I remember my first long trip when my backpack weighed a little over twenty kilos and I felt as if I was going to triple over under its weight. Now, many years later I call my backpack heavy when it’s over 13 kilos. It is usually under 10 when I’m going to a hot tropical country, and I around 12 when I need to pack my trekking boots and a sleeping bag.

1. Take a smaller backpack. The bigger your backpack the more likely you are to take more. If you don’t have to carry your tent and food you probably don’t need a bigger backpack than 50-55 litres.

2. Take a lightweight towel – it’s much smaller and dries faster.

3. Use a toothpaste concentrate instead of a regular toothpaste – it will be less than half the size and weight.Ajona Zahnpasta

Toothpaste concentrate- 25ml (the amount you use for brushing your teeth is the size of a mach head) 

4. Buy dry-fit T-shirts instead of cotton ones. They are lighter, dry faster and you don’t smell if you wear them longer than one day. The same is true about socks and trousers.

5. Don’t carry a book (books), take a kindle instead (or any other e-reader).


6. Do you REALLY need a laptop? Isn’t a tablet or a good smartphone enough?

7. Weigh your clothes and take those lighter ones. My black T-shirt from North Face that I always take on holiday weighs 95g, the black T-shirt l am wearing right now weighs 150g. It might not seem a lot of weight but when you try to save 30-50g on every item you take it makes a difference.

8. Don’t take a bottle of shampoo AND a bottle od body wash, take 2in1 cosmetics. Pour your cosmetics into smaller containers if you go away for a shorter time.

9. Don’t buy a heavy guidebook, buy a pdf version, print what you need and throw away the chapters as you move on.

10. Don’t take too many sweaters or jackets, layers will do. It’s good to have a light backpack, then when you go back there still place for souvenirs, such as a big colourful Guatemalan blanket or three kilograms of wonderful Ethiopian coffee that you can no longer imagine your life without.

  • I have used most of these at various times and the lightweight towel one really is great advice. Not only is it lighter but it also takes up loads less space. Yes it may not dry quite as well but sacrifices need to be made when backpacking unless you want to become the Hunchback of Notre-Dame. Lol

  • Good tips. I usually take sachets of shampoo and soap.
    Toothpaste concentrate is new to me.

  • I always take the miniatures I pick up from hotels for shampoo etc. And, I love dry fit teeshirts for their ease of washing too

  • Karla Ramos

    I travel heavy. I should really learn some of these tips. I shall put it to practice.

  • Great tips! I’m always in 2 minds about the travel towels though – I find they don’t dry too well (you or themselves!) but are great for saving space! I suppose it’s a decision you have to make when you see how much else you want to put in your bag!

  • Jenna

    Great tips–thanks for sharing! I’ve never thought about toothpaste concentrate. That’s a great idea because I always seem to be running out of toothpaste on longer trips. Agree about the books too–although I like paper, it’s just too heavy to carry all that extra weight!

  • Christina Pfeiffer

    My nephew is going on his first backpacking trip next year. I’ll pass on these tips, which I’m sure will come in handy for him.

  • Great tips.I think I follow most of it when I am backpacking. My backpack is a bit heavier owing to the DSLR . Done away with guide books long time back. Locals and google are my best guide books. But yes, if you have to have them, then I agree, e-version is the way to go. Not heard of concentrated tooth paste in my part of the world.

    • I changed DSLR to a mirrorless camera and it helped a lot to make my backpack lighter ;)

  • Megan Claire

    I love tip one – take a smaller backpack. I find that no matter how big my pack is, I always seem to fill it, and I always have as much as I need. So larger packs just give you an excuse to over pack!

  • Danik Bates

    Great tips here and I do tend to follow them when I am on the road. Still, whatever size bag I have, I always managed to fill it. Doh!