This is a series of Prohibitions when Climbing Mount MarasOctober 22, 2020
Interview with Daria MezentsevaOctober 24, 2020
In a good week I’ll set off to hike the length of Germany.
On my first long-distance hikes on the Nurtschweg and from Forchheim to Venice in 2012, my backpack was almost twice as big and twice as heavy.
I have gained a lot of experience since these two tours.
I was on the way to cross the Alps from Salzburg to Trieste four times, walked the Franconian Mountain Trail, made a pilgrimage from the front door to Santiago de Compostela and completed numerous day and multi-day hikes.
Light equipment contributes to the success of a hike.
If you pack your rucksack according to the motto “less is more”, you benefit from several advantages: Larger radius of action.
You use less energy for the same distance.
As a rule of thumb, for every kilogram that is left at home, you gain one kilometre of distance.
So you progress faster, you are sooner at your destination or you can hike longer stages and make detours.
More enjoyment of being outside.
It is much more pleasant to walk when there is no heavy burden on your back and mind.
The focus is on the experience of nature and outdoor activity.
The shoulder, back, knees and feet are significantly less stressed. This reduces the risk of stress pain, injuries or even permanent damage to the musculoskeletal system.
You have fewer problems, especially on steep descents, in exposed places and on climbing passages.
A light, properly packed, low volume backpack reduces the risk of twisting, stumbling and falling.
Be better organized.
It is easy for you to keep track of your equipment.
The constant rummaging and repacking is a thing of the past.
Entry into the wonderful world of minimalism.
The backpack can be seen as a symbol of life.
The less ballast you carry with you when hiking and in life, the more you will be able to enjoy the tour and your life.
The following tips and tricks will help you to reduce your equipment and the weight of your backpack.
I’m not going into specific products or brands, I’m giving general advice.
They can therefore be used equally for long-distance hikes, pilgrimages, trekking tours, day hikes and backpacking trips.
1. Take as much as necessary and as little as possible
This basic rule is simple. Implementing it, i.e. only taking with you what you really need, is not that easy.
You need to know your destination, your equipment and yourself well.
This requires detailed planning and experience.
In time you will know what to pack for which tour.
Do without fun things like the vacation thriller or the button in the ear.
It is important to be prepared for emergency situations and to have reliable weather protection.
Your equipment should already have proven itself (at least on several day hikes with full luggage).
This includes hiking boots, weather protection, possibly the tent and stove, the first aid kit and orientation with a useful combination of hiking guide, topographical maps, compass, GPS device and smartphone.
As a basis for planning, I recommend using a packing list from the network (e.g. I have published one for crossing the Alps and one for the Way of St. James).
The best way to do this is to transfer it to a spreadsheet (also on paper) and adapt it to your project.
I add the columns “Category”, “Weight in grams”, “Vital” and “Comments” to my table.
This helps to keep an overview, to calculate the total weight and the weight of the individual categories and to make notes after returning about what has proven itself, what has been missing, what has not been used and what of the provisions, the fuel, the outdoors -Soap and other items brought back home.
I then use this knowledge to optimize the equipment for future ventures.
2. Pay attention to the weight and volume of new equipment
For ecological and financial reasons alone, I advise against changing all of the equipment to ultralight in one go.
It makes more sense and fun to gradually and carefully replace what has become unsustainable.
If you need something new or want to replace it, then start with the heavy and voluminous items such as backpack, tent, sleeping bag and rain jacket.
It has never been easier to be light on the move.
More and more manufacturers are relying on the lightweight trend.
The products from this segment can be found sporadically in conventional outdoor shops, but mainly in ultralight trekking web shops.
There is a forum, a book and instructions for MYOG (Make Your Own Gear) for everyone who is interested in the topic.
But you shouldn’t expect an egg-laying woolly milk sow.
Anyone looking for an ultra-light, breathable, long-lasting, sustainable rain jacket with minimal pack size for little money can look for a long time.
You will have to weigh up which compromise you want to make.
Weight isn’t everything. Depending on the intended use, a somewhat more robust product is preferable to one that is trimmed for lightness.
3. Buy a lightweight backpack that has a little too little volume
With this trick you win three times: A backpack with a smaller volume forces you to only take the bare essentials with you.
It also has a lower dead weight. If you also choose a lightweight backpack, you will save a few hundred grams again, because these models are equipped with a simpler carrying system and fewer frills.
On my last long-distance hikes, I used a 1.3 kg, 32-liter backpack.
On my crossing of Germany I will choose a lightweight backpack with almost the same volume and weighing only 630 g.
The first impression after a couple of day trips is surprising: the new one is more comfortable to carry with a weight of 8 or 9 kg.
The old heavyweight only wins at 10 kg or more.
4.Pack with the help of a digital kitchen scale
A T-shirt can weigh 80 g or 200 g, a one-man tent 700 g or more than three times as much.
A digital kitchen scale helps you to compare different equipment options down to the last gram and to get an overview of what weighs how much.
Be aware that every gram weighs several times.
If you take less with you, you can choose a smaller backpack that has a lower weight.
