TrailTime Tips: Are Toothpaste Dots Worth the Weight?

Backpackers do all sorts of crazy things to save weight. They cut the handle off their toothbrush, cut all the extra buckles off their backpack and they give up the comforts of padded backpack straps all just to shave off a few ounces. In this week's TrailTime Tip, we're going to examine a popular backpacking hack that you've probably seen suggested on other backpacking websites. We'll look at this backpacking hack and then see if it makes sense or not.


How to Make Toothpaste Dots

  • Pour out tiny dots of toothpaste on a sheet of aluminum foil.

  • Let them dry out until the toothpaste dots become hard.

  • Place the dried toothpaste dots in a plastic bag.

  • On your next backpacking trip, simply pop a toothpaste dot in your mouth and chew it up until it becomes regular toothpaste consistancy again. Then use a toothbrush to brush your teeth just like normal.

This process eliminates the need to bring a tube of toothpaste. You bring only the exact amount of toothpaste you'll need for the trip and the dried toothpaste weighs slightly less than wet toothpaste. This process does take time. Be sure to allow three or four days for the dots to completely dry.

how to make toothpaste dots

Are Toothpaste Dots Worth the Weight?

After seeing this backpacking hack on multiple websites listed as a weight savings hack, we thought we'd put it to the test. We wondered, is it worth the effort to make toothpaste dots and how much weight do you actually save?

To test this out, we made our own toothpaste dots and carefully measured the weight savings. We weighed a full travel-sized tube of toothpaste then poured the entire tube out into 30 dots. After the toothpaste dots dried out (over four days), we weighed the dots. The dried toothpaste weighed .1 oz less than regular toothpaste.

Next we looked at the packaging. The empty toothpaste tube weighed just .1 oz more than the plastic bag we'd be carrying the toothpaste dots in.

That's a total weight saving of just .2 oz.

The actual weight savings is pretty small. However, if you're only going for a two night trip you could bring just two dots. Bringing the exact amount of toothpaste does save some weight, but again, it's just a couple tenths of an ounce.

Watch our full experiment in this video:

Why Bother?

Toothpaste dots can be really nice for backpacking or travel because you can count out exactly the amount of toothpaste you'll need for the trip. You won't be carrying any excess toothpaste and you know you'll have just enough to get you through. Also, if you carry the toothpaste dots in a plastic bag you can reuse that bag for another purspose in case of an emergency. For example, in a rainstorm you can place your electronics inside that plastic bag. So the dual purpose of the plastic bag could be a useful thing to carry even if this doesn't save you a lot of weight.

What do you think? Are toothpaste dots worth it? Tell us what you think in the comments below.


Check out these other TrailTime Tips:

Best Way to Store a Hydration Bladder
Emergency Candle
Eggcellent Camping Breakfast Hack
Fill Your Bottles From A Shallow Stream
Stake Your Tent on Rocky Ground
Keep Your Bag Dry From Condensation

Backpacking Hacks?
Andy Hawbaker
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Andy Hawbaker
Andy is a hiker, backpacker, snowboarder and outdoor fanatic. When he isn't exploring the Rocky Mountains, burning marshmallows or scratching his dog behind the ear, he shares his experiences here on the Sierra Trading Post Blog.
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