What's all in there that weighs so much?

3:43 p.m. on September 9, 2007 (EDT)
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I'm packing for an overnighter, my first and one night, and originally thought I might be able to get away with my daypack, but soon discovered that there was no way it would work. So I dragged out my 4500 cubic inch pack and nearly filled it up.

Now I did mention it was my first overnighter, so you guys go easy on me. I only put in the pack the things I thought would make a nice hike, minimal food, stove, cookwear, tent, kitchen sink, cast iron dutch oven, 20 lb propane tank, stuff like that. I then weighted it and it came in around 35 lbs. That really surprised me, to say the least.

I realize that more days won't really add that much more to the weight, since it only takes fuel to lengthen the usage of a stove, and cookwear weighs the same no matter how many days you use it, and a little extra for food. There are a lot of variables to figure all this stuff.

A day hike starts out weighing less because you don't need the overnight stuff. An overnighter ups the weight because of tent, stove and things. I'm sure longer trips have a base weight increase due to water filters and the like (I threw that into my pack just so I could get used to using and carrying it, but could have carried my water for the entire trip). So the initial weight without a filter would have been more that when planning on using one.

What would a starting weight to carry be for any overnighter, just as a general estimate. I know I could strip it down to ounces or beef it up to many pounds in extreme situations, so I just would like to hear the common weights you might end up carrying.

It's probably been asked a load of times, but I don't recall ever seeing the "I don't care what it weighs, this is what I take every time I go out" averages.



7:27 p.m. on September 9, 2007 (EDT)
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You just opened a can of worms. Some people think 45lbs for an oivernighter is just right since afterall, you have to load the bottle of wine, the hard back novel, and don't forget the chord of wood for the fire (which I forgot to tally inot the 45lbs).

Others think 25 lbs is just fine for 6 days.

Load and carry what you think you need to enjoy the trip. To me 35lbs doesn't sound unreasonable.

7:39 a.m. on September 10, 2007 (EDT)
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It's your first overnighter - so make a list of what you take - if you use something - make a mark next to it on the list. When you get home, look at the stuff you didn't use - if it's not something vital (first aid kit, survival stuff) then the next time you pack - leave it out. Over the course of a few trips you'll pare down your gear to what YOU need - as you extend your trips you might add some stuff back in - but you'll identify your core gear.

7:52 p.m. on September 10, 2007 (EDT)
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Thanks all.

Fred, I always make lists. I've already made the one for this trip. I laid out everything, then as I decided I need it and packed it, I added it to the list. I'll do this for a while and eventually develop different lists for different type hikes.

To the two G's: I appreciate the lack of slapping my wrist and for giving me a "might be OK the way you have it".

If anyone cares to hear about it when I get back, I'd love to share what went right, wrong and didn't happen at all.


8:32 p.m. on September 10, 2007 (EDT)
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Steve, of course we want to hear your learning experiences as they progress. That way we all learn. Even the Old GreyBeard learns something new every outing.

This last 4 days, I had a very heavy backpack. But then, we were taking lots of photos (close to 8 pounds of cameras and lenses) and bagging some peaks (25 pounds of climbing gear), plus being in the Yosemite area, we had to put all the food in bear containers (that adds close to 4 pounds). Sometimes ya gotta carry what ya gotta carry. If I leave out the climbing gear and cut the camera down to a tiny P&S, and use the tarp instead of a tent, I get down to under 20 for the weekend (because of the rain and wind, we were happy to have the tent, and there was enough bear activity that the bear containers were absolutely vital - we had no problems, but people within a couple hundred meters did have serious losses).

9:35 p.m. on September 10, 2007 (EDT)
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You're welcome.

Long, long time ago the predecessor to this site was full of TRs. I figure with all the help provided here it's your obligation to post the TR whether you think it boring or otherwise.

Have a good trip and be sure to enjoy it, rain or shine.

A bad day in the BC is better than any great day at work.

