Lighten your load and make backpacking more fun!
The weight of your backpack is inversely proportional to you comfort and enhanced enjoyment. Here are our suggestions as to what you can do to lighten your backpack and get the most out of your Canadian Rockies Hiking backpacking trip.
The lighter your backpack is, the easier it is to hike and the safer you will be. With a lighter pack there is less chance that you will stumble and twist an ankle or fall.
By obtaining lightweight yet functional gear and clothing you can make a real difference to how much weight you will be carrying on your trip.
The major items that you will be bringing with you are backpack, sleeping bag, sleeping mat and your clothing. As a service of convenience to our guests we will have select items for sale that meet our criteria of functionality and light weight. For details about how to pack your backpack, please view our video.
There are two types of backpacks, internal and external frames. Although there is nothing wrong with external packs, internal frames have become the standard because they are narrower, offer more features, and hug closer to your body. An internal frame pack often has two internal aluminium strips that can be moulded to fit your back. Since these packs are designed for heavier loads, it is necessary to have good padded hip straps to transfer the weight off your shoulders. Again, good shoulder and back padding is necessary (but can be excessive and add weight)
Some good features to look for include an adjustable suspension system, external side compression straps, and a removable or adjustable top lid.
Most backpacks around 60 litres will do the job perfectly for any backpacking trip between 3 and 10 days. Anything much more than 60 litres mean carrying too much equipment and too much weight.
With the fluctuating temperatures of the Rocky Mountains, it is necessary, even in the summer, to consider a sleeping bag with a lower rating. A typical summer bag is often rated for above freezing, which can lead to some cool uncomfortable nights. A good all purpose spring/summer/fall sleeping bag should be rated between 0oC to -7oC.
There are two options for fill; synthetic and down. Down is lighter and compresses better than a synthetic bag of the same rating. Down fill only maintains its loft and warmth when kept dry, so it is important to keep your bag dry. This isn't an issue is a drier climate like the Canadian Rockies.
There are four basic designs for sleeping bags; mummy, modified mummy, barrel and rectangular. Except for rectangular (which is too bulky and usually not as warm), the other three are all suitable. A mummy bag is the warmest.
The two basics types of sleeping pads are a self-inflating foam mattress and a closed foam mattress. Mattresses may be full or quarter length, the longer ones being warmer and proportionally heavier.
A self-inflating foam mattress (such as a Therm-a-Rest) is more comfortable than a closed foam mattress. However, a closed foam mattress is virtually bomb proof and very light.
A new generation of lightweight self-inflating foam mattresses has come on to the market.
At all costs avoid cotton t-shirts, cotton socks, and blue jeans. These clothes do not wick away water and sweat, and loose their warmth when wet and to add insult to injury, they are heavy!
Look for light weight synthetic clothing that you can layer. By using layers, you can adjust for the significant changes in temperatures between day and night time.
For late spring, summer, and early fall trips into the mountains pack the following:
- Lightweight synthetic long underwear
- Synthetic t-shirt
- Synthetic long sleeve shirt/zip neck
- Hiking pants with zip-off legs
- Synthetic hiking socks
- Pair of gaiters
- Light pullover of fleece jacket (suggest type and brands and target weight)
- Lightweight breathable waterproof jacket and
- Ball cap or sun hat
- Light gloves and warm hat
There is a huge selection of footwear available for hiking and backpacking.
Day hiking boots are usually lighter, have less ankle support, and are generally cheaper than backpacking boots. A leather/fabric combination boot for day hiking is light, comfortable, dries quickly, and is not too expensive.
For backpacking trips, all leather boots are ideal because they offer stability for off-trail terrain, are very water resistant, and durable.
Whichever boot you choose, make sure that you have taken the time to break them in before heading out on a multi-day trip! Poor fitting or new boots can cause serious blisters that will bring your trip to a halt.
Hygiene is important in the backcountry. Bring travel sized toothpaste, deodorant, sunscreen, lotion, and soap (consider putting a little bit of biodegradable soap in a smaller container). A small package of Hand-wipes or Wet-ones are good for sponge bathing. If you bring a towel, bring a small hand towel instead of a full-sized bath towel or look for a specific lightweight hiking towel.
When selecting items such as knives, headlamps, etc, pick the lightest piece of equipment that will do the job you need it to do.
For backpacking trips, a bowl, spoon, fork, and mug is all that you need. Plastic Lexon or similar products are light and work very well in the backcountry.
Canadian Rockies Hiking has some selected items for sale or alternatively The staff at any reputable outdoor equipment store should be able to help you with your selection.
Canadian Rockies Hiking Supplied Equipment
On your backpacking trip CRH will be supplying the tents, stoves and cook wear. Here is some information on these items:
We use light, well ventilated two-person Exped three-season tents. They are lighter and ventilate better than four season tents. Being freestanding they require minimal stakes and have a fly that covers the entire tent, not just the top. Bonus features are a two vestibules where you can put your footwear or other small items and a design that allows us to keep them relatively dry when putting them up in the rain.
For multi-day trips with more than two people Canadian Rockies Hiking uses an MSR Whisperlite Shaker Jet white gas stove; they are a standard industry workhorse that is easily serviced in the field and works well for cooking in groups
If you have any questions at all regarding what equipment or clothing to bring on your backpacking or hiking adventure, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone toll free in North America at 1 (866) 678 4164.
See you soon!