1. Cut Off the Straps on Backpack
Did you just spend good money on a backpack? Yes! Are we telling you to cut off pieces of it? YES! This might seem ridiculous, but if having a lightweight pack is important to you we highly recommend. Backpacks come with so many extra straps that you do not need. We ended up cutting off a whole pound of straps. This is one of the simplest and easiest tips on our 9 Unknown Secrets to Backpacking. Look for hip straps that extend too long, tightening straps, interior straps, and other flaps that you do not use. We cut off quite a bit from our Deuter Backpacks! For our full gear list click here.
2. Try using a Bivy Sack
Have you ever heard of a Bivy Sack? We use the Outdoor Research Molecule Bivy. A Bivy sack is basically a waterproof seal for your sleeping bag. It goes around your sleeping bag to protect it from the elements. The benefits of this are that it is smaller and lighter to pack compared to a tent. We used to be big fans of tent camping until we tried out this on a backpacking trip. We could not believe how easy it was to set up and tear down. The only downside is that it is only meant for 1 person. No more night time cuddles, but it saved us some space and weight!
3. Bring Baby Wipes
We brought regular Toilet Paper for years before transitioning to Baby Wipes. They might be little bit heavier because they carry moisture, but the cleanliness is totally worth it. We bring these every trip to make using the bathroom in the outdoors that much more pleasant. Please make sure to bring an additional plastic bag with you to pack out your baby wipes. If you don’t believe it, try using them for a week at home and see the difference. In the backcountry we do not shower everyday so things tend to get a little bit more crusty. On our trip through the Sierra High Route, this tip made the biggest difference so we had to add it to our 9 Unknown Secrets to Backpacking.
4. Bring a Small Hygiene Bag
We like to bring a lot of little things when we go backpacking. Headlamp, batteries, first-aid, medicine, string, etc. and it always gets lost in our big packs. One thing that changed the game for us was bringing a small hygiene bag. We picked one up from our local REI for under $5 and it helped us keep everything organized. The easier it is to find, the more time we can spend enjoying the beautiful backcountry. A small ziplock bag can also do the job, but we noticed that the slider would open on longer trips so we decided to get something that had a nice zipper.
5. Bring a Pillow
It is amazing what a good night of sleep will do. We have had so many long nights of tossing and turning until we found out the secret to comfort. A good sleeping bag, mat, and bivy sack are great, but a pillow made a big difference. There are two different things we tend to use for pillows. The first is to get a lightweight blow up pillow and the second is we use our sleeping bag stuff sack and pack some clothes in it. Depending on your budget, and inflatable pillow might be little expensive, so the stuff sack makes an easy replacement. This small change has made a huge impact on our sleep and energy while hiking, give it a try and enjoy the next day that much more.
6. Pack Tasty Food
After a long day in the backcountry, dinner is something that we always look forward too. Packing light food is so important to not having a heavy backpack. We have tried quite a few freeze dried meals and the best have been the Backpackers Pantry. The packs feed 2 so we always split, and they might be a little bit more expensive but it is definitely worth it. The meals are light and cook in minutes. One secret ingredient we always bring is salt! Try a few different ones at home before you take them backpacking so you know which are your favorite. Let us know down below if you have a favorite that we should try!
7. Duct Tape Around Water Bottle
Have you ever had an important piece of gear break? We have had a couple of trips where we needed tape to save the day. The problem was that we never found a good spot to put the tape until we tried putting it around our water bottle. Bring at least 2 feet of tape and wrap it around the bottle in case you need to use it. As we like to say, better safe than sorry! For our 9 Unknown Secrets to Backpacking we do not recommend to bring the whole roll. Just bring enough to fix a tent pole, some shoes, a jacket, or anything else that might need to be repaired.
8. Bring a Big Trash Bag
We have been stuck in quite a few Sierra Storms when it is dumping rain and hail. The worst thing that could happen is to have all of your expensive gear soaked! Roll up a big black heavy duty trash bag to put in your pack just in case it rains. We also use this when we are away on day hikes and there is a chance of rain. Throw the trash bag over your pack before heading off so that you have a piece of mind when you come back.
9. Bring a Headlamp not a Flashlight
This might feel redundant but we felt it was necessary for a reminder. BRING A HEADLAMP! Keeping your hands free while cooking, hiking, and adventuring is very important in the backcountry. A flashlight can be big and bulky while a headlamp is very light and compact. Double check that there is always a pair of spare batteries in your back so that you do not get stranded in the dark.
These are our 9 Unknown Secrets to Backpacking that we thought everyone could use. Backpacking is a different world and not being prepared could have severe consequences. Try one or all of them on your next outing and let us know if they made a difference for you. We love the backcountry and everything it has to offer. Where is the next trip you are going?