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Backpacking Weight Ranks
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Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: PSYCHO LITE on 08/18/2009 19:57:46 MDT Print View

"SUL and lower is in the realm of "Psycho-Lite"..."

I've been out on three trips in the past month in which my base was less than 5lbs and there was nothing psychotic or survivorman about it.
The trips were actually very pleasant; lounging around in fair weather in my local canyons. I can sleep plenty comfy without a shelter and/or an uberinflatable pad and pillow, I enjoy non-cook foods (or cook on the fire)...
What else should I possibly be carrying that would make my trips better/safer?
(I'd be happy to post my last sub-5 gear list if anyone is interested).

I just don't need much on short trips; there's nothing "psycho" about breaking a 5 lb. base.

Edited by xnomanx on 08/18/2009 20:00:31 MDT.

Gordon Smith
(swearingen) - MLife

Locale: Portland, Oregon
-$ on 08/18/2009 20:32:15 MDT Print View

My pack isn't SUL yet but my wallet is.

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
post it on 08/18/2009 20:41:36 MDT Print View

Yes, post your list if you dont mind

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: post it on 08/18/2009 21:47:40 MDT Print View

Ok, here's what my typical SUL kit is based on.

Homemade pack (golite Ion style) 6.0
WM Summerlite, long (in sack) 22.2
GG Thinlite Pad 1.9
GG Nitelite Pad 3.5
polycro groundsheet 1.7
First Aid/Toiletries 2.3
(this includes: gauze pads, band aids, inuprofin/acetaminofin, razor blade, safety pin, platypus patches, 6 feet leukotape, suture needle/thread, cut toothbrush, dr. bronners in mini BPL dropper, mini chapstick, tinder)
BD Ion headliamp 1.0
AquaMira 3.0
bearbag kit (for PCT meathod) 2.0
BPL Ti spork + plastic bowl 1.3
sunscrean 2.2
2 x 1 liter platypus bladders 1.8
Patagonia cap 1 top 6.0
OR balaclava 1.8
Marmot Ion windshirt 5.4
simblisity headnet 0.4
Total Carried in Pack (dry) 62.5 ounces = 3.9 lbs.

lanyard (firesteel, whistle, LED) 1.3
Asics running shorts w/brief ???
Injinji tetrasocks ???
Synthetic t-shirt ???
OR sun runner hat ???
Adidas supernova riot trailrunners ???
Timex Ironman ???
Sunglasses ???

So, what's missing?
A tarp? 80% of the time I don't need it. But I could add my Oware Cattarp 1.1 + stakes for 8.5 oz.
Now I'm at 71 oz/4.43 lbs.
A cooking kit? I like fresh and raw on short trips these days, but i could add my cat stove/pot/windscreen/ fuel bottle for under 4 oz.

So I'm still under a 5 lb base....

If I know I want fire, I might carry my bushcraft knife...+3 oz (but not in my pack).

What if it's cold? Swap the Cap 1 top for my Montbell Thermawrap.... Notice I had no leggings? Well, I either light a fire or grab my sleeping bag and throw it on my lap in camp....

And I don't even buy expensive/high tech gear (with exception to my recent WM purchases). I don't have anything made of cuben or spinnaker! My homemade pack is cordura and 1.9 nylon and it's still super light (and cheap)!

Granted, I might be missing a few items that I'd carry on a longer hike (raingear, compass, etc.), but I don't NEED any of that on most trips.

Point is, SUL isn't hard or expensive or risky for most conditions. I can alter the above mentioned kit and easily hover around 4-6 lbs for any given trip.
I sleep fine, I eat well, I stay firstaid kit is all I need (I used to be a licensed/working EMT so I'm competent in knowledge there). Tell me I'm lacking something when I'm happy as a clam in camp....

