As a backpacker, you can travel further and faster by packing lighter with lightweight backpacks. Many who have jumped on the lightweight bandwagon find they can wear light running shoes when carrying a 15 to 30 pound backpack instead of the heavy-duty hiking boots they must wear when carrying the 45 pound plus heavy-duty pack. This means that the backpacker can travel more miles in a shorter period of time and may even equate to a higher safety level. The comfort level is often greater because less weight means you will be less sore at the end of the day.
Traditional backpacking has a few disadvantages that are overcome by using lightweight backpacks. First, when you backpack with heavy equipment, there is less freedom of movement. You can’t simply run off the trail to see what is there because speeding up that much with a heavy pack would be terribly exhausting. If you put down the pack so you can run and see what is over the hill, you leave your equipment behind and have to backtrack to get it.
Carrying heavier gear means that you are more apt to be tired or even exhausted at the end of the day. More sore muscles will be evident and a greater likelihood for such things as blistered feet, knee injuries, sprained ankles or even back problems is possible. With too much weight on the back or the legs, the soreness can cause the camping and backpacking trip to be less fun than it would otherwise be.
Another disadvantage to the traditional heavy backpack is that packing time is often increased. Time must be spent to pack the backpack carefully for proper weight distribution. There is the additional time spent in taking the pack off and putting it on. If you want to quickly reach your adventuring destination, you may really appreciate the benefits of lightweight backpacks when it comes to ease of packing.
Another disadvantage to the traditional heavy pack is when you are caught in a storm. The heavy pack will weigh you down and keep your pace to a minimum as you seek shelter. Another problem may be if an injury occurs, you will be weighed down by your pack as you head toward civilization to get help.
Basically, lightweight backpacks counteract all of the disadvantages of the heavier packs. You have much more freedom of movement because you don’t have a heavy pack weighing you down. You can zip off the trail any time you have a fancy to see something different and head across country without a trail until you meet up with your original trail. If you lose your balance, you are less likely to twist or sprain an ankle because the load on your back weighs less and won’t pull you down as quickly. This means that you won’t have as many aches and pains at the end of the day. The lightweight backpacks are easier on your legs and back and you won’t be as stiff. Getting to your destination faster may mean that you have more time to relax and work out any sore spots before you go to sleep so that you will have a more enjoyable experience.
If you needed to quickly get to civilization because your hiking companion was hurt, your light pack would not slow you down. Basically, using lightweight backpacks can be more comfortable because you will have quite a bit less equipment to haul around. You can find lightweight versions of all the camping gear you like and use, so you won’t have to sacrifice the gear you used for the weight limits of your pack. You will have to be very organized and efficient if you plan to go lightweight backpacking, but it is very enjoyable.