Introduction: Simple Trick to Lighten the Load
When backpacking more than a few miles, a heavily loaded backpack can be very uncomfortable and difficult to carry. With lighter loads, you can cover longer distances per day with less wear and tear on the body. A pound here and a pound there can make a difference. Therefore you want to reduce the weight of each item and reduce the amount of gear you take with you as much as possible, but still be able to SAFELY weather the elements.
The tent, sleeping bag, and backpack are considered to be the three major items carried by backpackers. Consequently, reducing the weight of these will reduce overall pack weight. One way to do this is to Repackage items and use Multi-Purpose items.
This Instructable shows how to repackage your sleeping bag and also multi-purpose your bear bag hang line and hydration pack/summit bag in order to reduce overall pack weight.
Step 1: Required Equipment
Old equipment list was as follows:
- Standard hydration day pack (~18 oz.)
- Sleeping bag stuff sack (~5 oz.)
- 50' of paracord to hang bear bag
New equipment list is as follows:
- Ultra-light hydration day pack (~9 oz.)
- Drawstring toggle lock (~.2 oz.)
- 50' of paracord to hang bear bag (now also used to compress the sleeping bag)
The basic idea is to replace the old heavier hydration day pack with an ultra-light hydration day pack/summit bag and to ditch the sleeping bag stuff sack.
This new setup saves me almost 1 lb. from my base pack weight.
Step 2: Ultra-light Hydration Day Pack
You can spend more than $60 on a light hydration day pack or summit bag, but those are usually heavier and have lots of extras.
For day hikes out of base camp during a multi-day backpack trip, I was going for a lighter load and didn't want to spend a lot on an expensive and heavier day pack. The pack I found for $20 is basically a drawstring bag with a hydration pocket and actual shoulder straps instead of just paracord straps.
Final note on the day pack, I didn't want the shoulder straps catching on everything when stuffed down into my full size backpack, so I turned it inside out before stuffing the sleeping bag inside.
The following steps show how to use the bear bag hang line (which I'm already packing) as compression straps for the sleeping bag.
Step 3: Tie an Alpine Butterfly Knot
About 3 feet from one end of the paracord, tie an Alpine Butterfly knot (as shown in the pictures).
Steps to tie an Alpine Butterfly knot:
- Make three wraps around your fingers
- Pull the center wrap under the outside wrap
- Continue pulling the center wrap and pass it over the outside and inside wraps
- Now pass the center wrap under the inside and outside wraps where your fingers are
- Pull the two end of the paracord to pull the knot tight, adjusting the size as you pull
Note: Make sure the loop that is formed is about the diameter of a finger so that the drawstring toggle lock won't pull through.
Step 4: Tie a Second Alpine Butterfly Knot
Place the first Alpine Butterfly knot on one end of the stuff sack.
Run the longer end of the paracord along the side of the stuff sack.
Tie a second Alpine Butterfly knot so that the two knots will be on opposite ends of the stuff sack (see picture).
Note: Make sure the knots are spaced properly so when fully compressed they are nearly centered on the ends of the stuff sack.
Step 5: Thread the Compression Straps
Here is the link to the video, if the embedded video isn't working: https://youtu.be/iTVQs4PA2I4
Place the Alpine Butterfly knots on opposite ends of the stuff sack with the paracord that connects them running down the center of the top side of the stuff sack.
Run the 3 foot tail down the center of the bottom side of the stuff sack.
Thread the end of the 3 foot tail through the loop of the Butterfly knot and through the drawstring toggle lock and pull cord taught.
Run the long end of the paracord down center of the right side of the stuff sack.
Thread the long end of the paracord through the loop of the Butterfly knot (the knot on the opposite end from the drawstring toggle lock).
Run the long end of the paracord down the center of left side of the stuff sack.
Thread the long end of the paracord through the loop of the Butterfly knot, then through the drawstring toggle lock and pull the cord taught.
Note: Make sure that both Butterfly knots are centered on either end of the stuff sack.
Step 6: Compress the Stuff Sack
Make sure the paracord straps are threaded properly and the Butterfly knots are centered on either end of the stuff sack.
Start pulling the paracord through the drawstring toggle lock cinching the bag down tight.
I was able to compress my bag about 3".
My bag has a side pocket perfect for stowing the excess paracord. Another option would be to stow the excess paracord inside the stuff sack with the sleeping bag.
Remember, it's easier to brave the elements with less weight to lug around!
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