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#167061 - 06/21/12 09:15 PM What's a realistic weight?
kievalina Offline
member

Registered: 09/01/11
Posts: 38
Loc: metro detroit, mi
I'm wondering what a realistic base weight is for my trip. I'm looking at around 20 pounds base weight, and of course, that doesn't include food or water. :-/ I can't weigh everything (because I don't have an accurate scale that will weigh lighter things), but I've added up everything that I can manage to find a weight for. I can't find weights for things like my zip off pants or down jacket, for instance, but I've got the weights for things like my pack, sleeping bag and pad, headlamp, trekking poles, gps, camera...

Anyway, I'll be leaving on a Sunday morning and hiking out on a Friday afternoon. Weather could be unpredictable. Elevations from 5 to 10k feet.

I know that others in my group may take the group items to help me keep my weight down.

Any rough guidance as to what's a realistic goal? I know this was touched upon a little in another thread, but I thought I'd see if I could get some more thoughts on this specifically...

Thanks.

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#167062 - 06/21/12 09:49 PM Re: What's a realistic weight? [Re: kievalina]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2865
Loc: California
I do not use "base weight" as a measure.

A. I simply weigh myself with everything I will wear or carry (clothes + trekking poles)+ anything in my pockets.

B. I weigh myself naked! (for you chemists - this is "tare weight" -the weight of the container!

C. I weigh everything just as I would set out on the trail: me, all my backpack clothing and trekking poles and the loaded pack, including any water I will carry. I usually carry 1 liter water in my pack - a lot of people carry more. I also carry my camera in my pack (on a hip-belt pocket). I also usually am required to carry a 2 pound bear-proof cannister, which many people do not have to do. You carry what you carry - not counting water or food is just fooling yourself.

Subtract A from C and I get what I am carrying on my back. To me this is the critical weight.

Subtract B from A. This is additional weight that I have to move down the trail, although it is attached to my body and not weighing on my shoulders. It is sort of like being overweight!

With this method of weighing, you include everything (no cheating!) and if you scale is inaccurate, you at least have some consistency in the inaccuracy. Most scales weigh their most accurate at your body weight. It is hard to weigh 2 pounds on the bathroom scale.


For a weekend trip, I can usually keep the weight on my back to about 22-24 pounds. Depending on weather, time of year and where I go, I usually keep my clothing, etc. weight about 4-5 pounds (my trekking poles are quite heavy but very useful). This puts me at the upper end of what is considered "light weight".

The pack lightens up as the days go on (food and gas consumed), but it is that total starting weight that you still have to tolerate when you get going!

I would not obsess too much about weight when you start out. With experience, you can pare down based on your own experience.

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#167065 - 06/21/12 10:42 PM Re: What's a realistic weight? [Re: wandering_daisy]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1110
Loc: Colorado
I think you are at a reasonable weight.

Personally, I use an electronic fish scale to weigh my pack. I got mine at WalMart for about $20. I have a postage scale to weigh individual items.

Enjoy your hike. We are looking forward to pictures.
_________________________
http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

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#167066 - 06/21/12 10:44 PM Re: What's a realistic weight? [Re: wandering_daisy]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

I would reiterate Daisy's caution - do not obsess over weight when starting.

and I'll add my caveat - don't ignore it either wink

I understand the "no cheating" - but realisticly, I care about what's on my back, not generally what else I have on like my clothing.

I hike comfortably with base weights anywhere between 9 and 15 pounds (so add about 3-5 for a weekender if you count food and fuel and the water I usually carry in addition to that).

That doesn't mean you'll be there, or be comfortable with that

The biggest thing to think about up front is not weighing your items, but NOT TAKING EXCESS ITEMS. look at the lists on the parent page of this site (the 18 lb 3 day pack and 27 lb 7 day pack).. look at my list (in my signature). consider what you are taking. If you are taking three pairs of pants where I take one (and a pair of long johns) - think about that. If you are taking video games, computers, expresso makers, ovens, MRE's, etc. etc. stop and think a bit.

