Havasupai is one of those places that you might only get to do once in your life, so when you go, you really want to make the most of it. As I mentioned in my last post, it's a twenty mile roundtrip hike, and most people choose to camp out for several nights. Not only was I trying to pack warm (overnight lows were in the 30s), but I had a whopping 18 pounds of camera gear. So…how to cram everything I needed into a 65L backpacking bag? Here are some of my tricks...
1. Lay everything out
Always do this first. Nothing looks scarier than seeing the entire floor of your living room covered in camera equipment, camp gear and clothes, so this helps make the process of removing certain items a no brainer. On the subject of clothes, try to pick synthetic pieces that dry quickly. Whether you’ve gone swimming or you actually found a spot to hand wash your pitted-out shirts, this can allow you to easily cut your “wardrobe” in half.
Going minimal with your gear makes adventures like this much more fun. And these were just some of the highlights from our trip...
2. Choose items that can serve multiple purposes
Lightweight dry bags are essential for wet and wild adventures, but they’re also great storage bags if you’re planning on hanging your food. And when I’m backpacking, forget inflatable pillows — I always fold up my Big Agnes Shovelhead puffy and use a clean shirt as a pillowcase. I have a pair of synthetic Lululemon pants that I can wear as pajama bottoms — or layer over a pair of leggings if I get cold. A rain cover plus a bag of dirty laundry can work as a cushion, so if you’re looking to cut down your weight, simple tricks like these are key to packing light.
"Don't listen to TLC. DO go chasing waterfalls."
3. And then…remove 1/3 of everything you’ve initially packed
I asked around on social media, and one man suggested this. It seemed like a scary number, especially if you’re like me and you get cold and hangry easily. However, he was right! When you get back and see how much stuff you didn’t use (on this particular trip, it was a pair of leggings, a tee, a tank, half of my toiletries, a snack bar, a bag of dried fruit and my 20,000 mAh portable power pack), you’ll realize this isn’t so much of a stretch.
Wonder what the weight limit is on this bridge?
4. Invest in the right gear
Whether it’s an anti-gravity backpacking bag or the lightest, sturdiest tripod on the market (I brought my meFOTO GlobeTrotter Air on this trip), doing your research and picking the best gear for your adventures will ultimately pay off. When every ounce and inch counts, you don’t want to be dealing with a heavy aluminum tripod, so I chose the Air because it’s 3.2 pounds and 12.2 inches long, and I could stick it anywhere in (or on) my bag. I was able to set up my Canon 5DMIII and 24-70mm f2.8 lens on rocky cliffs and fire off long exposures, and it handled just as well as my carbon fiber Road Trip, which is the same weight but a few inches longer. I did use a two-second timer when shooting LEs, but I usually do that anyway — especially if there is wind or unstable ground involved.
The small but mighty GlobeTrotter Air.
5. Budget some space for a splurge item
If you’ve really removed one third of what you were planning on bringing, this is where you’re allowed to throw one item back into the mix. My splurge item on this trip was a three pound day pack that would accommodate a tripod, a liter of water, snacks, extra layers and all of my camera gear. I knew I didn’t want to lug my 65L bag around during day hikes, and while I wasn’t stoked about the extra weight at first, it ended up being the best decision of the trip.
Sure, you don’t need a hammock, but once you plop down on the rocky ground at camp, that extra pound of weight doesn’t seem so bad.
And psst! If you want a discount on one of MeFOTO's awesome and lightweight tripods, plug in the LIZSAVE10 code at checkout on their website.