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Tips on reducing backpack weight from An Outdoors Family

Affordable changes to backpacking gear

Last week we bought you our tips on reducing your packweight for free. The next step is looking at what items you can buy for not very much that will save you that bit of extra weight in your bag. Let’s face it, we all like the thought of being able to go further at a much more comfortable pace and what’s better is that we can enjoy a nice little bargain while we start that process. These tips range in cost from a few pence to about £25, but with most costing less than £5. We like practical and we like cheap so while they’re not top of the range or the shiniest gear you can get, the following items are ones that we have thoroughly put through the test and can recommend after years of use.


As always, our number one top tip would be to embrace the scales. Weighing everything might sound nerdish, but it is really helpful to see where your total pack weight is coming from. This then helps you prioritise what to change first, and can be useful in deciding whether spending money to save some weight is worth it.

Here are our top tips for making your packs lighter for little money.

Lightweight bowls: We take three light plastic children’s bowls (if you have kids, you probably have some already, if not they cost pennies). These are not essential, but make mealtime so much easier than trying to all share out of the single pan.

Lightweight cups: Our favourite for this year was a set of 8 bright coloured plastic cups with smiley faces from Ebay for a couple of pounds. These weigh 15g each… yes 15g each! If your cups weigh more, switch now and you will get to drink out of a cup with a smiley face on it… on a more serious note this saved us 120g compared to our previous cups.

Small sporks: We use children’s sporks for our food – no need for knives forks and spoons, and plastic is much better than metal for not burning your mouth. These are a great investment for less than £3.

Pot cozy: It is dead easy to make a pot cozy for your pan using some foil backed bubblewrap. This adds a few grams of weight, but saves loads of fuel. To cook pasta (or any dehydrated meal) simply boil water, add the food, turn off the stove and put the pan and lid inside the cozy. Leave for 10-15 mins and hey presto, a hot cooked meal, using only the fuel to boil the water. This really comes into its own on multi-day trips.

Tiny knife: We take a single tiny penknife with a blade around 5 cm long. Ours has tweezers and scissors too. They are available for only a couple of pounds, and weigh around 20g. There is really no need for any bigger or heavier knife.

Light headtorches: As nights draw in, taking headtorches makes great sense. It is surprising how much they can weight with batteries, so we switched to two Petzl E lite classic headtorches. These use button cell batteries and weigh only 27g each. This could save you 200g on a pair of torches easily! The e lites cost around £15 each.

Lighter pan and cooker: There can be big savings by changing your pan and cooker. We use an Alpkit Mitipot 900ml, weighing 120g, and a Kraku stove, weighing 45g. This gives us a very low weight, compact gas based cooking system and saved us about 500g over our previous stove and pan combo. Another option is a very low cost light stove that you can make using a couple of old coke cans, which burns meths and weigh around 10g if you like making things yourself.

What are your favourite low-cost backpacking tips? Sometimes they can be found in the most unlikeliest of places, so if you’ve tried and tested something that you can recommend, let us know! We all love a bargain!


6 responses to “Affordable changes to backpacking gear”

  1. Great set of tips, lightening the load makes life much easier 🙂


    1. Hi Ashley, That’s so true! We remember the first overnight camp we did years and years ago and cringe now at how much our bags weighed…


  2. I’d never really thought about a pot cosy before. I might give it a go!


    1. Sounds a bit weird but they work brilliantly! We found staples work well to hold it all together – Let us know how you get on 🙂


  3. We are hoping to do some backpacking next year so love reading your tips. May well be coming back for more advice! Love the pan cozy idea-genius!


  4. We’ve always traveled with a car (or even a van) when we’ve camped – cant imagine ever getting it all on our backs, but great tips for those carrying or even just out for the day.


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