View Full Version : Pack Weight??????

09-23-2005, 08:26

i am doing my first hike that is more than three days and am trying out my gear for my through hike next year....i am doing seven days from harpers ferry to big meadows campground.....

My question is: i am carrying, what i think equals seven days of food, a long with my gear and i am at 38lbs pack weight...is that considered heavy????

it doesn't feel bad to me, but i train with 40lbs. i just thought i would be able to come in much under that....and no i have not weight the food bag...i almost don't want to know its weight.........:rolleyes:


Lone Wolf
09-23-2005, 08:29
That's about the weight I carry when I hike.

09-23-2005, 08:45
while hiking the sierras i was around 35 to 45 and carried 10 days worth of food but i learned awhile back i would rather carry my extra comforts than get stuck somewhere without them on a mt.;) ky

09-23-2005, 09:37
I wouldn't consider 38lbs an unreasonable amount for a first long distance hike. ("long" being relative, obviously, and assuming you don't weigh 105lbs yourself. ;) ) Without the benefit of having done it before you're probably carrying extra stuff, but you have no way of knowing what stuff is "extra" and what is "necessity" yet. And no one else can really tell you what is necessary for your hike. Once you get back take a long hard look at everything that went with you: What did you use every day? What did you not use at all? What worked well, what didn't work, etc. Then you can tweak the packing list for next time.

Good Luck!

09-23-2005, 09:52
Until my thru in 2003 I typically carried a pack that weighed well over 40 lbs. In preparation for my thru I managed to reduce that weight to around 35 lbs. During my thru I realized that a lot of the stuff I carried wasn't necessary and began cutting even more. I came out of Pearisburg, VA carrying about 26 lbs and stayed there all the way to Katahdin. I did this without compromising safety or comfort.

Since my thru I've never hiked with more than 26 lbs on my back and often even less when the weather and length of the hike allowed.

I'll never make the "ultralight" ranks but I can say that the lighter the pack the more enjoyable the hike. I intend to be hiking for several decades and I'm totally convinced that the one thing that will make that possible (aside from continued good health) is a lighter pack.


09-23-2005, 09:53
..and no i have not weight the food bag...i almost don't want to know its weight......

There is plenty of food available in Shenandoah NP in the waysides and restaurants. You might want to call the park and inquire about the store hours. If they are open in the fall, that should lighten your foodbag weight considerably.

09-23-2005, 12:37
Using the 1.5 to 2.0 pounds of food per day rule-of-thumb, that food bag is likely to weigh 10-14 pounds, so now you're pushing 50 pounds of total pack weight, plus the additional consummables like fuel you'll need to carry.

I suggest you consider spending a night at the Bears Den Hostel just south of Snickers Gap. Then you can send them a small food box sufficient to take you to Front Royal, just north of SNP. There I would consider hitching into town and picking up a food box at the post office or re-supplying at a grocery store. With this strategy you've cut the weight of your food sack in half.

Now look at the weight of your Big 4: shelter, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, pack. Ideally these would weigh no more than 10 pounds in total, although a lot of people have cut it to less than half of that (see: http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?t=3983). If these four items weigh significantly more than 10 pounds, then consider replacing one or more items. If those are in line, then you're probably carrying a lot more clothes or other stuff than you really need. As long as you're warm when you're walking, when it's wet, and when you're sleeping, you really don't need a whole lot more stuff. You can post your gear list here and a lot of folks will take the time to constructively critique, but you may not believe it until you see for yourself. Regardless, keep track of every item in your pack and how often you really need it. Start shaving weight by eliminating the stuff you never use or replacing the heavier stuff when you can save 8 ounces or more (and can afford the replacement!). You might also take a look at the packing lists and weights for lighter weight backpackers.

As stated before, you will certainly be able to carry a 50-pound pack for a week if you're a young male who's not too far out of shape and weighs more than 150 pounds. I certainly did when I was your age. Of course, you'll feel better at the end of each day and the end of the hike if you can get that total weight down closer to 30 pounds.

09-23-2005, 13:38
my average pack wt is 22 lbs,gear,food,fuel,clothing,water:cool: neo

09-23-2005, 13:42
Using the 1.5 to 2.0 pounds of food per day rule-of-thumb, that food bag is likely to weigh 10-14 pounds, so now you're pushing 50 pounds of total pack weight, plus the additional consummables like fuel you'll need to carry.

the 38lbs includes my food..........

