Spending hundreds of dollars on new sleeping bags and backpacks is one way to save large amounts of pack weight, but it’s not the only way. There are a lot of small things you can do as well that will chip that base weight down, and a lot of them can be done on the cheap. What may seem like only savings of less than an ounce on it’s own will roll up to much more when combined with other weight saving techniques.
1) Cut the labels off your clothes and gear
Do you really want to carry “Made in China, Size L/G, Machine Wash Cold” with you for your entire journey? It sounds like such a small thing (and it is) but it’s an easy 10 grams to be rid of.
Estimated Weight Savings: 10 grams
2) Get lighter tent stakes, repackage tent bags
There are many stakes you can get that are lighter than the ones that came with your tent. For example these titanium tent stakes. Going from the ones that came with my tent to lighter stakes saved 62 grams and I am bringing an extra one for backup.
Additionally you can take your tent poles out of their dedicated stuff sack, as well as swap out the stuff sack for the tent stakes with a Ziploc bag. All this will give you another 10 grams in savings.
Estimated Weight Savings: 72 grams
3) Bring smaller toiletries (toothbrush, floss)
Going with a travel toothbrush (or cut the handle off of a regular toothbrush) will save you about 11 grams. A smaller floss box is another 6 grams. Dr. Bronner’s soap can be used as toothpaste, as well as body/hand wash, and even to wash your pot and utensils if you have too, so no need for a tube of toothpaste. Make sure you get the smallest Dr. Bronner’s available for even more savings. You can also get smaller nail clippers and save yourself another 9 grams.
Estimated Weight Savings: 133 grams
4) Repackage your first aid kit
A lot of first aid kits come in big, cool looking packages. Those packages are also fairly heavy. Taking all the contents out and putting them in a Ziploc bag cut the package weight from 32 grams to 7 grams.
Estimated Weight Savings: 25 grams
5) Roll your toilet paper, duct tape, athletic tape
Don’t go full roll on the toilet paper (but also don’t skimp yourself.) Rolling down to half a roll will take you from 174 grams to 33. Duct tape and the athletic tape in your med kit can also be rolled onto themselves. They will retain their stickiness but be much more compactable and lighter weight. The duct tape will bring you from around 130 grams to 21 grams and the athletic tape will bring you from around 39 grams to 19 grams.
Estimated Weight Savings: 270 grams
6) Use tyvek or polycryo instead of an official tent footprint
Tent footprints can help extend the life of your tent and improve waterproofing. You can purchase an official one from the tent manufacture, or make a much lighter one yourself. The two most popular materials to make one from are tyvek ground cloth and polycryo (more commonly known as window insulation). Tyvek is a little heavier than polycryo but also more durable. There are many sites that talk about creating your own tent footprint. I am currently using a polycryo footprint, which is about 32 grams compared to 195 grams on the manufacturer’s footprint.
Estimated Weight Savings: 163 grams
7) If you can, remove the brain of your pack
The ‘brain’ of a pack is the very top section that often has extra pockets. These pockets can help with organization, but if you can get everything into the other areas of the pack, removing the brain can save a bit of weight. On my Osprey Exos 58, removing the brain saves 113 grams.
Estimated Weight Savings: 113 grams
8) Get the Deuce of Spades for your poop shovel
If you’re carrying any trowel other then the Deuce of Spades, you’re missing out. Most other trowels weigh around 3.5 ounces, whereas the Deuce weighs a measly .6 ounces, or 17 grams.
Estimated Weight Savings: 82 grams
9) Leave your Sawyer squeeze backflush and pouch at home. Backflush with a smart water top
If you’re carrying a Sawyer Squeeze for your water filter, you can make it even lighter by using a smart water bottle to backflush it instead of the syringe it comes with. Additionally you can screw the filter right onto the Smart Water bottle and drink out of it, leaving the bag it comes with at home.
Estimated Weight Savings: 59 grams
2lbs of total weight savings
Doing all of these seemingly small things will net you 927 grams or a whole 2 pounds of savings. That’s like carrying a second tent or three extra JetBoils! Now you can enjoy the extra lightness on your back, or if being as lightweight as possible isn’t your goal, enjoy the extra space for some luxury items.