“Lighter and faster” is the MO these days when spending time in the woods. My first backpacking trips over a decade ago were a slightly different story, partly because I didn't know better (glass jars of food, anyone?), partly because I thought I needed a fresh pair of socks and a change of clothes every day, and partly because the gear available was made with different, heavier materials. Carrying a 45+lb pack for a simple overnight didn't inspire me to want to backpack all that often in those days.
Luckily, Deuter has revolutionized how we carry our gear with advanced technologies like the Aircontact Lite Back System, easily adjustable Vari Quick System, lightweight materials and thoughtful features, resulting in incredibly durable and functional gear that shave off ounces and pounds to older and other packs. Better gear matched with having learned a thing or two about essentials and my experiences in the woods are more enjoyable and more frequent. Better, and lighter, gear also allows me pack take a few extra bits of goodness to make the experience more enjoyable.
Here are some tips to packing efficiently, without having to sacrifice luxury.
- Put in rigid or sharp objects first, including tent poles. Slide them in along the back or side of your pack. Using myACT Lite 40+10, I unzip the flap that separates the top and bottom chambers just enough to slide my poles all the way down to the bottom of the pack without losing the organizational convenience of two chambers.
- Food and cookware (split between myself and my backpacking buddies) goes in the center of the top chamber on top of the separation flap.
- Stuff your sleeping bag in the bottom compartment. If precipitation is likely, use a garbage bag to line the bottom chamber before stuffing your sleeping bag in. This will keep your essentials dry if you don’t pull out the integrated rain cover in time or set your pack down with the exposed back to the rain.
Luxury alert: the bottom compartment is spacious enough for a camping pillow. Treat your self well after a long trek into the backcountry with a soft cushion for your head. For extra cushion, wrap the pillow in your puffy jacket and then a zipped up, inside out fleece (fuzzy side out) for ultimate luxury.
- Stuff extra clothing in the spaces around the sleeping bag. Fill them up so that there aren’t any baggy, sagging or empty spots in the bottom chamber of your pack
A note on clothing: All of your clothing should work together. Bringing a set of clothes for the hot hike in plus a separate set of warmer clothes for the night when temps drop all total up to a lot of weight. Instead, bring one set of clothing you’ll wear all the time (yes, the same ones you hike in will work for sleeping in, too) plus some additional clothing that can be added to your one outfit to warm you up. A pair of long johns can easily be put on under your lightweight hiking pants/shorts as the day’s temps drop.
Wooly mountaineering or ski socks one size larger than what you usually wear are a fantastic extra “layer” under, or in lieu of, long johns if you run cold. The extra room of a larger size makes them cozier. Tip: leave out your ski socks – they will come in handy for protective packing later
A wool beanie, gloves, and a puffy jacket are the essentials for your top, along with a rain jacket if you are backpacking in damp environments. Pack these in you lid or at the top of the main compartment
- Splitting the tent body and fly with your buddies, pack your part of the tent around your food/cookware.
- Here come the good parts… luxury packing 101:
In one of your ski socks, pack or wrap a small (or large if you’re extra thirsty) bottle of wine. Don't forget the wine key! (or your pocket knife)
Slip a high quality, delicious chocolate bar or two into the hydration bladder sleeve. The rigidity of the pack’s frame will keep the chocolate from breaking before you’re ready to eat it.
Pack an avocado in your lid. They are tasty, high in calories, make any meal gourmet and the tough skin is difficult to puncture so avo goo won’t make a mess while heading up the trail. For a single overnight, pack a ripe avocado. If you’re going out for multiple days, pack one that is not quite ripe – two days in and it will be perfect.
Flip flops slide easily into the front pouch of the ACT Lite. Wear with socks if you need added warmth or without if you don't. Either way, an evening wearing flip flops gives your hard working, hot and sweaty feet a much needed break and breather.
Flasks always fit. Just saying…
- Tighten down all compression straps, put snacks in your lid for easy access, your camera in the hip belt pocket and put your pack on to adjust the shoulder straps and hip belt.
Head out and have a great adventure!