You are here

Downsizing 2 - Take a Hike!


In Downsizing Your Life many ways were discussed to shrink the amount of space you live in, but there is another approach which in recent years has helped me to shrink my footprint even further.  Take a trip, the longer the better, and better still, make it a hiking / camping trip where you have to carry everything on your back!

I travel a lot these days, sometimes I am gone for three months or more (as I write this I have not been home in over five months), and the simple fact is that anything I have lived without while traveling for months at a time is clearly not essential to my life.  The reason I recommend that you go hiking is that having to carry everything on your back will help you to much further shrink your assessment of what you really need.  Camping at the end of a long hike, particularly if you do it alone, will help you to further assess your real needs, since there really isn't a lot to think about in your tent late at night in the middle of nowhere but things like "what the heck is all this stuff in my pack and why am I carrying it with me?"  I have even done a fair bit of gear design late at night in my tent (as I have come up with many ways to further reduce the weight), and will probably make some new gear when I get back home for use on my next trip.  Every time I return from one of these trips I get rid of even more stuff from my house, after all, if the gear I travel with is sufficient while traveling, it is also sufficient while I am at home!

The gear I am currently carrying is very carefully thought out.  Everything serves two, three, or even more functions where possible and is sufficient for me live and work in rural areas of Australia in temperatures (so far) of up to 110 deg. F. / 45 deg. C..  It is also sufficient for hiking and camping in the mountains of New Zealand with temperatures well below freezing, or to dress reasonably nicely to give public talks or go out in the evening.  While in some ways the gear is minimal, in others it is definitely not.  The pack and everything in it with full food for five to seven days and a couple of liters (half gallon) of water weighs about 35 lbs or 16 kilograms.  Without the food and water I can split the gear into two bags and fly carry-on (no checked bags) with most airlines.  The gear includes non-essentials (from a survival perspective) such as the computer I am currently working from, a SCUBA case for my camera, and even a guitar!  I'm not suggesting you give up everything in life, just figure out what really matters to you the most and don't bother with the non-essentials.  In future articles, I will go over (in detail), the exact contents of my pack and why I carry each item, as well as (in a few cases) items I have left out and why.

You might also be interested in:

Downsizing Your Life

Free Storage! - Downsizing 3

Traveling and Living Lightly