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Thread: Base Weight

  1. #1
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    Default Base Weight

    I am researching and putting together my gear list and am coming up with weights that may be problematic. I'm looking at a base weight of 23.4 LBS (medicine included). I add water, food, and gas in the canister and I'm just a few ounces south of 40 LBS. I'm an older guy (62), diabetic (insulin dependent), plus all the other meds for heart, cholesterol, Neuropathy, and so on. I figured I'd leave with 90 days worth of pills and resupply my meds in PA (very near my home). Well, as it turns out, my meds are going to be the heaviest item I carry - weighing in at 3 LBS. I want to leave Springer on April 9th of '18. I'd like to limit my into-town-resupplies to 5-8 days apart (seems to me you could add hundreds of miles to your hike just going back and forth from the trail to the grocery store if you are not careful - and most of my hitchhiking days are behind me). I'm hiking on a budget - $3,500. Maybe a little more. Allowed $2,000 for gear, clothing, and such. I guess my question is this. What is a realistic base weight for a hiker on a budget? I'm not looking to do ultra light or anything like that, as my budget doesn't permit it. But then again, I'm not a mule. My career was in the construction trades so I'm not adverse to hard work. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
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    Registered User egilbe's Avatar
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    Yoy can send your meds and heavier items to the post office, either in a bounce box, or plan on going to town occasionally to pick up pre-mailed packages.

    2 pound tent, 2 pound pack, 2 pounds sleeping bag, 1 pound of cook kit. 8 pounds of food. 4 pounds of water. That leaves 20 pounds of meds.

  3. #3

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    I had three weeks of meds sent to me as I went along. I tried to use hostels for the maildrops as their hours of service are usually wider than the post office, but I did use some post offices up north without issue. Nothing magical about three weeks, but the weight of my meds was never a problem.

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    Is it not possible to repackage your medicine from its boxes, plastic containers and foil?

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    With 2k you should easily be able to get under 15 pound base weight. On the AT you can resupply every 3-5 days. Ya, you may have to hitch a time or two but once you are out there and see how easy that is, you won't have as much trepidation about it.
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    About the only item you pay a lot more for going lighter is goose down insulation. It's pretty easy to drop over $400 on a nice three season sleeping bag. Otherwise, $250 gets you a nice Tarptent, and $150 gets a decent pack from some of the UL cottage folks. Once in a while you see a sale or a used deal. Pad, cook kit, and clothing you can piece together cheaply at thrift stores and sales. My AT kit weighs under ten pounds, costs about $800, and is good for 15 degrees F in blowing snow. I got my Marmot Helium bag on sale for $250.

    For many, it's difficult to manage weight of consumables. Many carry way too much food and water for the AT. Springtime in the Southern Appalachians means lots of water nearly everywhere, so you can start out carrying very little. Food resupplies are easy, too, every 40 miles or so if you want. Mail drops are another helpful tool if you want. By the time you get to the longer food and water carries farther north, you'll gain some experience and fitness.

    Best of luck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by egilbe View Post
    Yoy can send your meds and heavier items to the post office, either in a bounce box, or plan on going to town occasionally to pick up pre-mailed packages.

    2 pound tent, 2 pound pack, 2 pounds sleeping bag, 1 pound of cook kit. 8 pounds of food. 4 pounds of water. That leaves 20 pounds of meds.
    It's more like 2-1/2 lb tent, 3 lb pack, and 2-1/2 lb sleeping bag. Then there's the down jacket, clothes, socks, shoes, poles, sleeping pad, food bag, rain gear, water filtration, and so on. I may break my meds down to a 30 day supply only, but then postage starts adding up. However, in all, I believe that would be my best bet. It would certainly knock a couple pounds off of my carry weight.
    zig-zag man

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    Quote Originally Posted by TTT View Post
    Is it not possible to repackage your medicine from its boxes, plastic containers and foil?
    I weighed every pill and did the math. Plan on using a ziplock bag system. However there isn't much I can do about the weight of the insulin pens that I use. They are heavy.
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  9. #9

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    The meds aren't the problem. You still have at least 5-7 pounds of excess weight. You can still successfully hike a lot of miles with a 40 pound pack. I hiked with a 70 year old friend who made it all the way from Springer to Franklin, TN with a heavier pack. Most of his gear was old, and he was kind of in love with it. Had the pack forever, but it was comfortable. He nearly swung himself off the trail once due to the heavy pack, another time he ended up bumping that wide pack against a rock and nearly fell down a rock formation. After that he was less in love with his old gear.