I love this setup/SUL!
I ran a 50K solo on Saturday carrying this basic setup (except I had a bladder/hose and my Golite Jam because it's more stable running than my homemade pack due to the hipbelt). I love the idea of having such light/minimal gear that I can run off into the woods for unknown distances...if I bonk, I camp. If I'm feeling good, I'm home late that night!

Darnit...I'm writing so much I overcooked my ramen.

Oh, and Eric, you imply that SUL isn't safe in an earlier post. Not trying to be argumentative here, but what do you find lacking/unsafe about the kit I posted? I'm happy to discuss the logic behind my choices and am very curious as to why someone might/might not perceive my kit as adequate.

Edited by xnomanx on 08/18/2009 22:11:07 MDT.

Lori P
(lori999) - F

Locale: Central Valley
guess it depends who you hike with on 08/18/2009 22:49:40 MDT Print View

If I hike with any of you I'm sure I'm "heavy." If I hike with the crowd of folks from my hiking group who have all backpacked the same way for decades, I'm "ultralight." If I hike with another subgroup of my hiking group, I'm about 10-15 pounds lighter than they are.

I'm just comfortable and trying to be lighter without making sacrifices that will compromise my safety or my comfort.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: very not subjective on 08/19/2009 04:33:24 MDT Print View


I agree that scloding a taller/larger person for carrying more weight than some tiny female gymnist is a bit silly. But we need SOME kind of metric.

We could get more complex about it, but who'd want to figure out:


(base weight in kg) / (hiker height in meters, squared)

or something like that?

Or, perhaps more clearly:

PMI Metric

I modeled it after Body Mass Index, but I tried to keep it metric. Using (height in meters)^2 is an extremely rough surrogate for body surface area.

For those of you who can't think in metric:

PMI Imperial

PMI Trivia:

My current summer PMI is 1.26.

A 5'8.5" person carrying the 'standard' 10-pound pack would be almost PMI=1.5 So, what say we define UL as PMI<=1.5, for simplicity's sake?

Also, a 5'8.5" person with a 5-pound pack has PMI=0.75. Again, why don't we define SUL as PMI=0.75, which makes absolute sense as half of 1.5?

Oh, and to get a PMI=1 while carrying a 10-pound pack you'd have to be almost 7 feet tall.

But, to get a PMI=1 a 5'10" person needs a base pack weight just under 6.9 pounds. A noble goal.

Thus I propose that PMI=1 be assigned as some sort of milestone, too. Especially since 1 is a nice round number.


Can you tell I'm bored?

Edited by acrosome on 08/19/2009 06:16:28 MDT.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: very not subjective on 08/19/2009 05:31:19 MDT Print View

Okay, okay, this gets even better!

How about:

Pack Weight Index (PWI) using Avoirdupois units!

PWI = ((pack weight in pounds) / ((hiker height in inches)^2)) * 500



Under this system a 5'10.7" person with a 10-pound pack has a PWI = 1 and with a 5-pound pack his PWI = 0.5.

Now, THOSE are easy numbers to remember, and correlate perfectly with the already-established definitions of UL and SUL. It is ALWAYS good to define something important as equal to 1. We just have to remember that the 'standard Avoirdupois hiker' is defined as 5'10.7", a hair taller than the 'standard metric hiker.' Which seems appropriate, somehow.

Once you calculate and memorize your PWI for a 10-pound base pack weight it is easy to calculate it for any reasonable base pack weight- it is proportional. In keeping with my medical model I will refer to that as PWI10, and it is basically an obscure way to state your height. For instance, since I am 69.5 inches tall with a 10-pound base pack weight my PWI10 = 1.035. So, if I want to know what my PWI is carrying my standard summer 8.8-pound pack, I just multiply 1.035 x 8.8 / 10 = 0.91 !

Now you sasquatches out there can compare yourselves to the rest of us in a fair manner! Thusly: "Yeah, my pack may be over 10 pounds, but my PWI is still only 0.9 whereas your PWI is 1.2, Shortstuff!"

There! I am officially abandoning the PMI in favor of the PWI!

