Backpacking Part 1: The Art of traveling light

Are you planning to go on a week long trip? Are you planning to pack one set of cloth for each day you are going to be there?Are you taking medicines for every disease that you may catch on your way? Are you carrying a full first aid box with you as well? Are you carrying multiple pairs of shoes for different terrains? Are you planning to carry packets of snacks for your evening cravings?

If the answer to any of the above questions is yes (except for the first question) ,you are doing it all wrong. We often end up carrying stuffs that we never use while we are on a trip and end up with a heavy baggage that we cannot imagine carrying all around.

The key to backpacking is traveling with the mere necessities, as light as you can go. A big part of packing your backpack is what you put in there and how you put in there. It is always important to distribute the weight inside your backpack properly.

Before you start packing, there are some questions you must ask yourself: Is it a sight seeing trip? Are you going on long hikes? How is the climate there? Will you be camping at nights? If you are camping, are there wild animals around?

These are just a few questions I take care of, there can be more of those for sure. For now, I would be answering each of these questions individually.

Is this a sightseeing trip? : Yes, and I have already made arrangements for my stay and transport. This according to me is the most luxurious way of traveling, everything planned beforehand. This sometime tempts us to carry heavy loads with us, but according to me that isn’t always a good idea. For this kind of trips, first make sure how long you would be staying there, If it is for a week, get your self two or three sets of clothes,a few sets of inner wear(only if you cannot wash and dry them everyday, if you can, then three would be sufficient), a towel ,a pair of comfortable shoes, a pair of slippers, if you have a weak stomach, some digestive tablets and if the travel time is more than a day, the basic amenities like tooth paste and tooth brushes. Rest has to be on the go. No point in carrying any extra luggage in this case. Also if it is going to be cold, I suggest getting yourself a jacket, no more.

Is this a sightseeing trip? : Yes, but all I have arranged for is the transport. This is one of the most common way of traveling that I have encountered. For this scenario, Your baggage should be packed exactly as the case mentioned before, also considering the fact that you might have to spend some time on the road finding an accommodation for yourself. So it is always important to check the weather you are going to face and be prepared for it. I always like to include a raincoat and a jacket to encounter this. There may be the odd situation where you may need to answer a nature’s call, and have to look for a public toilet. So always keep a set of paper soap handy. These are light and easily fits into your wallet. There you go, you are all set to leave and explore the world.

Are going to camp and going on long hikes? : Yes and yes. This is where the real fun is and people end up packing up so much that they even end up regretting the whole plan. When you are packing your bag before going out for camping into the woods, you need to verify what kind of terrain and weather you are going to face. Secondly, how long is your trek and how long you are going to camp. And lastly, selecting the right backpack. So lets start with the backpack, Do not pick any bag start stuffing your things into it, try to find a bag that has provisions to hold at-least your tent and the sleeping pad outside the main storage section. I personally prefer a bag with storage section large enough to hold the sleep bag inside. This way you have sufficient space left inside to keep rest of your things. This entirely depends on the weather and the terrain you are going for. Keeping your backpack light is the key as this allows you to cover greater distances without hurting your back. It is important to carry your warm clothes and rain gears handy. These should be kept in the most easily accessible compartments. Coming to your clothings, keeping them to a minimum is necessary, I prefer carrying a maximum of three pairs for a week long trek, keeping one set as backup and using the other two. Coming to your essentials, these are the most important things for a trek, it is advisable to carry a small first aid kit that includes some basic meds, antiseptic and band-aids. Put them all in a zip lock bag and put it between your clothings. Carrying a insect repellent is very important if you are camping in the woods. Keeping a packet of salt handy is also a good idea if your are heading to a place infested with leeches. And last but not the least a multipurpose pocket knife and a flameless lighter , this would help you tackle different situations. If you are going for a short trips, easy eats like biscuits and dry fruits are the go to options. If you are going for longer treks, it is important to carry a small metal cup to cook and boil water. Carrying a few packets of ready to eat food like instant noodles is important but you can reduce this load as well if you know how to and what to forage form the woods ( after all nature is the all giving mother).

Now you know what to pack, the other important thing is, how to pack. Correct load distribution is just as important. Bigger stuffs like sleeping bags, blankets etc should be placed right at the bottom followed by your clothes, and then your comfort wears. Items like raincoats should be placed at the top. Slippers should be wrapped in a plastic bag and shoved to occupy the spaces on the side of your bag, if your bags has separate compartment for shoes, utilise them. For your essentials, try using the smaller pockets in your backpack.

Hope this article would be helpful in your packing for your upcoming trips.


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