Hello everyone, Please allow me to introduce myself I'm Antoine from Quebec, Canada and I am planing a trip this summer leaving in August. I'm going to hike from my home town in Quebec city to the Saguenay region following Le Sentier des Jésuites (an old route that was used by the aboriginals and french colonists). Once i have arrived at the lac saint jean, I will head south-west following rivers and lakes to finally arrive in Montreal. I expect to be hiking for at least a month and i will be carrying a little more than 55 pounds of high quality foods with me + 15 pounds of actual camping equipment and clothing. I would like advice on a sturdy backpack capable of lifting such weights. My budget is 500$ MAX! Thanks
Take a look at the Mystery Ranch backpacks - in particular, the Terraplane. This is Dana Gleason's relaunch of the Dana Design packs that were widely regarded as the pack that could make a 100 pound load carry like 50 (!) This was back in the 80s and 90s. I had a Dana Designs Terraplane, and loved it - all 7 pounds of it. I've heard the Mystery Ranch version is just as good.
A second recommendation would be the Osprey Volt 70, Ariel 75, or Aura 65 (probably not large enough) - but the maker does not rate their carrying ability at the weights you're talking about. (See the possible solution of caches or mail drops, below.)
Oregon Mouse can tell you about Deuter packs that might be appropriate. Deuter is just as good as Osprey, in my opinion. However, I've found that Osprey packs generally fit me better than Deuter; Mouse has found that Deuters work better for her. Which brings us to a critical point (which you may already know): Fit is Everything! Just because the pack gets good ratings doesn't mean it will fit you correctly. Make sure you spend time putting your load, not sandbags, into the pack before you buy it - and make sure the store will allow you to return it if you take a few short dayhikes and find out it doesn't carry right.
If you want to see a good video review of the MR Stein packs, go to "Watch Mike Hike" on You Tube. I know Mike - I taught him to backpack when he was about 14, helped him earn his Backpacking merit badge, hiked with him a bunch until about 5 years ago when I finally admitted I couldn't keep up. After doing a tour as a Navy SEAL, he thru-hiked the AT to decompress; he's now a firefighter/EMT and assistant manager at an outdoor store in Virginia Beach, VA. He's the real deal, and a really nice guy to boot. (Also take a look at his 30-second "summit of Mt. Rogers" video.)
Now, a question from someone who knows nothing about the route you're planning: do you really need to carry 55 pounds of food? Could you put out, say, 2 food caches and reduce your food load to 20 pounds between re supplies? (Mailing boxes to post offices or backpacking shops along your route would also work as well as caches.)
Finally, don't forget that you'll be carrying significantly more than 70 pounds: there's the 55 pounds of food and 15 pounds of gear you describe, which totals 70. I'm assuming that you plan to drink as you hike, so add 2 pounds for each liter of water you'll carry at one time (I'm assuming 1 liter, if you're following a river.) Then there's the weight of the pack itself - I can't imagine that an adequate suspension for that load can be found in a pack that weighs less than 5 pounds. So, your load will be closer to 80 pounds.
Thank you for the reply mate I appreciate it. I am currently looking into the Terraplane pack.
Answering the question you asked, there are no post offices on my path until i get to Montreal. There are a few super markets but i would rather bring my own food along because i might change destination or end up hitchhiking somewhere else entirely if i feel like it/if i meet an awesome person. I also want to train my body and feel the victory as i set up tent after 20 km of bushwalking !
EDIT** on a side note, i find it weird that mystery ranch doesn't ship to Canada but will fly off anything to Cambodia...
Loc: Washington State, King County
"There are a few super markets but i would rather bring my own food along because i might change destination or end up hitchhiking somewhere else entirely if i feel like it/if i meet an awesome person. I also want to train my body and feel the victory as i set up tent after 20 km of bushwalking !"
That's an enormous volume of food to carry, in addition of course to being an enormous weight of food. The only time I've had direct experience at someone doing something like that involved a two (full) pack system, similar to how the old gold miners in Alaska used to haul in their loads: the guy would hike one pack a few days towards his destination, hang it somewhere to keep it from animals and then hike back with minimal stuff to pick up and hike his second pack up, back and forth, so that by the time he "got there" he had hiked three times as far as he actually got. But his goal wasn't to hike a ton of miles, but rather to just spend maximal time on the trail, away from civilization.
