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#125639 - 12/21/09 02:44 PM What do you consider a comfortable pack weight?
Jim M Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/03
Posts: 267
Loc: Kitsap Peninsula, WA
There used to be a standard pack to body weight ratio that was thrown around like it was a fact. People used to say that a comfortable backpack weight was 20% or one-fifth of your body weight. At 175 that would be 35 pounds for me. All that is a little suspect because it would probably not be the same for a thin person and a heavy person; for an athlete and someone in marginal shape. Nowadays equipment is much lighter and attitudes toward the subject have also changed. So here is what I would like to do. Tell me what your body weight is and what you consider a “comfortable” pack weight. In other words, for argument sake say you were going out for several days. What would you consider a good target weight for your pack, including food, but not water? If I can get enough responses here to consider it a representative sample I’ll do a little math and tell you what the average is.
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#125640 - 12/21/09 03:00 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight [Re: Jim M]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I don't think we can omit water. It makes a lot of difference if you are hiking with frequent water sources (a quart--2 lbs.--at a time is plenty) or where you have to carry at least a gallon (8 lbs.). If I were hiking in the latter situation, I'd go for only 2-3 days. In other words, total pack weight should rule in these situations.

I also think the % of body weight isn't all that great an idea. Those of us who are overweight shouldn't be carrying as big a % of body weight, because we are already overloaded. Those of us who are getting up in years with creaky, arthritic joints and other ailments need to reduce the pack weight as % of body weight. Young children, whose bones, ligaments and joints are immature, shouldn't be carrying as big a percentage.

The length of the hike and of the hiking day is also important. IMHO. If you're going only a couple miles in to set up a base camp, then you can get away with loading up. If you're planning a hike of several hundred miles or more with 20-25 mile days, then a heavier pack (as % of body weight) is far more apt to cause stress injuries even in a young, well-conditioned person.

As you can see, regarding a "rule" or even an "average" of pack weight vs. body weight, I wouldn't want to go there. YMMV, HYOH and all that!

Or maybe my real reason is that I don't really want to reveal my weight after two Christmas parties in one weekend? grin



Edited by OregonMouse (12/21/09 03:03 PM)
Edit Reason: Edit out too many "also's"!
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#125650 - 12/21/09 06:36 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Jim M]
Eric Offline
member

Registered: 09/23/02
Posts: 294
Loc: The State of Jefferson
The most comfortable pack weight would be 0.0 lbs. That aside, I'm 5'11" 155 lbs. For me 20lbs in a pack with a functional hip belt is something I can just about ignore. 30 lbs I know it's there but it doesn't slow me down much. 50 lbs slows my pace and makes me want to stop a lot. Anything over 50 is just oppressive.

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#125652 - 12/21/09 06:44 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Jim M]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2862
Loc: Portland, OR
It doesn't matter to me what my pack weight consists of. Whether there are 2 gallons of water in it or just a pint, whenever my pack weighs less than 30 lbs I figure it sits comfortably enough that I don't give the pack weight a lot of thought. I just hike and the pack comes along for the ride.

Above 30 lbs that sense of comfort starts to deteriorate somewhat. Above 35 lbs I am becoming distinctly aware of my pack's weight. Anywhere nearing 40 lbs and hiking starts to turn into trudging.

P.S. I am 5'11" and weigh approx. 160.


Edited by aimless (12/21/09 06:46 PM)
Edit Reason: added height and weight stats

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#125657 - 12/21/09 07:21 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Jim M]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1736
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
Often when I am hiking here in Arizona, the water I carry weighs more than the gear I take. When I hike the Sierra or the Cascades, I generally carry about a pound of water. My three season gear weight is about 12 pounds. I carry about 1.5 lb per day of food. For a week out, my pack will weigh about 22-25 pounds at the trail head. I am 5' 10" and weighed 170 pounds before the holidays. I am in my early 70's and seldom do more than 12 miles per day.
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#125669 - 12/21/09 11:08 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Jim M]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2752
Loc: California
For me and most people I know, everyone has a quite specific point beoyond which the pack becomes exponentially uncomfortable. A friend of same age, weight and hieght as myself has a "comfort point" of 20 pounds. Mine is 28-30 pounds. We both are skinny and weigh about 115 pounds. She has a gimpy neck; I have gimpy knees. I think it is her neck problems that cause her discomfort at a lighter weight. Of course, lighter is more comfortable, but the discomfort is not linear. On long trips I often start out with 40 pounds and although it does not slow down my rate, it is painful until I get down to my magic number. Of course, if I am going to carry 40 pounds, I use a pack that has suspension designed for the heavier weight. With the proper pack, the discomfort does not hit as soon, but nevertheless, it does hit me before the day is done. Below my limit I can carry the pack all day and it does not feel much different as the day goes on.

Thus, I think everyone is different but the 1/4 body weight (if you use "lean" body weight -what you should weight, not what you DO weigh) is a pretty good generalization.

When I talk "pack weight" I obviously mean everything on your back, water included.

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#125681 - 12/22/09 07:03 AM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight [Re: OregonMouse]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
I agree - overweight and out of shape should also figure in. However, doing that, I've always found the 20% number to be fairly realistic measure of comfort, as long as you take 20% of your "ideal" weight, and subtract any excess poundage from the result.

In my own case, not too long ago, I weighed about 220 pounds, and considered 200 to be my ideal weight. 20% gave a pack weight of 40 pounds; subtract the 20 pounds of overweight meant that a comfortable pack, with a quart of water, could only weigh 20 pounds. That worked out about right, considering that when I carried 20 pounds I was OK; at 25, I was struggling. I let myself go up to 230, and every trip was a struggle - to the point that I thought I was going to have a heart attack, and had halfway decided to quit backpacking.

Then I got serious about losing weight (assisted by a Type II diabetes diagnosis.) I'm now at about 180 - which was probably my ideal weight all along. 20% of that is 45 pounds. I recently took a trip where I carried 25 pounds, including food and a quart of water, at the start. It was a repeat of that last trip, and what a difference! I experienced no discomfort at all, and hiked more strongly than I had in years.

So 20% is a good guideline - but it needs to be as a percentage of total weight, with any overweight poundage deducted from the result.


Edited by Glenn (12/22/09 07:03 AM)

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#125685 - 12/22/09 08:40 AM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Jim M]
Zalman Offline
member

Registered: 10/25/09
Posts: 97
Loc: Olympic Peninsula, Washington,...
For me, the cutoff has nothing to do with body weight. I weigh about 165lbs, work out regularly, and am strong for my body weight. Lifting and carrying 50lbs around all day is no big deal for me, strengthwise.

