One Month of Living with Less: What Thru-hiking Has Taught Me about Minimalism

I’ve lived out of a backpack for a month.

It’s easy to skim over how little we have out here while we actively think of all of the ways to have less. But when I sit with it, I realize how little I truly need to be happy.

In my pack: I have a shelter, sleeping system, a couple of outfits, tools, and some technology. That’s it.

I collect water as I hike and I resupply on food and toiletries in nearby towns. But when it comes to what is truly mine, it’s really not all that much. And I’m always willing to share.

Truly, I’ve never felt more wealthy or fulfilled in my life.

It’s funny to sit back and think about how twisted our backpacking world is compared to the material world. We desperately shave ounces and give away food, gear, and supplies that no longer suit us. When someone is hurt, we all offer a bandage. When someone is cold, we offer a jacket. What we have individually, we also have together.

We purchase things for practicality and get joy from the life we live (as opposed to the things we use to decorate it). I’ve even lost my taste for personal mementos. I don’t need comfort items out here — I don’t even have a pillow.

After one month, I’ve found all I need is a decent sleep system, some sort of roof over my head (preferably a nicer one when it’s raining or snowing), my technology to stay connected, some supplies to get through the day-to-day, and people I love. Luckily, you can find all of that virtually anywhere you go.

There’s no waste, no missing things, and nothing holding you back.

To have less is freeing, and I’ll carry that lesson with me off-trail. And, hopefully, I won’t be carrying much else.


Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

What Do You Think?