09-23-2005, 19:08
The pack sould come in at pretty close to 30lbs with all your food and water. I just finished hiking from Hot Springs to Pearisburg in 13 days and i can tell you water is an issue on a lot of the trail. So my advice is try too get as light as possible because your probally going to be carrying some extra water. Even if water wasn,t a big deal you sould be able to have enough food to go seven days and still come in 30lbs.Look real hard at what you have as essential and what is extra.


Just Jeff
09-23-2005, 20:38
Everybody talks about lightweight, and 30 lbs is generally seen as a target max, but plenty of hikers have decided that 40 lbs is worth the extra effort to have the comfort in camp.

Just weigh everything, literally and figuratively, and carry what you're comfortable carrying.

Mine is usually 25-30 total, unless I'm carrying my kids' stuff.

09-25-2005, 21:11
My rules of thumb...ounces=pounds. Scrutinize everything!!! And then scrutinize again.

Also, nothing you bring should be over 3 pounds, including the pack itself.

Those are the two things I tell newbies when I take them hiking.

09-26-2005, 22:32
My pack weight, with 7 days food and 3 liters of water, comes right in at about 26 pounds. My food weight usually doesn't come in at more than about a pound a day, but it's mostly dehydrated. And that's with a Big 4 that weigh 9lbs, 12 oz.

Hammock Hanger
09-27-2005, 18:42
QUOTE: ...As stated before, you will certainly be able to carry a 50-pound pack for a week if you're a young male who's not too far out of shape and weighs more than 150 pounds. I certainly did when I was your age. Of course, you'll feel better at the end of each day and the end of the hike if you can get that total weight down closer to 30 pounds.


You certainly can carry 50 pounds. I carried 55 pounds when I left Springer in 2001. I never really had much of a problem with it, as I had a pack that was built and structured to carry that kind of load. The problem is when you have a pack meant to carry 30 and you are carrying 50. Weather you go light or you go heavy you should have a pack that is MEANT for the load you are carrying. No sense in having a heavy sturdy pack meant o haul a load if you are an ultralighter. On the other hand if you carry an ultralightweight pack don't expect it to carry a heavy load. I think that is one of the biggest mistakes I see on the trail these days. I can say that I have traded in my big Greagory Petit Dru for a much smaller Sherpani Alpine, but then I have dropped my load down to 21 pounds as well. Carry what YOU want and YOu are comfortable with, just have the right gear. My 2 cents worth. Sue

09-27-2005, 19:42
My rules of thumb...ounces=pounds. Scrutinize everything!!! And then scrutinize again.

Also, nothing you bring should be over 3 pounds, including the pack itself.

Those are the two things I tell newbies when I take them hiking. I'm not so sure about the 3 lbs. limit (esp. for "newbies"). My overall setup (counting the tent for two as part of my weight) is just under 9 lbs. for these four items. And my wife's ends up being around 6.5 lbs. The problem is, to get to these weights you really have to spend a lot of time weighing the options and researching (which I'm sure jimmyjob has done if he is already under 40lbs. with food and water), but more than that, it really is quite an investment requiring a good amount of cash. A target of 3 lbs. max for each is a good ultimate goal (unless you want to be ultralight), but beginners could certainly have problems getting there...just look at the gear Boy Scouts usually end up starting with. Sure oz. = lbs., but lightweight often (ie. fewer oz and lbs.) = $$$. We took my sister out last year to the Whites and her pack (A hand-me-down older internal frame) weighed 7 lbs. by itself. And even for a smaller person she handled it fine. Usually these packs have more padding and a "beefier" suspension system (as I understand it).

My pack weight with 4-5 days of food, 22oz of fuel and 3L of water ends up right around 33 lbs. This isn't ultralight by any stretch (maybe barely qualifies as lightweight) but it is actually fairly comfortable. I could certainly trim some stuff out (esp. in the warmer months) but I feel pretty good about that pack weight. And just realize, if you have other hobbies and don't spend all of your $$ on lightweight gear... you can very easily end up 5-10 lbs. higher.