    He had a lot of clothing duplicates, and he mailed about seven pounds of extra clothes home from Neel's Gap. Then he started getting gear envy, when I was setting my tent up in under two minutes and he was taking closer to eight minutes... in the rain. He stopped at various outfitters along the way, but couldn't find a pack that he liked, until we got to Franklin. He replaced the pack, sleeping bag and tent in Franklin and shed another 9 pounds. He was absolutely thrilled, and you could see the spring in his step afterwards instead of the trudge.

    I was overly concerned about food at the start of my hike. I started out with what turned out to be an extra two days of food. You'll find it's rare to need to need to go a full five days between resupply stops. There are enough places near the trail that you won't need to walk far, or you'll easily find transportation. I used AWOLs Guide as my main source of resupply planning. It become second nature to just scroll ahead to an easily reachable food source, and decide yes, I need X number of days days of food based on my expected mileage based on the difficulty of the elevation and terrain. It's not something you can easily plan ahead, but you will get a feel for it fairly quickly. Same deal with water, you'll quickly learn to carry only as much water as you'll need. You quickly get out of the habit of carrying 4 liters of water all the time, when, with a glance at the mileage and elevation, you realize you can get away with only two or three liters.

    Removing duplicate gear is easy. Affording lighter, more expensive gear is expensive. Planning food and water weight becomes second nature with a good guide and a bit of practice.

    Lighterpack.com is a handy resource to track how much weight you'll be carrying. This is my gear, which is hardly optimized, as I have a goofy sleep system, and some luxury items like my Kindle included. If you post your gear list, along your intended starting date, and starting location, there will be a lot of us only too happy to chime in with friendly and occasionally conflicting advice.

    Whatever you decide, you'll do fine. Pack weight is only part of enjoying your hike.
    Last edited by Puddlefish; 07-30-2017 at 09:59.

  10. #10

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    You will be happier carrying less weight. Don't think I ever met a hiker who said he wished his pack was a little heavier. The trail works very well using 3 -5 day jumps. Doing that you can get your pack down to 20lbs out of town and 10lbs into town. There is no need to carry more than a week or so of meds

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fullabull View Post
    It's more like 2-1/2 lb tent, 3 lb pack, and 2-1/2 lb sleeping bag. Then there's the down jacket, clothes, socks, shoes, poles, sleeping pad, food bag, rain gear, water filtration, and so on. I may break my meds down to a 30 day supply only, but then postage starts adding up. However, in all, I believe that would be my best bet. It would certainly knock a couple pounds off of my carry weight.
    You already have tent, sleeping bag, and your pack purchased?

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    Quote Originally Posted by lonehiker View Post
    With 2k you should easily be able to get under 15 pound base weight. On the AT you can resupply every 3-5 days. Ya, you may have to hitch a time or two but once you are out there and see how easy that is, you won't have as much trepidation about it.
    Maybe I am counting too many things in my "base weight". I've counted my shoes, which will be on my feet, not in my pack - still something to carry, so to speak. Counted my hiking poles. Regardless, once loaded up (including a max of 8 days food, I'm nearing 40 lbs. Maybe shave 2 lbs off of that if I break my meds down to a 30-day plan (which makes good sense). And it's not so much trepidation about hitching into town, it's more about - as one poster said - you can't spend money in the woods. I don't want to get in the habit of running up a $20-$30 luxury tab every 3-4 days. I know me. The less time I spend in town, the less money I spend. $3K is a tight budget to begin with.
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    If you carry 40 pounds of extra weight with heart and cholesterol problems over strenuous terrain, and 3 pounds of that is medication to last you a few days, the unsolicited truth tells me you will die sooner rather than later. You either need to either cut the weight drastically down much more than you think, or rethink hiking.

  14. #14

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    Start at Springer with 3-4 days of food and the AWOL guide. You will easily figure the rest out from there. Mid April is still peak thru hiker season so you can join others on rides into towns or hitching without difficulty. You are overthinking the resupply.

