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How to save weight and stay warm while backpacking

Save weight & Stay warm

This is any backpackers biggest struggle come cooler temperatures. How to keep your pack light, but make sure you have all the gear you need so you’re not freezing all night.

Making these decisions can be all about personal preference as well. A seasoned backpacker learns how to pack from years of experience. It will take some time to determine what is worth packing for you. We do have some general tips for you though! 

The four essentials

To save the most weight, you need to make sure the four biggest items you pack are as light as possible. 

  1. Sleeping Bag – Especially in cooler temperatures, where you need a more bulky bag, this can be quite the weight in your pack. Down material is the lightest option, so the best for watching your weight, but it is also the most expensive. 
  2. Hammock – Because camping hammocks are so lightweight, these are a great option if you are trying to save weight. 
  3. Pack – This will likely be the heaviest thing you bring. To bring this weight down you can consider purchasing a smaller pack, or a frameless pack. 
  4. Pad or Underquilt/Overquilt – If you are looking to stay warm while hammock camping, an underquilt and topquilt are your best bet although they may be heavier than 

Smaller tips

Change your clothes before bed – After hiking all day, your clothes will be saturated with sweat, snow, rain or just the humidity in the air. To stay warm at night change into your dry pair of clothes. Keep the wet pair with you in your sleeping bag to dry them off as much as possible during the night. 

Think through every item in your pack – There may be areas that don’t initially think you can save weight, that you actually can. For example, can you make your toothbrush any smaller? Are you using an alcohol stove?

You can bring one item that serves a lot of purposes. For instance a bandana can serve as a headband, a pot holder, a tourniquet, or a towel for dishes. Rather than a bulky pack cover, insulate the inside of your bag with a garbage bag. 

Water – Water is one of the biggest weights you will carry. Try to drink as much as possible when you fill up your water and only carry a liter of water with you on the trail. 

Clothing – Cotton is absorbent so it will get stinky, and is useless in the cold, we recommend you leave the cotton items at home! Merino wool is a great material for your shirts and socks. For warmth, wear a base layer with a fleece pullover and a lightweight down jacket. You could also think about bringing a lightweight waterproof rain jacket. However, don’t get carried away bringing more clothes than you need. It takes up space, and adds weight to your pack. 

There are some great articles out there all about this subject, check out a few we loved. This one from man makes fire, and this one from green belly.