Creating a lighter backpacking set up can greatly enhance your experience while backpacking. I know from personal experience the challenge of carrying a heavy load around. When I first began backpacking I was operating on a tight budget and lightweight gear tends to cost more. As I learned that this was an activity I was going to do more frequently and I wanted to hike further but with more comfort, I started to exchange a lighter piece of gear each year for one of my less expensive but heavier pieces. Being a person with frugality at the forefront of my mind when making most purchases, I wanted to do this strategically. With all of this said, I discovered (what I think to be) a good place to start to shave off some ounces in your pack without breaking the bank, hopefully. Lightening the load you are carrying really does better the experience of backpacking and makes it possible to go further with more ease. 

Oh, and if you're looking to get into bikepacking, compact and light gear is great for that as well! 

I started with my food/drink/cooking equipment. Let's begin with this truth- I love coffee. Not even necessarily the wake up call of caffeine. It's the flavor that gets me. That said, when camping, I usually want 3 cups in a day (1 reg and 1 decaf in the morning and 1 decaf in the evening after dinner). I used to carry ground coffee, a collapsible pour over, and filters. As you can see, that weight can add up quickly. Once I discovered and tried some of the quality instant coffee that is out there I eliminated all of those supplies and just bring instant. We carry Swift Cup which I have always been pleased with. There are other tasty brands out there as well (most of them use Swift Cup for the dehydrating processing of their coffees). So if you're a coffee drinker, this is a huge cut in weight. 


I also began to bring dehydrated, make in bag, foods. We carry Good to Go which uses quality ingredients and has many options for vegan/vegetarian meals but, similar to coffee, there are plenty of other brands out there. By using dehydrated food that is made in the bag you eliminate the need for containers for cooking your food and also with this coffee/food set up you can bring just one little pot for boiling water. That would be the only cookwear you would need aside from a mug for drinking and a spoon.

We carry a super light  Snow Peak Trek 700 Titanium pot as well as some other cookwear that is variable in weight and price. The Trek 700 is a great ultralight option but even if you just create a situation like this where all you need is a spoon, mug, stove/fuel and a single pot for your food, you have eliminated a lot of weight already. Before switching to dehydrated food I used to bring a cookset that came as two pots with lids, which doubled as skillets/plates. It was quite compact but many times heavier than the Trek 700 I mostly use nowadays. 

Adjusting your food/drink situation is a great place to start making your pack lighter. As you know, you will definitely need food while on the trail (and coffee if you're like me). It makes sense to go with these items as they are necessities and low commitment. If you don't like them after trying them out, you can always go back to your old ways without being stuck with a new gadget you don't use. 

With all of this in mind, the next step would be your stove. If you don't already have a stove, I would recommend getting a compact one.

We carry the Snow Peak Gigapower Auto Stove which is a great option. We also have fuel in the shop but do not ship it. Much like everything I have mentioned there are other brands and styles out there that work great as well. I have had the same Optimus stove for probably 15 years and it is still going strong. Just be sure to buy a stove that uses the conventional threading for isobutane fuel cans (most do nowadays). Once I flew to camp and realized the stove I had used a weird threading and finding fuel locally (obviously ya can't fly with fuel) was a big stress and challenge. One thing to keep in mind is the size of the burner. A tiny burner is good for boiling water but not so great for actually cooking food as the heat is concentrated to a small space and you are then stuck stirring constantly to keep your food from burning. Like with all camping gear you may sacrifice one thing for a different benefit but I have never regretted having a compact stove in all the years I have been camping.

(This photo features a non lightweight backpack from the 70s with my Ultralight 2 Person Tent. Use what ya have and get out there! We now use lightweight packs.) 

These are going the be the least expensive ways to create a lighter backpacking set up. After that I would look at your water filtration system. I used a Katadyn Hiker Pump for years and still use it when needed but if I know I am going somewhere with water deep enough to dunk a bottle I use a Katadyn Be Free Water Filter because of its weight and compactness. After that you can get into the more expensive items like your tent, backpack, and sleeping set up (bag, pad, pillow). I could say more about these things but the purpose of this was to hopefully give you a starting off point if you wanted to make your pack lighter without spending a lot on gear! Hopefully you have found this helpful in that way. If you have any questions you can feel free to email me at and I will help you if I can. Thanks for reading!