Put your backpack on a diet PDF Print E-mail
Written by DENNIS APRILL, Outdoors Columnist   
Sunday, April 08, 2007

Studies have shown that most people — whether as skinny as a string bean, big as a balloon, or perfect size — are unhappy with their weight. If you are one of those looking for body weight-loss advice, you have come to the wrong place; however, if you, like many hikers are trying to shed packing pounds, read on. I may be able to help.
I have a compulsive desire to travel light, and have put my own pack on many a diet. Here is my latest, which I will call my "South Adirondack Pack Diet."
For the pack itself, there are models out there that weigh less than a pound. Gossamer Gear sells a G-4 that holds a week's food and gear and uses your Therma Rest sleeping pad for the back frame. It's a little too big and flimsy for me, so I settled for the new Osprey Stratos 24, size medium, that weighs 2.5 pounds.
Because my pack is set up for a day's outing with gear to last two nights in the mountains, if necessary, I could get by with an ultra-light poncho as an emergency shelter, doubling as rainwear. I do carry one along, but added a GoLite basic shelter tent. Both pack into a sack smaller than a loaf of bread and combined weigh less than 2 pounds.
Add to this a ¾-size sleep pad and summer weight sleeping bag, and the roof and bedroom are complete. Now for the kitchen.
I hope to get a titanium pot/cup, which is all I need to boil water for packaged soup, tea, or a freeze-dried meal. The water can be boiled on the MSR Pocket Rocket butane stove which weighs 4 ounces (plus 4 more ounces for the fuel canister). Why a butane stove? It's easy — just screw down the pocket rocket, turn it on, and light the flame, that's it. If it were winter, I would probably carry a white gas model instead.
If I am sure I will be spending the night in the mountains, I may add a Cool Max T-shirt, a pair of light-weight wool socks, and maybe a couple of toiletries. If there will be a pond or stream nearby, I will take a pack-size fishing pole, ultra-light reel and a small Altoids tin with a handful of lures.
Of course, a compass, matches, knife and camera are carried on my person, and all told, the pack, even with a little freeze-dried or dehydrated food, comes in under 15 pounds, actually closer to 10 pounds.
As of last year, I bring a cell phone, although service is sporadic in the Adirondacks. It is not so much for emergencies as I am a firm believer that if you go in, it is your job to get yourself out, unless you are seriously injured. Rather, the phone is to call my family to tell them not to worry, that I am enjoying myself and will be home a day late, always an option when I go into the mountains, but they always know my destination.
Light travel is not for everyone, but you need not struggle with a heavy pack full of needless stuff to be comfortable in the mountains.



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