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  1. #1
    Registered User Creature Feature's Avatar
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    Default What is included in base pack weight?

    In prep. for my first thru-hike attempt, I'm struggling with keeping my pack weight as low as possible. My question is, what is included in pack weight? Are the clothes you are wearing, your shoes, trekking poles included in pack weight? After all, you are carrying these items but they aren't, strictly speaking, in your pack. I know that this is basically a semantic question but I would like to be clear what, exactly, is meant by base pack weight. Thank you for any response.

  2. #2
    Registered User hikermiker's Avatar
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    Base Weight is everything in your pack except food, water, and any other consumables. Total Pack weight (TPW) includes food and water. Full Skin Out (FSO) includes Base Weight plus clothing worn & poles and anything in your pockets.

  3. #3

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    Most of us just worry about how much we have to lift and put on our backs...
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Creature Feature View Post
    In prep. for my first thru-hike attempt, I'm struggling with keeping my pack weight as low as possible. My question is, what is included in pack weight? Are the clothes you are wearing, your shoes, trekking poles included in pack weight? After all, you are carrying these items but they aren't, strictly speaking, in your pack. I know that this is basically a semantic question but I would like to be clear what, exactly, is meant by base pack weight. Thank you for any response.
    Hikermiker's definition is good. On the question of clothing, stuff that I normally don't wear once I'm warmed up and grooving down the trail counts as base weight.

    After several years of UL-ing and getting the kit dialed and applying trail experience you'll just grab the gear for what you need and not give the weight much thought, secure in the knowledge that it's as light as you can reasonably get it. One does have to beware of weight creep, though, so any additions or changes to kit will of course impact base weight.

    However, I would agree with the argument that it's silly to aim for an arbitrary target such as 10lb, although IMO it does provide a useful metric for someone just starting out. For example, I know that my summer base weight even with a hammock setup is around 8lb, so for somebody who's tenting (which is typically a skosh lighter) in similar conditions and has an 11lb base weight I'd be comfortable saying that there's opportunity there for more weight reduction.

    But it boils down to experience and skill level and clothing management and budget and how much gear you need for safety and comfort.
    UL, because nobody ever asks "How can I make my pack heavier?"

  5. #5
    Registered User Maineiac64's Avatar
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    Lighterpack is a good tool. The best place to save weight is in the big four, tent, bag, pad, and pack. You can save pounds if you are willing to go ultralight. Where are you at now?

  6. #6
    Registered User Creature Feature's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maineiac64 View Post
    Where are you at now?
    The last time I weighed everything it was around 28 lbs. but that was (what I now know is) Full Skin Out, i.e. trekking poles, shoes, hiking clothes, etc... not to mention the Bustello and Jameson that won't leave my side.

  7. #7

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    If the machete is attached to the hip belt, does it count against base weight? I think it clearly would be worn weight if attached to belt on the pants. (titanium machete )

  8. #8
    Registered User GolfHiker's Avatar
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    Creature Feature, everything here is very spot on. A Thru hike is such a different animal from a weekend or section hike, and planning ( prep ) is important, but just understand that you will make adjustments based on so many things that your “base weight” is sure to change in either direction. Weather, conditions, personal preference and common sense will dictate your choices. Since we don’t yet know your timing, direction, starting spot or physical capabilities it’s not fair to assume too much. You stated that your Skin Out weight was coming in at 28lbs., which is not heavy, but not UL at all. Bottom line, you will dial in your kit after a few hundred miles, and then overall weight will be dictated by food and water. 3 days to resupply will be lighter than 5. 1.5 liters is better than 2, etc., etc. And at some point, hunger sets in and you will want to carry more food, so that’s just another adjustment you’ll make.

    Keep up your planing, start out as intelligently as possible and look for those opportunities to lighten the load where you can. Everyone does this. That’s what makes LDH so cool.
    "How can something this hard be so much fun".

  9. #9
    Registered User Maineiac64's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Creature Feature View Post
    The last time I weighed everything it was around 28 lbs. but that was (what I now know is) Full Skin Out, i.e. trekking poles, shoes, hiking clothes, etc... not to mention the Bustello and Jameson that won't leave my side.
    To cut down on carried weight, I only bring barrel strength bourbon. 28 for fso seems pretty good.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by hikermiker View Post
    Base Weight is everything in your pack except food, water, and any other consumables. Total Pack weight (TPW) includes food and water. Full Skin Out (FSO) includes Base Weight plus clothing worn & poles and anything in your pockets.
    I'm a fan of Total Pack Weight---heck it even has my initials---TiPi Walter.

  11. #11

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    What you wear for clothes will vary a lot, even during the course of a day as it warms up. So, most of the clothes have to be included. Socks, t-shirt and shorts don't weigh much and are the minimum amount of socially accepted clothing, so that one set is exempt. Okay, you could go down to just shorts, but come on, be real.

    So, pretty much everything but boots and poles count.

    The other issue, getting the pack weight reasonable is a whole other thread and what people consider "reasonable" varies a lot. Compounding the problem is us older guys seem to need more things then a youngster can get away with. Posting a gear list will provide you with lots of advice

    In the end there are only two methods: 1) spend a lot of money and/or 2) do without a lot of things.

    If your starting out in say early April, about a 20 pound base weight is typical. For that time of year I shoot for 15 pounds and end up with 17-18. With some water and 3-4 days of food I'm topping out at about 24-25 pounds max, which is the most I find reasonably comfortable. If your pushing 30 pounds leaving town, that can be a struggle if an up hill is involved (and it always is).

    There's actually a third method, which is to start later in the season, like Mid May. That greatly reduces the amount of warmth you need to carry. You might need to add it at the end, but by that time you'll be ready for it.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  12. #12

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    The idea of baseweight is to know the minimum amount of weight you will be carrying at all times.

    To some, that means weighing an empty bottle of toothpaste. That will give you an unreachable minimum.

    To others, it means to just pack your backpack, then take out water, food, and fuel, and weigh what's left. Maybe, if you're meticulous, add back half-ish the weight of your fuel canister. That will give you a more realistic "base weight" that is also more accurate on shorter trips.

  13. #13
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    It's like others have said - I consider base weight to be what goes on your back except for consumables (food, water, fuel).

    I usually include insulation rand rain layers in my base weight since I do not normally hike in rain gear and almost never hike with my down jacket.

    But it all does come down to total pack weight. There are many people who obsess over base weight but then don't plan food and water very well. Choosing foods that are high in calories per ounce and not carrying excessive water are both things that have major impacts on total pack weight which is what counts for comfort while walking.

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