues at night while you sleep too. Drinking a good volume of water at breakfast thus makes sense from both a weight-saving and a health/exercise point of view, and is why you often see Mountain Guides chugging back the juice and coffee before heading off for the day.
58. Use a collapsible plastic cup
A handy, slight and incredibly packable item such as a collapsible cup is worth taking on any trip. However, in an area of plentiful water which is wild enough for you to trust untreated (entirely at your own risk) – it could prove all that you need to carry for your hydration needs.
59. No sugar for you
A small weight loss can be achieved by ditching the more indulgent touches to your regular camp foods. A good example being sugar. It’s easy to get used to unsweetened tea or coffee, with flavoured teas being the obvious choice for those still keen on a tempting taste.
60. Use UV sterilisation
The Steripen Adventurer Opti can purify a litre of water within a couple of minutes, and weighs just 108g. Combine it with your neck tube to strain out larger detritus from wild water and you’re laughing. The Steripen – and others like it – can actually represent a weightsaving over tabs/drops if you plan to be out in the wild for a medium to long trip.
61. Use a windscreen with your stove
Another great tip for maximising stove efficiency. If your stove is undisturbed by the wind then it will transmit heat to your pot much more quickly. The more quickly it does so, the less fuel you can bring, thus saving weight.
62. Use winter gas in winter
In colder temperatures, liquid gas canisters operate much more slowly and less efficiently. This is because the evaporation process from liquid to gas is inhibited by the low temperature. However, winter gas canisters use various techniques (commonly by enlarging the evaporation surface area) to give a more efficient return. Yet another way to only carry the fuel you need and keep your weight to a minimum.
63. Buy 2-person dehydrated meals
… assuming there’s two of you, that is. The economy of scale of buying a two-person meal makes everything more efficient. You’ll have only one packet to carry and only one meal to cook, with the extra weight of a double meal still being considerably less than the total weight of two separate packages. A simple choice.
64. Make your own trail food
Making up your own mixes of nuts and dried fruit is not just a sensible choice from a health and taste perspective, but it allows you to be very specific about the weight you carry – particularly as you can select the thinnest, lightest food storage bag for transport too.
65. Even lighter dinners
… than the store-bought dehydrated options include packets of dried noodles, oats in a resealable food bag and dried soups. While perhaps not as densely nutritious (although that’s up to you) these also have the advantage of being lighter on the wallet too.
66. Ultra lightweight snacks
Ricecakes, crackers and similar foods are possibly the lightest snacks that it’s possible to carry. If you aim to make your camp meals nutritious and high in energy, these may be all you need to sustain you throughout the day, particularly in warmer conditions.
67. Get a food dehydrator
A particularly exciting tip – especially if you like to cook. A food dehydrator can be used to remove the moisture from fruit and vegetables, as well as fish and meat (the latter to make jerky). You can then combine these two groups in sealed packets alongside powdered milk or rice and lentils to make both hearty evening stews and healthy breakfast cereals. All while saving weight in the process (and money in the long term).
68. Can you cache food and water?
Then do so. True wilderness adventures – where you may not pass a shop or supply point – can still be made lightweight by pre-burying sealed containers of food and fresh water along the route before you begin your trip.
69. You don’t really need a bowl
So why not eat out of the pan? You can even go further and make your pot double as a mug too. An all-in-one stove system (such as the classic Jetboil and the Primus Lite) doesn’t truly need anything beyond its base elements – water and a gas canister – to provide you with hot food and drink.
70. Consider buying a BOT
A particularly novel weight saver is the Vargo Titanium Bot – a cross between a bottle and pot. It weighs 142g and features a watertight, temperature-resistant O-ring on its lid that allows it to both store water to drink on the go and be used atop your stove at the day’s end. See vargooutdoors.com for more details.
CLIMBING & MOUNTAINEERING
71. Take only what you need
The easiest way to save weight is to leave behind whatever you can get away without. The flip side of this is that you can lose the margin of safety that extra gear can give, so make conscious decisions about the level of risk that you are willing to accept.
72. Borrow kit from other sports
Think outside of the box a little and consider using gear designed for other sports. Clothing and rucksacks built for trail running are often super-light, making them great for lightweight alpine raids.
73. Streamline your rack
Your climbing hardware, with quickdraws, will include 30 or 40 karabiners. Swapping these out for the lightest modern offerings can give significant weight savings. Black Diamond’s latest version of the Camalot cams offer huge stand-alone savings.
74. Choose hardware for the route
Before setting off up a rock climb look up and see what type of gear it looks like you will need. Combined with the guidebook description, this should allow you to leave unnecessary big cams on the ground.
75. Dry treated ropes for winter and alpine use
Ropes are heavy, so choose a thinner, light-weight model. Dry treated ropes have a special coating which stops them from soaking up water, so they don’t get heavier throughout the day – important when climbing on snow and ice.
76. Carry a stove, not extra water
We need water to perform at our optimum, but it’s heavy. When alpine climbing, instead of carrying litres of extra liquid, a lightweight stove can be used to melt snow at belays. Jetboil-style stoves weigh in at around the 400g mark, and are easy to use while balanced on a ledge.
77. De-clutter your harness
Before setting off to lead a difficult section of climbing make sure that you aren’t weighed down with unnecessary extras. If you are sport climbing you don’t need to carry a knife, prussik loops or any of the other extra paraphernalia that lurks at the back of the harness.
78. Take lighter, less technical axes for the second
On big alpine routes one pair of lighter, less technical ice axes can be carried between the team. The second can climb with these on steeper pitches, and they’re also likely to be better suited to the snow slopes found on approaches and descents.