Less luggage means lighter shoes. In addition, you use less energy and you do not sweat as much.
This saves you additional weight on provisions and water.
5. Don’t be afraid of scissors and knives
It is best to consider whether you can cut something off each item.
I’ve trimmed hiking books, maps, cosmetics, clothing labels and more.
The various straps on the backpack are also often too long. Shorten them accordingly and then seal them with the help of a lighter to prevent them from fraying.
6. Combine clothes cleverly and wash regularly
I am often amazed that many people carry half their wardrobes with them in their rucksacks.
Rather, rely on light, functional clothing with low volume and wear them individually or on top of each other.
I usually have a T-shirt and a long-sleeved shirt made of functional material, a thin fleece, an ultra-light windbreaker and a breathable rain jacket with me.
Depending on the wind and weather, I only wear one layer or, based on the onion principle, up to five.
By the way, no one has stunk themselves to death.
If you don’t believe me, I can still reassure you.
With water and some outdoor soap or shampoo, you can get your dirty laundry clean enough at your destination for the day.
If you wring it out well and hang it up in a suitable place (warm room, wind, sun), it will be dry the next morning.
In many accommodations you can use the washing machine on request for a small fee.
7. Prefer equipment with multiple functions
A tubular scarf can be used as a neckerchief, scarf, bracelet, headband, hair band, balaclava, headscarf and towel.
A smartphone is a telephone, computer, camera, hiking guide, navigation system and compass in one. Swiss Army Knives are available with additional functions such as bottle openers, can openers, corkscrews, scissors, tweezers, saws and screwdrivers.
Be creative when packing and on the go.
In the emergency camp I once took a fluffy fleece as a pillow and slept wonderfully, when the temperature was below zero, socks warmed my clammy fingers and as a couscous salad bowl, food bowl, emergency cup, sink, storage box and cutting board, I have been using the same Tupperware box with lid for years.
8. Keep things tidy with Ziploc bags and compression bags
Wash bags, hard-shell bags, daypacks and cloth sacks can add up to a weight of up to one kilogram.
I now only use transparent Ziploc bags and compression bags.
They hardly weigh anything and create order and space. If you don’t want to do without a daypack or gym bag, you will find an ultralight version with a weight of less than 100 g.
Care and hygiene items such as shampoo and food such as olive oil in excessively large quantities or packaging that is too heavy are best put in sachets and bottles without plasticizers.
9. Use equipment together
If you are traveling as a couple or in a group, you can share a lot: maps, hiking guides, compass, GPS device, photo equipment, smartphone, pocket knife, stove, first aid kit, toothpaste, outdoor soap, etc.
Talk to you beforehand who will take what.
10. Use the synergy effect on your feet
If you have less luggage with you, you can wear lighter shoes.
It’s really worth it. British researchers found out in the course of Edmund Hillary’s Mount Everest expedition that the weight on the foot corresponds to five times the weight on the back.
A saving of half a kilogram on a pair of shoes has the same effect as two and a half kilograms in a backpack. Of course, you should still pay attention to good footwear.
Those who hike in the high mountains or twist their knees quickly prefer to go ankle-high.
11.Know your planned route as well as possible.
The more precisely you know what to expect, the more precisely you can plan what to take with you, what to stay at home and what to get on the go.
Ask yourself these and similar questions: How long is the route? What does the height profile look like? How difficult is the terrain? What weather can be expected? Are there alternative routes? Where do I sleep? Where can I fill up my water? What about refreshment stops and shopping opportunities?
I have tried to answer all of these questions in my hiking guide “Alpine crossing Salzburg – Trieste”.
For each stage there is precise information about the length of the path, the difficulty, the pure walking time, the places to stop and overnight, as well as water points, supermarkets, pharmacies, sports shops, ATMs and doctors.
Since you never know exactly how fast you are going, an emergency ration of energy should not be missing. I usually have nuts and dried fruit on board, also in the form of homemade bars.
12. Send equipment back or forth
Most long-distance hikers who walk one of the three 3,500 to 5,000 km triple crown trails, the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trail in the United States, post themselves packages with food and equipment, which they then go to stores and pick up post offices on the trail.
The respective package is then sent to the nearest depot or home with the changed content.
You can also use this trick on shorter tours.
Before I started my long-distance hike from Nuremberg to Istria last year, I sent friends near Salzburg a package with the following contents: my mountain boots, warmer clothes, the hiking guide, hiking maps, my favorite sunscreen and a few other things that I can’t buy on the way .
Then I hiked easily and easily from the front door to Salzburg.
My friends brought me the package there.
After crossing the Alps, a shipment went back home and I was relieved towards the Mediterranean and Istria.
Bonus: let go
Too much stuff causes grief – at home and on the go. The fear of forgetting something can quickly be responsible for several kilograms of luggage when packing.
As long as you have the essentials for survival with you, you can lean back and have fun.
Even more: the better you let go, the lighter and freer you will feel.
When you hardly feel your backpack anymore, all the other ballast falls away from you.
Then you can enjoy yourself – in your journey, in your pure existence, in great little things like a colorful meadow of flowers, the scent of the forest or a raindrop on your nose.