The level of nerd-dom in this blog is about to hit a new high. We’ve talked about ultralight backpacking before and, yep, it’s my thing. “Carry less and do more.” That’s the whole thing. We’re not talking about camping with checkered tablecloths at state parks and marinating gobs of chicken before you stuff the trunk of your SUV. That’s different and totally the right way to do camping if you ask me. No, we are talking about backpacking, getting deep into the woods and covering ground so you can knock out a bunch of peaks and see really cool stuff. Big difference.

As you might expect, there is plenty of info out there on going ultralight and plenty of ways to reduce the weight of your pack. Here’s where we get nerdy because after awhile and probably a lot of money (lighter gear costs more than heavier gear) we get to the point where we are dealing in cutting ounces off the weight we carry and not pounds. So how do we do it? Well, I’m going to cover a bunch of ways – from how you sleep and eat to the type of pack you carry. There’ no correct answer, by the way. You should always do what is important to you. This blog is an example of the weird stuff I do to reduce weight. You might find it insane. You might find good ideas.

With that being said, we’re going to talk about toothpaste.

Now if you’re still actually reading this, congratulations because you’re either my mom or my girlfriend.

So toothpaste. Yes, you can grab a travel tube and a toothbrush and zip out into the woods and have yourself covered. Or you can save a few ounces. They add up after awhile, believe me. What happens if you eliminate the plastic tube to hold your toothpaste? What happens if you eliminate half your toothbrush? Yes, I’m serious. “Carry less and do more.”

So here’s what I do. I create toothpaste dots. No, this is not my invention.

First, you need toothpaste, not gel. It won’t dry. Then grab a chunk of aluminum foil and squeeze out some dots on the foil, maybe a little smaller than the diameter of a dime. Then forget about them for a week. They need to dry at room temperature. You’re almost done. I have some really small ziploc plastic bags that I keep lying around. Peel the dots off the tinfoil but don’t put them in the bag yet. Grab a little baking soda and sprinkle it in the bag. Then you can toss your dots in there. It keeps them from sticking together. That’s it. Now you have knocked a few ounces off your total weight. When you need to brush, reach into that bag and toss one of those dots in your mouth and, voila, there’s your toothpaste that you need for the morning.

But why stop there, right? Do you REALLY need a full-sized toothbrush? Heck no. Cut it in half and save a few more ounces.

Now, will toothpaste dots make a difference in the amount of weight you carry? It’s not likely something you will ever notice but when combined with a bunch of other little tricks like this that we will cover in this blog, it will start to add up.

Until next time. Hike your own hike.