Packing Light for an Expedition


Pack as light as possible – you will need less than you think.

By Angela Owen

Only take the things you can’t do without and not the things you could do with.

1) You don’t need that. Or that. Or that either – should be your mantra when packing don’t take things you might need on the off chance. If you are saying what if? – you won’t need it so get rid.

2) If your clothes take up more than one third of your bag you are taking too much. Pack one set of dry clothes and wear the clothes you will need for walking.

3) Accept that you are going to be smelly, I would rather pack an extra chocolate bar than have a clean pair of pants. Bamboo underwear is great when you need to wear the same pair for a few days.

4) Pack as you would for a night away, you don’t need any more stuff than that.

5) Don’t carry more than 15% of your body weight as it will make your journey miserable and sore.

6) You always pack your rucksack full so go for a smaller one.

7) Merino wool clothing is great it is super lightweight keeps you warm in the cold and cool in the heat and you can wear it for days without stinking.

“He who would travel happily must travel light.”

-Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Pack as light as possible, you will need less than you think.

What to pack in your expedition rucksack: –


• A large rucksack between 35 and 65 litres:

• Small tent or bivvy bag

• A portable stove, basically you want a stove that won’t weigh you down too much and is easy to get up and going. There are lots of tasty expedition meals available where you just add water. – Don’t forget the gas.

• Waterproof Jacket

• Warm clothes, pack a fleece and avoid jeans – which are a nightmare when wet. I wear my walking kit and then just pack a pair of leggings and a warm top as tent wear, I wear my socks to bed and they dry overnight.

• Cutlery: cup/plate/spork,

• Sleeping mat

• Sleeping bag: Something appropriate to the season. Down is great for winter but if it gets wet you’ll be in for a world of trouble. Bonus tip: A dry sack or bin liner will help keep your sleeping bag dry even if the weather turns sour.

• Head Torch

• Large water bottle – I use a Nalgene bottle as it will take boiling water and I put it into the foot of my sleeping bag as a hot water bottle.

• Food and drinks and chocolate: High energy snacks such as nuts are a great way to keep you going.

• Water purifying tablets. (I boil fresh running water for around 10 minutes to purify it but this can carry health risks.)

• A dry bag: keeps your clothes and sleeping bag dry. Bring a few if needed.

• Insect repellent: Stops the midges making your life miserable and wards off ticks.

• A whistle.


·         Camping Pillow or you can always roll up clothes.

·         Small trowel, the best way to dig a hole in the event of needing the loo, wet wipes and hand sanitizers are also useful.

·         Sunglasses and sun cream.

·         A first aid kit with the addition of a tick remover. (I will be carrying a comprehensive first aid kit)

·         Toiletries and any medication kept in a dry bag, if you need to use soap, please ensure it is biodegradable to avoid any negative effect on the environment.

·         Gloves, a buff, a warm hat, sun hat with a cap.

·         Walking poles – I take them when carrying a heavy pack as it reduces the impact on my knees.

·         Pen knife.

Please also ensure you have supportive and waterproof boots suitable for getting off the beaten track.

See my blog about keeping your feet happy and blister free.

What I have packed for a 6 day expedition.

You don’t need that. Or that. Or that either – should be your mantra when packing don’t take things you might need on the off chance. If you are saying what if? – you won’t need it so get rid. Bamboo knickers are a great investment

Minimising the impact when camping in a remote location.

• Wild Camp off-the-beaten-track on open hills away from houses and farms.

• Pitch tents later in the day and leave early to minimise our visual presence.

• Leave no trace that we have camped. This is how long it takes for some items to decay, a banana peel – a month, paper – a couple of months, a wool scarf – 1 year, a hard-plastic container – 3 decades and a rubber boot sole – 7 decades.

• Don’t light any fires and only use gas stoves for cooking.

• Toileting should be at least 30 m away from any water source or path, and waste buried at least 15cm deep and covered over. Carry paper and any sanitary items away with you.

• Take away all rubbish and food scraps with you.

• Do not pollute the area with any non-eco-friendly detergents and must not use streams and rivers for washing with soaps or other washing products.

• Choose your pitch carefully and avoid digging ditches, trampling plants and moving rocks and stones just to accommodate your tent.

• Be quiet.

• If possible, use unobtrusive coloured tents that blend in with the scenery.


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