However, any pack over 30lbs or so (rough estimate, I've never weighed my pack) starts to get uncomfortable after a while, as the skin and flesh on my shoulders and hips grow sore from the load. On an extended trip my joints grow gradually more immune to the bruising, but that first week can be gruelling.
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#125688 - 12/22/09 09:58 AM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Zalman]
bigb Offline
member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 124
Loc: Maryland
I have never weighed my pack directly, I have got on the scale with and without my pack and a few years ago I was at about 40lbs. At the time it wasn't too much discomfort, but since lighter is always more comfortable, I have now got my pack weight down to 30 give or take depending on conditions. I am 5'10" about 190 and train regularly. The conditions your hiking in along with your own condition and age have so much to do with whats comfortable that trial and error and getting lighter whenever possible is what I try to work with.
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#125691 - 12/22/09 11:07 AM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight [Re: OregonMouse]
sabre11004 Offline
member

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 513
Loc: Tennessee
I actually think that the % of pack weight to body weight should go down with an over weight person. As some one said, you are already over loaded and extra weight could only hurt that. If I was 20-23 lbs. over weight I might not hike until I got my weight under control or at least to an acceptable level any way. I have tried hiking while a little over weight and it just did not work for me at all. I do good to get ten miles in and most of that would be a sort of suffering because of the weight. Being over weight complicates every thing and it could to the point that it may be dangerous to the hiker....sabre11004 awesome awesome awesome


P.S. Hiking is a great way to start losing those extra pounds too !!!!!
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#125707 - 12/22/09 03:03 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight [Re: sabre11004]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
I agree - and from personal experience, not theory. I was around when 40 - 50 pound packs were commonplace, and know how I felt after carrying one for a day. With a 25 pound pack and about 20 extra pounds of me, I felt about the same as when I was carrying the 45 pound pack.

Thus my modification to the 20% rule, to deduct the excess body weight from the 20% of your ideal weight to get the "comfortable" pack weight.


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#125712 - 12/22/09 05:42 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight [Re: Glenn]
DTape Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 656
Loc: Upstate NY
IIRC the whole 20% thing was not about comfort, but came from a military study (Dutch or Sweden I think) that had to do with efficiency.

For me, it isn't solely about the weight of the pack, but which pack I use. If I have under 15lbs (summer weekend trips), my Thompson Peak is a dream. Over 20# (3 season weeklong trips) it is very uncomfortable. However that same 20# in my MSGhost or Osprey atmos is a dream and an additional 10# is still comfortable in my Osprey. If I push the upper 30's none of my internal frame packs are comfortable, but my external (which I call the bumblebee due to its colors) can easily carry 40-50# (short distance trips focus on food!). All are comfortable with the weights they are designed for and cease to be comfortable when the weights are exceeded. Of course less weight in any pack will be more comfortable than more. But to answer the original question, it depends on which pack I use.

btw I use total weight for my own calculations since my back/legs don't exclude anything.


Edited by DTape (12/22/09 05:42 PM)
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#125714 - 12/22/09 06:00 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Jim M]
BarryP Offline
member

Registered: 03/04/04
Posts: 1574
Loc: Eastern Idaho
For your analysis smile :
My high body weight is usually 150lbs. At 20 miles/day in the summer, I feel very comfortable for a 5 day weight w/o water at <15 lbs. Water will vary 1-5lbs addition. Age: 46; 5’8”

-Barry

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#125720 - 12/22/09 08:16 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: BarryP]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
A while back I wrote a post about finding your "lean body" weight and then finding how much fat you carry. Take a percentage of the lean body weight as your maximum comfortable load and then subtract your body fat from it and you have a realistic number. The 1/4 "LORE" refers to "fit" people. Obviously my fat 240 pound friend who has lots of muscles, cannot carry the same % of his body weight that I can.

So I am 175 pounds and 10% body fat, or 17.5 pounds of fat, and I take 1/4 of my lean body mass ( .25 x (175 - 17.5)) we arrive at 157.5 pounds lean body mass. .25 x 157.5 lbs = 39.4 pounds (max theoretical load). If I then subtract 17.5 (my body fat) from 39.4 -17.5 = 21.9. I think that's a tad low, however lets face it, today's hikers are wimps and the low numbers are in line with everybody complaining about carrying the packs that we considered normal in the good old days.

When I was younger and maybe still 10% body fat and weighed 145, the calculation would say that should carry an 18.5 pound pack, yet I was very comfortable with a 32 pound pack.

Unless you are very fit you probably have 18% to 33 % body fat. If you weigh 200 pounds and have 25 % body fat, then you are carrying 50 pounds of fat. 25 % of your lean body mass would be 150 x .25 = 37 pounds. If you subtract 50 pounds from 37 pounds you get a negative number, which means you will not be comfortable going up that trail with anything on your back.

I think the equation should be done by actual body muscle mass but that is very difficult to measure, however hese numbers do indicate WHY modern bpers need UL packs, they're not physically fit by old standards.
Jim
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These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#125722 - 12/22/09 08:30 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Jimshaw]
bigb Offline
member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 124
Loc: Maryland
Speak for yourself, I'm 38 and normaly under 10% body fat and would take the pepsi challenge with any of you guys if you happen to have a time machine.
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"In the beginers mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few."
Shunryu Suzuki

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#125723 - 12/22/09 08:33 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Jimshaw]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
Hey, Jim - I wasn't trying to steal your idea in my earlier post; I missed your post about the same thing. I'd come up with the idea myself a couple of years ago, when trying to help a couple of newcomer adults figure out how much weight they could carry. (Step Two was teaching them how much they SHOULD carry - they were quite reluctant to leave out the essentials like the 2nd down jacket, the 2-gallon collapsible bucket, and the 4 changes of clothes for the weekend.)

But I do wholly agree with your concept: max weight should be based on ideal weight, and excess body weight becomes part of that max weight.

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#125724 - 12/22/09 08:45 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Glenn]
Broadway Offline
newbie

Registered: 12/17/09
Posts: 8
Loc: Western NC
You guys might be a bit biased.

I'm fairly overweight (215 lbs, at 5'8", age 35). I was very comfortable with 45 lbs in a really nice internal frame backpack for 46 miles of the art loeb trail last year.

I think the pack can make or break you.

I got a cheap pack recently (which boasted all the same features of the more expensive pack), and hiked out to the market in a snow storm, to get a 18 pack of Mich Ultra, and a bottle of wine for my wife.

The 2 miles back home felt like I had eighty tons on my back. I think the waist belt and suspension system of the cheap pack had alot to do with it.

Do I prefer 30-ish pounds... sure. But 45-ish isn't uncomfortable.



Edited by Broadway (12/22/09 08:46 PM)

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#125728 - 12/22/09 08:57 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Broadway]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Glenn
I don't own these ideas - I give them freely - its just the engineer in me. smile and if you like them enough to call your own, well plagiarism is the highest form of flattery. thanks

bigb
When ever yer ready pal. I'm 61 and I can probably kick yer tail. smile

broadway
big people have big muscles and you may have less body fat than you think, however I was trying to say that bones and guts are genetic factors and the ratio of muscle to lean body weight is not fixed, but it would take a dip in a tank and lots of measurements to determine those factors so as a rule of thumb, lean bady mass times some percentage less body fat is probably a better estimating method than just 1/4 of total body weight.

