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Thread: Base weight

  1. #41

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    Anytime you make a choice between two non-consumable items based on weight, you are intrinsically making a base weight decision. Identifying that category is more useful than ignoring it. Here's why.

    You can lose weight from your body (best option if not underweight), from consumables (food and water), or base weight. Next best place to lose weight is from base weight. If your food is dialed in, you'll have eaten everything by the end of the trip except emergency rations. So if you make a food choice that helps lose an ounce, whatever gets picked gets eaten before the end of trip and the savings ends. Base weight savings last the whole trip. If you're not thinking about base weight but you find your overall pack weight is too much, grabbing an apple out of your pack vs that extra shirt you don't need is the wrong choice to lower weight. As well, you can bring too much food but for newbies it's much more likely they'll bring too much gear and extra weight in the gear department will outpace extra food weight. Not to say don't consider food weight, cans are heavy right?

    Base weight is a number that you achieve every hiking day and if it is a good number for you, you've minimized it, then you'll be happy every day. I do use a spreadsheet with weights of all my gear to calculate it. To think that somebody who does that is somehow unaware of their food and water weight is a faulty premise. If on the other hand, you've never done that, I think you might be in for a surprise or two about what you're carrying. And think about this, you can only carry so much but if you cut down some gear weight, that's more food for you to stay out even longer.
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  2. #42
    Flip flop, flip flopping' LASHin' 2000 miler LDog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rickb View Post
    Hikers used to brag about how heavy their packs were.
    Really :-)
    That seems to be the underlying message to many of these replies.
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  3. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by LDog View Post
    That seems to be the underlying message to many of these replies.
    These threads always devolve into bragging about how heavy, how light, how my generation is wonderful, and your generation does everything wrong, and some form of "I read your words that say otherwise but let me tell you what I imagine you're really thinking!"

    Just par for the course.

  4. #44
    4eyedbuzzard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rickb View Post
    Hikers used to brag about how heavy their packs were.

    Really :-)
    Quote Originally Posted by LDog View Post
    That seems to be the underlying message to many of these replies.
    Quote Originally Posted by Puddlefish View Post
    These threads always devolve into bragging about how heavy, how light, how my generation is wonderful, and your generation does everything wrong, and some form of "I read your words that say otherwise but let me tell you what I imagine you're really thinking!"

    Just par for the course.
    The trail changes. Gear changes. Human desires and behaviors change. Can't say I miss carrying a heavier pack though.

    And as George Carlin once noted, "Ah, the good old days - back when botulism was a sauce."
    Last edited by 4eyedbuzzard; 02-16-2020 at 12:58.

  5. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by 4eyedbuzzard View Post
    The trail changes. Gear changes. Human desires and behaviors change. Can't say I miss carrying a heavier pack though.

    And as George Carlin once noted, "Ah, the good old days - back when botulism was a sauce."
    Heavy packs are like divorces, everyone should try them at least once to appreciate life.
    "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change". Charles Darwin

  6. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by Night Train View Post
    Heavy packs are like divorces, everyone should try them at least once to appreciate life.
    I've been using butt heavy packs for the last 40 years so I'm in one LONG divorce proceeding with Miss Nature except we'll never really separate. And what's amazing is she lets me sleep with her every night.

  7. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by rickb View Post
    Hikers used to brag about how heavy their packs were.

    Really :-)
    True story!
    https://tinyurl.com/MyFDresults

    A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world. ~Paul Dudley White

  8. #48

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    Losing body weight is a great way to "cut down on weight." And can be a place where you can make big changes depending on where you start with that.

    But, IMHO, the next best place to lose weight is in the "base weight" especially with the Big 4. I cut out 6lbs IIRC from my big 4 without changing out my pack. So with changing nothing else that would take a 30 pound fully loaded pack to 24 lbs. That's a huge deal. 20% weight loss!

    Food and water weight will change from trip to trip, water sources and time between resupplies. But "base weight" is a good place, it is where you "start" kind of like "home base." (I realize BW may change based on season).
    https://tinyurl.com/MyFDresults

    A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world. ~Paul Dudley White

  9. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by RockDoc View Post
    I think it's funny that so many hikers who are clearly way overweight make a huge point out of going ultralight. The elephant in the room is that they should drop 20 or 30 from their middles. Then carry a 25 lb pack with adequate safety gear, and you would be way ahead...IMHO

    (speaking as someone who once found himself in a major storm but packing on the "stupid side of light").
    Interesting...
    I'm usually carrying 35 or so fully loaded - 5 days on my section hikes.
    I've used the hikes to lose weight - 10 to 12 for the last two hikes.
    Takes me about 4 months to gain it back.

  10. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by Longboysfan View Post
    Interesting...
    I'm usually carrying 35 or so fully loaded - 5 days on my section hikes.
    I've used the hikes to lose weight - 10 to 12 for the last two hikes.
    Takes me about 4 months to gain it back.
    Reminds me of a quote from 1983 AT thruhiker George Steffanos---The The Hail Came---his journal of the hike.

    He mentions he's losing weight every day on the trail and says by the time he hits Maine he will weigh 25 lbs.

  11. #51
    Registered User Suzzz's Avatar
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    I'm not a thru hiker. Part of me really loves the idea of thru hiking but the other part of me also knows that I probably don't have it in me to wear the same dirty clothes day after day, sleep in a wet sleeping bag and eat terrible food for six months. So I thoroughly enjoy my ''section hiker'' status. But that doesn't mean that I don't pay attention to my base weight. I for one feel that it's an important aspect of my hike preparation, regardless of the number of miles I plan to do. I think we should all strive to be as light as possible. As others have mentioned here, heavy packs slow us down, they wreak havoc on our bodies and they simply make the adventure very unpleasant. RocDoc is not alone, I think we've all hiked on the stupid side of light at one point or another and since none of us likes to be cold and hungry, we (hopefully) learn from our mistakes.

    I revise my base weight before each hike and every time I ask myself the same question; can I do without this or that? Very rarely is the answer yes. I refuse to leave home without a basic first aid kit (5 oz) or my map and compass (2 oz). That's a weight penalty I feel I can't hike without. My life is worth so much more than that 7 ounces so I consider them as my luxury items. Some here will say that you pack your fears and heck yeah, they are right. I am afraid of getting lost! Yes, the AT (and most trails) are so well marked that you'd have to try really hard to get lost while hiking but no one gets lost ''ON'' the trail, hikers get lost when they step off the trail to relieve themselves, to take a cool picture, or to stealth camp. But I digress...

    In order for me to be able to bring those ''unnecessary'' items (as some like to call them), I have made a commitment to myself that when I replace a piece of gear it's replacement has to be lighter than the previous one. Unfortunately, UL gear is often cost prohibitive so it takes time but as it stands right now, my base weight is at 16 lbs which is a HUGE improvement from the 27 lbs I had to lug around on my first section hike. And remember guys, this is base weight we're talking about, then I had to add food and water. And of course being the noob that I was and having read all these stories about hiker hunger, I had brought enough food to survive the zombie apocalypse! That made for a loooooong and very unpleasant hike.

    So yes, base weight is important. If you feel something absolutely needs to be in your pack, put it in. Then have a look to see if there might be something in there that you can do without. If yes, great, if no, well... Try to buy the lightest gear that you can afford but don't leave stuff that is important to you at home just for fear that the UL Gods will be mad at you.

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