Amid the pre-trip chaos we have also made a last ditch effort to shed some more pack-weight and as such there have been a few changes and a few revelations. Our first weight-check fully loaded was very disappointing, the packs coming in at just over 10kg each (our aim is for a 9kg base-weight). At this point we are not prepared to make any big changes or investments in our ‘big three’ items (sleeping bag + mat, tent & rucksack), so the saving had to come from elsewhere. It has been an eye-opener to do this, and has involved letting go and being less precious about stuff than before.
As it happens our ‘big three’ are not really the problem according to the lightweight hiker’s ‘3 for 3’ formula, namely the big three items for 3kg total. If a hiker can get their big three down to 3kg or less this is very good, the most significant weight savings have been made, and it is time to shave off the grams from other bits of kit. I was pretty pleased when I calculated that our big three were 3.36kg (i.e. ‘3 for 3.36’). There is still progress to be made, but it was better than I thought and meant that it was worthwhile making smaller, cumulative weight savings elsewhere.
On the GR1 we will be experimenting with using our Hubba Hubba without the inner mesh tent (i.e. just pitching the outer flysheet as a shelter). If this works we’ll consider posting the inner back home and the weight saving will bring us much closer to ‘3 for 3’. This is also an experiment for us to decide if we might eventually swap to using a tarp shelter, which are very popular amongst super-lighters and have several benefits over tents. An inspiring article here from lightweight hiker ‘Jupiterhikes’ about the use of tarps.
Ditching some useless excess.
Scrutinizing everything I made some good initial saving by getting rid of pointless ‘over-heavy’ cases. For example, we discarded our first aid kit case and decanted the contents into a durable but light zip-loc bag, the bug head-nets did not need their cases nor did the Pocket-rocket require it’s plastic storage container. Everything is well-packed and padded so the absence of cases won’t risk breaking anything. Getting a little more obsessive, and yes it all helps, I cut the labels out of clothes and trimmed our microfibre towel down by several inches.
Another revelation (above) was the massive overkill on the size of our clothes bags. Why do we need 25l sacks with all that extra material when we can pack all our clothes into a single 5l bag each! Another change was the decision to leave our waterproof rain trousers behind. They are lined and too heavy, plus it’s not a deal breaker to manage in rain without them, we did on the GR11.
Chopping the guidebook down.
Books were a big one for me. Books are as near to sacred as anything in my life, and I had found the idea of cutting them up almost impossible. But the GR1 guidebook is very heavy, and why carry all that weight all that way when I can discard the pages as we go? I took the plunge and I’m glad I did, because it freed me up to cut up other stuff too- better to read a cut-up book on the trail than no book at all, right? In fact, books have been a major headache because they are so heavy, but so necessary for us. In a radical move we have decided to go largely ‘book-less’ and invested in another Mp3 player so we can listen to audio-books instead. Over the past few days we’ve downloaded loads of stuff onto each player to suit our tastes (plays, podcasts, books, interviews, poetry readings, music)- all this choice for a fraction of the weight of a single book. If the audio-route does not hit the spot, we can have a book shipped to us in one of our re-supply boxes later!
A nifty feature of the Osprey Exos (above) is that the main lid detaches to reveal a secondary lid underneath. I realised that I was filling the main lid with stuff that could easily go inside the main pack (the thing with extra volume is we tend to fill it). As such, I can leave the main lid and its weight behind with no important loss of function from the rucksack- this is a popular option among others I have seen using this pack.
My old, chunky head-torch is getting unreliable so it was a good opportunity to swap to a tiny Petzel E-lite (purchased with a very good discount with the Go Outdoors price match). Weighing only 27g I am already smitten with this tiny piece of headlamp engineering with its 5 different light-settings (including red light and flashing light modes).
And then stuff just got plain weird…
Some hikers go further however and also drill holes in the remaining toothbrush handle-ends to save more weight….I couldn’t go that far… yet.
The result of all this scrutiny and slightly bizarre behavior is actually quite impressive. The weight-saved (all the above, plus a few other bits) feels significant in the hand and amounts to about 400g each. Add in the saving from going (almost) book-less and it amounts to a saving of just under a kilo each, thus dropping us close to 9kg. If we do manage without the inner tent and post it home, then whoever carries it will also drop a further half kilo.
Luckily before I could turn the scissors to any more unsuspecting hiking kit a cheeky Jack Russell came along and insisted I play with him and his toy pheasant.
Hope this has been an insight into taking care of the ‘grams’ in a rucksack. Not only does it save weight and reduces stress on our joints, but it makes us see our kit afresh and stop clinging so tightly to things we think we need.