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.
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.
Human Resources Memo: Floggings will continue until morale improves.
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.
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.
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.
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...
The first step that you take will be one of those that get you there 1!!!!!
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.
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
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.
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.
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.
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.
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 (01/12/1012:24 PM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
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. 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.
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 (03/12/1006:19 PM)
Listen to the trees in the wind
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.