Loc: Kitsap Peninsula, WA
What is the base weight of you backpack when you go out on a multi-day trip? I'd like to take a poll here and I'll do some arithmetic and figure out (and report here) the average and the range. I think it is interesting because it might give you (and me) an idea or relative differences. I'm not considering body weights at this time, that would complicate a bit too much.
Loc: Portland, OR
I never know exactly what I am supposed to exclude from "base weight", so I always just think in terms of how much does my pack weigh when I walk away from the trailhead. Because so far as I can see, no one ever carries their "base weight" on an actual hike - they always carry something heavier than that.
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
You exclude from base weight the consumables--water, fuel, food--whose weight varies with the length of the trip. However, I notice that most published gear lists, especially those at the UL end of the spectrum, omit a camera, even when they publish pictures of their trip! There is also the issue of a few other items whose weight varies according to the length of the trip (which base weight does not). In my case it's some extra toiletries that I require for medical reasons, which add up to almost a pound and a half on a 10-day trip. I suppose one could also include in consumables items like sunscreen and bug repellent, where you also take more for a longer trip, but that's getting, IMHO, a bit nit-picky. I don't think anyone empties out a dropper bottle containing several days worth of sunscreen for an overnighter.
Anyway, the theory is that base weight remains fixed regardless of the length of trip, while consumables vary. Therefore only the base weight is comparable to others because it is the same regardless of how many days you go out. As an ex-accountant, I prefer to call them "fixed weight" and "variable weight."
My base weight, without camera (to be comparable to the UL folks), is 10.7 pounds. This is for trips at high altitude in the northern Rockies, when it often freezes at night and can snow in July and August. I would take a little less for the Cascades in the height of summer, but probably no more than half a pound . Add in camera (with extra batteries) and fishing gear, and I'm up to 12.1 pounds.
Edited by OregonMouse (03/03/1201:20 AM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
Well, I am almost ashamed to post it, but I still have a ways to go.. I am pretty new to the lightweight mindset. Right now mine calculated (possible that I left a few small things out) is 16.9lb. 4lb of that is my pack.
My base weight 3 season, this is if carrying my fleece and down vest is 13pounds 9 oz. Most of my hiking is in spring when I have he time. Summer weight would easily be 2 to 2.5 pounds lighter? I weighed with fleece and vest in pack as unless very cold conditions I would be carrying it. In very wet weather I would carry second rain fly for my Hammock to ensure I would stay dry. That would be about 1 more pound. There are allot of variables. Bye the way I credit my base weight being this low to this forum!
My base for my upcoming trip in a couple weeks will be right at 20 lbs. But that includes a pack and sleeping bag that I want to replace eventually, swapping them for lighter models. Other than that, I don't foresee dropping any more weight for shoulder seasons, unless I find a fleece pullover that's lighter than the one I'm using now.
Summer weights (assuming a trip here in the southeastern US) are about 4lbs lighter, once you take out base layer, fleece and toboggan, and swap the sleeping bag for something a lot cooler. I could also go to a much smaller, lighter pack in summer, if I had one.
But considering I started at about 50lbs, I'm pretty darn pleased.
Edited by Barefoot Friar (03/03/1210:07 AM)
"Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls."
Loc: Washington State, King County
12 - 20 pounds, depending very much on where and when I'm going. Higher weights are for winter or early/late shoulder seasons or otherwise relatively severe conditions. Lightest weights tend to be trips where I don't anticipate a lot of rain (or other precip).
Further muddying the waters is that I think that sometimes folks will go out on a base-camping or other low (with a full backpack) mileage trips that aren't necessarily their norm, but include a higher base weight for camp comfort or the like.
For what I would call "3-minus" season trips (late spring, summer, early fall), my base weight tends to be in the 13 - 16 pound range, perhaps that's an answer that fits better with what you're asking (?).
Loc: Washington State, King County
"... so I always just think in terms of how much does my pack weigh when I walk away from the trailhead. Because so far as I can see, no one ever carries their "base weight" on an actual hike - they always carry something heavier than that."
Agreed, or at least agreed assuming that you and I are using the same common definition for terms like base weight, skin-out weight, etc.
