LighterPack is a simple tool, but its interface can be confusing.
Because of that, I’ve put together this tutorial to help you learn the site’s basic features.
I’ll also show you how to use it to calculate and reduce your pack weight.
Let’s get started!
How to Use LighterPack
How to Make a Gear List
When you create your LighterPack account, there’s already a blank gear list waiting for you. When you want to add a new list, simply click Add new list in the left sidebar.
Start by naming your list. I tend to name mine after the trip I’m making it for.
Beneath some getting started tips, you’ll see your gear list. Every new list has a blank category and item to start.
Name the blank category. I’ll name mine “Big 3”.
Add your first item in the blank item spot. I’ll add my backpack and its weight.
You’ll notice that, as you add items, LighterPack automatically calculates your pack weight by category and displays it in the pie chart up top.
LighterPack also automatically adds any item in your gear list to the Gear section in the sidebar. Think of this section as an inventory of all your gear.
When you make a new list, you can quickly add new items by dragging and dropping them from the Gear inventory. This saves you the hassle of having to re-add items for every gear list you make.
Click Add new item to add another item to your list. (You can add other info to an item beyond weight — such as quantity, a link, and an image. You can mark the item as worn or consumable and even include a short description.)
To delete an item, hover over it and click the red X at the far right of its row. (When you delete an item, it stays in your Gear inventory. You have to delete it from there separately.)
Click Add new category to add a new category.
Delete a category by hovering over it and clicking the red X that appears. Doing so will also delete all the items in that category.
You’ve now learned how to add and categorize items! To complete your list, just keep adding and categorizing your gear.
How to Calculate & Reduce Your Pack Weight
Calculate your pack weight by adding all your items to your list, assigning them each a weight, and categorizing them appropriately. Also be sure to mark worn and consumable items.
LighterPack then automatically calculates each category’s total as well as your total, consumable, worn, and base pack weight.
The pie chart at the top is a great way to visualize how your pack weight breaks down by category. Click on any category in the pie chart to “zoom in” and see the weight breakdown of the items in that particular category.
Now that you’ve calculated your pack weight, you have a personalized road map for how to reduce it.
Look at the pie chart and weight totals to see which of your categories are adding the most to your pack weight.
For instance, in the example gear list, the Big Four category makes up a large chunk of the total weight, as is typical.
By clicking on that category in the pie chart, I can see a visual breakdown of its items by weight. I can then hover over the different parts of the pie chart to see each item’s weight.
We can see that the backpacking quilt is accounting for a large chunk of the Big Four category’s weight. Replacing this piece of gear with a lighter alternative would be a great starting place in reducing pack weight.
Other Useful Features
Copy a gear list. You can copy any of your gear lists by hovering over the “Add new list” button and selecting “Copy a list” from the menu that appears.
The items in the copied list are linked to the items in the original list. Any changes you make to the item in one list will update that item everywhere. (To copy a list so that the items are not linked, you have to export the list as a CSV and re-import it into LighterPack.)
Import a CSV of an existing gear list. If you already have a backpacking gear list spreadsheet, you can upload it to LighterPack as a CSV. Hover over the “Add new list” button and select “Import CSV”.
Export a CSV of a LighterPack gear list. If you want to try out a LighterPack alternative without having to manually re-add all your gear, you can export a CSV of any of your LighterPack gear lists. View the list you want to export, hover over the “Share” button in the upper right corner, and select “Export to CSV”.
Share a gear list. You can share a link to one of your LighterPack gear lists or embed it on your site. View the list you want to share, hover over the “Share” button in the upper right corner, then copy the link or embed code.
Add a list description. You can add descriptions to your lists by hovering over the “Settings” button in the upper right corner and checking “List descriptions”. Checking this option adds a text field above all of your gear lists.
LighterPack Gear List Examples
For inspiration, here are a few example LighterPack lists:
- Ultralight Shoestring Budget List: Quite possibly the most popular LighterPack list of all time!
- Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike List: A gear list from an AT thru-hiker
- Pacific Crest Trail Thru-Hike List: A gear list from a PCT thru-hiker
Best Lighterpack Alternatives
- A backpacking gear list spreadsheet is still a popular way hikers organize their gear
- Packfire is a new pack building tool with some exciting social features and a large gear database
- Trailpost has a more modern interface and some extra features, such as a search bar for searching other users’ packs