Sunday, February 10, 2008

Reducing my daypack load

I carry too much in my daypack, it is too heavy and too full. A couple of times in the last year people have asked me if I'm camping overnight because my daypack is large and full. Besides, I find myself using my lumbar pack more often because the daypack is heavy and awkward. So I've decided I need to trim it down.

A major reason for the amount of stuff I carry is that I hike alone and therefore carry more emergency items than I would if I were hiking with others. I'm not going to remove most of this but I am going to think about what I may really need and if I can reduce the size and weight of these items. Fortunately the real survival items are compact and lightweight, matches, foil space blanket, first aid kit, etc. I do see some redundancy, I carry matches, lighter, and candle, that I might be able to reduce. I'm still thinking about the poncho, I carry that more as emergency shelter than for rain wear since I carry or wear rain pants and jacket. Maybe I should replace it with a lightweight tarp.

Another issue is that I often don't update my pack items from season to season. So in the middle of summer I carry some winter gear and in cold weather may still use my 3 liter water reservoir. I also recently noticed I had squirreled away 3 emergency power bars, forgetting that I had the extras (and see below). It is hard to remove stuff, nearly everything I carry I've used at least once and many of the areas I hike in are very unpredictable. In the mountains, I could experience snow any month of the year and night time temperatures often drop below freezing even in good weather.

In general, I carry more food, water, and clothing than I ever expect to use which is good but somewhat hard on the back. I need to find a way to reduce the amount I carry without cutting my surplus too thin. For instance, I use a 3 liter reservoir because I have run out of water with a 2 liter bag more than once on a day hike in dry conditions. I once forgot my lunch bag in my car, I continued my hike sure that I had an emergency energy bar tucked away, I didn't. Of course going without food on a day hike isn't usually going to cause real problems. That time could have been dangerous; it started snowing and I slipped, fell, and got wet. By the time I made it back to my car, I was getting close to hypothermia and need something to raise my blood sugar, I wasn't thinking well. If I hadn't been able to walk after the fall, I really would have been in danger.

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