And if I went for 7 days... add 4 lbs. So.. 37lbs.

09-28-2005, 01:53
i think jackiebolen meant no single item should weigh more than 3 lbs, but that's just a guess. and i'd not count the entire weight of a shared tent against my pack weight. but then i don't use a tent...

my main point is that lightweight isn't always expensive. golite's gust and breeze packs are less than half the price of some popular 'expedition-level' (whatever that means) packs i've seen, in the $70-$100 range vs. upwards of $175. you can save a lot of weight right there on that one, cheaper, item. maybe 3-4 lbs, possibly more.

you mentioned 22oz of fuel... that sounds like a full MSR bottle ($)... just a guess though. and that means at least a 10 oz simmerlite stove ($$), if not a whisperlite ($$$) at 13 oz... "lightweight" gets you a FREE 1 oz pepsi stove and a FREE 1oz plastic soda bottle full of alcohol that weighs about 3.5-7oz for a week's fuel, depending on how often you cook. even at twice a day, a half ounce each time, is still only 7 oz of fuel for a week. my 10 year old daughter can do it, so experience isn't really a factor. i obviously have to watch her, but it's not that she can't cook on our little stove... (i'm working on getting her to make an entire stove by herself, but her hands aren't big enough to use the tin shears or razor knife safely. she CAN run the drill press though, and is very proud of the holes she can make. also does a fine job measuring and marking the cans for both cutting and drilling.)

a hammock doesn't need to be expensive either... i have a Hennessy Backpacker Ultralight Asym. love it. weighs about 36 oz with all my pegs, ropes, and modifications. cost over $100... but i made one for my daughter out of fabric i got off the dollar rack at walmart for under $15. includes a mosquito net. weighs 17 oz. add the homemade tarp (under $10), and the two things come to under 35oz and under $25 if you sew them yourself. add maybe $15-$20 if you pay someone to sew them (your mileage may vary.)

a good lightweight rainsuit (driducks micropore rainsuit, made from provent) from gossamer gear is lighter and cheaper ($25 for top and bottom) than a $300 goretex set from REI. durability is an issue... but if you take care of your gear, it will take care of you... and i can buy 12 (Twelve) replacements for the single $300 set. your choice.

sleeping bags and quilts, good ones anyway, are expensive, or can be. i saved $5 a week (gave up 2-3 cups of cappuccino from a convenience store each week) for about a year to save up for my Western Mountaineering sleeping bag... yep... expensive. light though. only 20oz... worth missing the coffee for... doing the same thing for a JRB underquilt.

need a lightweight cookpot? hi-speed shiny new msr titan kettle ($39-yes, i own one.. it was a gift from my brother) or stodgy old unglamorous walmart greasepot ($6-yes, i own one. gift from my daughter.) they both weigh about the same, 4.3 oz, but the walmart one has a greater capacity and is what i use when cooking for two... you can also find good old aluminum pots at the S and A, goodwill, or any second-hand charity-type shop... find a light one (some of that old stuff is heavy), hack off the handle if you want, and make it lighter... might cost you a couple bucks, probably less.

yes. research is tedious. forums are a good place to look for advice. doing it yourself is fun, for most people (except me and sewing silnylon...less bothersome to pay a seamstress.) "but i'm not handy." if my daughter can do some of it, you can too... buying stuff ready made is, or can be, expensive. but it doesn't have to be. there's nothing wrong with being a skinflint... buy the best you can afford, make what you can (you'll know how good it is), and don't worry about any 'brand' labels... kelty isn't going to get my load up the hill... i am, by packing smart and light. TNF isn't going to keep me warm at night. i am, by picking a good campsite and keeping my stuff dry. Columbia isn't going to keep me dry in a downpour. i am, by getting under cover when my experience tells me it's time to do so... garmin isn't going to keep me 'found' in the woods... i am, by learning to read a map to show me where i am, and learning to use a compass to help me get where i want to go. you get the point.

there are tons of other little tidbits that equate to saved weight, and they're all FREE. again, lightweight isn't 'expensive.'

09-28-2005, 08:53
Yeah, I read Jackie's post the same way (3lbs per piece).