For normal people and normal situations, I suggest that the best response to what you're trying to do is "do something else". I consider a week of food on my back to be a big load; the most I've ever carried is maybe 9 days of food, and once starting with an 8-day carry I pulled a muscle in my back dealing with the load which made my trail life unhappy for a while.
Part of the problem is that there's a sort of vicious circle that sets in where, because you have so much food weight you can't hike very many miles per day, and since you can't hike many miles per day, you need that much more food to hike the same distance. If you were 10 feet tall and proportionately strong it would of course be different, but for a typical human being --- please reconsider your plans. You're not going to "train your body", you're going to break it down, or more practically, you're going to quit your trip.
When you say "there are a few supermarkets" and that hitchhiking is an option, then keep your flexibility, but just plan on once a week or so hitchhiking or even just walking off-trail to get to place you can resupply.
If you've not done much long distance hiking before --- and thus don't have direct experience at how much food weight you can happily carry --- I would suggest that you set 10 days worth as your upper limit, but then definitely practice with your full load a time or two before setting off. Really, 10 days should be an upper limit I think if you HAVE done it before, and something lower than that if you have not. That's said, of course, not knowing anything about you.
I realize that I'm not replying to the question that you asked, and such input might be just unwelcome. I *don't* mean this in a patronizing way or anything (!), just a sense that you might be in for some pain and unhappiness if you don't adjust your plans.
And if I turn out to be wrong, please do follow-up later with details of your experience!
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Antoine, I just want to note that BrianLe is a Triple Crown hiker (all three of the US long north-south trails, Appalachian, Continental Divide, Pacific Crest) and has hiked a number of other long trails. So he knows whereof he speaks! I strongly urge you to pay close attention to what he says.
I have carried up to 10 days' food, but that's at only 1 pound of food per day, relying entirely on freeze-dried food and on the unfortunate fat reserves I carry. Total starting pack weight was about 28 lbs. I know that Wandering_Daisy of this forum has carried up to 14 days of food, but that was in places where she could catch fish to supplement her diet nearly every day.
You mention that there are some supermarkets along your route. There is therefore road access at those points, where, if you don't want supermarket food, you can arrange (hopefully with local residents) to cache food supplies.
Even with no weight reduction in food or gear, if you could set up one cache at about midpoint of your hike, your starting load will be about 45-50 lbs. (which all of us here consider heavy!) instead of the potentially crippling 75-80 (including the heavier pack). Your hike will have much better chances of success, and certainly will be far more enjoyable!
Edited by OregonMouse (07/08/1712:00 PM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
My experiences have been a bit different. Even though I am a small woman, when I was younger (not a grandmother!), I regularly carried 14-15 days food. Even for a big man, food weight can easily be limited to 2 pounds per day (about 30 pounds). The key is to bring the right kind of food. I can get by with 1.3 pounds per day. I think a strong young person can make 15-20 miles a day (with low to moderate elevation gains) on a trail, starting out with 14 days food. You go slower at first, and more miles as you eat up the food.
But I agree that your original plan for 50 pounds of food will get you into that vicious cycle that Brian Lee is talking about.
When I carry a lot of weight I prefer an external frame pack, particularly if you will be on trails and road. Off-trail, less so. This preference of mine is partly due to the fact that internal frame packs in woman's small size are very limited in capacity. Not so much the case if you are a big guy. I still like my old Kelty from the 1970's. I have sewn a new pack bag for it that is much lighter than the original. I grew up on external frame packs, so they do not seem so unwieldy to me. For 9 day trips or less I use an internal frame pack.
Thanks for the backpack suggestions I ended up buying a Dana Design K2 short bed with 99+L capacity used for 140$ on ebay (the color is midnight blue which looks epic). The "short bed" is an awesome looking external frame, ill be able to strap just about anything on there!
As for everyone's suggestion to setup food caches, i will keep it in mind and may resort to that if my pack turns out to be painfully heavy but i dont expect it to be.
This trip isn't a race, its a fishing/trapping and exploration trip, throughout my hike i will be walking next to countless rivers and freshwater lakes and i wont be in any hurry as i start college in January . I mentioned earlier " feel the victory as i set up tent after 20 km of bushwalking" ive not a clue how fast i will walk each day. Especially since the route im using has not been maintained since the 17th century, i will constantly be looking for ways to cross mountains and rivers etc.
