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What does your pack weigh?

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Re: What does your pack weigh?

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:27 am

I don't see it as a pissing contest... it is what it is whether you are heavy or light.

Just got back from hiking with a newbie who, quite possibly, would be better off with no backpack at all. Loaded him with my gear - yes, I have enough to outfit another person! - to about 25 lbs. I took the heavier gear on my back, the twice-as-heavy tent and the kitchen items and filter... He still struggled and actually fell down at one point. The total distance for the day? Three miles, no real gain.

If you can carry a bunch, carry it if you want to, don't see comments "you can go lighter" as anything but a reflection of that person's experience and/or preferences in action - which is just how I see it when you brag about that 50 lb pack you're proud of carrying. It seems like a silly thing to me to be proud of after my last visit to the chiropractor, but I'm sure you think it's cool, and that's all that matters. Your back, your business. If you can't carry the monster load, and you lack the desire to figure out what you need to backpack and make it work out for you, hmmm, guess you'd be a better car camper. Which is pretty much how the newbie saw it. Don't believe he will be coming with me again.

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Re: What does your pack weigh?

Postby cherron » Fri Dec 09, 2011 5:24 pm

I'm with you Almostthere, I enjoyed this thread and reading all the various ways people adapt their gear to enjoy the backcountry! Viva la difference! And thank goodness for all the differences because when it comes to gear, there is something out there for everyone!
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Re: What does your pack weigh?

Postby EpicSteve » Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:40 pm

Compared to similar threads on many other hiking forums, this is actually quite civil and for the most part, blessedly free of that "pissing contest" feeling, IMHO. More humor than righteous indignation, really. That's one reason that HST is my favorite hiking forum. This is of course thanks to all of you, so... way to go, folks!

I think many of us see our gear choices and hiking style as a continously evolving process that will never end. I've been backpacking for over 40 years and in my teens I got into mountaineering and SAR, plus I grew up hiking in the very cold and wet Cascades in Washington. So my foundation is one of expecting the worst conditons/situations, being prepared for anything, and carrying a huge pack. And yes, I enjoy the excercise and yes, I've always been proud of my ability to haul the beast up steep passes and peaks (and I don't think there's any harm in feeling that way - but I also think it's cool that people are proud of how much they've been able to reduce their pack weight - we should all get to feel proud of what we do! As long as you don't think you're better than others because of it, I don't see anything wrong with it.)

In recent years I've learned a lot from the ultralight hiking community. I've put a tremendous amount of time, thought and money into reducing my load. But somehow I always still end up with a heavy pack! ](*,) But really that's no mystery to me anymore, because I've spent so much time analyzing it. It's actually been a pretty fun process so far and I'm sure that'll continue to be the case. I just enjoy thinking about this stuff! So much so, that I finally bought a postal scale that weighs to the nearest tenth of an ounce and I created a weight calculation spreadsheet for my gear, so I can adjust to the region, elevation, season and weather report in an educated way.

By replacing (and in some cases modifying or making) LOTS of my gear, I've significantly reduced the weight of my pack, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, stove, pot, bowl, knife, headlamp, rain gear, etc. I've shaved about 10 lbs off my pack weight by doing this. But I've also added a few (light) items that I really like having. For a 2 - 3 day summer hike in the Sierras, I usually carry about 38 - 41 lbs (including food, water and other consumables). For a 7 - 11 day hike, I carry about 50 - 54 lbs. Now, to all of you asking: "What the heck do you bring that weighs so much?" Here's what I figure is weighing me down the most:

I carry lots of it. I've encountered unexpectedly dry streambeds plenty of times and I HATE to be thirsty! I can't believe how much better I feel on the trail ever since I bought my first (and only) hydration bladder. I drink almost continuously and I hate to stop and pump water. It's a hassle. But I don't like the taste of chemicals, nor do I trust them. Steri-pens seem to break constantly, gravity filter systems are a hassle when you can't find anywhere to hang them, the MSR Hyperflow's glass filiments will break if any residual water freezes in the filter and then it won't protect you. So I'm still carrrying...

A heavy water filter pump.

Lots of clothes.
I must be an unusually cold person. I'm always amazed by other hikers' gear lists when I see only one pair of long underwear, no other warm pants, and often no rain pants. (The latter might work okay with a poncho, but I hike off trail a lot and a poncho would never work for me. Already tried it.) I always carry at least two warm layers for my legs. Often three or four! And sometimes I'm STILL cold! And it's not like it's ineffective, old-school gear. For example, I might carry any three of the following: Silkweight Capilene, midweight REI, Marmot Powerstretch 200 weight fleece and Montbell Thermawrap pants. If it's late fall, early spring, or I'm going to be over 11,000 feet, I might carry all four!

An extremely large first aid kit.
Here's where I think I can shave some weight. I'm probably carrying too many adhesive strips and too much moleskin, considering I've had only one blister in the past four years. But I'm amazed at the number of hikers who don't carry a large sterile compress. Hopefully I'll never need it. Probably won't. But if I ever do, it'll be a fairly dire situation and nothing else will do! All those high-tech synthetic fabrics we all carry these days are completely the opposite of what's needed, so it'd be impossible to improvise from gear I'm already carrying. Plus, it wouldn't be sterile. There are a lot of loose rocks to slip on and sharp rocks to fall on in the Sierras. I'm very surefooted and careful, but you just never know.

A personal locator beacon.
I hike solo and off trail. A lot. My wife wants me to live a long time, even if I break my leg in the wilderness.

And so the evolution continues... O:)
“I don’t deny that there can be an element of escapism in mountaineering, but this should never overshadow its real essence, which is not escape but victory over your own human frailty.”

- Walter Bonatti
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