    Don't forget the cheapest and easiest way to lighten your pack is by simply removing the gear your don't need. Take some practice trips, basically a few short overnights and see what you don't use and get rid of it. Keep doing this me you will quickly see what your true gear needs are.

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    do everything you can to get the weight down

    Shedding wt is mostly about WHAT YOU DONT BRING, it doesnt have to be expensive

    budget-schmudget......you WILL end up replacing too heavy items....at any cost....down the line when they get to you. Buying poor choices up front costs you twice the money due to this.

  16. #16

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    For general discussion purposes base weight usually excludes worn clothing, just so everyone is working on the same assumptions.

    Removing four or five pounds of worn clothing, adding in three pounds of meds that the typical hiker doesn't need to carry... you're not crazy high on the weight. At some point it becomes a tradeoff on the convenience of staying on the trail, or the inconvenience of planning extra mail drops, and actually getting to those mail drops. Considering your mail drops would include life saving medicine, it certainly adds pressure to get to a specific town by a specific time.

    I planned half a dozen mail drops at places that were generally geographically equidistant, and more importantly places that looked interesting (and affordable) to visit, where I'd be happy to get off the trail.

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    Default Gear List

    This is my tentative shopping list for my thru-hike next April.

    REI Co-op Flash 45 Pack - 2lb14oz; Marmot Eos 1P Tent - 2lb7oz; Marmot Sawtooth 15* Sleeping Bag - 2lb7.5oz; NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad - 1lb; Rab Silk Bag Liner - 4.5oz; Cooking Setup - 1lb; 3 pr Darn Tough Socks - 1.6lbs; 1ea Under Armor Base Layer Shirt and pants - No clue as to weight; Brooks Ghost 9 Shoes - 10.6 oz; Thermarest MiniPump - 2.3oz; MEDS - 1lb; Black Diamond ProShock Poles - 1lb4oz; Headlamp 3oz; Sawyer Squeeze - 3oz; Tyvek 36x87 Footprint - No clue as to weight; Dry Sack for clothes - 2oz; FroggTogg Ultra Lite Poncho - 8.8oz; Zpacks 14L Bear Bagging Kit - 3.4oz; Z-Seat - 2 oz; NiteCore LA10 Lantern (for inside tent) - 2.3oz; Buff - No clue as to weight; Montbell Down Jacket - 6.2oz; Misc (incl portable phone charger) - 3lb. Plus food for 5-8 days and water. That took a fair amount of research to put this list together and it comes in every bit of $2,000.

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
    Last edited by zig-zag man; 07-30-2017 at 11:08.
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    I'm also gearing up for a 2018 NoBo AT through-hike. Shopping is an area in which I can offer informed advice. I'm not claiming to know the best possible prices on everything, but I can usually get close enough that it doesn't make much difference. Your big advantage is that you're starting early enough that you can wait until you find good sale prices.

    Money doesn't have to be a problem on your "big 3" (pack, sleeping, shelter) because there is so much competition selling these items that you can find very good (though perhaps not excellent) gear that won't break the bank. I got my Granite Gear Crown 2 pack a couple months ago for $159.49 total cost (no tax, free delivery). It's 37 oz. including the removable lid, and I could pare it down to 34 oz. That sale's not going on now, but there ought to be plenty of opportunities to get a pack at a discount between now and your through-hike start. Your budget would be hurt by a Western Mountaineering sleeping bag, but the Klymit KSB 20° down bag is regularly priced at $189.95, so a sale should get you an adequate bag to keep you warm on the AT. Personally I went for a synthetic bag because I'm tolerant of cold but dread the consequences of getting down wet on this abundantly rainy trail: Marmot Cloudbreak 30, for which I paid $126.71 total. It's a snug fit, but only 31 oz. And there's another sale on now, so this bag is available again for the same price. I haven't got my tent yet, but I'm leaning toward a Naturehike Cloud UP 2, going for $104.50 on eBay. So my "big 3" total is under $400 and under 7 lbs. I could go with my existing blue CCF sleeping pad for no additional money, or splurge on a Klymit inflated pad for $39.99 (available here).

    Sales come and go with no particular rationale that I can discern. I'd expected outdoor gear on sale for July 4th, but nothing came of that. Yet I found my GSI Extreme Mess Kit this past week for $24.95 instead of the $36.95 list price, just by doing shopping searches every few days on Google, Amazon, and eBay. There is one nearly-guaranteed discount time to shop: Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving). At that time, nearly everything is on sale somewhere.