I would be highly doubtful of results reported in the way that we're doing it on this thread. I'm not saying that folks are intentionally dishonest (!), but in general when I see someone give their actual gear list with specific weights included, it's very common for me to end up with the feeling that the list is not complete. "Where's the first aid kit?" "Do you plan to brush your teeth?" "Do you use toilet paper or just snow or smooth rocks and such?" Etc etc. In some cases a very lean-looking gear list reflects a true ultralight approach; in practice I think it more commonly represents things that the person didn't remember to include. Or they're stuffing their pockets so full that we really should be talking about skin-out weight!
I do not like these broad surveys. Exactly what is base weight is not defined. Do you exclude stuff carried in your pockets? If you exclude the clothes you wear, what exactly is counted as "worn". I change clothes all the time during a trip based on the temperatures. Climate makes a huge difference. I use a 5-degree sleeping bag because I camp near 12,000 feet elevation and often encounter low-20's even in August. And there are no trees up there for hammocks or tarps. If I am out for 20 days in a very remote location, I am going to take some repair gear that I do not take on a weekend trip. Where I hike, a bear cannister is almost always required so it is part of base weight. What about your GPS- these are about 6 ounces or more and I do not think the UL people count this (supposedly because it is attached to their belt or shoulder strap. A lot of us fish. Do we count our fishing gear?
To me base weight should also include the clothing you wear because although it is not on your back you have to haul it uphill too. And what about water? Most people always carry at least a half liter of water. I am probably one of the few here who actually do not carry much water.
All said, my base weight in my pack excluding consumables ranges from 18-20 pounds. This allows me to be safe in 2 weeks, remote areas, at high altitude in crappy weather - not a usual condition, but a very plausible one that I have been in more than once. I do not think I have been through a season without getting snowed on several times. I have certainly done less for a short weekend trip, but that is not my normal trip.
I totally agree! I hardly know anyone who does not add a thing or two not on his "ideal list", before heading down the trail. I do think that a lot of people do not count all that "little stuff". All my misc little stuff adds up to about a pound.
It is good to work on going lighter. I have been doing that for years. But it is not a contest. You take what you need to be safe and enjoy your trip. I DO give myself a limit of about one pound for "goodies". Sometimes it is a book, sometimes fishing gear, sometimes a down vest (not necessary but just nice to have on cold mornings), sometimes wine! The point is I have to pick and choose, cannot take ALL my goodies ALL of the time.
WD I do not count the stuff in my pockets or clothes I carry the same knifes etc every day. I count my fleece and vest as when Hiking we build heat and they would be in pack. But you are right the spectrum is broad.I think big three is maybe a better judge. It really doesnt matter what we take we gotta haul it! My bag 20 deg. pack hammock and pad are 7 lbs 8 oz and that includes diy underliner for hammock as well.
Loc: San Diego CA
I would have to agree that the poll is rather vague. For instance, my lightest base weight does not include a bear canister which would put the weight closer to 16 lbs rather than 13. But I include all the little pocket things, cause I don't carry them in my pocket to start. Fishing gear is out as well. And for winter, I am talking being comfortable in the mountains of the South west US, NOT Canada. The only times I have done serious winter stuff, I didn't weight anything; I just said I need this, I need that, ect. ect. and loaded it all up. Except when with my dad. He just told me what to bring and double checked for it .
Loc: Kitsap Peninsula, WA
Of course every situation requires some thought and weights vary a great deal depending on circumstances. The system is complex and how the parts of the system interact is impossible to predict. No two trips are the same, even on the same trail. You can not predict how you will feel, the weather, or how much of your lunch the squirrels will eat. But it is fun to look at approximations and consider where you might stand in the broad scope of things. From this small sample I'm thinking those who contributed are certainly in the lowest 10% or so. See my graph attached.
Loc: San Diego CA
So Pliny...where did the rest of the data come from? That bell curve looks more theoretical than realistic; so how did you develop it? Just curious. Some of the base weights are way heavier than even my Boy Scout days! I would have to say if you are hauling around more than 50 lbs base weight, then you are counting food or hauling some major equipment with you.
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