HOW TO PACK LIGHT FOR BACKPACKING WITH MIKE ST. PIERRE

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I easily replaced some heavy objects with lighter ones. I knew I needed to carry a harness but wouldn’t need to use it very often, so I researched new lighter options that might be on the market. I found a three oz. CAMP USA harness (The Alp Racing). I wouldn’t wear it for actual climbing at my local crag, but it would keep me safe scrambling up rocks in exposed areas and rappelling down slot canyons.

Other things that I lightened were not so obvious in the beginning of my planning stages. But as I started lightening up things like the harness, carabiners and rope, other items started to seem really heavy—like my down jacket and base layers.

It’s really easy to over-pack clothing, and clothes get heavy fast. This is where thorough pre-trip information gathering comes into play. I knew that the temperatures were going to vary wildly on this Grand Canyon section hike. My usual ultralight kit falls into the three-season range, but in March sections of the Grand Canyon can drop to 15-degrees with snow at the higher elevations. But at the same time, a heavy winter kit wouldn’t cut it because daytime temps can be 60 to 80 degrees.

That meant I had to have a puffy jacket and clothes that, paired with my sleeping system, could handle anything from 15- to 90-degree weather. So I looked for clothes that would work together in a system in a broader range of temperatures, but would have the same weight as my three-season garb.

With a little research, I found Luke’s Ultralight, a company that made me a 4oz. down vest and 6oz. jacket that were warmer than lighter than the jackets I’ve carried for years. I brought my lightweight 20-degree sleeping bag as well, knowing I could get through a few nights of 15-degree weather with all my layers and down on and still not feel beleaguered and weighted down when the mercury shot up to 80-plus degrees. Sure, I might spend a night or two curled deep in my bag counting the minutes until morning, but I wouldn’t become hypothermic. Those are trade offs I’m willing to make when it comes to planning.

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