1:01 a.m. on September 11, 2007 (EDT)
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Steve, when you think about it, what you take on an overnighter will be no less than you take for a week or longer, with the exception of food, and maybe in some climates, water. Longer trips may mean extra pairs of socks or underwear, but assuming the weather won't radically change,you take about the same stuff.

Getting the weight down means either leaving stuff behind or buying superlight gear in the first place. Think of it this way-if you have 10 items that weigh just 4 oz less each than what they replace, that's 40 oz or over 2 lbs less overall. It's all those couple of extra oz here and there that add up to the extra pounds.

For example, if you forget the water filter and use chemicals like Aqua Mira, that may save up to a pound. Trade your tent for a tarp-that saves a couple of pounds. Get a lighter pack-maybe a pound or two; use a tiny canister stove instead of a big stove-more savings. Unpackage your food and put it in plastic bags-probably a few oz. Little headlamp instead of a flashlight, you name it, they all add up.

6:37 a.m. on September 11, 2007 (EDT)
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Funny you should mention weather. It hasn't rained here in WV in so long, the mosquitoes have given up and headed south to Florida. But now that I'm planning a trip, it has rained for two straight days on and off and pretty steadily last night. I'm planning on leaving Wednesday.

Any farmers out there that need rain? I'll be glad to plan a trip to your area.


6:53 a.m. on September 11, 2007 (EDT)
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Blackbeard -

Just have fun and a trip report would be great. Maybe you'll inspire some of us to file trip reports of OUR first backpacking trips!
Don't worry about the rain, heck, you'll see more wildlife while you're out 'cause you'll make less noise when you're walking and rain water smells a lot better than sweat!


6:46 p.m. on September 11, 2007 (EDT)
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What would a starting weight to carry be for any
overnighter, just as a general estimate. I know
I could strip it down to ounces or beef it up to many
pounds in extreme situations, so I just would like
to hear the common weights you might end up carrying.

Hmmm, as someone else mentioned, there are wildly differing views on this. Here's one perspective. I just got back from two back-to-back 2-night trips (I went in for 2 nights, came out to refill my bear canister and head to a new trailhead, then went in for another 2 nights).

My fully loaded pack (a 30 year old Kelty D4 external frame pack :) weighed in at 58 lbs. That includes a 20 oz MSR fuel can filled with Coleman fuel, two 1L Nalgene bottles filled with water, and my Bogen 3021B tripod with Acratech Ball Head (which weighs 6lbs all by itself). It also included my Mountain Hardwear Skyview 1.5 (including footprint and fly), my Mountain Hardwear 3rd Dimension (Polarguard) sleeping bag, and Mountain Hardwear Highmountain 72 sleeping pad. It included a Bearcache 400, which just barely (no pun intended:) was able to hold my food, and even that left me feeling hungry and lacking energy on the more strenuous trail sections.

Now that I've gotten myself hooked on backpacking again, after a long haitus, I'll be looking for ways to shave that weight. The pack sure felt heavy at 58lbs. A light down bag (my Marmot down bag would have been way too hot), a carbon fiber tripod, and various other things would help, but that all costs big $$$.

Oh, and that weight doesn't count my camera, in its case, which (for lack of a better place to provide easy access for snapshots) I carry around my neck. That's another 3.5 lbs.

So, all told, I was carrying about 62 lbs for each 2-nighter, excluding 3lbs for my horribly uncomfortable Asolo Fugitive GTX boots.

Aside from investing $$$ in lighter gear, there isn't much I could leave behind. I could omit the fly for the tent, but risk an evening soaking thundershower - or omit my rain parka - or first aid kit ... but I used just about everything else with me. Oh, I could leave behind the cell phone, which doesn't work in remote areas anyway, and save 4 oz :).

I'm not sure if this helps the OP, but it at least gives one perspective to the issue.

6:44 a.m. on September 12, 2007 (EDT)
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Sure it helped. Anything that isn't just plain wrong, or jokingly said with a straight face, can only benefit me. Thanks, and thanks for the detailed report.

