Get Out the Scale and Lose the Weight

Gear ready to go for the next backpacking adventure
AFTER MY GEAR SHAKEDOWN: Gear ready to go for the next backpacking adventure

 

Fall is the perfect season to get out last summer’s backpacking gear to clean, reassess, and repair. I look at it as a renewal and a time to look ahead to upcoming trips. It is an opportunity to look for options to shave off a bit of weight, change out gear that really didn’t work, repair, update your gear list, and make a wish list for upcoming purchases. In my case, the wish list becomes a gift list for Christmas, birthday, anniversary, Valentine’s Day, or any other special holiday I can think of. Here are some ideas to start losing the weight.

1. Get a good digital kitchen scale

If you don’t already own a kitchen scale to weigh your gear, buy or borrow an  inexpensive digital scale. I like a scale with a bowl option that can be removed. It is handy for balancing larger items and containing small ones.

Scale with bowl option
Scale with bowl option

2. Inventory, to-do list & repair

Get all the gear and clothing out in one place. Examine for holes, wear spots, or zippers that need to be fixed or sewn. Discard items that no longer work and need to be replaced. For example: old water filter bag, pack liner, OP Sak, or zip-locks. Now start making a list of needed replacement purchases and repairs. This is important. I tend to forget if I wait until next spring that I had a tiny hole in my tent or that my OP Sak no longer sealed. Now is the time to actually repair, replace, or write needed actions down.

Amazon (10)
BEFORE Repair and Organization

3. Wash & refill

Wash or wipe off all gear and clothing as needed including down sleeping bag, down jacket, and backpack. I like ReviveX Down Cleaner in my washing machine to renew and refresh the down. Next, refill all items that are expendable. For example: toothpaste, soap, fuel canister, sunscreen, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, etc.

4. Weigh everything

Weigh every piece of gear you carry. Every thing. This step can be quite revealing and alarming, but so necessary. Look for ways to carry 1 item that can be used for many things. Here are a couple videos from hikelight.com that offer 200 possibilities for lightening your load: Ultralight Backpacking Tips Part 1, Part 2. In addition, Swami at The Hiking Life is a valuable resource for going light. Some of the ideas are pretty radical in my book, but others took years of backpacking for me to discover.

Keep track of your gear and total weight by recording individual gear weight on a dynamic Google Sheet. Here is a very simple sheet I use. If you love very detailed to the gram statistics, LighterPack has the list generator just for you. Not only is this a great wake-up call, but also an effective packing list for your next hike.

My target base weight total, without food and water, with every little thing is 11 pounds. Someday, I hope that total will be 10 pounds. All hikers are different in health, skill, fitness, priorities, and tolerated discomfort. Find your target weight and make that happen.

 

Scale without bowl option
Scale without bowl option

5. Organize & store

Now is the time to find one place to store your gear. In our home, we have multiple hikers, so we have shelves with gear bins. This step is a real time saver when the next trip comes up. Just grab and go. Be sure and follow manufacturers long-term storage directions for items like summer down sleeping bag and water filters.

Below is my standard 3 season gear list for backpacking and long-distance hiking, after my lose the weight shake down. It is always an ongoing process for me to lighten the load without ruining the experience or being unsafe by going too light.

Depending on the trail I hike, I may substitute, eliminate or add gear to accommodate the conditions and elements that are expected. The added categories at the bottom of the list feature gear for different hiking conditions.