Of course even PWI isn't perfect. It assumes, for instance, that a taller person needs a heavier stove. Likewise for other gear that isn't dependent upon body size, like compass, tent-stakes, etc. But it probably WOULD allow a group to split up communal gear in a fair way- just try to have everybody's PWI equal.

REALLY bored. :o)

Someone should check my math...

Should we break this out into:
Base Pack Weight Index (BPWI)
Total Pack Weight Index (TPWI)
Skin-Out Weight Index (SOWI)

SOWI might actually be the most rigorous of the three. Plus, you can pronounce it as one word. As the developer, I hereby set that as "sow we", rather than "sew we". However, SOMI will be "Sew me." Conform!

Ok, the new benchmark for the Lunatic Fringe among gram weenies is to attain a SOWI<1 !

Edited by acrosome on 08/19/2009 10:28:28 MDT.

Andrew Dolman
I like it - some graphs on 08/19/2009 06:28:14 MDT Print View

I like it - well avoiding the avp stuff

PMI metric

Imperial for ya.
PMI imperial

edited to improve range

Edited by andydolman on 08/19/2009 06:43:39 MDT.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: I like it - some graphs on 08/19/2009 07:01:58 MDT Print View

That makes perfect sense, because a 5'9"-ish hiker carrying 20 pounds is (roughy) PMI=3 which is twice the SUL PMI=1.5, just as 20 pounds is twice 10 pounds. So, PMI=3 defines LW backpacking, as the math dictates it must.


How about a PWI graph? But, wait, you're in Berlin. Bummer. Well, at least I can take solace in the fact that my standard hiker is bigger than your standard hiker... :o)

Certainly, the PMI formula is more esthetically pleasing. I will admit that. That conversion factor of 500 in the PWI formula is just ugly. But it is nice to have PWI = 1 define SUL. I love it when I can set something important equal to unity!

Edited by acrosome on 08/19/2009 07:32:09 MDT.

Andrew Dolman
Re: Re: I like it - some graphs on 08/19/2009 08:06:29 MDT Print View

I think it might be a little too harsh on short people / generous to tall people. A 6'5" person can carry 5lb more than a 4'11" person and still hit a PMI of 1.5 (12.6 vs 7.4 lb).

At the extreme of PMI=1 their weights are 4.95 and 8.37 lb

That's about 70% more weight for the tall person.

Rick Cheehy
(kilgoretrout2317) - F

Locale: Virginia
Re: Re: Re: I like it - some graphs on 08/19/2009 08:19:35 MDT Print View

Just when I thought that there was no possible way we could get dorkier....

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: Re: I like it - some graphs on 08/19/2009 08:51:52 MDT Print View

>> I think it might be a little too harsh on short people / generous to tall people.

So is BMI. It is a harsh truth.

And, this is all a joke, brother...

But even then this might not be terribly unrealistic, as far as a measure of "effort" it takes to carry the pack for the sasquatch vs. elfin hikers in question. Consider their ideal body weights, per the MetLife tables: 4'11" female about 117 pounds, 6'5" male about 183 pounds. Thus, the "average" MetLife sasquatch also WEIGHS about 70% more than the mouse, in addition to being alloted 70% more pack weight by the PMI or PWI formulae.

And, when you're talking about such small pack weights you have to be careful about quoting percentages. 2 pounds is 100% more than 1 pound, but carrying either is trivial.

Hmm. Of course the trend holds true if you extrapolate into big weights, too, doesn't it?

Well, heck, I've already admitted that it isn't perfect. But it is probably still better than saying that 10 pounds qualifies as UL for both sasquatch and elf... :o)

Edited by acrosome on 08/19/2009 09:28:15 MDT.

Andrew Dolman
Re: Re: Re: Re: I like it - some graphs on 08/19/2009 08:59:30 MDT Print View

"But even then this might not be terribly unrealistic, as far as a measure of "effort" it takes to carry the pack for the sasquatch vs. elfin hikers in question."

