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UL Backpacking vs Day Hiking
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Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
UL Backpacking vs Day Hiking on 02/05/2009 18:09:20 MST Print View

One thought that I have been toying with:

Given the light weight of a warm weather UL or SUL pack, I wonder how close to one's day hiking distance one could reasonably expect to backpack?


-- MV

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: UL Backpacking vs Day Hiking on 02/05/2009 20:59:36 MST Print View

The lighter your pack, the more the distances will converge,
At some point on the lightness continuum, say the SUL threshold, it should become a function of how many days of food you are carrying and how fit you are. My 2 cents.

Chad Miller

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Affecting distance per day. . . on 02/06/2009 08:32:24 MST Print View

Things that will affect how many miles you can do in a day:

Physical Fitness
Existing injuries (ie. knee problems)
Proper nutrition and hydration
Pack weight

I feel that at a certain point your pack weigh will stop affecting the distances you hike. For me that weight is right around 20 pounds. Keep in mind I’m a big man (6’-2”, 225 pounds) so your threshold will be different.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Affecting distance per day. . . on 02/06/2009 08:53:07 MST Print View

If I were out for a 20 mile day hike I'd probably be carrying 5-10 lbs anyway (a journal/drawing materials, camera, maybe some fishing gear, etc.)
Turn it into a minimal overnighter and I only have to add a 2-3 more pounds.

I often put a 25 lb. block of clay in my pack on day hikes for training anyway. I'm looking at doing Rainier and some other big mountains in the near future- given the amount/weighgt of gear needed, training and backpacking exclusively with an UL/SUL pack doesn't serve this end very well.

A few pounds won't change what I can hike in a day, it's all about the circumstances.

I can hike 30+ miles with a 25 pound pack. Safe to say I can also do it with nothing...Unless I go out to do the maximum possible without weight I really have no idea what my weight/distance threshold is.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: UL Backpacking vs Day Hiking on 02/06/2009 10:44:46 MST Print View

All comes down to you in the end :-)

I carry nearly the same gear for dayhiking as I do backpacking. All I add in my sleeping bag, pad, Ursack and more food. Not much more goes in.

Heck, I use the same pack often ;-)

For now 20 or so miles is my top out. I am training for 30 though this winter! For myself it isn't the weight I am carrying or the distance - it is a mental game. If I have long miles I have to be "into it" to make it work. I have noticed once I clear the halfway point life becomes grand, I walk taller and am happy once again....I know I will make it :-D

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: UL Backpacking vs Day Hiking on 02/06/2009 15:30:15 MST Print View

I don't think it is the pack weight which is the determining factor here.

On a day walk we are willing to go for broke and walk flat out to 6 pm or 7 pm (or later) if necessary. Then we get to the car, relax, buy dinner and sleep in our soft bed at home. There have been times when dinner has been at 10 pm this way.

On an overnight trip we won't walk that late as we have to pitch camp, cook dinner, and walk the next day. We go a bit more conservative.


Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
I'm the opposite on 02/07/2009 12:25:59 MST Print View

I can hike much further on a backpack trip than a day hike. The limiting factor doesn't appear to be the weight. It's the time. If I know I don't have to be back to the car I can walk until it's time for dinner and bed.

Also, my limiting factor appears to be my body and it does not seem to be affected by the difference between day pack weight and an overnight weight.

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
Re: UL Backpacking vs Day Hiking on 02/17/2009 20:31:48 MST Print View

I started doing big (for me) day-hikes or fast packs a couple years ago. While I have done up to 42 miles in a day on those I would never get near that on a backpacking trip.

Like Roger alluded to, I don’t mind going for broke when I know the day will end with a shower and bed. Backpacking I don’t mind a long day and will start very early to do it, but I want to be in camp early enough to dry out gear if needed while there is still sun, and I really like to find a place to get in the water if I can. (I sweat hard.)

So I guess they don’t compare for me.