In my quest for an enjoyable Camino experience, I have continued to adjust my packing strategy. After my Ultralight Camino thought experiment (video HERE), I determined that a realistic base weight (gear weight minus worn or consumable items) could be around 10 pounds and still provide an acceptable amount of comfort. My pack weight right now is around 15 pounds – that’s if I brought everything I wanted without regard to weight considerations. (SIDE NOTE: see The So-Called 10% Rule).
So – what would it take to drop 1/3 of that weight?
Finding Five Pounds
Five pounds might not sound like much, but when you’re talking about gear with an average weight of 6 oz. and most in the 1-3 oz. range, that’s a lot of items to lose.
I started by sorting through my kit and seeing what the heaviest items were. The most egregious of gram offenders was a sleeping bag that weighed in at a hefty 33 ounces. Swapping that for my 11 oz. sleeping liner saved me over a pound right off the bat. That was relatively easy, but I ran out of the easily identifiable heavy items pretty quickly.
Of the 50+ things on my list, only seven weighed a pound or more. Worse, most of the others were too important to leave behind – like my backpack – and some, like my trekking poles, did not count toward base weight anyway.
This meant I was going to have to go through the list “gram by gram” and get rid of a lot of small things. This is where GearGrams became a huge help. It gave me a good objective view of my kit list, and the real time feedback on gear changes was gratifying and informative.
Screw You, Grams!™
I made a new “lightweight” pack list eliminating anything that was not a pretty serious necessity. I got to below ten pounds pretty quickly, but the pared down gear list was pretty anemic. This was helpful, though, because it allowed me to see the “unnecessary items” for what they were, and see how much weight I really had to play with.
I then compared my two lists and, keeping a careful eye on the “scale,” started moving items back into my lightweight list. I thought of it like shopping: I used my “gram budget” to “buy” things back into the kit one by one. This felt more positive and was easier for me than just dropping one thing at a time to get down to a target weight.
When I finished dropping and swapping gear, I hit ten pounds on the nose!
It actually wasn’t as painful as I expected. Here are the primary items I lost or exchanged:
- Sleeping bag (exchanged for sleeping liner): saved 22 oz.
- Umbrella: saved 10 oz.
- Shirt (1/3): saved 7.5 oz.
- Knee Braces: saved 5.5 oz.
- Guidebook: saved 3.5 oz.
- Waist Pack (1/2): saved 3.5 oz.
- Rain / Warm hat: saved 3 oz.
- Gaiters: saved 1.3 oz.
- Water bottle (1/2): saved 1.2 oz.
- Buff (1/2): saved 1 oz.
- Clips/Pins: saved 1 oz.
- Stuff sacks: saved 1 oz.
Although I’ve been doing this for a while, I continue to be surprised at how fast weight can add up. Things that don’t even seem like things can make a difference. Simply leaving out just a few items (most under 4 oz.) dropped my pack weight by 33%!
This is not my final packing list. I will probably add more back in and forgo any real “ultralight” goal. For now I am happy just shooting for lighter. However, it is good to take an objective look at how even seemingly minor gear choices affect overall weight.