CategoryItemWt.(oz)Notes
BackpackGossamer Gear Gorilla25lightweight, supportive, comfortable
Pack Liner1fits nicely in pack
ShelterZPacks Solplex Tent17NEW this year!
Polycryo Ground Cloth1lightweight and does the job
SleepingZpacks 10 degree with Draft Tube23NEW this year! Buy one size longer than your height
Neo Air Regular13luxury comfort
Kitchen/FoodJet Boil Sol Ti9fast boiling, small canister = 22 boils
Cook-N-Coozy Solo1a little oven
Long Handled Spork0.5long handle is perfect for zip-lock bags
Open Country Cup1handy measuring marks
O.P. Sak (Odor Proof)2love the 12 X 20 size
HydrationSawyer Mini Filter3the best filter I have ever used
Sawyer Pouch - 2 literbuy a 2 liter bag for longer trips
2 Smart Water Bottles2fits on Sawyer Squeeze
First-aid/HygieneFirst-aid kit5*see content below
Tolietries7*see content below
Potty bag2.5*see content below
lavender, peppermint, melaleuca0.5multi-use powerful meds
Swiss Army Classic1twizzers actually work
Duece of Spades trowel0.5get the brightest color
Diva Cup0.5for women, highly recommended
Clothes in PackMarmot Essence Jacket5beads up nicely with long sleeves, great colors
Houdini Wind Jacket3.5essential for layering
PossumDown Gloves1NEW this year!
MH Ghost Whisperer7warm and very light, love the hood for sleeping and cold days
Icebreaker Dart Half Zip5NEW this year!
TNF flash tight4
Injinji Midweight Crew Toesocks1.5no toe blisters and wear a very long time
Night Socks1.5
Patagonia Active Hipster1dries quickly, fit great
Misc.Rite in Rain Journal2waterproof, great size
Silva Compass1
Tikka 2 Headlamp3bright for night hiking
maps w/data pages in ziploc3
sit pad cut from foam pad1DIY essential
Lumix LX7 Camera11love the wide angle
FlashAir WiFi cardtransfer pics from camera to phone
iPhone 65navigation, blogging, video, phone
Otter Box Case1durable and slim
Mini Tripod1small, lightweight
StickPic0.5easy, simple pole mount
Power - New Trent8packs 5 charges, no longer sold
Umbrella8sun and precipitation protection
Sea to Summit Bug Net0.5NEW this year!
Weight SummaryBASEWEIGHT (oz)189.5
w/o food & waterBASEWEIGHT (lbs)11.5
Items WornOR Echo HoodyI own every color
Prana Convertible Pantdurable, fit great, offered in lengths
Dirty Girl Gaitersgreat dirt and sand protection
Columbia Sun Gloveseasy to get on and off, don't show dirt
La Sportiva Bushido Shoesbuy at least a size up, love them!
Insoles - Custom
Injinji Midweight Crew Toesocksno toe blisters and wear a very long time
Buff Scarfsun scarf, headband, beanie
Sun Hat
Sports Bra
Timex Watch
Patagonia Active Hipsterfavorite for years
Sunglasses
Fizan Poles11compact, strong, lightweight
Extra Gear/SnowKahtoola MICROspikes13always in my pack during winter hikes
CAMP Corsa Ice Axe7lightweight, sharp, easy to handle, buy longer size
Extra Gear/BearBearvault solo32
Ursack S29 9bear protection for non-regulated areas
Ursack Minor3great for critter protection
Zpacks Bear Bag Kit Rectangle3doubles as a waterproof ditty bag
Extra Clothing/ColdR1 hoody11warm fleece for hiking and camp
Marmot Minimalist Jacket13Gore tex, great for wet, cold weather
Marmot Minimalist Pant9Gore tex, great for wet, cold weather
Purple Rain Skirt4comfortable waist band, flattering
2 Person ShelterZPacks Duplex Tent24absolute favorite tent for 2

Below are visual lists of items that go in my first-aid, toiletries, potty, and electronics kits with a bonus Lady on a Rock discount.

FIRST AID KIT: cuben fiber tape, ibuprofen, benadryl, vicodin, match book, mini-bic lighter, emery board, extra pair of contacts, tough strips band-aids, essential oils, safety pin, knife
FIRST AID KIT: cuben fiber tape, ibuprofen, benadryl, vicodin, match book, mini-bic lighter, emery board, extra pair of contacts, tough strips band-aids, essential oils, safety pin, knife
TOILETRIES: toothpaste, toothbrush, dental floss, Dermatone Sunscreen and lip balm, contact case & solution, brush, deodorant, Neutrogena Hand Cream, Dr. Bronners soap
TOILETRIES: toothpaste, toothbrush, dental floss, Dermatone Sunscreen and lip balm, contact case & solution, brush, deodorant, Neutrogena Hand Cream, Dr. Bronners soap
POTTY BAG: Brawny paper towel sheets, extra ziplock, hand sanitizer, baby wipes, The Deuce of Spades Potty Trowel
POTTY BAG: Brawny paper towel sheets, extra ziplock, hand sanitizer, baby wipes, The Deuce of Spades Potty Trowel
ELECTRONICS: camera, phone, earbuds, charger, iPhone, earbuds, cords
ELECTRONICS: camera, phone, earbuds, charger, iPhone, earbuds, cords

Lady on a Rock Reader Exclusive!

