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It all began at 7000 feet on a backpacking trip along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) with this simple question, "How much of this stuff do I really need, anyway?" We, Sue and Jean, had contacted Backpacking Light and found online Editor-in-Chief, Carol Crooker, eager to help us older women lighten our packs. She wanted to document the process so that others new to lightweight backpacking would benefit from reading about our concerns and experiences. Our starting points were a 20 pound baseweight for Jean and 14 pounds for Sue. (Baseweight is the weight of your pack and everything in it except food, fuel and water.)

A storm of emails between Carol and ourselves began, as she answered our questions, pointed us toward additional resources, and solicited the advice of fellow staffers at Backpacking Light and her many corporate contacts. The flurry of emails, articles, reviews, gear store visits, advice, and gear testing hiking trips alternated between inspiring eye opening transformation and the fear of being buried under an avalanche of information and change. At times we wondered what we had been thinking to begin this process of going light! But we were wise enough to realize the long term benefits of lighter packs, so we persisted. Join us on our journey.


  • Introduction
  • Tents and Shelters
  • Sleeping Bags, Pads, Quilts
  • Boots, Shoes and Socks
  • Clothing
  • Stoves
  • Food and Water
  • Bear Bags and Tools
  • Feelings

# WORDS: 5840

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