Q. I’ve been in Scouts for about a year and I was wondering why my backpack is so heavy. I only pack about two pairs of jeans, extra socks and two shirts. I also pack a mess kit and a flashlight plus batteries. My sleeping pad is not heavy; neither is my sleeping bag. Why might my pack be so heavy and do you know how to fix it?
—Overweight Robert, Coventry, R.I.
A. The first thing you said that raises a red flag is that you always pack two pairs of jeans. Now, I love jeans as much as the next guy, but they probably aren’t the best choice for outings for a couple of reasons: 1) they do weigh a lot, about 1 to 1.5 pounds per pair; 2) when they get wet, they weigh tons more and give you zero insulation from the cold.
So, swap those jeans for a single pair of nylon zip-off pants. They are more versatile (can become shorts when you’re warm), quick-drying and weigh only about 10 or 12 ounces—half as much as a pair of jeans. If it’s cold, throw in a pair of long underwear to layer underneath. As for two shirts, that’s not excessive, but just make sure that the two shirts you bring can work together. So, for example, bring one long sleeve and one short sleeve. They should be made of a quick-dry polyester blend or even wool, both of which will keep you warm even when wet. When it gets cold, wear them layered together.
Finally, pack only what you really need. Click here to check out some of our easy-to- follow gear packing lists.