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  1. #1
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    Default Gear: Weight vs. comfort

    I am planning for a NOBO thru hike in 2017. This will be the biggest adventure ever for me. Trying so hard to keep my total pack weight down but every choice of gear seems to boil down to weight vs. comfort. Because I am older and achy in a couple areas, a little comfort is needed. So far my backpack, tent and sleeping gear weighs 12.5 pounds and most people say to keep it at 10 lbs. I spent ALOT of time picking these items based on comfort and function (Gregory Diva 60L pack, TarpTent Moment DW, Nemo 15 down Mens Salsa Bag, Klymit Static V pad).
    Am I already starting on a bad foot and doomed to overload my pack weight, or am I going to be Ok?
    Is it always the case that the more comfort you need the more weight there is or is there gear that fits in the middle somewhere?
    Please give advise and any tips you my have.
    Jemster is just my user name on here. Hope to land a trail name one day. Ol' retired Navy gal wanting one more adventure.

  2. #2
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Not sure who says to keep it at 10, 12.5 is awesome, assuming you have what you need to be safe and comfy.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_rob View Post
    Not sure who says to keep it at 10, 12.5 is awesome, assuming you have what you need to be safe and comfy.
    Woops, never mind... You were just talking big 3...

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    Hey jemster,
    I am also thru hiking in 2017. I spent countless hours researching gear and talking with other hikers. Everyone has a different opinion. Currently my pack with everything I'm taking except food and water weighs 18 pounds. Some will say that it's too heavy and some will say they feel comfortable carrying more. I'm even carrying a 2.5 pound dslr clipped to shoulder strap and I know I will get hell for that decision, but this is the set up I have researched and tested. It is what makes me comfortable on the trail. That is the same way you have to look at it. Listen to the advice given, research gear, and then go test it yourself. This is your hike. Do what makes you comfortable.

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    The only thing wt affects really, is how many miles per day you can do. And that not problem because need to start slow at first.

    If you do start a bit heavy, you have several chances early to replace heavy items with lighter ones in towns with good outfitters.

    Mountain crossings- mile 30
    NOC - mile 137
    Gatlinburg - mile 200
    Hot springs - mile 275
    Etc

    So dont sweat it.
    You can figure it out as you go....most do this...and finish much lighter than they started.
    The downside....is they spent money twice on many items.

    Light wt is really WAY over-represented here. Most people show up with 40+ lb packs their first day. Hard to know what YOU want, with no experience.

    Will you be more comfortable with less wt..of course. But, a good pack will make 40 lb feel lighter than 35 in a UL that doesnt handle it well.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 08-07-2016 at 22:04.

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    Thanks for that. I keep forgetting that there will be opportunities for adjustments along the way. Doing a shake down for 5 days at Amacalola Falls this October. That will be a real eye opener (and hope to see some fall colors, too). Just want to do my best planning so the learning curve isn't too steep.

  7. #7
    Registered User Turtle-2013's Avatar
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    Good Evening ... I didn't even look up the other items but when I saw Gregory I suspected it was the reason you couldn't get your weight lower. Please understand, I have no objection to a 5+# pack ... if YOU are carrying it. And it is very important that you have a pack that is comfortable for you. But if you really want to get your weight lower, you will need a lighter, and possibly smaller pack. However, if you are comfortable with the weight ... and really like the pack ... go for it. FYI, I use a 50L, sub 2# pack and generally carry 5 days food at a time, I don't remember the last time it was maxed out (space or weight)...

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    The only thing wt affects really, is how many miles per day you can do.
    Disagree, almost completely.

    Weight affect how comfortable you will be doing those miles. If will probably make a big difference on your chances of making significant progress on the AT.

    Please take the Heavyweights saying extra weight is just fine with a big grain of salt. Strive to be relatively lightweight, but well equipped. Maybe you're not too far away if your total is under 20 (before food and water).

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    I tried on alot of packs, and have used smaller packs hiking day hikes that always end up rubbing me somewhere. The Gregory fit so well and seems to carry the weight well. I looked at lightweight packs but they were so uncomfortable once weighted down. I was hoping to make up the difference in weight with the rest of my gear, but it is so hard. Maybe I can do some adjustments to the pack to lighten it. It just fits so well.
    Do you think a 60L is too much for a thru hiker? They make them even bigger - what on earth would you use those for?

  10. #10
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    I have similar goals, ultra lite comfort, an oxymoron for sure.

