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Controlling Backpack Weight

July 14, 2017

 For people weighs around 143 lb / 65 kg, 44 lb / 20 kg of the overall backpack weight (food and water included) is near the limit for their hiking or wild camping for 1 - 3 days, you will not able to do it for long with that weight on your back(especially ). So, it's critical for you to keep the weight down, 33 lb / 15 kg is more preferable for most beginners. And the weight of your backpack that can be shaved is mostly referred to the base weight (without water / food ), weight of your gears, including camping gears and other functional gears, like camera, and other camping accessories. Most of the hiking / camping beginners will have backpack  weight concerns for the first time they hike / camp in the outdoors. You will figure out the camping necessaries for yourself back home after your camping trip, and get more acknowledged of the real camping essentials for you and get more experienced.


So, let's begin with a backpacking list of a hobby photographer who is planning to go hiking / wild camping for  1 - 3 days in freezing condition. Probably for the weekends.


Camera Gear             Weight (kg) weight (pounds)

Nikon D750                          0.755        1.66
Nikkor 20mm F1.8                0.355           0.78
Nikkor 28-300mm                 0.8            1.76
Tripod                                  1.575        3.47
Filters & Polariser                   0.4         0.88
Spare batteries (3x)              0.234       0.52
USB Battery charger              0.15       0.33
Insert/case for DSLR/lens       0.18       0.40
iphone                                  0.175       0.00 (may not take it)

Camping Gear                     Weight (kg) weight (pounds)

Backpack Aether 70l                     2.3        5.07
Tent MSR Hubba NX                     1.29      2.84
Sleeping Bag Marmot                  0.662     1.46
Thermarest NeoAir XLite            0.353       0.78
Jetboil                                        0.62         1.37 (I already used it, can't exchange it)
Water Bladder 3l                          0.2          0.44
Water Filter MSR                         0.2         0.44
Clothes                                       0.4           0.88 (haven't weighed it, might vary)
Food & snacks
GPS Garmin 30x                          0.142       0.31
Trekking Poles                             0.32         0.71 (should I have those? I gather they would provide some relief)
Headlamp                                    0.11        0.24
pocketknife                                  0.07        0.15
tape                                             0.05       0.11
paracord                                    0.022       0.05
toiletery bag/first aid                    0.2        0.44
spare batteries
sunblock                                  0.025         0.06
insect repellant                        0.056         0.12
Compass                                 0.031          0.07

Pack, camping tent and sleeping nag of this list weigh a lot together with the camera gear. The overall package weight of this backpack list adds up to 25 lb / 11.4 kg. A better solution of his last attempt. But a 25 lb base weight is still pretty high. It'll be manageable on short hikes for 1-3 day range where consumables are only going to take up 11 lb / 5 kg (3 x 2 lb per day for dehydrated food, 4.5 lb for 2 L water, plus a small fuel canister 7 oz ). A 36 lb isn't exactly light for a 3 - day trip, but it's doable. But this backpack weight will come up with much difficulty if you want to go on longer trips.


And a 0.4 kg (o.9 lb) allocation for clothing is underestimating by quite a bit. If you are worrying that a camping tent may not be able to withstand weather conditions and your sleeping systems may not thermal enough, then I would expect you would also be planning to take rain gear, something insulating for camp, maybe a hat / glove or probably a change of clothes. A minimal packed clothes for women( puffy, rain jacket, base layer set for sleep, extra socks, underwear, second shirt)plus camp shoes (croc knockoffs) adds up to over 2 lb / 0.9 kg. And for lightweight and for weeks of hiking, a great rain shell, lightweight insulating layer (down jacket), and wicking base layer that dry quickly and move moisture . Fleece is more bulkier and heavier than down equivalent while down layers are more expansive like newer Dry down, a pair of Smartwool socks, two pairs of undies, some down pants, a pair of poly thermal can go for weeks. You can wash the pair of sock / undies with sand and water and let them air dry. This setup is preferably for man.

And for 3-4 k elevations, you need to be prepared for unexpected weather that's potentially wet and cold, in the 40's. And you would want a solid rai coat to keep your insulating layer dry and rain pants is needed. And merino base layer. For 1-2 days, you may not take a change of hiking clothes, just change an extra pair of socks and underwear. At 3 days, probably for another shirt. Almost always take camp shoes, like a pair of croc knockoffs. You may like having a dry pair of slip-on shoes. 

If you want a tent that uses more robust materials and still be as light as possible, you need to look forward single-wall tents. Many are also pole-less and use your hiking poles for structural support and set up. Like this pyramid tent, it's pole-free design, both of the rain fly and inner tent can be set up separately for minimal weight. Weighs 2.4 lb / 1.2 kg when all the accessories are packed up. But it's 3 season tent, not suitable for cold weather. Apart from this, it's pretty weather -worthy to shed rain or even withstand mild storm when it's set up  in right height and guy ropes, tent pegs in appropriate position. 


Re picking a pack. You need to do some research and order several packs that had the features you want and worn them around your house with all of "your" gears for a week before you have selected the most appropriate one, perfect size, design, loan, hip belt, frame or other details and send the other packs back. Woman is recommend to start with a ULA Circuit. You can't really judge a pack until it's loaded with your own stuff and you don't really know how it handles until you actually hike with it.

If you can keep your base weight low, and keep 1 lb of food weight per day with dehydrated food, your trail head pack can easily be under 24 lb / 12 kg for a weekend trip. That means you might pack "real" food, like a steak for the first night, or maybe some wine.










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