So you’ve just bought that new cheap super-light mini pocket gas stove from China. Two pair of trekking pants and this years edition of trail shoes with that crazy cool color scheme. A pack of 5 charging cables for your phone (because it was cheaper than one) and you’ve upgraded your backpack – all set for this years hiking adventures!
So what is Leave No Trace?
Leave No Trace is a set of outdoor ethics promoting conservation in the outdoors. It consists of seven principles:
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces
- Dispose of waste properly
- Leave what you find
- Minimize campfire impacts
- Respect wildlife
- Be considerate of other visitors
These principles have been adapted to different activities, ecosystems and environments. Since 1994, Leave No Trace Center For Outdoor Ethics, a non-profit organization also known as Leave No Trace, exists to educate people about their recreational impact on nature as well as the principles of Leave No Trace to prevent and minimize such impacts. Source: Wikipedia
Breaking it down
If we try and break these principles down in terms of a trip into the wild to make it more realistic and what you as an individual can do.
Plan ahead and prepare
It’s hard to plan ahead for all trips you want to do in life but what you can do is choose your big three, backpack, tent and sleeping bag as carefully as possible. Looking at reviews on blogs, YouTube etc you can start building a good idea of what you’ll need. For example, if you’re not too keen on winter hikes you can probably get away with a three season sleeping bag or less. You can still do day trips during the colder months.
Choose something that you know will last. Even the lightest Dyneema Cuben Fiber items will last for a very long time. Also try and get multi-purpose items, e.g. a compass with a mirror will double as – yup, a mirror. A buff will be a hat, scarf, bandana etc.
Picking gear from companies that are aware of their impact on the planet is also very good. Today we have multiple companies like Patagonia, Fjällräven, Houdini and Arc’Teryx that try to spearhead in terms of sustainability and environmental impact when producing their items. Cottage manufacturers are small and have usually already made good decisions based upon these principles. Being smaller they can adjust faster too. If you’re unsure, you can always ask.
Food, isn’t this the most boring part? It shows that making good decisions of what you eat will also have a very big impact on how far you can go and also what waste you’re bringing with you – pack in, pack out.. We’ll leave the food industry out of this one.
Travel and camp on durable surfaces
Stealth camping or just being able to pitch your tent wherever is very liberating but you can still pick a spot with care. Avoid sensitive areas if the trail information tells you to and use designated campsites. If you’re allowed to wild camp then make sure not to put your tent on plants/flowers if possible and do not dig into the ground for fun.
At the same time, use the trails that are available to you. If there’s no trail and you’re up in Alaska or another very remote area don’t disturb trees, bushes etc just because you wanna plow through. Look at the map and make good decision. This will save you calories too! Win-win.
Dispose of waste properly
Pack in, pack out! How many of you haven’t seen trash on the trail. Be it something that’s “accidentally dropped” to beer cans or worse. I don’t understand how hard it can be to put your trash in your trash bag and bring it back. Sure it’s bulky and might even smell a little, especially in hot weather, but you brought it there, make sure it gets out and is recycled. Burning it in the fire pit is not recycling or disposing of it properly.
Poop, we all do it. Make sure to dig a hole for your business at least 50m away from a water source. Don’t be the person that just go around the big rock next to the trail and do your stuff on the ground and leave some toilet paper as a souvenir for others to see, smell, step in or worse, for animals to eat. We’ve seen some really nasty stuff…
Leave what you find
You’re in a very barren place. It’s super windy and you’re afraid your tent will wanna make a run for it during the night. You see a bunch of rocks in the ground. That will work! You start plying them out of the ground and put them on your tent stakes. Aaah, safe and sound, you sleep like a baby during the night in the high winds.
You wake up and break down your tent and walk away. No! You pause and remember; I need to put the rocks back first because it could take up 20 to 50 years for the vegetation to recover to a pre-removal condition.
This goes without saying but don’t mess with cultural artifacts.
Minimize campfire impacts
If you just need to make a fire (non emergency) use a fire pit if there’s one already. Don’t just pile stuff up wherever and light a fire. If you don’t really need that campfire just don’t make one.
We also have many wood burning options in a lightweight package today. When you use these make sure to use the wood burning floor that’s usually supplied with them so you don’t damage the ground or worst case, making roots catch fire and you have a underground fire resulting in a forest burning down.
Arctic Foxes, elks and birds etc are indeed beautiful. But leave them alone. Don’t scare them off and for the love of – don’t feed them with the stuff you brought. They were there long before you and will still be there when you get back home and sleep in your comfy bed dreaming of your wonderful time in the outdoors.
Be considerate of other visitors
Remember, you’re (almost) never alone in the wild or going to a place where no one will ever go. This is just like karma – you get what you give.
Fast fashion is a thing and the outdoor companies still needs to make a living.
I’m in no way better than anyone at this, even more so in the past. I’ve even stated “whoever has the most things when he dies wins”. Let’s say I have a different perspective nowadays.
Much of the traffic on this blog is coming at different products that we at Lighter Packs have bought in the past and reviewed and showcased. Hopefully we’ve given something back so that you can and could make the right decision to buy or not.
I believe that some companies are better than others in taking pride in their gear, offering to repair items on warranty or even when you just break them.
We at Lighter Packs have had multiple experiences with sending in gear to have it repaired and restored, be it a new zipper or similar, even repairing it ourselves. If they can’t fix it, they’ll usually give you a “new” item and your broken one will be recycled and reused in production of something new for someone else to enjoy.
I believe that it’s never too late to start making a change and hence making a difference.
So if you leave here with one message; Before you buy something, take a step back and ask yourself – Do I really need this item? Will it add value to my life for what I’m intending to do? Or will I be equally good off with what I currently have?
Also if you have used items that still have some life left in them. Sell them, gift them to a friend or drop them off at your local second hand shop. Just because you don’t need it anymore doesn’t mean it has to go to waste, pun intended.
The lightest things are the ones you don’t bring.
So maybe you can skip that third, oh so cheap tent from AliExpress?
We have one planet. Don’t forget that. There’s no reason not to let people enjoy it as much as we have.
Disclaimer, this is focusing on a “lighter pack”. Hence gear to carry very specific or heavy items might require different sets of i.e. backpacks to get the work done. There’s no ‘right way’ – all I ask is that you think first, buy second.