If you’re interested in reducing the weight of your backpacking gear, the most important thing you can do is to buy a digital scale. I like the model shown here, called an Ultraship Scale because it can weigh your items in ounces or grams. This is the third one I’ve owned – they fall off my cluttered desk onto the floor too often.
Next, weigh out each piece of your gear and create a gear list. After you’ve completed your list, remove the items that are consumables, like fuel, water, food, and what you’ll be wearing. What’s left is called your base pack weight and consists of all of the gear that you’re going to carry in your backpack.
Don’t underestimate the importance of this step. Becoming attuned to gear weight, safety, and comfort tradeoffs is probably the most import step in developing a lightweight or ultralight frame of mind. You will be positively amazed at the ease in which you can lighten you pack weight once you start to understand where the weight in your pack really is and you stop trusting manufacturers who claim their gear is lightweight. With a scale, you’ll be able to test all of these claims.
Here’s an example gear list to give you a reference point for what a backpacking gear list looks like:
Written 2008. Updated 2015.