Guide to Light Packing

This is a contribution from someone of AMCI batch '98. You'd definitely want her to be your trek buddy!


The ultimate mountaineer knows exactly what to put inside his pack to survive the ordeals of a climb. He foregoes amenity for necessity. Being self-contained is the wisest way to obtain comfort in the wilderness.

The ultimate light packer knows exactly what's inside the pack of his efficient, reliable, and self-contained companion. He foregoes necessity for amenity. Being with someone self-contained is the cleverest way to obtain the most comfort in the wilderness.

Three days before a major climb, you decide to bring out all the things that you want to bring: gears, equipment, and loads of extras. Extra socks, shirts, warmers, food. You also want to bring your super-comfy pillow. You do not want to end up hungry, dirty, cold, and uncomfortable up there. You try to squeeze them all in—then you realize that your daypack is too small.

Two days to go, and you decide to bring only what you need. You dispose the three extra pairs of socks, five extra shirts, and two extra sweaters. Three packs of Cloud9, two kilos of rice, some canned goods, water bottle. You were able to squeeze all your necessities in—but the pack is a tad heavy.

Major-climb eve. You've got some major-league thinking to do. You unpack and reassess your climb necessities and expectations. Maybe you could squeeze yourself in somebody else's tent, so you leave your tent and bring only a tarp, instead, just in case you don't fit in. It will be warm inside a full-capacity tent, so you can do away with your fleece jacket and just carry, instead, a wind-proof jacket. Food? There's this big group you are very sure would have lots of leftovers that they would wholeheartedly give to you. So you leave your two kilos of rice and all but one of your canned goods, in case you do not like their gourmet food. You are always very hot on the trail that you oftentimes forget to have some trailfood. You have also made a conclusion that the slow ones always have the most yummies, and you could be their trail buddy. So you bring only half a pack of Cloud9 (food discipline, you remind yourself). Since you will not do any cooking, cookset won't be necessary. So goes with the stove. You also leave behind your expensive Swiss knife lest you lose it at the campsite.

It's a good thing you did not attend the pre-climb meeting or you would have ended up carrying two-days worth of food for a group of five and lugging along your stove and cook set which you are constrained to clean after every meal. Your full little daypack would also save you from taking further load from others complaining of overload. No more space, you'd say.

Whew! What else can you do without that you know they couldn't? Earth pad, extra batteries, flash light, lamp, sleeping bag, big water bottles, alcohol, shampoo, soap, toothpaste, ear buds, cologne, towel, malong, first-aid kit…

What remains to be packed? A jacket, a tarp, a can of corned beef, half-a-pack Cloud9, trail-water bottle, 10 Lomotil tablets, toothbrush, after-climb clothes, and your super comfy pillow. Or maybe you'd be fine without the tarp.

After much deliberation, you have finally achieved light packing, which most backpackers find a feat difficult to achieve. Of course, your little light pack comes with a very heavy prayer--that, at all times, compassion reigns among your companions.

Since you have most certainly ignored half of the mountaineer's dictum : "expect the worst, hope for the best", others may fault you of your positivism while they wallow in their paranoia. At the end of the climb, you have wrung dry the goodwill and severed the remaining moral fiber of your companions. You may play deaf, dense, or dead while others violently convulse about your ultra-light feat. Never ever explain your load to a person frothing at the mouth.

Lastly, to those who would dare follow these thoughts on light packing, DO NOT ATTEND THE POST-CLIMB MEETING.

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