Jim YMMV and modern bpers are not in the shape that us hippy street people were. If I may be so callous, sport climbing was invented for moderns who didn't have what it takes to be trad climbers... wink
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These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#125729 - 12/22/09 09:06 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Jimshaw]
bigb Offline
member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 124
Loc: Maryland
I already know you can with a keyboard
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#125731 - 12/22/09 10:16 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Jim M]
Jim M Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/03
Posts: 267
Loc: Kitsap Peninsula, WA
I have had a surprisingly large response to my question, thank you. I found the comments were the most interesting part of it. The general consensus is that you can't come up with a number or ratio that applies to everyone. So I guess the best you can do is have a range of your own and depending on distance and elevation gain try to estimate how comfortable, or uncomfortable you will be. Having said that I did find the stats somewhat interesting. I threw out the guy who is so strong he has no problem carrying 50 pounds. It seemed too much like an anomaly.
The range was 20 to 40 pounds. The average was 26.55 lbs and the average ratio was 16.9% of body weight. That would put me at 29.5 lbs. I wouldn't mind starting a trip with that, including food and water, but I'd be happy when some of the food was gone. That figure also seems not to far off from some "experts" on line that suggested 25 lbs, 30 lbs (boy scouts) 27 (for 7 days) and someone who said 31 pounds was lighter than the majority of people they see backpacking out of Yosemite (a ranger?). So thanks for the info from all who answered. My conclusion? For me, between 14.9 and 16.9 percent of my body weight is a good range for my pack and food and fuel (not water) for a week. And, as a matter of fact, I usually start a week trip with 26 lbs, (includes fuel and food, not water).
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#125732 - 12/22/09 10:27 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Jimshaw]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2752
Loc: California
Jim, I am not sure we were in better shape, but we did define "comfort" differently. Maybe we were a bit more stoic. Not so much used to the comforts of modern life. Hey, and we were a hell of a lot younger! When you are 20 you just ignore the pain and wipe out any memory of pain. I would put age up there with weight criteria. When I was 20 I was too stupid to think that I ever was uncomfortable. I carried 60-70 pounds regularly. Old joints and bones now dictate differently. Yes, I can still carry a 60 pound pack, but I hurt, big time. You have me by a couple of months, but I am close behind you. But we certainly can give the young'us a run for their money.

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#125735 - 12/22/09 11:11 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Jim M]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Pliny
good analysis and reduction. So maybe we're saying that for moderns 15% is a better figure than 25%.
Jim
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#125755 - 12/23/09 09:53 AM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Jimshaw]
BarryP Offline
member

Registered: 03/04/04
Posts: 1574
Loc: Eastern Idaho
“So maybe we're saying that for moderns 15% is a better figure than 25%.”

I don’t know if you want to call it ‘for moderns’. I would say if you want to go farther, then you have to go lighter. And that’s true with any shape your in.

-Barry

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#125770 - 12/23/09 04:31 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: BarryP]
Franco Offline
member

Registered: 04/05/04
Posts: 998
Loc: Australia


What pack ?
I think that some confuse what can be and what should be done.
In Nepal I noted how the porters,(all much smaller than me and I am only 5'7" ,150 lbs...) could carry all day loads that are twice or more than what I do.
For example this "external pack" was around 60-70 lbs, I walked with it on flat ground for about 200 yards, and that was enough for me. The porter in charge of that came down slippery slopes the day before, he was about 5'3" and provably 125 pounds.
However at 35 he looked as old as me at 53...
Note that when you read about folk that can only hike with the use of painkillers you typically find that they used to carry heavy loads and/or put in huge mileage.
Franco

150 lbs, 5"7", 5-7 days with food around 25 lbs.
Note also that some packs can carry 30 lbs the way others carry 20...

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#125780 - 12/23/09 10:30 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Jim M]
Swimswithtrout Offline
member

Registered: 10/03/09
Posts: 48
Loc: Colorado
As usual, I'm going to muddy the waters a bit. I'm 54, 5' 10", 165 lbs (danged Holiday weight already creeping in).

2 yrs ago I did my longest duration self-supported trip to date, 26 days (with food packed for 28 days) and 17 of them were xc over this terrain









My TH weight was 86 lbs, 9 lbs of which were my DSLR, 2 lenses, and extra batteries. 77 lbs TH weight for 26 days sans camera. Oh and 2.5 lbs of fly fishing gear and the extra pan to fry fish in, so ~74 lbs with no extra gear.

Before that, it was 17-21 days over terrain like this











Add in an ice axe as mandatory, sometimes crampons and a 9 mm rope as well.

As you can see, I normally BP with my wife, 5'0", 110 lbs. So all weights above are for a trip for two, carrying the tent, all of the cooking gear and fuel and ~ 75% of the food.

74 lbs for 2 people (sans my luxury items) for 26 days carrying all of the gear except her sleeping bag, mat, clothes, and 25% of the food is pretty lightweight I think, since this is what this forum concentrates on.

But that's beside the point. I'm not a trail hiker let alone a thru hiker. I have no goals about trying for a 20-25 mi day. My mother taught me not to run in church. I could throw in some derogatory sexual innuendos about how quick you arrive vs staying longer but won't.

Most of my pack days ave 7-15 mi over the off trail terrain I travel. Sometimes they're less, sometimes more. Some days I'll basecamp and dayhike 15 mi.

In the end, 0 lbs is the ideal comfort weight. Is 70-80 lbs comfortable ? While not as comfortable as 20 lbs, it is easily tolerable the first couple of days knowing the fact that I'll be out for almost a month and it will be getting lighter every day.

I'm one of those old throw backs that prefers staying power vs speed.

FWIW We also tolerate 100-120lb loads to hump my climbing gear as well as all of the rest of the BP'g stuff to climb in the the Cirque or the Deep Lk Basin for 14-17 days. Check out my wife's pack size.





I do what it it takes to do the things I love. There is no ideal pack weight anymore than there is the perfect body size. This isn't a contest to prove who can do with less.

Perfection is in the mind of the obsessive beholder.




















Edited by Swimswithtrout (12/23/09 10:42 PM)
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#125783 - 12/23/09 10:59 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Swimswithtrout]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
I don't think you're muddying the waters at all. You've said, quite elegantly (and with pictures that are easily worth 1,000 words each) what I believe but often fail to say right out: you take the load that makes you happiest. For some, that is the lightest possible weight; Jimshaw says it often and bluntly: it's the lightest load that lets you safely do what you set out to do.

You're right: there is no magic number. Personally, I tend to prefer comfort and convenience, and am lucky enough to be able to afford gear that is all that, and light, too. I prefer a minimalist style, with some gear doing multiple things (like a sleeping pad that doubles as a chair) and all of it fading into the background of the trip. That usually means 20 - 25 pounds total is right for me; that doesn't mean it's right for you.

