Spending time outdoors is one of those activities which are bound to revitalize your energy. Even if your physical strength is put to the test by hiking, cycling, hunting or kayaking, the breathtaking natural environment rules over you and you end up immersed in its glory, forgetting about the pain in your muscles.
One of the most challenging aspects of visiting the outback is packing. While you do want to go into the hinterland to experience it firsthand, you still want to take a touch of civilization with you to stay protected and comfortable. The problem is, your luggage capacity is fairly limited if you are backpacking and need to carry all the gear by yourself. So how to pack as light as possible? In essence, it’s a though exercise which draws on experience from the field.
Once you become more intentional in the items you take with you, your backpack will grow thin quickly. But if you are new to this, you’ll need some guidance, so join us as we break down some of the most efficient outdoor packing strategies.
Cut Weight on Shelter
Take a Light Tent
The choice of shelter can greatly affect the weight of your backpack. Go for a lightweight yet sturdy camping shelter tent that will offer enough protection from the elements. This can take a lot of weight out of your equation. Instead of going for a four-person tent, go for tent envelope able to fit your body with no extra space left. Tent poles and struts can be quite heavy unless they are designed to fit as a multi pole geodesic tent. Go for the least amount of struts which can safely hold the structure.
Consider a Bivvy Bag
Bivvy bags are probably the ultimate lightweight shelter for backpackers. You see, you don’t have to sleep in a proper tent every time. All sort of technology is employed in these shelters so they can offer four season protection. We are talking about a seam-sealed and fully waterproof build which can be pitched at multiple points. Bivvy bags come in compact packing options which will also relieve the weight profile of your shelter gear in the backpack.
Side Entrance Hammock
Light shelter packing couldn’t get any slicker than a nice multipurpose hammock. It’s one of the best portable camping shelters out there and is fairly easy in terms of weight per useful surface. Some types of hammocks include a side entrance, zipper and a tarp roof over your head. In many cases more then you will ever need in the Australian bush. However, consider that these can only be used as long as the weather is calm and warm and can’t compare with the four-season protection some tents and bivvy bags offer.
Go for Multipurpose Items
A Handheld Multitool
Take a multitool whenever possible. There are such great models on the market, like those offered by Leatherman – the king of multitools. They usually include pliers, wire cutters, blades, mini saw, carabiner, screwdrivers and similar hand tools – all neatly packed in a compact device. Some activities, like hunting require more than one knife to get to job done. But if you are just out camping and spending some time in the bush, your multitool can help save on real estate in your backpack while providing all you might need.
Pick Bulky Tools Wisely
There are some pieces of gear which are bulky, but necessary in the wild. We are talking about items like survival shovel, a machete, or an axe. If you do need to take one of these, make sure they are either foldable, have their own pouch, or can be easily integrated into the outline of your packed backpack. And once you make a decision to take them, do use them for as many purposes as possible. For example, your shovel can serve as a cooking surface which can be placed on top of a fire to prepare a meal.
A Multi-Function Torch
No one will blame you if you take a high power LED torch with you. It’s totally legitimate to have a reliable light source while you are in the outback. Make sure, though, to pick a model which offers a multitude of options to you. If one torch can offer you modes with different lumen outputs, an efficient energy expenditure profile, and more colours (red, green, blue) go for it. Don’t pack a separate headlight, camping lantern, search light and a torch if you can avoid it.
Eliminate Unnecessary Clutter
Don’t Duplicate Anything
Do your best to eliminate clutter. Believe me, in a backpack, minimalism is the only viable solution. You can introduce a compartmentalized pouch system to organize every piece of luggage. Separate compartments for toiletries, electronic gear, spare socks and underwear, food and water, navigation and hand tools will make all of this easy. And it will help avoid taking two items of something you already have in the bag.
Streamline Outdoor Clothing
Layer clothes whenever possible. Make sure your vest and the jacket and the t-shirt and every piece of undergarment are compatible. If you have two pairs of shoes – leave one of them behind, and simply take the pair that is 100% waterproof. If you have two heavy jackets, just take one of them. Those that are new to hiking and camping would benefit from guidance coming from someone that has already crossed the same trail before.
Common wisdom for packing in general is to set your suitcase or a backpack and then cut down its contents in half. It can be tricky at first, but with some experience, you’d be able to recognise right away if some piece of gear will only serve to slow you down out there.