Ask Me: Advice on Lighter Gear

Hi Michael,

I wonder if you could help me shed a few pounds – from my pack, not off my body. I’ve been section hiking the AT, and over the years have gotten my pack weight down from about 45 pounds to the low- to mid-30s. This year, I’m thinking of upgrading/downsizing my pack and sleeping bag, hoping to trim another 3 pounds and some bulk. Currently, I have a 5,500-cubic inch Mountainsmith pack that weighs almost 6 pounds, and a synthetic EMS bag that’s about 3 pounds.

Any suggestions on replacing them?

Dave Greenslit
Worcester, MA

Hi Dave,

You can definitely trim your pack weight considerably by replacing that pack and bag and probably taking some other steps. You should be able to get your base pack weight (without food and water) under 20 lbs. Then figure 2-4 lbs. of water and 2 lbs. of food per day, so a full pack for five days should be under 30 lbs. You might want to read my blog post about ultralight backpacking, which focuses on lightening your load without sacrificing comfort or safety.

Your pack should weigh well four pounds, and you could go significantly less if you keep total pack weight below 25 pounds. But there are plenty of packs under 4 lbs. that can handle 35-40 lbs. and fit everything you need, like the Deuter ACT Zero 50+15 or the slightly larger Osprey Atmos 65 and Gregory Savant 58.

If you’re mostly backpacking in summer temps (lows in the 40s or higher), I’d use a 30-degree down bag like the MontBell UL Super Spiral Down Hugger #3Marmot Plasma 30, or Stoic Somnus 30. If you need a somewhat warmer bag, check out the REI Igneo.

Beyond those items, you can trim weight with an ultralight air mattress and newer, lighter jackets and clothing, if you don’t have them already. You may want to check out my complete list of Backpacking Gear Reviews.

I hope that’s helpful. Let me know if you have any other questions.

Michael Lanza

Thanks, Michael.


[In Ask Me, I share and respond to a reader question. Got a question about hiking, backpacking, gear, or any topic or trip I write about at The Big Outside? Send it to me at [email protected] or tweet it to @MichaelALanza. I will answer the ones I can in a post, using only your first name and city, with your permission.]



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