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#125784 - 12/23/09 11:53 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Glenn]
Swimswithtrout Offline
member

Registered: 10/03/09
Posts: 48
Loc: Colorado
Originally Posted By Glenn

I am lucky enough to be able to afford gear that is all that, and light, too. I prefer a minimalist style, with some gear doing multiple things


As do I, I'm as much a gram weanie, toothbrush cutter as any UL'r there is. Tent for 2 in the normal 4 season conditions I encounter is a Hilleberg Nallo 3, WM Verslite bags 2 lbs and good to 10F, I use a BA non insulated airmat with a Gossemer gear 3/8" Evazote pad on top,I use a zipper style LED light for everything. We eat my own dried meals out of our pot so no plates or messy wet freezerbags/ MT House wrappers to carry afterwards. Chair ? What is that ? etc, etc.

I minimize as much as I'm comfortable with just to maximize the amount of food I can carry. 17 days into the alpine zone with my wife is a short trip for me, so that dictates an expedition style pack vs a stuff sack with straps, the single heaviest piece of gear in my entire gearlist.
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#125785 - 12/24/09 12:23 AM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Swimswithtrout]
Jim M Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/03
Posts: 267
Loc: Kitsap Peninsula, WA
Swims....
first of all, spectacular pictures and I am sure it was an adventure of a life time. The remarkable references to weight that can be carried (given superior physical conditioning) are amazing, and perhaps inspiring. I did assume that most people here subscribe to the light weight philosophy, so I wasn't expecting someone like you, who can and has carried extreme weights over difficult terrain at altitude, to respond. I'm glad you did though. I thoroughly enjoyed you pictures. I assumed that was Colorado? Jim (Pacific Northwest).
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#125787 - 12/24/09 12:58 AM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Swimswithtrout]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Swims
The subject was comfortable weight, and for some thats nothing at all. I've traveled in country like that and you need gear, sometimes we would also carry climbing gear into country like that. Beautiful photos BTW.

However people who won't carry the gear, CANNOT go where you did and do what you did. Those who choose to go UL also choose to avoid this kind of adventure. Like woah man my shoulders and feet hurt it was so totally gnarly. Others will say that its impossible to safely get there carrying all that weight.
Jim
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#125788 - 12/24/09 01:58 AM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Jimshaw]
phat Offline
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Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

Well, My week long pack weight is right around 27 lbs, with a litre of water in the pack.

Since about 9 lbs of that is food, *in theory* I could go out to a month with about 53 lbs. - trouble is I wouldn't be carrying 53 lbs in the backpack I carry that 27 lb load in - so add about 6 lbs worth of backpack, and I'm right there in the 60 lb range - and I'm betting I'd take a bit of extra
food and be looking into 65-70.

I've never had the chance to go out for that long - longest about 8 days.

So what's my comfortable packweight? nothing smile

What will I carry? whatever it takes for me to be comfortable and go where I wanna go. I normally go out for a weekend with about 21 lbs, including a litre of water and food on me. I *have* been out for a weekend with a 12 pound pack - (on the blue foam, tarping it under my poncho, in summer). is my 12 pound pack more comfortable? yes. am *I* more comfortable.. nope smile



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#125837 - 12/25/09 09:05 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Swimswithtrout]
Kent W Offline
member

Registered: 10/15/09
Posts: 607
Loc: IL.
I am in awe of you and your wife. I have veiwed your pictorial slide shows. I am amazed. I am in the process of getting back into backpacking. My wife will go as far as the hotel,. She has a spinal condition and will never backpack, She does support me 100 % You keep going and thanks for your pictures and post . Happy Holidays

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#125839 - 12/25/09 09:22 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Jim M]
mugs Offline
member

Registered: 12/24/05
Posts: 500
Loc: Spokane & Maple Valley, Wa
My pack weight for a 3-5 day trip is 12-18 pounds That includes 2 litres of water at the TH. I generally keep 2 litres of water on me at all times. I try to keep the food down to about 1.5 -1.75 pounds a day, less if it is possible. I hate carrying a ton of weight in food, but by the end of the 2nd or 3rd day its not so bad. crazy


Edited by mugs (12/25/09 09:25 PM)
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#125864 - 12/26/09 01:33 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Swimswithtrout]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
Originally Posted By Swimswithtrout
My mother taught me not to run in church.


Beautifully said.
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#125894 - 12/26/09 09:35 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Jim M]
Eugene Offline
member

Registered: 12/26/09
Posts: 60
Loc: San Diego, CA
It's a little difficult for me to give an easy answer. Let's just say my knees would prefer that they're not loaded with much more than 200 lbs if they're going to be given a lot of work. Unfortunately I'm 215 lbs, so I have to do things differently than when I was younger and lighter.

Anyway, I've always carried a lot of water because I have always sweated a lot no matter what kind of shape I've been in, so I rarely have a pack less than 40 lbs. Even on a day hike my pack can approach 30 lbs.

If muscles are all that mattered, I'd probably be comfortable with as much as 60 lbs....I just need to drop to 140 lbs again so my knees will be comfortable too!
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#125929 - 12/27/09 06:25 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Jim M]
jasonklass Offline
member

Registered: 08/27/05
Posts: 551
Loc: Denver, Colorado
If we're talking full pack weight, right around 20 pounds is fine for me.
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#125940 - 12/27/09 09:29 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: jasonklass]
thecook Offline


Registered: 10/03/08
Posts: 541
Loc: Minnesota
Anything over 35lbs is uncomfortable and needs to be justified, like I'm doing it so my family will come backpacking with me, or unsupported in areas with bad weather and consequent needs for heavier equipment. Anything over 45 I just won't do anymore. It is not worth it to me. Depending on the pack, under 25-28lbs, I stop thinking about having a pack and just hike.
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#125995 - 12/28/09 11:24 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Jim M]
skippy Offline
member

Registered: 12/27/09
Posts: 129
Loc: CO
I'm 5'8" and anywhere from 145 to 165 lbs depending on what activities I'm pursuing at the time. I've carried up to 65 lbs in Montana with a lot of off trail and carrying a ton (at least it felt like a ton) of group gear for new hikers. For some reason I always end up ferrying someone's pack or carrying part of their load to get their sorry butt up the mountain. I'm always trying to get new people into the sport so it seems that I end up being a pack animal.

Last year I took my Dad (65 years old and first trip) and several friends in CO and started with about a 44 lb pack carrying all of my stuff and all the food, tent, and cooking gear for myself and my Dad. He carried just his clothing, sleeping bag and misc. gear. That was by far the most fun I've ever had carrying 44 lbs. It was an honor to get my Dad out in the hills. He had a great time and we are planning another trip into the Wind Rivers for 2010.

In that same trip I ended up carrying a food bag and other gear weighing about 9 lbs for a guy that was uncharacteristically out of shape and suffering from the altitude. I then carried my pack and his pack of 55 lbs for a couple miles over a 12000 ft pass. I was in the best shape of my life as I was ready to do a 100 mile mountain bike race in CO. It was almost surreal as I carried nearly 100 lbs up the pass as I was only weighing 145 lbs. Next time I'll just carry a gun and shoot the guy as the weight of the gun would be way lighter than that misery of a load.

