Authored by Susan Guillory
When it comes to luggage, my preference is to travel with a suitcase, with enough clothing options to satisfy my whim. So when the opportunity arose for a week long trek through the Dolomite Mountains, my first thought was: “Oh crap. I’m not going to be able to pack much.”
I dove into hiking blogs to figure out exactly how I was supposed to pack a 40-liter Deuter backpack with everything I would need. Here’s what I learned on the trail. May it help you!
6 Tips for Packing Light for a Trek
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Take Our Everything You Think You’ll Need…Then Get Rid of Half
Any fan of Cheryl Strayed’s Wild can appreciate the desire to pack for every eventuality on the trail. A bear whistle. Bug spray. Condoms…maybe not. So I encourage you to go ahead and pile everything on your bed, including that fur-lined parka, as you start to pack.
Step away from the pile for a few hours, then come back and give it a hard look. Pick up each item and find a reason you need it. Will the weather justify that fur-lined parka? Are mosquitoes even prevalent where you’re headed? Make a discard pile and make peace with it.
Don’t Bring a Ginormous Camera
Photographers may disagree with me here, but I was much happier with my mirrorless Sony RX100. It takes fantastic photos, didn’t bang against my pack or the landscape while I was hiking, and it was easy to access when I needed to take a photo. Also, it was light weight and didn’t take up much space.
It’s also nice to use the camera on your phone once in a while, as you can more easily post photos to social media without the hassle of uploading images to your computer.
Speaking of Computer…
I’m a writer, so I needed my computer. Only I didn’t. I had an extra duffel bag stowed at the hotel during my hike and left the laptop in it for the rest of my trip. But trust me: even if you think you’re going to use your computer, at the end of a long day of hiking straight up a mountain, it’s the last thing you’re thinking about.
That being said, I did bring my tablet, and I was glad. I used the Kindle app, and enjoyed having books to read and games to play before I conked out at 8 pm each night.
Use Packing Cubes
I don’t know how I traveled so long without packing cubes. My world changed forever as soon as I discovered them!
The cubes I bought were too big, so I would definitely recommend starting small, but they organized my clothes (one for clean, one for dirty, one for inclement weather options) and toiletries so I could easily slide out the cube I needed without completely unpacking my bag.
This convenience is super useful if you’re staying in a rifugio (mountain hut) and everyone in your room is asleep when you need something from your pack!
Invest in Dry-Wick Clothing
While you may not have to limit your underwear if you’ve got more space, you can easily bring two or three pairs of ExUfficio or other dry-wick underwear and wash them every night.
I also bought a few Brooks quick dry shirts and lightweight cargo pants. If something didn’t dry overnight, I’d attach it to the outside of my pack during the day.
Work Out a System
The biggest tip for packing light is simply having a place for everything in your pack. Most packs come with a lot of pockets, so strategically pack each one. Keep blister pads (Compeed rocks!) and Band-Aids in an easy-access pocket, but put things like your passport and money in an internal zippered pocket. Then all you have to do is remember where you put everything!
I managed my hike of the Dolomite’s with a pack weighing just 19 pounds. It was a miracle! While I never thought I’d enjoy packing so light, I loved the freedom it afforded me. No checked bags. No toting a suitcase up steps at the train station. I’d travel again this light in a heartbeat.
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