True, but we were trying to equalize the thresholds for ease of attaining a pack that light - not ease of carrying it.

"And, this is all a joke, brother..."

Of course all of this is just an intellectual exercise - riffing and jamming but with spreadsheets instead of guitars.

A geek-off.

Edited by andydolman on 08/19/2009 09:00:08 MDT.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I like it - some graphs on 08/19/2009 09:08:56 MDT Print View

>> True, but we were trying to equalize the thresholds for ease of attaining a pack that light - not ease of carrying it.

Well then we're talking about subtly different things. I sort of thought it would encompass a bit of both, ideally, since the whole point of going UL is to have a pack that is easier to carry. But, yes, after some thought I will agree that what you are saying is a more accurate characterization of the whining that we hear from the sasquatch people.

I will graciously concede. :o)

So, I guess we have to figure out a way to flatten the slope a bit? Any ideas on how to do that? Bearing in mind that we must have sound theory to back up whatever mechanism we come up with?

I guess that what we should do is survey 10-pound base weight packs of 5'10" individuals and see what percentage of the weight is considered "height dependent". Then we can further modify the formulae. For instance, if we decide that half of the average pack's weight is height dependent, then we can construct a formula that ignores half of the difference in height between the standard hiker and the actual hiker. (I actually think I can figure out how to do that...)

Who's up for performing the survey? :o)

Also, speaking of geek-off:

I was unhappy with the artificial origin of the 'standard Avoirdupois hiker' height, so I looked up some true average heights... Average human height worldwide is, coincidentally, 4'11" or so. But I didn't think that basing the PWI formula on that was really in the spirit of the thing since most of us are- admit it- western males.

So, ignoring extremes of age the average western male height seems to be about 5'10" or so. (The Swedish are a little taller, the French are a little shorter, etc.) With this as the height of the standard hiker the constant in the PWI formula should be 490, rather than 500, to make the average hiker's 10-pound pack result in a PWI = 1.

500 nonetheless results in a pretty good SWAG, and is easier to remember. But the "official" constant is now 490.

normalized PWI

I could, of course, develop a similar constant for the PMI to correct for average height. As a matter of fact, if I'm going THAT far I could also make the constant such that a 5'10" hiker with a 10-pound pack produces a PMI = 1, so that it is identical to the PWI...

Do think it's worth the trouble? Or should I keep the metric formula "clean"?


Well, heck, it actually wasn't much trouble. The PMI constant would be 0.701, which I suppose we could round to 0.7 to make it easier to remember. We'll call that the "normalized" PMI, eh?normalized PMI

Actually, I guess that if I'm being intellectually honest then the PWI formula above is "normalized", too. I have adjusted the nomenclature in that first equation appropriately. Without the constant (be it 500 or 490) the Avoirdupois formula produces some very cumbersome numbers. (Even if you use feet instead of inches, UL is defines as about 0.3.) At least the non-normalized PMI formula (without the constant) produces wieldable numbers, as long as we are willing to concede the 5'8.5" 'standard metric hiker.'

I really like setting UL at unity, though! :o)

I will go further and clarify that unless otherwise specified, PWIn means BPWIn and PMIn means BPMin, and that by definition these ALWAYS factor in any item that is neither worn nor actually held in the hands while hiking, but including the weight of the actual pack, and less consumables. Thus, the gram weenies can't cheat on their BPMIn/BPWIn by having stuff in their pockets!

I invented it, so I can define it however I like. So there! :o)

So, now the normalized PMIn and normalized PWIn should be equivalent, with UL defined as unity. Or, you could multiply by another factor of ten, to produce a Height Adjusted Pack Weight Equivalent (HAPWE). In such a case, UL = PWIn x 10 = 10. Get it? It will produce a number equivalent in pounds to the weight of your pack for a 5'10" person. Then you can use whatever definitions you like for UL, SUL, or whatever. HAPWE may be cumbersome to calculate, but everyone will understand the value produced intuitively.