79. Wear your chalk bag on 5mm cord
Instead of clipping your chalk bag to your harness with a karabiner, or wearing a belt to hold it on, tie it around your waist with a lengthy of 5mm cord. This is lighter, holds the bag in a better position, and can be used as abseil tat if you need to back off a route.
80. Buy the leanest pack you can
Manufacturers often adorn their gear with extra features to give shop salespeople something to sell to the customer. Work out what you need, and then either buy a suitably minimalist sack or cut away the extra buckles and straps to leave a streamlined version customised to your needs.
81. Abseil with a tag line
One skinny single-rated rope is significantly lighter than two of even the most lightweight double ropes, but the downside of climbing on one rope is that you can’t abseil as far. Matching a skinny single rope with a 6mm tag line (made by Sterling etc) means that 60m abseils can be made at a much lighter weight.
82. Super-light second’s sack
When multi-pitch climbing in summer or winter, carry a tiny second’s sack on route with spare layers, headtorches and other essentials inside. Leave rucksacks at the base of the route, and collect on the way back down.
83. Climb as a three
Splitting the weight of the ropes, rack, tent and stove between three people instead of two makes each person’s bag much more manageable. On a big alpine route, climbing as a three also helps to lighten the psychological burden, adding an extra sense of security.
84. Don’t bivy
The joy of going light is that you can climb fast, so routes that sometimes take several days can be completed in a single, long push. The saying that if you
carry bivy gear you will use it holds true.
85. If you must bivy… bivy light
If bivying does seem like the best approach, then go light. In place of sleeping bags, consider taking blizzard bags, a type of silver foil survival bag. Alternatively, insulated over-trousers and a down jacket can suffice, especially if partners wrap themselves in a tarp and cuddle up.
86. Take a tent
If you are planning to make a multi-day mountaineering ascent then consider carrying a lightweight single-skin tent. These come in at well under 1.5kg, and mean that you can get away with lighter sleeping bags and can leave your bivy bags at home and sleep in comfort.
87. When two become three
We’ve already mentioned specially-designed duvets which can be carried in place of sleeping bags when sleeping in a tent, giving significant savings. But alternatively, carry two sleeping bags between three people and zip these together to make a big, cosy alpine bag!
88. Post-route review
After each day out in the mountains think about what you used and what you didn’t, seeing what could be safely left behind in future.
89. Cut down your sleeping mat
Flaking out your ropes and laying out your rucksack to form a makeshift bed works, but having a cut-down section of Thermarest Z-Lite foam mat just big enough for your upper body keeps you much warmer, meaning that you can maybe take a lighter sleeping bag, with the bonus that it’s just about comfortable enough to sleep on.
90. Remember ‘the rules’
Often attributed to the British alpinist Mick Fowler: If you weren’t hungry, you took too much food; if you weren’t cold, you took too many clothes; and if you weren’t scared, you took too much climbing gear…
91. Watch what you eat!
Shaving grams from your gear is important, but getting into good shape yourself is even more so. Having the right gear is only part of the fast and light philosophy, being fit enough to move in the mountains shouldn’t be overlooked.
92. Weigh everything
Choosing gear for a fast and light ascent or trek is all about making marginal gains, so weigh everything, including clothing, and choose the lightest options available. A few grams shaved off each item will soon accumulate to give significant savings. Start a spreadsheet and detail every item.
93. Skip the multi-tool
Multi-tools are great for car camping but let’s face it, you’re unlikely to use the majority of the tools in the backcountry. A simple, lightweight knife (such as the Petzl Spatha knife, 43g) is likely all you’ll need. If you do need multiple tools, consider ‘mini multi-tools’ like the Leatherman Style CS which packs lots of useful tools but weighs only 41g.
94. Leave the wallet at home
… because you probably don’t want to leave it in your car, and you definitely won’t need to carry it in the hills. Even if staying in an alpine hut when they will be keen to receive payment for the bed and food provided, you may be able to get by with just your credit card or cash, and some form of international ID (but best check when you make your booking).
95. Store tape around your water bottle or hiking pole
Tape is useful for a variety of outdoor repair jobs, but storing it in a roll is bulky and unnecessary. Better to wrap a suitable length around your water bottle or trekking pole, ready to peel off and re-use when needed.
96. Keep a basic first aid kit in a ziplock bag
Really analyse what you’re likely to need in your first aid kit, and only take the essentials. Then store those few items in a nearly weightless ziplock bag – it’ll keep them compartmentalised and relatively watertight too.
97. Know the conditions
… and don’t take clothing you don’t need. This is something of a mantra in the Alps, where overloaded British mountaineers carrying enough kit for the depths of an Arctic winter stand out in stark contrast to the native climbers. They’re often willing to get a little wet as they dash back to the valley in a rainstorm. Consider whether you’re happy to accept that risk too.
98. Cut off toothbrush handles
You didn’t think we’d offer lightweight advice without offering this old classic, did you? Something of a joke in outdoor circles, you can actually save weight on your toothbrush in a more practical way – by buying a disposible, waterless example such as the Colgate Wisp, thus removing the need for paste
99. Learn to improvise in emergency situations
Taking a wilderness first aid course will teach you many methods of improvising first aid equipment (such as splints), without the need to carry weighty equipment. Another way to fill your mind with knowledge in order to avoid overloading your back with bulk.
100. Leave the guidebook at home
Instead of carrying a heavy guidebook on a multi-pitch rock climb or single/multi-day trek, carry photocopies of the relevant pages. Similarly, cut maps down into logical sections and laminate them. They will then easily fit in a pocket while climbing or walking, and be relatively weather resistant too. Taking photos of the relevant pages is possible too, but do you really want to trust your safety to the battery of your phone or camera?
Thanks to Mark at www.ultralightoutdoorgear.co.uk for his contribution to this article.
…And use hiking pole to put up your sleeping tent!