- Buyer's Guide
Tips to Make Your Pack Lighter
Anna Pfaff is an Osprey athlete focused on alpine climbing. She started climbing in 2002 while attending nursing school in Colorado and has developed a passion for the mountains and the complexity of remote alpine climbing in the largest ranges in the world. Her pursuits have taken her to the mountains of Pakistan, Himalaya, Tibet, Nepal, India, Kyrgyzstan, South America and more. When not climbing abroad, Anna can be found locally in the San Juans of Colorado or working as a Trauma nurse in Oakland, CA. Alpine climbing is not forgiving when it comes to heavy bags, and Anna’s honed skills for lightweight packing can be used across a range of pursuits. Below she shares some of her top tips to make your pack lighter…
It is super easy to overpack. After countless expeditions around the world, I have learned over the years that there are many items I thought I would need but have really never used on an adventure. Light and fast is the best way in the mountains! Here are a few tips I have learned to lighten my load, increase my chances of success in the mountains, and improve my comfort over the long haul.
1) Repack all food items
Open the bags, remove wrappers, and combine items into one large bag. This reduces weight and the need to haul more garbage back out.
2) Choose appropriate clothing and temperature rating sleeping bag
It is okay to wear the same shirt for the entire trip. The main layers needed are a down jacket, waterproof jacket, mid-layer, base-layer, long pant. If you cannot wear all the layers at one time and still move efficiently, you have too much! The temperature rating on the sleeping bag you have should be appropriate for the temps. No need for a zero degree bag on an overnight August Yosemite trip.
“Repack all food items. Open the bags, remove wrappers, and combine items into one large bag.”
3) Ditch the books
Take photos of maps and topo maps or tear out pages for what you need.
4) Lighten your cooking setup
Do not overpack fuel. Calculate how many meals you need to cook and if you need to melt snow for drinking water. Don’t just guess! Another great tip is to use the pan – eating directly out of the pot or pan you cook in reduces the need for extra plates etc.
5) An ultralight tent is key
Shoot for an ultralight tent like the Hyperlite UltaMid or the four-season NEMO Tenshi. If you can get by, a bivy sack can always do the trick and will immensely lighten your load.
“…eating directly out of the pot or pan you cook in reduces the need for extra plates…”
6) Take Down
7) Don’t take a heavy pad or pillow
After a long day out hiking or climbing you will be tired and any pad will work just fine. The lighter the better! A pillow can be made by stuffing your clothing into your sleeping bag stuff sack.
After you have packed everything, unpack it all and lay it out. Think of at least two items you don’t absolutely need. Remove them and keep the third!
“A pillow can be made by stuffing your clothing into your sleeping bag stuff sack.”
9) Buy light gear
When making new gear purchases, be savvy of weight and simplicity. Don’t get flashed by color and complicated systems that end up weighing you down.
10) Make a list
A few days before the trip make a list and each day analyze the gear. Mindful packing for an expedition will reduce the likelihood of “what if I need this” leading to overpacking and ultimately a heavy pack. After each trip write down what you did not use and why and vice versa what you could have done better. It is all a learning game with continuous improvement being the goal.
“A few days before the trip make a list and each day analyze the gear. Mindful packing for an expedition will reduce the likelihood of “what if I need this” leading to overpacking and ultimately a heavy pack.”
*Lifestyle photography by Dan Holz for Osprey Packs, featuring Osprey’s Mutant 38.