DEN: Put a Pack on It

When: April 26
Where: Barrels & Bottles Brewery
Speaker: Steven “Twinkle” Shattuck

Last Wednesday, Mappy Hour Denver switched things up and met in Golden, the hometown of lightweight backpacker Steven Shattuck (Trail name: Twinkle). Twinkle has hiked around 12,000 miles over the last decade, including the length of the PCT and much of the AT and CDT. He covers thousands of miles all with a base pack weight of a mere eight pounds.

Our watering hole, Barrels & Bottles, had a long list of beers and wine (yes, wine!) on tap. So the whole crew picked their poison and kicked back to hear about how Twinkle packs his pack.

Photo: Alan Westman

One interesting point that Twinkle discussed was a shift in backpacker mentality. The old school of thought was along the lines of the Boy Scouts motto “always be prepared.” That meant carrying every supply you may ever need, which, of course, resulted in a heavier pack. The more modern perspective is to go quick and light. The idea here is the lighter your load, the faster you travel. Sure, you may not have a lot of creature comforts, but if something goes wrong, you can get out fast. Plus, moving quickly from town to town means you need to carry less food with you.

Photo: Alan Westman

For Twinkle, a lighter pack also means a more enjoyable experience overall. You’re out there to walk, he says, so he wants to enjoy the actual act of walking, not be in pain, gritting his teeth until he can make it to his next camp.

Photo: Alan Westman

Quick Tips on How to Lighten Your Load:

1. Ditching a stove can really cut back on weight. Still craving Ramen? Pop it in a container of water to “cook” (read: soak) during the day while you hike.

2. Filtering water means you have to carry less. Plan carefully, looking at when you’ll have access to water sources so as to cut back on as many pounds as possible.

3. Your sleep system can get heavy fast. To shave off some ounces, opt for a tent where your trekking poles double as the tent poles. Twinkle also uses a pack with a fold-out foam pad, which works as the base of his sleeping pad. He then only needs a torso-length inflatable one to stay warm.

4. Forget those old school, heavy hiking boots. If you’ve only got a few pounds on your back, you don’t need hefty ankle support, and trail runners will work just fine for many trips.

5. Carrying a lighter load means you can use a lighter pack. Ditch the ones with the waist belts and metal support systems, and opt for a simpler model that weighs less.

Photo: Alan Westman

A huge thanks to Alan Westman, our photographer, for the awesome photos!

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