February 11, 2013 by jervin2012
If you have ever had the opportunity to visit the Philippines, one thing you will notice is that almost everything you need is available for purchase in a ‘sachet pack.’ A sachet is a small quantity of toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant and many other products from major manufacturers and packaged in tiny MRE-like packages.What really sets these products apart is their potential for use in ultralight backpacking in sport and survival. As anyone who has ever carried a backpack knows, every ounce counts. There is a popular misconception that during a crisis, we will ‘rise to the occasion’ and our mind and body will be able to overcome any poor planning in equipment and any situation in general. This is an unfortunate byproduct of substituting television reality for experience with actual reality. Good people throughout history have died due in large part to carrying excessive weight.
While infantrymen for millenia have bemoaned the weight of their armor and backpacks, technology was not permissive of significant weight reductions until WW-II and the widespread introduction of aluminum and nylon. Several years after the war, Kevlar came into usage and other comparable aramid materials have since been introduced. With increasing interest in recreational backpacking came revolutionaries such as Ray Jardine, who popularized the sport of Ultra-Light Backpacking. The techniques and equipment used for ULB are considered risky by more conventional backpackers, but significant gains in speed and comfort on the trail can be realized by reducing the weight of your backpack.
Sachet packs are smaller in size than even the smallest ‘travel size’ containers found in the United States. Additionally, the MRE-style retort pack adds minimal weight and the overall bulk is very small. You reduce weight by not carrying excessive amounts of personal grooming items, save space in your pack for other equipment and the retort packs offer years of reliable storage.
For those concerned with survival preparation, reducing the weight of your pack gives you the same benefits of speed increase and comfort but there are other benefits to consider. We must be honest with ourselves, at least privately, on this next point: unless your job involves carrying a heavy backpack, you will be physically behind the curve at the start of the crisis. Being a good runner helps, as your legs, core muscles and cardio should be up to the task of carrying a 30-40lbf pack for a few miles. Weightlifting is good in certain situations, but I implore you to look at people who are active duty in a ground combat role – not much weighlifting but a lot of backpacking, running and pushups. In general, we are not in suitable shape to carry our 72-hour packs for 72 hours.
So. We need to ‘cheat’ a little bit. Planning ahead, using technology properly, can help you move with a lighter 72-hour pack than if no planning took place. Conserving physical energy is very important during this time, as you will be able to stay more aware of your surroundings and will not need to consume as much food. Taking it a step further .. rested people make better decisions and move faster than tired people. We should consider taking every advantage when the odds appear to be stacked against us.
An easy place to reduce the weight and size of your backpack is in your toiletry kit. Keeping clean on a hike is good for your morale and health and it promotes staying cool in the heat and warm in the cold. I recommend sachets highly for this purpose. The issue, of course, is obtaining the sachets themselves. They are very cheap inside of the Philippines (example: (3) sachets of OFF! cost 20 PHP, or about 0.50USD. The Colgate is (6) packets for 0.90USD and the shampoo was about 25 cents.) They are not available mail order from the Philippines, because the majority of businesses in the Philippines specialize in importing into the country and will not have the ability to export large or small quantities to the US or Europe. If you are interested, I can put you in touch with hikers in the PI that can arrange small quantity orders shipped directly to you. Please email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Good luck and stay safe.