Generally speaking I am looking at ways to lighten my load and have pared down my weight to about 33 lbs with food. This is for my next trip with my Dad. I will be carrying all of our group gear so he won't have to work as hard. I personally want to get my "normal" backpack weight into the lower 20's.

The mid 30's and less feels pretty dang good as far as I'm concerned but the 20's would make me feel like flying. I'm making the switch to a homemade alcohol stove and combo windscreen/potstand and other lighter gear. I've also started to pay more attention to what I really use and what I rarely use and am just getting rid of excess crap. smile

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#125999 - 12/28/09 11:57 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: skippy]
Eugene Offline
member

Registered: 12/26/09
Posts: 60
Loc: San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By skippy
In that same trip I ended up carrying a food bag and other gear weighing about 9 lbs for a guy that was uncharacteristically out of shape and suffering from the altitude. I then carried my pack and his pack of 55 lbs for a couple miles over a 12000 ft pass. I was in the best shape of my life as I was ready to do a 100 mile mountain bike race in CO. It was almost surreal as I carried nearly 100 lbs up the pass as I was only weighing 145 lbs. Next time I'll just carry a gun and shoot the guy as the weight of the gun would be way lighter than that misery of a load.


Geez man, somehow I knew that was coming and found the perfect takedown gun for you: http://www.pakrifle.com/

15.5 oz
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#126010 - 12/29/09 06:50 AM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: mugs]
DTape Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 656
Loc: Upstate NY
Originally Posted By mugs
My pack weight for a 3-5 day trip is 12-18 pounds That includes 2 litres of water at the TH. I generally keep 2 litres of water on me at all times. I try to keep the food down to about 1.5 -1.75 pounds a day, less if it is possible. I hate carrying a ton of weight in food, but by the end of the 2nd or 3rd day its not so bad. crazy


A six-lb kit for everything sans food/water, nice. What seasonal limits does this kit have?
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#126027 - 12/29/09 01:07 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: DTape]
skippy Offline
member

Registered: 12/27/09
Posts: 129
Loc: CO
When I first got into backpacking in 96' all the new gear was enticing and I bought a whole lot of useless junk: hatchet, saw, binoculars, two way radios, full size multi tool, big heavy 3 piece monster cookset, full on D cell mag lite, etc.

It was enough gear to outfit an expedition to the north pole. I slowly started to realize that most of this junk was pointless and you only used it because you had to justify the weight carried. Now I find it more fun to drop the weight and use some learned skills instead of having a backup to the backup gear.

I also am still somewhat of a gearhead and have switched to some homemade gear and to lighter weight alternatives or just don't carry most of the junk I used to. I can't wait to break into the 20lb area but it will require a better sleeping bag etc.

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#126030 - 12/29/09 02:24 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight [Re: skippy]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
For three-season backpacking I can go out for 9 days with total pack weight of about 25 lbs. That's with one liter of water to start. Obviously if there aren't frequent water sources, I'll be carrying another liter or two! That includes enough insulation to keep me warm into the upper teens (F)--not needed in Cascades summers but definitely needed in the fall (or summer in the Rockies). I once got my base weight down to 12.5 lbs, but I've added back a few items--ditched the NeoAir in favor of my much comfier and warmer POE Insulmat, a heavier base layer for my legs, a third pair of socks.

I did start with 36 lbs. on one trip, but that was truly horrible. I dutifully carried a relative's ashes with me in an attempt to reach the place he requested, three days' hike from the trailhead. They weighed about 8 lbs. Needless to say, I have since revised my own funeral instructions to designate a spot only 3 miles from the trailhead!
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#126043 - 12/29/09 08:21 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: skippy]
Swimswithtrout Offline
member

Registered: 10/03/09
Posts: 48
Loc: Colorado
Originally Posted By skippy
I'm 5'8" and anywhere from 145 to 165 lbs depending on what activities I'm pursuing at the time. I've carried up to 65 lbs in Montana with a lot of off trail and carrying a ton (at least it felt like a ton) of group gear for new hikers. For some reason I always end up ferrying someone's pack or carrying part of their load to get their sorry butt up the mountain. .......

......In that same trip I ended up carrying a food bag and other gear weighing about 9 lbs for a guy that was uncharacteristically out of shape and suffering from the altitude. I then carried my pack and his pack of 55 lbs for a couple miles over a 12000 ft pass. I was in the best shape of my life as I was ready to do a 100 mile mountain bike race in CO. It was almost surreal as I carried nearly 100 lbs up the pass as I was only weighing 145 lbs.


That's what always happened to me when I was MUCH younger !

I remember a trip back in '73 to the Smokies in April where I was the "Student" leader my senior yr in HS. I was in charge of 6 students and there was one adult chaperone, the local Army recruiter who volunteered for the duty.

The first day was a 6 mi bushwack through the Rhododendron Hells from Ramsay Cascades straight up to get up to the AT. It poured the entire day. The next day was worse. By the 3rd day one of the girls threw her pack down in the middle of the trail and said she was done. I nonchalantly picked it up, and started hiking down the trail which by now was a festering mud bog.

And I might add, these were standard issue '70s generic gear= very heavy.

Anyway the gal got up and followed us until we were able to beg our way into an already overcrowded shelter where I spent the night flicking mice off me but that's another story.

Once back home, I got non stop calls from the recruiter telling me he'd never seen conditions that bad in 'Nam and wanted to recruit me for officers school.
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#126044 - 12/29/09 08:31 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Swimswithtrout]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
Was he successful?

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#126052 - 12/29/09 08:53 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight [Re: OregonMouse]
sabre11004 Offline
member

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 513
Loc: Tennessee
One liter of water and 9 days worth of food should weigh in around 20 lbs. alone. @ 2 pounds per day of food; a total of 18 lbs. and then a liter of water weighs in at 2 lbs. That gives you a total of 5 lbs. for all the rest of your gear. Man between your bag, your pack and your tent you must have found a really really light weight tent or something. For some reason all these numbers do not add up for me. Did I miss something. I think that I did. I need to figure out what all light weight stuff you guys have and the reason that I say this is there is no way that I can leave out for nine days and my total pack weight come in at 20 lbs. No way !!!!! I will keep trying though....sabre11004... awesome
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#126054 - 12/29/09 09:51 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Glenn]
Swimswithtrout Offline
member

Registered: 10/03/09
Posts: 48
Loc: Colorado
Originally Posted By Glenn
Was he successful?


Nope, my draft lottery # was borderline eligible, but I got a student deferment to go to college in CO.



(I would have taken him up if he was the AF recruiter)
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#126058 - 12/29/09 11:23 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Swimswithtrout]
Steadman Offline
member

Registered: 09/17/09
Posts: 510
Loc: Virginia
I'll add to the notion that fitness matters.

