If You Want To Be Better At Backpacking, Be Efficient

So you want to get better at backpacking? Well then, be more efficient with literally everything related to backpacking.

From the time I started tossing a pack on my back and walking up or down a trail, I’ve found that when it comes to being good at backpacking, the number one thing is to be good at being efficient in nearly all aspects of the event. From the clothes you wear, to how you walk, to how you pack, and what you pack, the name of the game is efficiency.

We could talk until we’re blue in the face about what gear to take and when, but it won’t do us any good at all if we fail to make efficiency our number one focus and priority when planning and executing a backpacking trip. Let’s break this down into three parts and see how it looks.

Efficiency with Gear

What happens when you’re inefficient with your gear? For starters, you’ll likely have a much heavier pack than needed. Next, every time you sit down to grab something out of your pack, you’ll look like you’re setting up a yard sale. This is because you either brought too much freaking gear or you failed to organize it the right way. Blaming it on a lack of organization is the easy way out though because if you think about it, you really only need to organize a pack that has too much stuff in it, right? If you didn’t have all that extra crap, organizing it isn’t actually a problem at all. So really, it starts with what you put in your pack rather than how you pack.

Efficiency with your Body

I used to start my hikes out like a bat out of hell. It felt good at first, then at some point I’d be smoked and wishing I would have slowed my roll a little. On hikes where I had a lot of miles to do ahead of me, it basically ruined my day. I burned all my energy up in the first few miles, pounded my joints too hard, and simply wasn’t smart about it.

Fast forward to today, I go slow at first and take lots of breaks. I’ve learned that if I’m efficient with my body, I can go much further in a single day. This allows me to cover more ground in a shorter amount of time and gives the me the chance to accomplish hikes over a two to three day period that I never used to do.

If you want to see more country and do more hikes, be smarter and more efficient with your body during every phase of the hike. If you burn yourself out in the first few miles, you’ll be catching up the rest of the trip and no one likes to feel like crap.

Efficiency with Clothing

Sounds strange, but if you’re constantly putting on and taking off layers, then you’re not exactly being efficient while on the trail. I once backpacked with a guy that was having to take his pack off every 15 to 20 minutes because he wore the wrong layering system. He’d heat up fast, start sweating, take his fleece off, then freeze when his sweaty cotton shirt clung to his body whilst sucking the warmth right out of him. Eventually, he’d get cold and have to toss the fleece back on. This happened for two days straight and was a struggle to watch.

Depending on the type of trip your on, think about what you’ll actually need with you and choose your layering system accordingly. If you’re going to be moving all day long, then you don’t need to bundle up. If, on the other hand, you’re not going to be covering much ground and you expect it to be cold out, then yeah, toss in another layer.

You want to keep your clothing system limited and efficient. You don’t need a change of underwear for every day on the trail or two pairs of pants or three shirts. Backpacking is a dirty sport so get dirty. Wear materials that are anti-fungal like merino wool or high end synthetics.

A simple layering system includes a short sleeve, long sleeve, warm jacket, and a rain shell. Bring something for your legs like pants, shorts, or leggings and you’ll be just fine. Two pairs of socks to swap when one is wet or sweaty and a hat with a pair of fingerless wool gloves can round out the system.

Don’t over complicate the clothing part. Be efficient and your body will thank you.

So yeah, be efficient

It sounds easy, but it’s not. Being efficient is hard to do and takes time to get right. If you start out by keeping efficiency in mind from the start, you’ll avoid bringing non-essential or extra gear.

Backpacking is fun and the less you have to think about, the better it is.

As always, if you have any questions at all, please reach out and connect with me. I’d love to help you reach your backpacking goals!

By Land,

Emory