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What’s the best way to shed 10 lbs pack weight?

My backpacking friends and I often sit around after a long day and discuss pack weight.  It seems that among my friends and I there is no consensus on the best way to drop about 10 pounds of pack weight.

Assuming standard gear (45L pack, 3-season sleeping bag, two person tent, bear-safe food storage, water filter, stove, and 1L water bottle) what are some suggestions?

- One foot in front of the other -
32 Replies

Hi @TDoodle , after consulting with our store's in-house expert on lightweight backpacking, I wanted to share a couple of tips for shedding pounds from your pack.

Step 1: Start is with your "big three" which includes your sleep system, your shelter, and your pack. Those are the biggest areas to gain or lose weight within your pack as you can shed pounds and not just ounces.

Step 2: Check for redundancy in your pack - if you have two items that do the same thing, bring the lighter of the two. Ideally, you won't have single-use items in your pack. A lot of times the "one extras" and "just in cases" are overkill (except for maybe socks and underwear).

Step 3: Go out and use your stuff, come back and look over your gear. What didn't you use? A couple of shakedowns before your big adventure can help make sure you are well-prepared without being over-packed.

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Agreed with @REI-MichelleW -- the "big three" is the most logical place to make big losses in weight. Going from a synthetic three-season sleeping bag to a down topquilt can save a pound or two right off the bat. Your sleeping pad is another good place to shave weight, provided you retain enough insulation for colder overnights. 

What sort of "bear-safe" food storage are you referring to? One potential way to save a significant amount of weight is by swapping out a bear canister for something like an Ur Sack. 

Ur Sack would be great if approved by parks I hike in. 

I have often wondered how much those Ur sacks are useful against a bear.  A friend had one on a mountaneering trip, and his crampons "got out" and destroyed the Ur Sack... Bears teeth have to be worse than crampons... right?

Another thought I can't get out of my head is the food will be completely crushed and not very edible once a bear is done with a sac.... 

Am I wrong?  Missing something?  Any real world testimonials out there?


@droupou I've seen pictures and heard stories as well and so have never used one myself assuming the correct bear hang will always be better.  You're supposed to couple the sack with odor proof bags and I wonder if people do this all the time.  In addition, I can imagine if the plastic is compromised without someone realizing it or the outside of the plastic or ursack is dirty with food, it probably doesn't work as well!  I have hiked in areas where bears are not much of a concern, but where small critters are way worse and seem to get into anything!  In this case hanging an ursack or ratsack may be better!

I agree generally with avoiding redundancy. If you ar me backpacking with others, perhaps you could also divvy up the weight. But when it comes to safety, there are some things where redundancy makes sense. I carry stormproof matches and a lighter, for example. I also carry a water filter and Micropur tablets. If one doesn't work, you have the other just in case. And I've had more than one "just in case" situation occur. 

Agree with starting with the big 3 to shave weight. You might consider this stove, or one similar. Cons: takes a bit longer to cook than liquid fuel stoves. You’ll want to practice with it before heading afield. Pros: rarely can you not find fuel, weight and space saver because you’re not lugging along liquid fuel/fuel bottles.


Thruhikers on the Continental Divide Trail try to get their base weight of pack, sleeping system and tent to under 16 pound and the average for successful completions of the CDT is approximately 15.8 pounds. 


I just weighed my CDT big three: just over 6 lbs; Osprey 48L pack at 2.625 lbs, Black Diamond Distance Tent at 1.98 lbs, Western Mountain Versalite Sleeping bag at 2.16 lbs, a mummy silk bag liner at 0.26 lbs and a Thermarest Prolite Apex air pad at 1.39 lbs for a total of 6.325 lbs. These are all well used and very comfortable!