It could be that I’m getting older — or wiser — but every year it seems I’m trying to lighten the load in my pack, especially when backpacking. This year I’m even more determined. Of course, not to the point that I”m cutting the ends of my toothbrush and resorting to eating granola for the entire trip, but enough not to curse the weight strapped to my back all day.

Here’s the trick. The major bulk inside your pack while backpacking usually comes from three essential items: tent, sleeping bag and clothes. When it comes to tents, your decision should be simple: Aim for the smallest and lightest you can afford and spend more quality time huddled under a rain tarp during foul weather. For last year’s backpacking trip, I used Eureka’s Spitfire Solo tent, weighing in at only 2 lbs 12 oz. It worked perfectly. It’s all I really needed for the trip. I was backpacking Frontenac Provincial Park in southeastern Ontario’s Land-O-Lakes region, and as long as I had a good tarp packed with it, I simply used the tent for a place to sleep. To me that’s all a tent really is — a place to sleep. It was the tarp that would be my main hangout if it rained.

For sleeping bags, this year I went for the new Therm-a-Rest Antares. That and the the NeoAir X-lite combined and I’m knocking my weight down and increasing my comfort level big time. It’s a win-win situation. The bag is down — I’ve always believed down is better and lighter. But this combo looks amazing. I’ll let you know. I’ve only experimented on my living room floor for a couple nights this week. My first hiking trip is the first week in May and that should be the real test. Let’s just hope the snow stops falling soon. The bag is rated at - 7 degrees Celsius but I’m wondering if it will fit the bill when the night temperatures drop.

Knowing the amount and type of clothes to pack is a little more complex. The choice of garments is totally dependent on the season. But you can’t help but bring an extra fleece, long-johns and wool toque during spring outings. In this case, I’ll be packing clothes with the highest possible performance-to-weight ratio. In warm summer conditions, you only need to pack one extra set of clothes. That’s all you’ll really need. Just hope for a hot, sunny day halfway through your trip so you can do laundry. My choice to keep warm during a spring outing is Merino wool like Woolpower (see the past blog below this one). This stuff is amazing at keeping me warm, and oddly enough, keeping my stink down as well. (Merino wool somehow magically repels body odour?)

I think my plan for lightening my pack even more this season is a solid one, and I can’t wait to get out and experiment with my latest purchase. Let’s just hope that darn groundhog is right... I’m looking out the window and seeing snowflakes in April and a major depression is starting to set in.