When deciding what not to bring backpacking sometimes less is more. A lighter pack allows you to travel with less burden whereas a heavy pack can reduce your on-trail enjoyment and leave you exhausted when you finally arrive at your campsite.
How does overpacking happen? We backpackers are often tempted by those shiny catalogs trying to get us to buy the latest and greatest equipment. These purchases all add up in weight and cause our packs to swell to the point where we have to resort to hanging miscellaneous accessories (that we may never even use) on the outside of our pack. Sometimes we may pack in a hurry and carelessly toss items into our pack without much thought or pre-trip planning. Often the stuff we bring is unneeded overkill and if we allow ourselves to lighten up by eliminating nonessentials we will find that we have more fun.
10 Pieces of Gear to Not Bring Backpacking
Axe or saw
Metal is heavy. If building a campfire you should only be using dead and down wood (wood that is already on the ground) that is ideally wrist size or smaller. Wood this size is easy to break by hand. Most public lands and forests have regulations that make it illegal to cut or damage live vegetation which means you won’t be cutting limbs off standing trees. The axe or saw is at the top of my optional gear list.
Unnecessary packaging and oversized sundries
Get into the habit of repackaging your backpacking food and eliminating extra packaging such as cardboard boxes, etc. Avoid carrying glass containers and metal cans. Repackaging food into ziploc style freezer bags will help you shave off some ounces and reduce the amount of trash you need to pack out. Use travel size bottles or tubes for toothpaste, sunblock, waterless hand sanitizers, etc. instead of needlessly carrying larger sizes.
Heavy duty carabiners
If you aren’t doing any climbing then you are probably carrying a heavier metal carabiner than you need. A better option is to use micro carabiners. They are handy and lightweight and can be used on your pack, in camp, or with a bear bag, etc.