Day 12: How Organizing Your Backpacking Gear Can Involuntarily Cause You to Declutter the Rest of Your Life

This is Day 12 of the 31 day series on “How backpacking has enriched my daily life.” I expected lightweight backpacking to be a hobby. Instead it has transformed me for the better.

Drastically downsizing the stuff in the garage and my apartment all started off with a seemingly innocent project of trying to get my backpacking gear as light as possible. Last June I read, “Ultralight Backpackin’ Tips,” by Mike Clelland!,* which paved the foundation for me on the ultralight (UL) philosophy of how to pack light while staying warm and safe.

Over the course of four weeks I cut seven pounds from my backpacking base weight (that is the weight of your backpack and its contents, minus food and water). Fueled by the desire to beat my bf at who has the lightest base weight, I questioned every item in my pack. I asked myself if I carried the item because I wanted it or if I actually needed it. Then I weighed the items that made the cut and I continued to assess and swap out for lighter, more appropriate gear.

It was during this assessment that I finally put together a repair kit, I sewed myself a rain skirt and I made a pot cozy for my cook pot and mug. It is a huge peace of mind carrying the appropriate survival gear. Even though I have added items to my pack, I am now better prepared and lighter than before I started.

Once I got my backpack all dialed in, my attention shifted to, “What else can I declutter and streamline?” I didn’t have to look far when I started to notice lots of redundant items in my home and in the garage. The book that inspired my decluttering philosophy is Marie Kondo’s, “The life-changing magic of tidying up.”* Kondo believes that your home should be filled with only things that make you happy. So I tossed, recycled, gave away, donated, sold anything that didn’t make me feel good. Ends up 2/3 of my stuff was holding me back from a lot of joy!

I literally held every single item in my hands and asked myself, “Does this make me happy?” I decided with my heart, instead of my head, if an item got to stay or if it was better to donate it. It took six weeks of focused decluttering and organizing to go through everything I owned. I finally got to old projects like finding a place to recycle my dead, old laptops. I tossed the mystery keys on my keychain. I got my gmail inbox to zero!

I feel great knowing exactly what I own and knowing where I can quickly find it. Everything around me gives me joy. And my stuff is in clean and working order.

I call this downsize, The Great Declutter. I wrote a mini series about how over six weeks I was able to get rid of 66% of what I owned. I was being held back by my possessions. Now I am mentally, emotionally and physically ready for my next adventure, wherever that may take me!

And for more engaging reading…

For the entire month of October I’ll be daily posting about, “How backpacking has enriched my daily life.” Go here to see the Table of Contents.

Day 11 – Grow Sprouts in Your Kitchen in 4 Easy Steps

Day 13 – Tampon Alternatives That Bless You and the Planet

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