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It’s a pretty straightforward concept: The less weight you carry on your back, the farther and harder you’ll be able to hunt. However, it never seems that simple when you’re staring at a pile of gear that you deem “necessary” and weighs quite a bit more than you anticipated. Here are five ways that I shed weight from my pack.

1. Water
I carry my water in three 1-liter Smartwater bottles. (Hydration bladders take up too much room, and you have to unpack everything in order to refill them. Plus, being able to pour water from a bottle makes cooking easier.) Smartwater bottles are lighter than Nalgenes and more durable than most disposable water bottles. Plus, their slender shape allows them to be packed into long pockets. Instead of a water filter, I opt for a 1-ounce bottle of water-treatment drops.

2. Food
Rather than skimping on a hot meal at the end of a long day, I cut weight with my daytime food. You want foods with at least 100 calories per ounce. A typical PowerBar has 240 calories and weighs 2.3 ounces. For a 10-day hunt, if I replace three PowerBars per day with four 1-ounce Honey Stinger Waffles (160 calories each), I shave nearly 2 pounds.

3. Butchering Gear
In recent seasons, I’ve opted for just a replaceable-blade knife instead of a sheath knife, bone saw, and sharpener. Rather than an entire set of game bags, I pack just two large bags and one small one. Together they accommodate the meat and cape of a deer-size animal.

4. Repackage Everything
Get rid of unnecessary pouches, sheaths, and so on. Replace a heavy dry bag with a sturdy trash bag. If you really pare down and consolidate your gear, you’ll drop 2 pounds or more.

5. Share the Load
If you’re hunting with a buddy, split all essential gear between your two packs. One guy takes the poles and tent, the other takes the rainfly and stakes. One takes the spotting scope, the other takes the tripod. One packs the stove, the other packs the fuel.

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