This doesn't mean you shouldn't be *comfortable* - believe me I am - I'm a princess who likes to eat and sleep well. but if you focus on your comfort *in camp* your comfort *walking* will be less..

To get back to your question, I'm not worried about any newbie I take out for a three season trip whose base pack weight is less than 25 pounds (everything less food water fuel). If you're doing that you're doing better than average.

You can do a lot *better*, but you don't need to obsess. at least not any more than checking a few lists, thinking about a few things, and weighing yourself on your bathroom scale both with and without your loaded pack on .. that'll tell you how much it weighs.

Before you go out, put a piece of masking tape on *everything* in your pack. when you use anything, take the tape off. dump your pack when you get home. anything with tape on it, ask if you should take it again (many times the answer is still "yes" - but it will get you thinking).
_________________________
Any fool can be uncomfortable...
My 3 season gear list
Winter list.
Browse my pictures


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#167067 - 06/21/12 11:58 PM Re: What's a realistic weight? [Re: kievalina]
kievalina Offline
member

Registered: 09/01/11
Posts: 38
Loc: metro detroit, mi
Thanks, all.

Just to clarify, I'll be hitting the trail on a Sunday morning and then finishing the hike on the following Friday. So, 5 nights. I guess that doesn't really change what's known as my "base weight" that much (whether it's a weekend, or a week). (Figures that just as soon as I start getting the jargon down, you guys tell me it doesn't matter anyway. :-p) And I did think it was kind of weird... I mean, if I'm not to exceed 25% of my body weight, then it's the total that counts, not all of this "before food and water" stuff. That just seems like it would make it really easy to not go over that on short trips (like, a weekend) and really, really tough not to go over it on longer trips. I guess that's what I'm getting at... Is that rule... 25% of my body weight or less... is that even doable on this long a trip? Or is it a given that I will probably have to go over it, at least at the start, when I've got the most food with me? I don't want to bang my head against the wall over something that's unrealistic to start with. I just don't know!

(And as you guys alluded to, I don't want to be weight *obsessed* but I would like a guideline; something to shoot for, or just some ballpark idea of what is more or less a normal range of weights for a pack in this situation.)

Thanks again!

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#167070 - 06/22/12 12:48 AM Re: What's a realistic weight? [Re: kievalina]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
How many miles have you hiked with the load you currently have, and was it comfortable for you?

I wouldn't go five nights without first going one. The answer to your question is not something anyone else can give you.

Personally, I will cut out anything and everything I can to get the load below 20 lbs before food. Right now I am planning a nine day trip. That will probably mean 15 lbs of food and fuel for the stove. My gear weight is hovering at 13 lbs.

Really debating the fishing gear.... minimizing lures I might get it to about a pound.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#167074 - 06/22/12 10:24 AM Re: What's a realistic weight? [Re: kievalina]
JPete Offline
member

Registered: 05/28/09
Posts: 304
Loc: Eastern Ontario
kievalina,

Lots of good advice above (especially Lori...make one tenderfoot mistake and it multiplies by ten -because it compounds. Even one night out allows you to identify problems while they are still small and don't wreck the trip)!

As far as weight is concerned, for a first trip, don't get compulsive about it (as above). But do think hard about each thing in the pack (as, Phat, above). Again, even one night out will narrow down your list, maybe to within your target weight.

To clarify, Daisy's insistence on "skin-out" weight is well taken. That's what you are actually carrying (lugging). The value of "base weight" is as a comparison. Mine (I'm told here) is fairly low (similar to Phat's), but that is after years of working on it, while comparing with others.

Actual "carry weight" would include a pound of food and fuel per day, plus about a liter of water (2 lbs) but more water under some circumstances. That's the point of "base weight". It's the one number that is a constant and therefore directly comparable when you're trying to figure out what to do.