When I was in my 20's (180lbs), hiking in HI and biking to work every day, taking 50+lb loads up the mountains wasn't a big deal - it was what HAD to be done to take my baby daughter day hiking with me, safely. And I was on the trail almost every other weekend. Transitioning to backpacking wasn't hard, and the pack weights (driven by water needs) were about 70lbs.

I'm older and less fit (200lbs) now - a 50lb packwieght (took some extra gear from somebody) hurt at the end of the day this past summer. 40lbs was comfortable. I'm also not in the mountains, with a pack on, all the time.


I think that fitness made the difference. You'll find me on my bike once the days get longer, getting ready for the trail.

Steadman


Edited by Steadman (12/29/09 11:25 PM)
Edit Reason: Correction to 3rd paragraph.

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#126067 - 12/30/09 12:37 AM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight [Re: sabre11004]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I take only a pound of food per day because I just can't eat any more. If I take any more, I end up packing it back out again (and in a rehydrated condition, making it heavier). I do a lot of dehydrating for trips of more than 2-3 nights and I try to concentrate on lots of calorie-dense foods, like nuts. I use freeze-dried fruit instead of the dehydrated stuff for trips of 5 days or more, because the weight savings are significant--half the weight for the same amount of calories. I do not, however, use freeze-dried sawdust dinners. I cook and dehydrate my own dinners, adding freeze-dried vegetables.

14 lbs. base weight plus 1/2 lb. fuel plus 2 lbs. water plus 9 lbs. food for a 9-day trip comes out to 25 1/2 lbs. Actually, 9 days of food comes out a little less than 9 lbs., since for 9 days I need only 8 dinners and 8 breakfasts.

1.5 lbs. per day of food is plenty for men who are not significantly underweight. You have to concentrate on dehydrating and on calorie-dense foods to do it, but most gear lists I've seen for the PCT and CDT involve about 1.5 lbs. of food per day. Here is a list with 9 1/2 lbs. of food for 7 days. For 14 lbs. base weight and 1.5 lbs. of food per day that would be a total pack weight for 9 days of about 30 lbs., or 32 lbs. if water sources are less frequent.

Sabre, if you look at the "27-lb., 7-day gear list" on the home page, you'll get lots of ideas on how to keep that weight under 30 lbs. Interestingly, the list includes a far heavier tent and backpack than what I carry. I make up for part of the difference with my sleeping pad and my Ursack (since I can't hang a food bag).


Edited by OregonMouse (12/30/09 01:04 AM)
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#126097 - 12/30/09 04:14 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Swimswithtrout]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
You have excellent taste! (I spent 3 years as a USAF officer.)

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#126175 - 01/01/10 08:42 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Swimswithtrout]
Keith Offline
member

Registered: 01/04/02
Posts: 1664
Loc: Michigan's Upper Peninsula
What you may not be accounting for is the tradeoff you are making for ability to hike as you get older. There is no doubt whatsoever that you are trashing your knees. You may be blissfully unaware of it until the day your cartilage is completely worn through but be assured that that day will arrive much sooner than would have been the case carrying lighter loads.

It may be that have consciously made that judgment and the opportunity to do the fantastic hikes you are doing is worth a shortened span of being able to get on the trail at all. It is, a matter of HYOH, after all.
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#126203 - 01/02/10 08:08 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight [Re: DTape]
verber Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/04
Posts: 269
Loc: SF Bay Area, CA
Depends on the pack. There are some packs I have tried that weren't comfortable carrying even 10lbs. Assuming an adequate suspension system I have two set points:

Comfort = Body doesn't hurt: 30-35lbs

If I keep my days to under 20miles, say 6k ft elevation change, I can make it through the day without an lasting pain and repeat days on end. If I try to push for longer days or carry more weight I end up feeling fatigued and the next day I will often hurt.

Comfort = No impact to my perfomance: 18lbs

I found that if I keep my pack weight below around 10% my lean body weight that carrying the pack doesn't seem to impact how long/far I go. On long summer days this means I can crank out 30-40 mile days with 6k ft elevation changes (or shorter distance with more elevation changes) and have energy at the end of the day, or go 20 miles and be able to spend the late afternoon and evening playing hard. This is basically the same as what I could do if I didn't have to carry a pack.

Years ago I read a study funded by the military looking at the impact of pack weight to soldier performance. I can't find the paper anymore, but my memory is that they found that 10-12% lean body weight was where the pack had a measurable impact on how quickly people got fatigued. Steve Sergeant sent a note to the backpackinglight mailing lists which is very similar to a study I remember seeing. His summary was:

A Swiss military report suggests that everyone has a backpack weight threshold at which they become significantly more encumbered. They determined this weight by measuring how much it takes for a person's balance-time to degrade by 20%. You can determine your balance-time degradation by measuring the time that you can stand on one foot without your pack, and then compare that to the time you can do so with your pack on. Apparently the Swiss military sought to optimize the performance of 'light fast' special-forces types. They found that for their typical soldier, balance degraded by 20% when wearing a pack weight between 8% and 10% of their lean body weight. The degree to which the pack carrier's balance degrades directly relates to the rate at which they'll become fatigued. This study suggests ways to improve your backpacking experience. The traditional guideline of 25% to 40% given by some how-to books on backpacking would seem quite high by these standards, so you should try to go lighter. Experiment with loading your pack to minimize the degradation of your balance time.

--Mark


Edited by verber (01/02/10 08:54 PM)

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#126206 - 01/02/10 10:13 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Keith]
Swimswithtrout Offline
member

Registered: 10/03/09
Posts: 48
Loc: Colorado
Originally Posted By Keith
What you may not be accounting for is the tradeoff you are making for ability to hike as you get older. There is no doubt whatsoever that you are trashing your knees. You may be blissfully unaware of it until the day your cartilage is completely worn through but be assured that that day will arrive much sooner than would have been the case carrying lighter loads.


Knock on wood, they're still just fine at 55 yrs old, the photo's from above were from just over 2 yrs ago.

In any event, I work out regularly, ride my MTB ~ 100 mi/wk, rock climb,etc. but that doesn't even approach 20% of the load bearing weight-lifting/carrying that I've been doing as my business for the last 31 yrs as a carpenter.

What I lift and carry every day at work makes my BP, loaded for 20-30 days once a year, a true vacation.

My BP'ng style is not going to be the end of my knees if that happens, since genetics is far and away the determiner of that.

I don't carry those loads every time I go out out BP'g, I do plenty of < 25 lb 3-5 day trips/yr. But as has been pointed out, conditioning does make a difference, and I've been conditioned every day for 30+ yrs to carry far heavier loads.

If my knees break down, it won't be from BP'g.

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#126209 - 01/02/10 11:20 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Swimswithtrout]
Eugene Offline
member

Registered: 12/26/09
Posts: 60
Loc: San Diego, CA
Yeah, the condition of your knees is much more than the weight on your back. It's more about how you exercise, your diet and giving your knees what they need when they're hurting.