    I have found that weight reduction is a swirling funnel. I re-started with an Aether 70l pack, very comfortable but heavy. After making investments in sleeping systems, tents, cooking systems, and eliminating stuff I don't ever need like backpacking saws, bowie knives, snake bit kits, 3 level redundant fire starting kits, etc., I am able to fit it all in a 45l pack with a 11.5# base weight for 3 season high altitude trips.

    Your mind set after every trip should be "why did I carry this, is it useful, when would I really need it"

    With a rain fly/tarp, sleep system, and insulated clothing, you can survive most any weather for several days.

  11. #11
    Registered User Turtle-2013's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jemster View Post
    Do you think a 60L is too much for a thru hiker? They make them even bigger - what on earth would you use those for?
    As I said ... stick with it then... what work for me is just that!!! You have to find solutions that work for you and you alone. As to bigger packs ... they are expedition packs. For instance the normal expedition up Denali is up to 21 days, and most of the time they carry, backtrack, and carry again... But large packs and heavy packs are the norm. But THEY are NOT long distance hikers.

    Just keep your weight as low as you are comfortable with and have fun!!!!!!

  12. #12
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    Trying super hard to get it to 25 lbs before food/water. So, if you are saying total under 20 then what goal for total pack weight?
    Based on my height and all, they say max weight of 45 lbs. Now, I sure as heck don't want to be hauling around that much weight everyday.
    Common sense tells me that walking light is the way to go. But getting there is sure challenging !!!
    Wish I could invent some sort of trailer to pull like the dude who walked the Mohavi Desert. Or, maybe bring a pet llama to carry my gear.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jemster View Post
    Do you think a 60L is too much for a thru hiker? They make them even bigger - what on earth would you use those for?
    The average is probably 60 initially.
    Some go to smaller lighter packs, some dont.
    No one says you have to fill it up.
    Quote Originally Posted by jemster View Post
    Wish I could invent some sort of trailer to pull like the dude who walked the Mohavi Desert. Or, maybe bring a pet llama to carry my gear.
    Neither are legal
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 08-07-2016 at 22:30.

  14. #14
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    Depending on your metabolism, food selection, and starting body weight, you'll need 1.25 to 2.0 lbs of food per day between resupply points. You'll carry 1 to 4 liters of water @ 2+lbs each depending on water sources and your daily mileage.

    It adds up fast.

    If you haven't, set up an excel file, weight everything on a postal scale, add it up and go from there.

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    I have been reading everything I can get my hands on when it comes to people's post-hike thoughts. Discussing exactly that - what they started with and what they used / didn't use. Then I cram all that into my lil' brain and think about basics only, simplifying, and dual use items. Yes, ultra lite comfort is an oxymoron but with a bit of smarts and trial/error the weight can be cut down some.

  16. #16
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    Total pack weight in part is a function of how often you resupply food, and how much water you need to carry. Sometimes THAT is a function of how fast, or far you are hiking each day. If you can resupply every few days, it will help you keep your total pack weight down. I am very comfortable with 12.5# base weight ... normally people should plan on 2#/day min for food ... and 2L water works for most people. That said I just did 5 days in the 100 mile wilderness with 18#, plus 1L of water max for most days, and I expect to be about the same for 80 miles (5 days) in PA-NJ next week. Except that I will be carrying more water. BUT, I have been backpacking since the early 70's and have learned what it takes for ME to be comfortable and happy on the trail. And what helps ME the most ... is less weight ; ) ... BUT, I'm not extreme, I even carry a pillow

  17. #17
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    Yes - no one says you have to fill it up. That Gregory pack sure is comfy empty !!!

  18. #18

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    Thank you for your service.

  19. #19
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    I have been planning on 15 for food / water. Just like you said.
    Yes, I have a spread sheet for gear. Great advise. Great minds think alike.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by jemster View Post
    I have been reading everything I can get my hands on when it comes to people's post-hike thoughts. Discussing exactly that - what they started with and what they used / didn't use. Then I cram all that into my lil' brain and think about basics only, simplifying, and dual use items. Yes, ultra lite comfort is an oxymoron but with a bit of smarts and trial/error the weight can be cut down some.
    It is a journey, lots of experienced, knowledgeable people who share their experiences:

    http://www.hikelight.com/articles.html

    http://andrewskurka.com/

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vX-erGPyejU Mike Clelland is informative

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