Zero Based Budgeting – Perfect Formula for Lightweight Backpacking

Most of you have probably heard of zero-based budgeting. It’s a simple concept: your budget starts at zero and builds. This differs from annual budgeting that merely looks at the previous year’s budget and adds or subtracts an amount.

With spring on us and snow melting fast, you’re probably anxious to hit the trail. But you want to do it as lightly as possible.

So where do you begin? You start at zero. That means buying a really light pack and building from there.

When I started backpacking 10 years ago, the average big load pack, like my 5800 cc Dana Terraplane was 7.5 pounds. By the time I added my 7.5 pound Sierra Design Meteor Tent, I was already at 15 pounds. Ouch!

The 2007 Backpacker Magazine Gear Guide lists dozens of packs in the two to three pound range. Here’s my recommendation to get off to the lightest backpacking season ever:

•Choose a pack around 2 pounds.

•Ignore marketing gobbledygook about “Adventure Packs”, “Racing Packs”, and “Fast Packs.” Any of these will be a good place to start since they are small and light.

•Smaller is better: it’s lighter and you’ll be forced to take less (I can pack for a week’s trip using my 1 pound, 9 ounce Osprey Aether 2,800 cc pack).

•If you don’t have the money to get a whole new set of equipment — and few of us do — then just start with the pack and then carefully analyze each item (whether you really need it; can it be used for multiple purposes).

If you check out my past posts in “key posts” or “backpacks” or “tips” you’ll find examples of lightweight packs and strategies for lightening up.

Be light. Be safe. Be one with the pack.

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