If it was just weight, then how would we explain all the tiny high school track girls with bad knees? Shouldn't all fat people have bad knees if it's just about weight?
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#126217 - 01/03/10 09:03 AM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Eugene]
Keith Offline
member

Registered: 01/04/02
Posts: 1664
Loc: Michigan's Upper Peninsula
Originally Posted By Eugene
Yeah, the condition of your knees is much more than the weight on your back. It's more about how you exercise, your diet and giving your knees what they need when they're hurting.


I understand and appreciate the value of conditioning. The concern I'm raising is that some people seem to be unaware of some things that canNOT be conditioned. Knee cartilage is one of them. It will be fine until it isn't. Muscles can strengthened to carry heavier weight. Bones can be strengthened to bear heavier loads. Ligament flexibility can be maintained. But cartilage cannot be "conditioned". It boils down to simple physics -- stronger bones carrying heavier loads moved by stronger muscles directly puts more stress on the knee cartilage.

My understanding is that while we may be able to somewhat control the rate of wear, knee cartilage can only wear, not be "built up" in the sense that bones and muscles can.
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#126218 - 01/03/10 09:21 AM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Eugene]
DTape Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 656
Loc: Upstate NY
Originally Posted By Eugene


If it was just weight, then how would we explain all the tiny high school track girls with bad knees? Shouldn't all fat people have bad knees if it's just about weight?


As a former HS track and field coach, the vast majority of skinny female knee injuries was due to overuse. Those athletes who didn't overexert themselves and took the recommended "rest" days rarely had over-exertion based injuries. The not-so-skinny female athletes (usually the shot and discus athletes) often had chronic knee pain. Based on my memory and non-scientific analysis this chronic knee pain was more common in the heavier girls. Those girls in the normal wight range (they all believed they were overweight) had the least knee issues (less chronic pain, and less over-exertion injuries). I would love to hear from a medical person to either corroborate my anecdotal observations or contradict them for my own education.
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#126226 - 01/03/10 02:35 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Keith]
Eugene Offline
member

Registered: 12/26/09
Posts: 60
Loc: San Diego, CA
Keith, I did not mean conditioning. I mean more like taking care that your knees are healthy. I agree with the bulk of your post though.

As DTape elaborated, making sure your knees are not overexerted is vitally important. A piss poor diet is a sure way to kill your knees, especially when you're working hard. Refusing to give your knees a break when they start to hurt will do it too. The captain of the girls cross country team at my last college was suffering because of both piss poor diet and refusing to rest her knees. She was very thin, yet refused to do much to improve her diet even though she admitted to feeling MUCH better on those few occasions when she was forced to have a healthier diet.

Our knees can take a lot. We just need to give them the care we need instead of treating hikes like a competition. Pain=no gain when it comes to abusing your knees.

Anyway, we'll see if I'm forced to eat my words this summer when I do my own thru. I'm 225 lbs and my pack isn't very light. I'll be paying a lot of attention to my legs, making sure I get enough macronutrients and water in my diet, and giving myself reduced miles when I need it. As much as I'd like to finish my thru in 4 months, I'll take 7 if I must.
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#126308 - 01/05/10 12:28 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Eugene]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2752
Loc: California
Here is my experience with aging knees. When I was in my 20's I regularly carried 60 pounds (90 days each summer- I weighed 115 pounds) and had no problems. My knees started to get a bit creaky in my 40's. My wonderful daughter backpacked with me and taught me a lesson- she was a steady but slow hiker and with the same pack weight, when I slowed down, my knee problems went away! So it was slow and steady, break every hour. In my late 50's I started using trekking poles. THis is another great change for those of us who have aging knees. Also, all throughout my life I have never let my weight vary more than up or down 10 pounds. This summer (at age 60) I did a 12-day trip with a fairly heavy pack (45 pounds)and did not have knee problems. For me it is not the weight of the pack per-se, but a lot of other factors that make a difference on my knees. One reason I hike alone more now is that when my knees start to hurt, I do not push it - set up camp and rest. As I get older I need more rest time between stressing my knees. By the way, I quit long distance running in my 30's because I felt that I would rather have my knees last for a lifetime of backpacking.

So I would say to Swimswithtrout- go for the long trips (there is really nothing like being out 30 days straight), listen to your body, schedule in enough rest, use trekking poles and go for it.

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#126508 - 01/08/10 12:44 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: wandering_daisy]
sabre11004 Offline
member

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 513
Loc: Tennessee
First of all, let me say that carrying a 90 lb. pack and only tipping the scales at 115 is a crazy crazy thing. That is certainly overkill for most and has probably contributed to some of your knee trouble, especially if you made a habit of it. When I back packed when I was younger, I regularly carried a pack that would weigh close to 60 lbs. and that was all I wanted...period.I am getting close to the same age as you are (oregonmouse) and I carry around 23-26 lbs., depending on what I am doing and where and when I am going. Two liters of water with that gets the weight up about four more lbs. but that's the nature of the beast as far as carrying water. Some times you just have to do it. If I go to water plentiful areas, I usually trim down a little on the water but not much because I drink a lot of water on the trail. I am noticing that even at my house on the stairs that my knees have taken some wear and tear as well. They still do pretty good but when they are stressed, I can certainly tell that they are....sabre11004... awesome
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#126599 - 01/10/10 12:29 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: sabre11004]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2752
Loc: California
I think you misread the post. I carried a 60 pound pack - for 90 DAYS. Thank goodness I did not carry a 90-pound pack!

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#126601 - 01/10/10 12:47 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: sabre11004]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2752
Loc: California
I also should clearify. The pack weight included 15 days of food, a full set of climbing gear (in the days of pitons - which included a 16oz hammer)and teaching material (I was an instructor for NOLS climbing courses). Our "backpack" gear was quite minimalist. The point is that when you add other activities to backpacking, such as technical climbing, you simply have to add weight. In this case, it is ever more important to keep your basic backpack supplies at a minimum. Our gear was not light back then, but we carried NO extras or luxuries.

And you do adjust to heavier pack weights. You have to slow down. You get in really good shape. A 60 pound pack is certainly not what I would recommend to a "weekend warrior". Sometimes, to do what you want to do, you have to have some days of an "uncomfortable" pack.

The point is to go light as you can safely, for the activities you want to persue. And for long-tip climbing in the late 1960's, this meant a 60+ pound pack. Thank goodnesss nowadays the equipment is lighter.


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#126604 - 01/10/10 01:09 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: wandering_daisy]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Daisy
modern backpackers do not understand the concept of "mission hardware". If you are going climbing or doing other activities in the back country requiring heavy gear, then your actual camping gear may weigh less than what backpackers consider light. Fact is - modern backpackers are not real adventurous and tend to stay "on trail" so they don't even understand why we wore kletter boots. Can you imagine trail runners on steep granite slopes?

