In 2014 I went on my first motocamping adventure. During the 28-day long road trip I rode 2,683 miles from San Francisco, to Joshua Tree and back in the most indirect route possible chasing down wild condors, riding in the desert and camping out in Big Sur.

The most frustrating part about this trip was dealing with all of my stuff!

I was traveling without an itinerary, so I felt like I needed to carry everything, “Just in case!” What if it’s hot? What if it rains? What if I camp? What if I stay at a hostel? All of those things require stuff. And stuff adds up and can become a burden.

Check out that giant pile of stuff on the back of my motorcycle!

Since that road trip, I lived and worked in Yosemite National Park, where I got into lightweight backpacking. This is a photo of me on my first backpacking trip, that also coincidentally was my first solo trip. I hiked three miles from Yosemite Valley floor to camp out at the top of Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in North America.

As you see in the photo my red tent didn’t fit in the backpack, nor did my inflatable sleeping pad. I made life harder for myself by wearing a borrowed backpack that didn't fit me, hiking in jeans and a cotton t-shirt and carrying a heavy, metal canteen.

Since my first backpacking trip, I’ve learned a lot about how to downsize. My current base weight is 12 pounds. (The base weight includes everything other than consumables, like water, food, tp, and gas for the stove.)

The crossover between lightweight long distance (thru) hikes, motocamping, and even traveling with just a carryon bag, living in a tinyhouse or bicycle touring, is about packing light, but still being warm, safe, comfortable and prepared.

This blog is about traveling lightweight so you can focus on enjoying the views, instead of being burdened by your stuff, with a bent towards being environmentally conscious at home as well as on the road.


Elizabeth Symington