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If you are anything like me, you are always trying to find ways to lighten up the load a bit without too much sacrifice!  Well, I thought it would be awesome to have a place where we could share ideas and tips.  So if you have any great ideas or things you do to lighten the load and want to share those ideas, this is the place to do it. 

One of the things that I often think about is how to maintain cleanliness out in the backcountry.  Is it possible to cut back on the amount of toiletries we have to haul with us, without having to sacrifice?  Of course!  Here are some pretty amazing tricks and tips to do just that.  Whether you are trying to go ultra light or challenging your ability to live minimally, practicing these methods are not only a great skill to have but a knowledge you can take with you everywhere. 

1. First, I trade out my towel and washcloth with at least 2 bandannas 

One of the tricks is to find things that serve multiple purposes and bandannas are one of those things.  I use them to hold my hair back, as a belt for loose pants, for a tourniquet, as a sack to carry herbs in, wiping my nose and of course a towel and washcloth. 

2. What? bring no soap? Plant knowledge. A little goes a long way! Research some of the plants that are going to be in the area you intend to hike or camp in.  There are some pretty amazing plants that will make you fresh and clean and most likely do a lot more than just get you clean.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Yarrow- this lovely fellow is one to know!  Having antibacterial and astringent properties. Not only can you wash up with it but It will take care of any scrapes or burns acquired along the way.  It has been used as a deodorant and bug repellent. Also works great as a facial steam that will loosen up any congestion at the same time!

Blackberry- leaves are a gentle astringent.  Great for normal to oily skin and is great as a facial steam!  Wow!  Pamper yourself in the back country.

Horsetail- this one will condition and strengthen your hair and is great for cleansing your skin. It, also, has been used on the battle fields for washing out wounds.

Nettles- is also astringent and great for hair.  It, actually, stimulates hair growth.  Normal to oily skin or combination skin. 

Comfrey - good for dry, inflamed and sensitive skin.  Gentle and soothing. 

Red Clover- Calming and Cleansing

Wild rose- leaves are astringent and toning a great facial steam as well as a body wash.  Oily or combination skin

Have fun researching plants in your area! 

3. Of course, a small mess kit to boil water in, to clean the bandannas in, sponge bathe, facial steams, making tea, and of course for cooking food in is a definate must. 

I would love to hear some of your Ideas or experiences in downsizing.

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One of my favorite ways to travel light (with maximum comfort) is by using a camping hammock with tarp (both light, can be used as a bivvy if needed). Finding a balance between good (thermal) clothing and a sleeping bag (keeping it light) is always a challenge though.

I've been a fan of the Photon lights (very small, rugged, cheap, and adequate) for a long time.

I love using tips and tricks offered by other people. Using a handmade belt consisting of 550 (parachute) cord is one example.

Do you have any plants you use specifically for foot care?

Your point regarding research is well taken!

I usually skip taking a stove and bring no-cook food or cook over a fire (cheese and salami quesadillas, yum!).  In place of cookware, I bring metal water bottles in case I need to boil water.

 

A lot of backpack designs are also surprisingly heavy due to extraneous zippers and pockets or even just the material it is made out of.

The more you know, the less you need to carry.  Knowledge is the ultimate lightweight backpacking equipment!

Bernard,

Regarding the light.  Those tiny photo lights are small and light weight, but I have found that the best light is one that is hands free.  A headlamp is an essential tool for me when backpacking.  There are many things that are very difficult to do in the dark of night with only 1 hand.

Sometimes I challenge myself and do not use a light at all, but of course that can be less than ideal in a variety of survival and backpacking situations.

Yeah, I have seen people use those hammocks they look sweet! They would cut out the need for a sleeping pad. Red Cedar leaf is a great anti-fungal. Just steep it in hot water for at least 10-15 minutes, then use it as a foot soak 

Bernard F. van der Weerdtaid:

One of my favorite ways to travel light (with maximum comfort) is by using a camping hammock with tarp (both light, can be used as a bivvy if needed). Finding a balance between good (thermal) clothing and a sleeping bag (keeping it light) is always a challenge though.

I've been a fan of the Photon lights (very small, rugged, cheap, and adequate) for a long time.

I love using tips and tricks offered by other people. Using a handmade belt consisting of 550 (parachute) cord is one example.

Do you have any plants you use specifically for foot care?

Your point regarding research is well taken!

Ahhh yes.... no pots at all!! And you could still manage to get your bathing and facial steams with a metal water bottle. I love metal water bottles too, they are also great for cold nights, Just stick you bottle in a sock and fill the bottle with hot water and toss in your sleeping bag.

Jeremy Robert Williams said:

I usually skip taking a stove and bring no-cook food or cook over a fire (cheese and salami quesadillas, yum!).  In place of cookware, I bring metal water bottles in case I need to boil water.

 

A lot of backpack designs are also surprisingly heavy due to extraneous zippers and pockets or even just the material it is made out of.

The more you know, the less you need to carry.  Knowledge is the ultimate lightweight backpacking equipment!

I have to agree with Fil on the headlamp. Hands free is the way to go.  

Filip, although the little lights come with a clip (to attach to a cap or other piece of clothing) I also have to agree that a "stretchy"headband is nice (although you could make one in the field). Gerogeiann, a pad is a must with a camping hammock, because of convection (if I'm correct all sleeping bags are rated for use with a pad). As with everything, the hammock has pro's and con's. However, I believe it can't be beat when it comes to comfort/weight.

Although there are several natural solutions (ones you have to "bring in"...) to deal with aching feet at the end of a long hike I'm still trying to gather some info on items that might be picked up on the trail. I'l post my findings here asap.

I think Jeremy has pointed out the true secret: knowledge = lightweight.

I'm sorry I misspelt your name Georgieann. I just noticed a moment ago.

Bernard,

There are a lot of herbs that would help with the sore foot issue. Comfrey, St. Johns, wort, Willow, Cottonwood, Pineapple weed to name a few. It really depends on the area of travel and weather it is mountains or low lands as to what you are going to come across. I would  look for a good field guide for the plants that grow in the  area and then research some of those plants..

Cool! Thanks Georgieann.

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