The pursuit of less
More focus on weight & size than your goal & purpose? Sure they all important but not all the time!
I often hear people discuss equipment, in particular smaller and lighter equipment. The reasons can be many. There is no universal blueprint as to how we should all hike, but with a lighter backpack the overall experience becomes more enjoyable and it puts less strain on your body. It’s not as bulky and gives you more freedom on your adventures when moving in between places. Less things can be luxurious but at the same time we can do the direct opposite, adding equipment for more luxury. It all depends on our goal and purpose. The big difference may be that we sometimes bring something, even though it weighs, because it makes us happy or at ease in some way. Then it’s a conscious choice. If we add stuff in our backpack making it heavy, still only having the necessary stuff or ending up only using half of the things that we brought we perhaps need some helpful feedback. With this said my best tip for you is to begin your hiking career by carrying as light as possible without becoming a fanatical gramme hunter.
Sometimes it not the amount of coffee, it’s more that we actually have coffee.
Let’s say that we compare two backpacks with the same volume. The difference can be, for example that one of them doesn’t come with a rain cover and you end up buying one later. Maybe there are differences in thickness or width when comparing buckles, straps, fibre thickness, zippers, frames and so on. What do you need? Thicker buckles and higher denier for a more durable pack that never lets you down in the most difficult of conditions, or something lighter for those spontaneous excursions in the mountains? What is lightweight in what you aim to do?
Lightweight is a relative term
Cutting your toothbrush in half, cutting labels off your clothes and burning pages when you read them to make everything lighter, while your backpack, tent and sleeping bag are among the heaviest on the market, may not be the best way to go. Have you heard about the “big three” items (backpack, tent and sleeping bag)? Here you will most likely find your most significant weight savings! The trick is to find balance and not sacrifice either performance nor safety.
What is luxury when out for a weekend adventure compared to a month-long adventure? Could it be an iPad or a bag of your favourite chips during soccer season? Could it be a mocha pot, or perhaps living simply while out there, only bringing the most necessary things? Could it be all of above? There is no right or wrong here!
Let’s say we choose between a couple of thermoses. You hold them and choose one because of its weight and size. Can there be other factors to think about? Are they the same volume despite being different and do they hold warmth equally well? Are you drinking directly from it or is the lid a cup at the same time? Should it be suitable only for warm coffee and tea or for food as well?
For me it’s a lot about weight and size when I’m out trekking with my family. I often end up carrying the majority of our stuff in a 100l backpack. When I’m out alone I never really think about weight that much and often take extra snacks and food with me. During my longer walks through Sweden I often bought food or snacks as I passed petrol stations and grocery stores to enjoy there and then but also to refill my backpack. I once bought a fairly big watermelon for that evening and ended up carrying it for hours before pitching my tent. At other times I emptied my pockets from trash as often as I could, losing a couple of grams by doing so. From time to time it feels like weight has a lot to do with “state of mind” rather than physical properties.