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The keys to light backpacking II

Galette des rois – King’s cake
4 avril 2019

As I m going from France to Latin America hitchhiking, I have had to think twice about the content of my backpack. Since i came back from a hitchhiking trip from France to India last year, I have acquired enough wisdom to make it as minimal as can be this time. It should be as light and small as possible to hike without back aches and also ease the hitchhiking. It’s indeed much easier to jump into someone's car with a light bag that you can get on your legs. Many times people have fully loaded car and it makes it hard to show them you'll not take much space if your bag is as big as a house. So here are some guidelines of what the bag should have to be fully equiped.




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Sleeping



Sleeping bag: Two years ago I was in Chamrousse near Grenoble freezing my ass to death at a 1750m high. In spite of making a fire and sleeping in the hammock into the sleeping bag. I was so cold. So the decision to get a light and warm sleeping bag was vital. And the night I spent in Plitvice national park was even worse. Check out my night camp here

The comfort temperature is -4 and the extreme is -11. That might seem like a lot when you think that sometimes it’ll be really warm. But what can the most can do the least and as much as I plan on wandering in warm areas, I’m a huge fan of mountain hiking. Last year I was in Nepal at 5,300m high and I was glad to keep myself warm. Little tip to gain space. NEVER ever fold or roll your sleeping. To get as much air out as you can you just have to shove it inside the bag and press the air out.

Head Light I left without my light this time but I’ve got my phone. o

Survival blanket: In case of emergency it reduces heat loss and might even help people to find you if you are lost in the mountain hiking as it flashes if there is sun. Could also be used to insulate the bottom of the ground from the humidity.

Lighter: On top of being always ready to light up the cigarette of a nice looking follow stranger. Just kidding I don't like smoking anyway.

It’s very handy to light up a fire camp instead of rubbing a stone and wood in case of a really cold climate or just to create the atmosphere to tell stories around a fire.

No hammock, no tent why?: When I left for India hitchhiking, the season was still good enough to enjoy the outdoors and bond with nature. And I was so keen on witnessing the sunrise each morning. After I reached Iran, I got kidnapped by a whole bunch of people who hosted me. So, I’ve not used ever again my hammock, tarp and bivy bag in 6 months. But I did carry all the gearing which weighed on my back. So as the trip turned into a human adventure, I figured that if I wanted to camp again I would necessarily find local people on the way who are equipped to share a camping adventure with.


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Beauty/Pharmacy


Lemon eucalyptus Essential oil: I’ve always been a mosquitoe bully. No matter how many people are around. I’m the FIRST target. I think my worst night was when i got devoured sleeping outside into a rice Paddy in Ubud, Indonesia. I fell asleep at sunrise. And there is no way I’ll ever use those chemical sprays on my skin. And I confirm it does work. Just pour a drop or two onto a linen or a porous stone .

Nail clipper: Nobody will make you hop into their car if you look like a witch with black nails.

Trimmer: I do not go to the hairdresser. I just trim my hair

Toothbrush/dental floss

Knife



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Hiking



Backpack: A 25 liter would be enough to hold my gearing. But being able to store some food is essential as well as extra water for long hikes and warm days. So I opted for a 35 liter with 2 straps that will help you to balance out the weight all along your spine and not only on the shoulders.

1.5l Bottle: prefer metal to plastic. Even though it weighs more, Just trying to reduce to the minimum my plastic consumption!



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Clothing



Swim suit & gargles: Staying fit is essential. Swimming is a full body work out. Sweat sweat sweat...And Gargles for snorkeling.

Cap and gloves

Thermal underwear: Mountain hiking can be really cold even during summertime and even more when you go above 2000m high.

Rain/wind shield: I got a very light rain/wind shield which so far has been precious in Austria and germany for mountain hiking where on a sunny day the rain and the wind could still burst anytime.

Rain pants

Hoody: This is my only kind of jacket. I never wear anything warmer except for the thermal underwear if need be. It is light and convenient for a mild weather or even to sleep with to add an extra layer.

Two tank tops

One t-shirt: If you still wanna have a social life every now and then. You'll need sleeves. Women have the luxury to get into social spots like bars with unveiled shoulders.

Men simply don't.

One pair of shorts

One pair of pants

Both should be as loose as possible for comfortable hiking.

No undies: Are you shocked? It's the best feeling ever and with a good hygiene it’s the best way to travel lighter and worry less about the laundry.

Sandals: They are really light. And I have spent a full year walking bear foot in Australia. After such an experience, you don't wanna wear shoes anymore. So this is the good compromise when you have no choice. And you’ll get lots of benefits from walking bear foot. See this article for the benefits of being barefoot.here .


A pair of socks: Just to sleep with in case of cold weather.

Hoodie: Lighter than a coat. Paired with the thermal underwear and the rain coat. It will keep you warm enough in case it does get cold.



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Hobbies



Book As soon as I get some downtime, as soon as it rains. It feels good to get life pulsions from a book. An evasion within the trip. Wanna get lighter and read ibooks on your phone. Up to you I prefer the feeling of pages and the smell of a book. And as soon as I finish one another book comes my way by magic. I actually found my next book in the street in Marbella.

Pen and notebook One purpose of this trip is to share this human experience with people. So I plan to keep track of everything to write about my adventure later on.

No more computer: The phone is largely enough to update the blog. It might take longer to type. But it’s definitely worth avoiding the weight and also the risk of being robbed.

Digital Camera: I have had to switch from analogic to digital since I couldn't develop the photos fast enough myself to share it as I travel. I opted for a compact. And I transport and protect it in a climbing chalk bag. Very convenient as you can tigh it around your waist



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Ready to fly



Total weight of the bag with the food remains largely less than 10kg

I feel as light as a bird.

Wanna get some more tips and tricks for light hiking. Check out my camouflage technique. here