Also, a pound of food for me is about all I can get down at my age. You're almost certainly a good bit younger, so your food/fuel weight is sure to be a bit more (probably by half a pound or so a day).

best, jcp


Edited by JPete (06/22/12 10:28 AM)

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#167080 - 06/22/12 11:40 AM Re: What's a realistic weight? [Re: JPete]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2865
Loc: California
The "percentage of body weight" is not a rule, just a guideline. Before modern light weight gear, we used to carry 45-60 pounds regularly. This simply meant we traveled slower, went shorter distances, and suffered more. A heavy pack impacts everyone differently. A heavy pack is painful for me, but it does not slow me down as much as my husband, who with a strong upper back, never is pained by his pack, but it slows him down more, particularly uphill. The percentage guideline also refers to your "lean weight" - that is your ideal weight, not your actual weight if you are over-weight.

With food, focus on calories per day, not weight per day. I would never go below 2,000 calories per day. I aim for 2,400 calories per day and I am a small person. I personally cannot survive on 1 pound per day (I am the "lean and hungry" type and do not have any excess pounds to live off). The longer the trip (more food) the more carefully you have to select your food because you need to keep food weight at a minimum PLUS you need to have some solid nutritional value. Living off candy bars for a weekend trip may work, but try to do it on a 10 day trip and you will have trouble. On longer trips I always take a daily multivitamin.

I look at my optional gear with an eye to "benefit/weight cost". For example, for me, binoculars are not worth the enjoyment I would get out of seeing wild animals, whereas, the enjoyment I get out of my 1 oz I-pod shuffle is worth the extra weight. On the other hand, my husband's REASON to go out is to see animals so he takes binoculars and does not take a camera. MY main REASON for going out is to take photos, so the camera is worth it for me. Your equipment needs to match your goals. Some people's goals are simply to go as light as possible and get a great deal of enjoyment out of seeing how minimalistic they can be. If your goal is to fish, you can not leave behind the fishing gear - rather get the lightest gear that gets the job done. Your goal as a beginner may just be to figure out what your goals will be! In that case, do not try to do everything at once. One trip, try out fishing. Another trip, photography. Another wildlife viewing. See what you enjoy the most. The whole point is to have fun and everyone has his own idea of fun.

Good luck. Have a fun trip.

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#167098 - 06/22/12 02:59 PM Re: What's a realistic weight? [Re: kievalina]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6800
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Have you looked at the lists on the home page of this site, particularly this one?
When I started lightening my load back in 2005, this was the model I followed.

It might be worth your while to pick up a postage scale that weighs to the nearest 0.1 ounce. IMHO, it's probably the single best piece of gear to keep your other gear in line--and you don't even have to carry it! I've found manufacturers' weights unreliable--usually understated. Like any true piece of lightweight gear, it has multiple uses: planning diets (including backpacking diet), cooking from European cookbooks (converting weights, which they use, to our cups and tablespoons is quite difficult), even calculating postage!

In the meantime, put everything together and weigh it on your bathroom scale (i.e. weigh yourself wearing your pack and then without it).

_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#167107 - 06/22/12 06:28 PM Re: What's a realistic weight? [Re: wandering_daisy]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Originally Posted By wandering_daisy

On longer trips I always take a daily multivitamin.


I always do this as well.. I actually do it on pretty much
all my trips.

Quote:

I look at my optional gear with an eye to "benefit/weight cost". For example, for me, binoculars are not worth the enjoyment I would get out of seeing wild animals, whereas, the enjoyment I get out of my 1 oz I-pod shuffle is worth the extra weight. On the other hand, my husband's REASON to go out is to see animals so he takes binoculars and does not take a camera. MY main REASON for going out is to take photos, so the camera is worth it for me. Your equipment needs to match your goals. Some people's goals are simply to go as light as possible and get a great deal of enjoyment out of seeing how minimalistic they can be. If your goal is to fish, you can not leave behind the fishing gear - rather get the lightest gear that gets the job done. Your goal as a beginner may just be to figure out what your goals will be! In that case, do not try to do everything at once. One trip, try out fishing. Another trip, photography. Another wildlife viewing. See what you enjoy the most. The whole point is to have fun and everyone has his own idea of fun.

