How to Make a Backpack Lighter: 10 Ways to Do it

If you are backpacking, hiking, or camping just about anywhere there is a decent chance that your backpack will be weighing you down. Depending upon the length of time and terrain, even experienced hikers can pack on more weight than they often realize. The use of lightweight backpacking gear can help to improve matters, but there is actually quite a bit that someone can do to reduce pack weight on their own. In this article, we will tell you How to Make a Backpack Lighter.

This article will focus on 10 ways in which you can shave off the ounces from your backpack load. Super-lightweight backpacking equipment and supplies are available now. They can be an indispensable part of getting out into the wilderness, but for the majority of hikers, they are not practical.

How to Make a Backpack Lighter

Famed backpacker Alastair Humphreys, who has hiked across much of England and Wales, says that a 40-50 liter pack is about right for most people. This size will allow you to carry enough gear without becoming overloaded or fumbling under a weight that becomes too much to bear.

Also Read: How to Choose a Backpack for Hiking 2021 Ultimate Guide FOR YOUR ADVENTURES

You can always start small and expand your load as you go along, but it is best to start with a lightweight pack, especially if you are going on an overnight hike or camping trip for the first time. You don’t want to be weighed down from the beginning. It will make keeping up with your companions and enjoying the trip difficult.

The 10 tips listed below on how to make a backpack lighter will help you to cut down on the weight of your pack load so that hiking is much more fun and less of a chore. Adjusting what you carry and how you set out your gear can have a significant impact on reducing the weight of your backpack. These are some basic tips that work for just about everyone.

1. Start with a Lightweight Backpack:

There are many different brands of lightweight backpacks out there; from ultralights to frameless packs. You can’t go wrong with one of these if you plan on actually using the equipment and not simply for show. They can be quite expensive, but if you are going to do much hiking then they will definitely be worth the initial investment.

Best On A Budget Lightweight Backpack: OSPREY EXOS 48 (Editors Choice)

Best On A Budget Lightweight Backpack OSPREY EXOS 48
  • Good for medium loads.
  • Inexpensive.
  • Complete set of features.
  • AirSpeed suspension keeps the weight in the pack off your back, enabling highly ventilated carrying comfort.
  • Dual access stretch mesh side pockets for storing water bottles and other gear.
  • Front stretch mesh pocket for quick storage of rain gear or extra layers.
  • Internal hydration reservoir sleeve accommodates up to a 3L reservoir.
  • Recommended load range: 20-40 lbs.
  • Pack weight 2.57 lbs.

Also Read: 10 Best Hydration Pack for Hiking in 2021

2. Pack Minimally to Make Backpack Lighter

Lighter Backpack

It is tempting to want to bring along every piece of gear that you own, but remember that a lighter pack often means a more comfortable hike. Don’t pack so much that you can’t easily lift your backpack over your head and then place it onto your back.

3. Avoid Overly Bulky Items

Remember that bulk does not equal weight in regards to carrying equipment. Make sure that all of the gear you bring along is lightweight and functional, not simply big. If you find yourself filling up a backpack with a lot of heavy items, consider leaving some behind.

4. Choose a Water Filter With a Low Flow Rate

Make sure that you bring a water filter if there is a risk of bacterial contamination in your water source. A good one will allow you to go longer between fill-ups, thus cutting down on weight.

Our Top Pick

Katadyn Vario Water Filter, Dual Technology Microfilter for Personal or Small Group Camping

Personal Water Filter for Hiking, Camping
  • Produces up to two quarts per minute in the faster flow mode and one quart per minute in longer life mode
  • Adapter base attaches directly to water bottles or an output hose can be used to fill hydration systems or larger containers
  • Glass fiber filter

5. Bring Only The Clothing and Footwear Appropriate for Conditions

Don’t bring more clothing and footwear than you need. While you may be inclined to always pack for the worst-case scenario, this can easily lead to disaster. It’s much better to let someone else handle the extra weight as they continue on their hike.

6. Use a Sleeping Pad Under Your Sleeping Bag

Bring along an ultralight or lightweight sleeping pad for extra insulation and comfort from the ground. If you use a sleeping bag rated for its intended temperature extreme, this step is not necessary.

Our Top Pick

POWERLIX Sleeping Pad for Camping, Backpacking, Hiking

Sleeping Pad for Camping, Backpacking, Hiking
  • Ultralight
  • Inflatable Sleeping Mat
  • Unique Everlasting Durability
  • Rejuvenate Your Body

7. Bring Lightweight Backpacking Cookware

Lightweight Backpacking Cookware

You can’t go wrong with a backpacking stove that uses small-sized fuel canisters or other compact cooking equipment. This way you don’t have to cook as much and can save a lot of weight on other things.

Our Top Pick

Odoland 6pcs Camping Cookware for Backpacking Outdoor Camping Hiking

Lightweight Backpacking Camping Cookware
  • 6 pieces camping cookware kit includes 2 aluminum non-stick pots + 1 camping stove + 1 spork + 1 cleaning cloth+ 1 Carry bag.
  • Convenient & Incredibly Durable
  • All-In-One Package:
  • Enjoy Cooking Anywhere You Go:

8. Use Lightweight Zip-up Bags

I like to use these for storing my clothing, depending on the weather conditions of where I’m going. It keeps them all in one place, it saves space, and they don’t take up too much room.

9. Use Lightweight Headlamp and Spare Batteries

Make sure to pack extra batteries if you plan on doing an overnight hike, or bring along a backup headlamp. It’s best to not rely too heavily on your equipment and be prepared for the worst. If there is a risk of freezing weather, crampons and an ice ax may be a good idea.

Our Top Pick

GearLight LED Head Lamp – Pack of 2 Outdoor Head Lamps for Hiking & Camping

Outdoor Flashlight Headlamps for Hiking & Camping
  • Super Bright
  • Adjustable
  • Weather Resistant
  •  Pack of 2 Outdoor Flashlight Headlamps

10. Avoid Heavy Food Items

Don’t bring along too many snacks and/or expensive lightweight freeze-dried food (if you have the luxury of choosing), especially for camping trips, as they will add a lot of extra weight to your backpack. There are plenty of free or cheap places to stop along the way where you can get food. Stay away from heavy foods, such as canned items and other things that require a lot of firepowers to prepare them.

As far as food goes, cans are extremely heavy and depressing; they’re basically empty calories without any nutritional value whatsoever. If your hiking trip is for more than two days, I highly recommend bringing along freeze-dried food. You can get these meals in a cost-effective way from brands such as Mountain House and Backpacker’s Pantry.

Follow these 10 tips and you will be able to cut a lot of weight off your pack, making it much more comfortable to use without the overall loss of any functionality.


As we said before, there are many ways to make your backpack lighter. If you’ve been trying out these tips and still can’t figure them out, please let us know! We would love to help lighten the load for all of our fellow travelers in making their backpacks more manageable. Have any other ideas or tricks on how to get rid of a heavy pack? Let us know by commenting below!

About the Author

This article was written by Zeshan, an avid backpacker who knows what it’s like to carry a heavy load over long distances.

Do you have any tips and advice for this article on “How to Make a Backpack Lighter” or would like to add anything else? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment form below.

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