Sounds like you have a lot more experience (and probably a lot more miles) under your belt than many. Certainly more experience than me, and the way I was reading it, Jimmy is going out for his first hike of more than 3 days. That means you probably have more experience than him too. I understand that you can make lightweight cheap (i.e. walmart pot), but my point is that most of the time lighter is not cheaper--yes unless you buy "expedition weight gear." Experience usually tells you what you can leave behind, what you can save on, and what you really don't need/use, and also which items of gear should be high quality and which should be cheap.

I don't use an alcohol stove because I'm always cooking for two (means twice as much liquid to boil) and my understanding is that alcohol stoves will likely not be a more fuel/weight efficient method (and it would take a half an hour to get it boiling). I have asked that question on here before and most of the answers to that question seem to agree that for 1 person it is the way to go but for 2 it probably doesn't make a difference (the added weight of the fuel needed/used and length of time needed to boil). I realize that this type of decision (in a 1 person setup for example) could save around 1.5 lbs. and that is a lot... and worth considering seriously.

Yes it is possible to buy cheaper items. The Golite packs are great if you know your load is going to be below 20 lbs (breeze; which is really hard for most people to feel comfortable in 3 seasons carrying food and water for 3-5 days) or 30lbs. (Gust; which is lighter, but this is still not in "newbie" territory--not that Jimmy is a newbie, that was Jackie's word). My ULA P-2 pack seems to be fairly popular (even in this community) and that is supposed to have a max suggested load of 40lbs.

Yes I could drop another 2 lbs. by switching out my 3L for a 2L. But running out of water sucks. Really sucks. And while I know some people (to get their weight down that low) will carry only 1 liter of water (saving 4 lbs.!), I can't do that. I go through more than 3L in a day (I'm a sweat-er). I think Jackie was right about really scrutinizing everything everytime you go out (if your goal is to lighten your pack).

I should have just responded that I concur with L.Wolf and be done: That is about what my pack weighs.

09-29-2005, 01:32
i can always be relied on for an over-lengthy response, both in writing and in person (or so my wife says!) sorry. didn't mean to make it sound like a lecture...

i should have pointed out that since i live so far south, i really need minimal clothing...that really helps. from late feb to about the end of october, you don't need pants, longjohns, or a warmish coat... my 20oz sleeping bag wouldn't fly back home in NY. and bringing in an idea from another post, i never really thought about the effects of colder weather on the amt of alcohol you need to cook with... i'm seldom out in anything below 50* at night, or under 65* during the day... i sort of got down to the 12-15 lb range without really trying... probably be 17-20 lbs in NY.

i'm not sure it takes twice the water to cook for two though... and it doesn't take twice as much fuel or twice as long to get it to boil. time is free when i'm in the woods... waiting is ok with me. but my "hiking partner" is only about 4'-2'' and weighs about 70lbs, i think... doesn't really eat or drink that much extra. (her stuff seems like it weighs a ton though...) i don't really even factor in that much extra food when she comes with me... probably be different if she were older/bigger. another note on water-it's everywhere here, and i don't sweat a lot anyway... lucky, i guess... so i can get by carrying less.

but adding back the colder weather, longer trip, and inexperience factors, i'd say 25-30 lbs is a reasonable goal to shoot for, packweight-wise, but even if it went to 35-40, it wouldn't totally kill the joy of the trip for him. figuring out your own system, what worked and what didn't, planning for 'the next time' is part of the fun. good luck.

The General
09-29-2005, 03:50
I remember putting my pack on the scale at the visitors Centre at Amicalola Falls and watching in amazment as the needle rocketed around to the 70lb mark. Needless to say some surplus items were shipped home at Neels Gap, then again at other places on my route North. I put this moment of lunacy down to years in the military and that old I might need it attitude. But still never realy got below 48lb with fives days food and 2L of water, but took great interest in all the lightwieght gear on the trail. Needless to say when I got home my body confirmed the doubts on my sanity and i am now surfing the ultra light sites for gear for my next trip. I still consider it slack packing under 40lb but the old bones will appreciate the lighter load. see yah up the Trail

09-29-2005, 23:59
some of the 'i just might need it' was good (helped me pull my family through our recent hurricane). but the bombproof backpack, extra clothing, spare gear, and the 'normalness' of a 70-100lb ruck just took awhile to unlearn...took me about 7 years to undo 11 years of 'army' techniques...