In addition to my favorite pack, the Gorilla, many small items I carry and love can be purchased at Gossamer Gear. It is like a one-stop-shop for lightweight gear. Here is a 15% discount code for a one time purchase. Have fun!

Gossamer Gear

 

 

 

 

Now is your turn. It is always fun to go lighter. 

16 Comments

  1. I love your site; it’s been incredibly helpful. I’m thinking of springing for a Zpacks 10 degree bag. Is it your number 1 pick, or do you have another recommendation?

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      Yes my number 1 pick. I just bought a new one. My next blog entry is just about it. I bought a wide width this time. The bag is warm, very lightweight, compacts small, and I love the no hood. I highly recommend it. Be sure and buy the size taller than you are. 🙂

  2. Yep to Gossamer Gear Gorilla. Quite a meticulous list and process here but am convinced now that it’s worth it. Should try this when hiking in Sedona.

  3. Is the Gorilla good for a winter hiking daypack? I replaced my previous backpack with a smaller one for dayhikes – trying to go lighter. But I’m finding it is uncomfortably small for cramming in all of the extra layers I bring along for dayhikes in the winter. Do snowshoes attach easily to it? I’m thinking of using your discount (woohoo!).

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      You bet. I use the Gorilla for all my winter day treks. The snowshoes fit in the side pockets (one each side and under compression straps), micro spikes can be stowed in the back mesh pocket, and it is big enough for any gear you might need. Even when it isn’t stuffed to capacity, the pack still fits nicely on the back. I like using a pack liner on the inside and bring a trash compactor bag for the outside (for torrential rain or snow). Hope it works for you!

  4. Walksandrambles

    Thanks! They’ll be on my Christmas list 🙂

  5. Yes , I love that you have addressed the “pack out your toilet paper” topic ! It is my mission to educate backcountry lovers that it is unacceptable to leave toilet paper out there and it is so easy to pack it out . I am constantly surprised ( and was on my last recent backpacking trip ) to hike with people who are intelligent and educated and belong to well known environmental clubs and are passionate about protecting our natural treasures and who don’t think twice about leaving toilet paper ! 😩 Thank you for helping inform other hikers ! I really appreciate it !!!! 👍

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      Man oh man I am so with you on this. You were the inspiration behind it all. I think I need to repost the blog entry as a new post.

  6. Impressive !
    I have already used your article to improve my gear and reduce my weight. Thank you
    for taking the time to share.
    Whishing you and your family a healthy and joyful Holiday season !
    Finishing the CDT , Montana section next year. Pulled out just short of the entire trek due a hernea and disc. Lesson learned not to do trail maintenace on my own:(
    Loki

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      Impressive, back to you! Congratulations on your CDT trek! Where exactly did you get off after doing impromptu trail maintenance? A hernia and back is no joke. Hope you are healing quickly. We are heading to Tennessee over Thankgiving to check out Grant’s, Silly Chili, stomping grounds and will do a quick jaunt on the AT. Hope your holidays are just the best.

  7. Always enjoy your informative posts ! I finally got a new iPhone and I have to laugh because I got the same Otter box case and color that you have !! I just saw it in your photo and thought .. Gee there’s my new phone !

  8. Walksandrambles

    Raingear question…I remember that you recommended a brand of raingear. I’m getting ready to invest in a good jacket and pant set for a Spring walk across England. Are you still pleased w the brand? I took your advice on your choice of seat cushion and umbrella…both are great! Thanks.

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      The Marmot minimalist rain pant and jacket work fantastic for rain all day and colder weather (even better with umbrella). I used them walking through Scotland and for winter hiking here in California. The fit is nice, not too baggy on both the pant and jacket, no flapping in the wind and comfortable to hike in. So glad you loved the gear recommendations. Yaaaaay.

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