Overthinking Your Hiking Gear
Kevin Felts 06.16.17
Have you ever loaded your pack, then started thinking about what else you may need? Then the “maybes” kick in. Maybe I will need this, or maybe I will need that, or maybe this will happen, so I need this–until your pack is crammed full of stuff you “might” need.
One of the common things I find myself justifying is a large survival knife. In decades of hiking and camping, rarely has a situation presented itself where I needed a large knife.
Other items that are sometimes justified, large handguns rather than a compact 9mm, 380 or 22 will do. Bedroll, just in case you get lost and have to spend a night in the woods. Maybe you bring a hammock, stool, heavy rain poncho, or rope.
Then when you grab the pack, it weighs more than expected, sometimes a lot more.
If you want to lighten your load, stop overthinking your gear. Stop playing the maybe game and pack only what you realistically need.
How do you know what you need? That comes with experience. After a hiking trip, make a mental note on what you used and what you did not use. Is there a lighter version of something that you think you need? Rather than using a camping knife to open a pouch of freeze dried food, use a pocket knife.
I used to always prep for the worst. This meant packing more food than I needed, hammock, two rain ponchos. maybe even a spare change of clothes, all for a day hike. At the end of the day, I would be worn out from carrying gear that I never needed in more than 30 years of hiking.
Some people may say, “you never know what may happen”, and that is true. However, that is no reason to cram the pack full of gear for something that may never happen.
Everyone’s situation is different. The area where I hike is a lot different than someone in another part of the country. The same rules apply to all of us. Everyone who has spent time in the wilderness is guilty of bringing too much gear.
Recent Hiking Trip
While getting ready for a recent hiking trip, the gear was spread out on a table. Each piece of gear had to have a justifiable reason to be on the table.
- Water filter.
- Mosquito repellent.
- Single burner stove, fuel and cook pot.
- Canteens and canteen pouches.
- Bandanna X 2.
- TOPO maps, compass and GPS.
I am going to start leaving the large survival knife at home.
Have you over-packed for a hiking trip? How do you streamline your gear?