I only weighted the packed pack, which weighs 37 pounds now, minus filled water bottles, but I see the direction to take here now. A pack list is something to refine and polish from some starting point. I'll weigh the individual stuff as I see it needs consideration.

The pack feels real heavy, and I see me not consuming much of the weight over the trip, so it'll weigh about the same coming out.

Anyway thanks all. I'll be leaving here in a few hours and it's a 5 hour drive.


3:55 p.m. on September 13, 2007 (EDT)
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I did an overnighter back in April and my pack came in at a whopping 50#s. Before I get flamed, I'd mention I was traveling with a first-time backpacker so I took a majority of the gear -- and we were hiking in the Mazatzal Wilderness in Arizona - aka "desert" hiking, so we had to tanker up on the water.

My last "real" backpacking trip was here in Hawai'i and I stupidly took my Jansport Alaska 115 pack - I had so much space left I decided to add creature comforts of a comforter and pillow, battery powered fan, and some cans of soup vs. regular backpacking food. I clocked it in around 50#s as well.

Maybe its time I buy a smaller pack so I'm not so enticed to max the sucker out!

7:23 p.m. on September 13, 2007 (EDT)
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Nate admitted


my pack came in at a whopping 50#s. Before I get flamed,...

No, Nate, we won't flame you here. Laugh our heads off, maybe (in embarrassment, since we have all done the same far too often). Last night we were having a staff meeting for an upcoming High Adventure Backpacking course. The course director has become very enthusiastic about ultralight and wants to include a section. Of course, the rest of us had to remind him that, although his base pack for a recent 2 week long trek was 14 pounds, his 12 pounds of camera gear and 7 pounds of ham radio widgets brought his "real" base load up to 33 pounds (plus his share of the consumables - food at 2 pounds per day, fuel for the stoves, and since he is an MD by training, his "crash cart" first aid kit of 7+ pounds, which includes prescription meds).

When I was a Scoutmaster, I always had to carry the "Scoutmaster's pack" that included an extra sleeping bag, extra tent, extra eating and cooking gear, and so on. That wasn't so bad in summer, but in winter, I often ended up hauling a sled with 60-70 pounds of stuff plus my own pack. The older scouts complained about how slow I was, until I had them pull the sled a couple miles. My personal pack for winter trips for a weekend is closer to 25 pounds, and for Antarctica, it was about 30 pounds (plus my share of the group gear and food, of course, but that was including the cameras).

That's why I like to do those weekend hikes where I am only backpacking and using a tiny P&S camera, which keeps me under 20 pounds total pack.

10:46 p.m. on September 13, 2007 (EDT)
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Yah, I wouldn't even laugh, or say it's embarrassing. It's really a matter of choices (and sometimes not even that).

For example, in my own case that I described, I did have some choices...

- skip the bear canister: I don't consider this to be an option
- skip the camera and/or tripod, or bring a P&S: my pix are too important a part of my adventures for this to be an option
- skip the tent fly, or raincoat: maybe this could have been an option, but I opted for the low risk approach

There are other options, ... well not really "options", because they're not affordable right now, but are "future considerations" .. like a nice light carbon fiber tripod... a summer down sleeping back to replace the fiberfill one ... and so on...

I suspect a lot of us are in this situation - we do with what we've got, even though it (in this case "it" is the weight we're carrying) isn't ideal.

Hey, "it's a good workout," he rationalizes ... :-) :-)

1:57 a.m. on October 9, 2007 (EDT)
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I did a trip this summer with my brother in Rocky Mountain National Park, and we decided to go as lightweight as we could. We each had about a 20 lbs pack for a 4day 3 night trip. We dehydrated all of our food (used the website freezerbagcooking.com) and doubled up on items. For example, I used a rain coat that also worked as a great windbreaker, and allowed me to need less items for warmth. One area I made a mistake on, however, was using a 3/4 sleeping pad. My feet were freezing becuase they were on the bare ground. I would rather carry the extra weight than go through that again. Although at 13,000 feet with fairly high winds, I wasn't really sleeping anyway.

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