Q. My troop likes to go backpacking. I’d like to participate, but my pack is really heavy. How do I lighten it?
— Lighten-the-Load Austin, Danville, California
A. With all the cool gear out there, it’s easy to over pack. Eagle Scout Ryan Jordan, founder of backpackinglight.com and a licensed wilderness skills instructor, shares his tips for cutting down pounds:
Weigh it. Get a digital scale and weigh your gear. Add it all up and assess: Camp chairs, GPS devices, the latest novel — do you really need all this stuff? Make a list of items you must carry, and research to find lighter options for the heaviest items on your list, such as a tent or camp stove.
Consider multiple-use items. Opting for multi-use gear reduces the number of items you carry and can simplify life on the trail. For instance: Use one pot for boiling, eating and drinking.
Practice makes perfect! Backyard camping is a great way to tune your gear without the risks you might take in the backcountry. Plus, it helps you develop outdoor skills, which will strengthen your ability to improvise in the backcountry and thus lighten the things you carry “just in case.”