    The biggest job for you is producing a list of items you might reasonably use on the trail. There is a vast selection, but mostly (after a lot of work) the list will break into items that are too heavy (most Kelty items, for example) or much too expensive (ZPacks stuff) for your budget. Of the remainder (decent weight, but still too dear) you keep checking the prices until a desirable item has a significant drop in price. Starting about half a year ago my pack list was the Gossamer Gear Mariposa, Granite Gear Crown V.C. 60, and ULA Circuit. I almost bought the Crown V.C. 60 when it went on sale for $149.95 (down from $199.95), but I found out the reason for that sale was they had introduced the new Crown 2 with pretty much all the Crown V.C. 60 issues addressed. So I revised my pack list with the Crown 2 at the top, and hit on a sale a couple months later.

    Start building up your gear shopping list now, and check for sales: the InterNet is your friend!

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by TTT View Post
    If you carry 40 pounds of extra weight with heart and cholesterol problems over strenuous terrain, and 3 pounds of that is medication to last you a few days, the unsolicited truth tells me you will die sooner rather than later. You either need to either cut the weight drastically down much more than you think, or rethink hiking.
    Thanks. That was encouraging.
    zig-zag man

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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by DownEaster View Post
    I'm also gearing up for a 2018 NoBo AT through-hike. Shopping is an area in which I can offer informed advice. I'm not claiming to know the best possible prices on everything, but I can usually get close enough that it doesn't make much difference. Your big advantage is that you're starting early enough that you can wait until you find good sale prices.

    Money doesn't have to be a problem on your "big 3" (pack, sleeping, shelter) because there is so much competition selling these items that you can find very good (though perhaps not excellent) gear that won't break the bank. I got my Granite Gear Crown 2 pack a couple months ago for $159.49 total cost (no tax, free delivery). It's 37 oz. including the removable lid, and I could pare it down to 34 oz. That sale's not going on now, but there ought to be plenty of opportunities to get a pack at a discount between now and your through-hike start. Your budget would be hurt by a Western Mountaineering sleeping bag, but the Klymit KSB 20° down bag is regularly priced at $189.95, so a sale should get you an adequate bag to keep you warm on the AT. Personally I went for a synthetic bag because I'm tolerant of cold but dread the consequences of getting down wet on this abundantly rainy trail: Marmot Cloudbreak 30, for which I paid $126.71 total. It's a snug fit, but only 31 oz. And there's another sale on now, so this bag is available again for the same price. I haven't got my tent yet, but I'm leaning toward a Naturehike Cloud UP 2, going for $104.50 on eBay. So my "big 3" total is under $400 and under 7 lbs. I could go with my existing blue CCF sleeping pad for no additional money, or splurge on a Klymit inflated pad for $39.99 (available here).

    Sales come and go with no particular rationale that I can discern. I'd expected outdoor gear on sale for July 4th, but nothing came of that. Yet I found my GSI Extreme Mess Kit this past week for $24.95 instead of the $36.95 list price, just by doing shopping searches every few days on Google, Amazon, and eBay. There is one nearly-guaranteed discount time to shop: Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving). At that time, nearly everything is on sale somewhere.

    The biggest job for you is producing a list of items you might reasonably use on the trail. There is a vast selection, but mostly (after a lot of work) the list will break into items that are too heavy (most Kelty items, for example) or much too expensive (ZPacks stuff) for your budget. Of the remainder (decent weight, but still too dear) you keep checking the prices until a desirable item has a significant drop in price. Starting about half a year ago my pack list was the Gossamer Gear Mariposa, Granite Gear Crown V.C. 60, and ULA Circuit. I almost bought the Crown V.C. 60 when it went on sale for $149.95 (down from $199.95), but I found out the reason for that sale was they had introduced the new Crown 2 with pretty much all the Crown V.C. 60 issues addressed. So I revised my pack list with the Crown 2 at the top, and hit on a sale a couple months later.

    Start building up your gear shopping list now, and check for sales: the InterNet is your friend!
    Thanks for the advice. I will definitely be watching for sales.
    zig-zag man

    There is no such thing as free.

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