I recently went on a backpacking trip in the Bear Run Nature Reserve in western PA. This trip was a nice weekend excursion for me and my wife, served as a nice chance for me to apply some navigation skills that I’ve been brushing up on, and was a chance to focus on doing more with less.
My wife and I have taken a few backpacking trips over the years and I’ve begun the process of streamlining my load-outs. An effort in embracing “less is more”. What better way to put this into practice, I thought, than limiting my wife and I to what we could carry in a GR2 (for me) and a GR1 (for her).
This proved to be a great exercise and I learned a good bit from it. I didn’t weigh our packs before we embarked on our trip, but if I had to guess, I’d estimate my pack weight was about 30-40 pounds and my wife’s was 15-25 pounds. Here’s what we packed:
As you can see, with an emphasis on careful packing, the GR2 can really carry a lot. Here’s a breakdown of some of the items we brought:
Nemo Espri Ultralight Backpacking Tent
My Nemo Espri tent was a new purchase for this trip. This cut down about 2 pounds and a fair bit of volume from my previous tent. I’m pretty pleased with it. The tent stayed bone dry through a rain storm we had that night, has convenient, accessible internal storage, is easy to setup, and is perfect for 1-man backpacking or a couple. This tent was a BIT tight for the two of us and our dog, but it was workable.
Here are a few looks at this tent:
This tent is rock solid. It kept dry through a storm we experienced during our trip, setup easy, packed small and clocked in right around 4 pounds. It’s a BIT tight for me, my wife AND our dog, but as a two man tent for a couple or someone hiking solo, it’s a great choice. This tent can be found from a few sellers at Amazon.
I also packed a Leatherman wave knife with me. While I’m still a big fan of the Gerber LMFII knife that I routinely bring on camping trips and other excursions, I found that the smaller size and broadened utility of this pocket tool offered me a good opportunity to continue with my “less is more” approach. It also attached nicely to the MOLLE of my pack using a few Maxpedition TacTies and the included pouch. The small extra pocket on the inside of the pouch proved a nice place to store and carry my firestarter as well.
I won’t go into the details of all of my equipment choices, as I’ve discussed many of them before, but I will highlight a few of my other favorites.
The Klymit Static V Camp Mattress
This camp pad was a great purchase. Damn near weightless and about the size of a burrito when deflated (a large burrito). These are worth every penny and every ounce of weight in your pack.
I cut back on clothing for this trip. This was a short 1-nighter, and so I cut back on my clothing significantly: a change of socks and a pullover we’re my only extras. If I we’re doing a 2-3 nighter I might expand that to two pairs of socks, an extra shirt and a pair of undies, but that’s about it. Clothing is a great place to cut back on weight as long as you’re smart and sensible about your layer choices. No one changes their shirts, pants and undies 4-times during a backpacking trip, so don’t carry the extra burden unnecessarily.
Everything fit nicely in my GR2. Here are a few other looks at the main compartment:
I fit our tent, two Alite chairs (those things are GREAT!), two camp pads, an ENO DoubleNest hammock my mess kit and Trangia alcohol stove in the main compartment. Clothing, Ziplocs and roll bags containing food, fire supplies and extras went in the secondary pocket. My wife’s pack included her toiletries, clothing extras, snacks for us and our dog Kea, our headlamps and assorted extras. Her pack was very light and manageable.
My wife’s sleeping bag actually sat at the bottom of her GR1. My sleeping bag was carried on the exterior of my pack, to allow me more interior space for other items. I achieved this using a few lashing straps and the exterior MOLLE on my GR2. I used a 3rd strap to pull the sleeping bag up and in on the ruck, drawing it closer to my center of gravity. This also cut back on the “gypsy camp” effect. The 3rd strap was simply carabinered to my ruck handle to pull it tight.
The GR2 proved to be more than voluminous enough to serve as the foundation for a 1-3 (maybe 4) night backpacking trip. I had a number of items in my pack that others would do without (Alite chairs, ENO hammock, for example) and still had room for my needs. Overall the trip was great fun and made for a relaxing weekend during the peak of fall foliage in our region.
On a more personal note, I was planning this weekend excursion during the week our community learned of the passing of GoRuck’s favorite son, Java. My wife and I had considered taking a longer trip – just the two of us – but Java’s passing was all the reminder we needed about the importance of spending quality time with our 8 year old four legged friend… even if it did mean a shorter trip. I’m glad we did. Kea had a wonderful time, and so did we: enjoying nature and embracing life. Together.