Many climbers used to carry only a sleeping bag and a stove and food and a bivy sack. I've humped 30 pounds of climbing gear along with my camping gear,including a BD Yosemite hammer, but we only carried a handful of pitons for top rope anchors, not a full on climbing assortment, and of course we had aluminum biners.
Jim
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These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#126662 - 01/11/10 02:11 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight [Re: Jim M]
chimpac Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 148
Loc: alberta,can.
This is a very interesting thread to read but I would like to see separate weights for each class like,sleep gear,extra clothes, cook and eat wear, stove for cooking and or heating, ounces fuel per day,shelter etc. Food weight for each day has been mentioned somewhat in past posts.

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#126667 - 01/11/10 03:30 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight [Re: chimpac]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2862
Loc: Portland, OR
Breaking pack weight down into smaller categories would be an entirely new subject, since those categories make no difference to how comfortable the total weight feels to the person carrying it. You may be different, but my shoulders, back, feet and legs can't feel much difference between shlepping 30 lbs. of jellybeans and 30 lbs. of backpacking gear up a mountain.

You might try starting a new thread where you can frame the question in your own way and get answers more like what you are seeking.

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#126696 - 01/12/10 11:19 AM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight [Re: aimless]
chimpac Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 148
Loc: alberta,can.
My post is on the subject of this forum. I have no clue what the total weight is of the hammock system is for example. I do not use a gas stove but what do they weigh, like I have heard that the white gas outfit is heavier than alcohol. This tread is about weight and we have to zero in on each item if we want to cut the weight of a pack. How do trekkers on this thread get their pack so light.


Edited by chimpac (01/12/10 11:39 AM)

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#126700 - 01/12/10 12:22 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight [Re: chimpac]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Chimpac, look at the home page of this site, the articles listed in the left-hand column. The article on the "27-lb., 7-day gear list" is what helped me get my base weight down to 14 lbs., without any sacrifice of comfort or safety. That's of course for spring/fall or high-altitude Rockies summer trips, where mid-teens F (-8 to -9 C) can be expected. I don't go overnight in the winter. Nor are our NW winters as cold as yours.

Please note that your stove idea is probably fine in your area (Phat, who is from your area, uses one in winter, too) but not practical here in the US where, in many places, there are legal restrictions on the use of wood fuel or fires. As other posters have mentioned, several ounces of extra down are a lot lighter than a wood stove. It's true that the wood fire warms you twice, once when you're gathering the fuel and again when you burn it, but it takes a lot of extra time, particularly when "down" wood (all we're allowed to burn in many areas) is under many feet of snow. Or, this year, ice!



Edited by OregonMouse (01/12/10 12:24 PM)
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#126706 - 01/12/10 01:35 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight [Re: chimpac]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2862
Loc: Portland, OR
My post is on the subject of this forum.

Yes. It is. You are right. And your question is entirely appropriate to discuss. smile That is why I only suggested starting a new thread rather than moving the topic to another forum.

The purpose of starting a new thread is so the information will be easier for people to find in the future. Someone browsing the old threads is unlikely to know that a thread with this title would contain the discussion you want to start, and if they opened the thread and began to read it, they would find a completely different question and set of answers... at least, up to here. Except they may never get this far.

Next, people who would love to answer your question in detail might never find your question, because they aren't botthering to check this thread. Because they weren't interested in the declared topic and they won't know the thread has veered in a new direction they would be interested in pursuing with you.

Lastly, starting a new thread is a courtesy to the original poster, by not dragging their thread into a new subject, so the subject they want to discuss gets lost or forgotten.

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#130607 - 03/12/10 06:07 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight [Re: OregonMouse]
wildthing Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/02
Posts: 982
Loc: Victoria, B.C.
Originally Posted By OregonMouse
I take only a pound of food per day because I just can't eat any more. If I take any more, I end up packing it back out again (and in a rehydrated condition, making it heavier). I do a lot of dehydrating for trips of more than 2-3 nights and I try to concentrate on lots of calorie-dense foods, like nuts. I use freeze-dried fruit instead of the dehydrated stuff for trips of 5 days or more, because the weight savings are significant--half the weight for the same amount of calories. I do not, however, use freeze-dried sawdust dinners. I cook and dehydrate my own dinners, adding freeze-dried vegetables.

14 lbs. base weight plus 1/2 lb. fuel plus 2 lbs. water plus 9 lbs. food for a 9-day trip comes out to 25 1/2 lbs. Actually, 9 days of food comes out a little less than 9 lbs., since for 9 days I need only 8 dinners and 8 breakfasts.

1.5 lbs. per day of food is plenty for men who are not significantly underweight. You have to concentrate on dehydrating and on calorie-dense foods to do it, but most gear lists I've seen for the PCT and CDT involve about 1.5 lbs. of food per day. Here is a list with 9 1/2 lbs. of food for 7 days. For 14 lbs. base weight and 1.5 lbs. of food per day that would be a total pack weight for 9 days of about 30 lbs., or 32 lbs. if water sources are less frequent.


OregonMouse I agree about your weights in general, except for those of us who are "fast-burners" and need lots of fuel on the trail. I find I'm definately going more to 1.67-2 lbs a day and I do dehydrate almost all my own stuff. High energy foods are a must and I'm examining corn and quinoa and millet as alternatives to wheat for my trips, especially for porridge or to accompany curried meals. I also have a heavier bag due to my girth and 42" chest and a slightly bigger tent requirement as I need almost 44" of height to sit comfortably up in. Those two variables and the extra food means my pack is often 2+ pounds to carry the same weight.

For those reasons I'm perfectly happy carrying 20-25lbs, slightly uncomfortable at over 30lbs, and have backpacked a maximum 8 days without resupply. I suppose I could carry 38lbs or so for a 2 week trip and be fine with the right pack. I'm 57, 185lbs and use poles and usually have a 16lb base weight. As noted here by others, I sometimes backpack off trail and you need poles and slightly different gear for that.


Edited by wildthing (03/12/10 06:19 PM)
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#132524 - 04/22/10 05:53 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Jim M]
CamperHiker Offline
member

Registered: 04/08/10
Posts: 37
Loc: UT
I try to keep it near 25 lbs for multi day trips.
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#133193 - 05/04/10 01:24 PM Re: What do you consider a comfortable pack weight? [Re: Jim M]
dianeh Offline
newbie

Registered: 05/03/10
Posts: 4
Loc: Fort Collins, CO
I backpacked for the first time in my life last year. I am in reasonably good shape for a 52 year old. My pack was 50 lbs(25%) I am 5'11", 200 lbs. I didn't expect a walk in the park, I expected the hiking to be strenuous, but it was very doable in RMNP, starting elevation 9000+ and destination 10 - 11,000feet. I will work on whittling the pack weight down this year, my personal weight is also being whittled down. I started out weighing every ounce. The friend we went with cracked me up because when I asked him how much his pack weighed he said "I am not sure, I just packed everything I thought I would need". Light weight stuff sure helps the load as does the freeze dried meals.

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