As for the loop mentioned , i dont know how i will react to a heavy pack as ive never carried so much weight before. i guess i will burn alot of calories, so then i will eat my day rations and lose weight until eventually my pack will become lighter and i will walk farther. One thing is for sure this will be a great learning experience.
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
It's easy to get the wrong impression online, so please have patience with me if I'm way off base, but it seems to me like you're potentially putting yourself in a lot of danger. 1. You have little to no experience with this type of trip 2. You're traveling with an enormous weight, setting yourself up for exhaustion and injury 3. You're traveling solo 4. you're using an unmaintained route. I know at a certain age, anything seems possible and you feel invincible, but the potential for not coming back from this trip is very real. You've gotten some great advice from some very experienced members here. Please please for your own sake listen to them.
Stick to level ground, and flatbeaten paths, so hills or rough ground. Whilst this sort of carry is technically possible, its going to be work, and im imagining your not going to like it alot, head down sweating.
As for the distance 20km per day for 20 days with a pack starting at around 80lbs is murder. Soldiers do this for very short stints 2 or 3 days carry to set up a recon position , but i feel that by day 5 you will be dribbling along, in that cycle of needing to carry more food. Take 60lbs out for 3 days and see what your energy levels will be like after.
20 km is only 12 miles per day. Not that bad if on a road or trail. But he said that he would go slower since the objective is not necessarily getting to a specific destination, but being out a specific time.
I used to carry 70 pounds (15-day food ration at 2 pounds per day plus technical climbing gear) regularly when in my 20's. This is because we all did this back then, when gear was heavier. I would be the last person to be a "nay-sayer" to this young person. He will get it all figured out, I am sure.
As i said possible, squaddies do it, quite regularly, but they have a rest inbetween, and take transport to save energy. I know about the 10lb tents etc, but precicely how far did you carry them ?
If squaddies are in the desert for 20 days there kit includes 10 gallons of water, ammo weapons food kit fuel etc far exeeding 80lbs, but thats for a static camp. Carried in in stages like the miners mentioned earlier
The fellow should be on his trip by now. I hope we hear from him when he is done.
Obviously he will not carry 70 pounds, travel 12 miles every day and "fish and trap" along the way on an unmaintained trail that likely is overgrown. But I would hope he does a little, adjusts his plan, and continues. Given his time limit (one month) he will likley not make the entire trail, but would have an adventure and learn a lot. The experience will teach him more than anything we can say.
Since I have done some "fishing and trapping" myself, those activities do not net much unless you spend a lot of time. Once caught, any fish or animal would have to be skinned, cleaned and preserved. I doubt much of this will actually be done.
I carried the weight on NOLS mountaineering courses. Some days we traveld 10+ miles, many we "base-camped" and climbed, some we traveled half days and did classes half days. Some miles were on trails; some not. Thankfully, the food weight became 2 pounds less each day. We got reupplied by horse packers about every 15 days. Our "base-weight" was about 40 pounds (at the end of 30 days, when we instructors walked out we did 25 miles in a day). So, you are right in that these weight packs are not what you want if trying to make miles every day. But the short days and long days tend to average out- with 12 miles on the average definetly optomistic!
Yep only experience breeds knowledge, im sure he will come back more educated. 25 miles on 70lbs is good going. What you say about mountaineering reminded me of the people who do high summits, usually they only hock the stuff into base camp. People go on extended trips into the woods carrying more, they stick to the level and i wouldnt have thought they do much more than hike into a camp or cabin, to carry it and them move on the next day is exausting.
I just did 3 days with 45 pounds of kit (45 to start, kit got wet 45 to finish) with the idea of educating myself, on the the level its ok but uphill weight is weight, and suprisingly downhill is almost as bad. This is from an unfit start, but its not something i would wish to train myself to do. After 2 days the effort left me tired.
As for the injuries, many many people habe told of the bad knees, bad ankles that they developed in there youth and are still in evidence today 40 plus years later. My advice is to wuss out at the start of trouble, as these stresses catch up with you. I do not know how people used to do it in the days of canvass tents and rucksacks without hipbelts, even the feather bags where heavy, blankets to lie on. I wonder how many miles they made a day?