Yeah. I think I'll run with that...

Somebody please check my math. Better yet, somebody produce a proof that the two equations are equivalent... :o)

Edited by acrosome on 08/19/2009 13:19:03 MDT.

David T
(DaveT) - F
. on 08/19/2009 10:20:45 MDT Print View


Edited by DaveT on 05/17/2015 23:09:34 MDT.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: packweights R fun. on 08/19/2009 10:21:41 MDT Print View

>> Behold the rise of the Packweight Categorization Flame War!


Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
Gees you guys are nuts with all your calcs and whatnot on 08/19/2009 10:42:21 MDT Print View

Get a....

Comfortable lightweight pack.

Lightweight shelter, tent, tarp or bivy and or any combination of that will keep the bugs off and keep you and your gear dry.

Lightweight sleeping system that you can actually live with that will keep you warm.

Lightweight clothing including raingear that works for you for the appropriate season.
Lightweight water system.
Lightwieght cooking setup.

Pack it with all the other crap you want to carry, load up 2 qts of water and 5 days of food and go for a test run/hike.

If its too heavy start throwing stuff out.

Of course there is the Cody Lundin method, Barefoot, one water bottle, an old can, a stiker or a bow drill, a garbage bag, a mouse trap, a neck knife and you are good to go.

Edited by tammons on 08/19/2009 10:46:33 MDT.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Gees you guys are nuts with all your calcs and whatnot on 08/19/2009 10:47:08 MDT Print View

It's a JOKE, Troy.

Admittedly, it is a geek joke, but it is still a joke...

Nonetheless, if we can get the "5'10" hikers' 10-pound base pack height-dependent weight percentage survey" done, I'll figure it out. Luckily, I qualify as an (approximately) 5'10" hiker...


So, what will we define as "height dependent"?

1) Surely, any clothing, including socks and shoes, base layers, insulation layers, wind shells, rain shells, hats, gloves, etc.
2) Mosquito headnet? Kind of hard to find different sizes...
3) Sleeping system components, including bag/quilt, and pad.
4) Bivy? Shelter?
5) Stuff sack or compression sack for the bag/quilt?
6) Stuff sack for the clothes?
7) The pack itself?

What do y'all think?

Edited by acrosome on 08/19/2009 10:59:58 MDT.

Ryan Linn

Locale: Maine!
Re: Gees you guys are nuts with all your calcs and whatnot on 08/19/2009 10:47:28 MDT Print View

What fun is that?

I agree. You guys are nuts. I love it!

Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
Re: packweights R fun. on 08/19/2009 11:29:19 MDT Print View

Super Ultra Light "Off Set" Certificates

First message on this thread that was started on 04/01/2007.

Super Ultra Light "Off Set" Certificates-Link

"Super Ultra Light - "Off Set" - Certificates.

I have decided to establish a "Non - Light" Agency for the support of Pack Weight Challenged Hikers (SUL- OS - NLWPWCH). If you think Non-Profit Organizations you are close. At this time I am the only person on the Pay Roll.

If you are packing a heavier gear list than you wish for and you can not get it lighter for any of a number of reasons you can now buy SUL "Off-Set" Certificates. They are available in amounts of One Ounce up to Sixteen Ounces. You can but as many Certificates as you need or have money for. When you carry the Certificates you can reduce you real pack weight by the amount of Off-Set Certificates you buy. 

With the Off-Set Certificates you can talk about or post your gear list weight with the Off-Set amount factored into it.

When you buy SUL Off-Set Certificates I will hike X number of miles with a true SUL pack load in memory of your heavy pack. In true SUL fashion the SUL Off-Set Certificates are made of postage stamp size Cuben Fiber with the ounce weight pin stamped into the material.



Send "PM" for cost information. "


This is one idea that is still available. Just send money.