To many new backpackers, time spent on the trail can seem like a chore. You load up your heavy backpack with 40 pounds of gear until you’re almost falling over backwards, and then you do a death march down the trail until you reach camp.
But, what if I told you that with a little bit of know-how, you can lighten your load and actually enjoy the hike?
One of the best ways a beginner backpacker can improve their experience is to start looking for ways to carry less weight in your backpack. With a lighter load, you can hike farther and faster, see more of the backcountry and do it all with less strain and exhaustion.
But getting started with ultralight can seem really intimidating.
Ultralight gear tends to be expensive, hard to shop for and confusing to understand. To anyone just starting out, it might seem like you need a degree in Materials Engineering – plus a very deep bank account – to sift through all of the advice.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be all about carbon fiber and titanium.
That’s why I put together a list of easy ways to get started with lightening your load – for cheaper than you might expect. I tried to make this a list of only the most beginner-friendly ways to save weight (and cost) when gearing up for your next big backpacking trip.
1. Trail Running Shoes instead of Leather Hiking Boots
Weight Savings: 1.5 pounds (times five!)
Cost Savings: $120
Studies have shown that carrying an extra one pound on your foot tires you out as much as carrying five extra pounds on your back. This makes footwear a great place to shave weight.
While traditionally, hikers have preferred tall, heavier boots for their “ankle protection,” there’s a growing school of thought that it is actually better to let ankle joints handle uneven terrain instead of keeping them rigid and sending the shock up into the knees and hips.
Plus, lighter shoes break in faster, are more enjoyable to walk in, and will breathe better, making it less likely that you’ll get hotspots or blisters.
My recommendation: New Balance Leadville v3.