Good luck. Have a fun trip.


This is excellent advice. - however do try to avoid the disease of "well I like fishing, and cameras, and viewing, and stargazing, and expresso" and end up with waders, fly rod, 4 pounds of SLR, 10x50 binoculars, coffee machine, etc".

I have friends who pack very lite, but take their SLR and lenses - that's what they like.. (one's camera gear weighs more than his tarptent). and that's fine. but try not to go
out the first time with the kitchen sink.

I *always* take a decent pocket digital camera, and I *always* take an e-reader (usually in the form of my phone) because I like to read at night. I *sometimes* take my fly rod - but only if I am *sure* I am going to stop and use it. most of the time I do not. (exceptions are trips where I decide my primary purpose is *fishing* not hiking.) To give you an example, when I decide I'm going to hike in to go trout fishing, I may have a tube, I will have a good rod and probably 3-4 large fly boxes, float and sink lines, tippet, dressing, etc. etc. When am just "hiking" but there are a few places I might try, then we're talking a pack rod, floating line, extra tippet, and a film canister full of flies (a few of each of my usual favorites) with a couple split shot - no more.



_________________________
Any fool can be uncomfortable...
My 3 season gear list
Winter list.
Browse my pictures


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#167128 - 06/23/12 10:01 AM Re: What's a realistic weight? [Re: kievalina]
ABcowgrl Offline
member

Registered: 06/04/12
Posts: 22
Loc: Alberta
Everyone will have their own "balance" between a lite pack,and what they feel they need to have in order to feel safe as well.My general rule is if I have any doubt or gut feelings that something should get packed,it goes in..if I feel I don't need it,I don't take it.I'm currently going from horse packing to hiking,which means major replanning,lighter equipement,less needed,and I'm not as far into the bush.I'm sure I'll be pairing my list down even more through-out the summer:)But I'll start alittle heavier,alittle warmer,and more equipped for the unknown and drop weight as I become more comfortable.

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#167133 - 06/23/12 11:18 AM Re: What's a realistic weight? [Re: ABcowgrl]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2865
Loc: California
With more experience, you likely will feel safe with less gear. Clothing requirements vary significantly with individuals, where you backpack and time of year. Information from experienced local backpackers is probably more relevant than general information. ABCowgrl- Phat is from your area so his advise is probably best for you.

Too many unnecessary items (no matter how light) and necessary items that are too heavy are what make your pack weigh too much. Beware of stuff sacks! You would be amazed at how they add up. Everything does not need its own little stuff sack. I only take four 1-2 oz silnylon stuffs - one for sleeping bag, one for tent, one for clothing, one for personal/first aid items. My food is in a bear-proof container (required where I hike).

There are a few "extras" I do take. One extra chapstick/lip sunscreen. Those little tubes are easy to loose and really necessary. Extra matches/backup ligher. A 2.5-oz balaclava in addition to my regular fleece hat.

The interesting thing is that the less stuff you take, the easier it is to keep track of it, and the less stuff you loose! You need to do what is needed to avoid loosing things, NOT take a lot of extras. I dab some florescent paint on easily lost items. My titanium spork really blends into the background, so it has a dab of florescent paint on the handle. I avoid black clothing or stuff sacks. And before leaving any campsite, spend 5 minutes looking over the area in detail. And be an organized camper. Gather up everything at night and put either inside the tent or under the vestibule. If things are scattered about, wake up to a few inches of snow, and you will not find anything!

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#167179 - 06/24/12 11:25 PM Re: What's a realistic weight? [Re: kievalina]
kievalina Offline
member

Registered: 09/01/11
Posts: 38
Loc: metro detroit, mi
Thanks everybody. I think I've actually, finally got pretty much everything purchased now. I don't have my first aid items yet; I need to find out what the rest of the group is packing and go from there. And I need to tackle food... right now, that's giving me fits. I'll repost when I've got it all organized and I hope you guys can make sure there are no glaring omissions or silly extras!

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