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Plugging in the Formula Correctly...
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Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Plugging in the Formula Correctly... on 06/30/2006 20:25:34 MDT Print View

OK, we all know that:

1. Base weight = everything in the pack or hanging onto it except for consumables

2. Consumables = food, fuel and water

3. Total pack weight = (1) + (2)

4. Items worn and items in pockets

5. Skin-Out Weight = (3) + (4)

OK, what about non-consumable items that you put in your hip belt pockets Sure, it's part of the backpack, but the weight effect is probably no different than items you put in your trouser pockets. So, focusing on substance over form, should they be part of (1) or (4)?

What about items you put inside your chest pockets? If anything, they balance pack weight rather than adding to pack weight. So should they be (1) or (4)?

I count non-consumable items in hip belt and chest pockets as part of "base weight", but am wondering if there are others who count differently?

Edited by ben2world on 06/30/2006 20:35:31 MDT.

Karl Keating
(KarlKeating) - MLife
What weight counts where? on 06/30/2006 20:59:13 MDT Print View

When I take off my pack and set it on the ground, anything on the ground and connected to the pack is part of the pack. Anything still on my body is not and counts as something worn.

If one starts worrying about whether an item in or on the pack ought to count as something worn because of its location near the hips, one could get carried away by the logic and say that the pack weight that settles on the hips rather than on the shoulders is the equivalent of flab at the waistline and therefore ought to count as something worn, not carried.

If having weight on the hips rather than the shoulders is the aim, one could dispense with a backpack entirely and use a tremendously large fanny pack, but there are certain disadvantages to that. (For one thing, it would look goofy.)

Douglas Frick
(Otter) - MLife

Locale: Wyoming
Re: What weight counts where? on 06/30/2006 23:47:09 MDT Print View

>When I take off my pack and set it on the ground, anything on the ground and connected to the pack is part of the pack. Anything still on my body is not and counts as something worn.

I like that rule. It lets me ignore my 2-pound fanny pack that has the things I don't leave camp without (most of the ten essentials). But I'm not sure it's fair, so recently I've started hooking my fanny pack to my pack when I weigh it. Doing so has motivated me to cut my fanny pack weight...

(RavenUL) - F
Re: What weight counts where? on 06/30/2006 23:52:41 MDT Print View

I see major "cheats" in the way people weigh their gear with the pack weight and worn items stuff.

Ive taken to adopting a formula where weight is considered to be FSO minus consumables.

I figure, it doesnt matter if the weight is in your pockets, around your neck, stuffed down into your sock, or in your backpack - you are carrying it regardless. Just saying "its in my pocket so it doesnt count" is a bit dishonest in my opinion. It takes the same effort to lug it in your pocket as it does in your backpack, so why pretend it isnt there?

I would count consumables as well but for the fact that they are in a constant state of flux. I generally only consider food and water to be "consumable", not bug pro or sunscreen or toothpaste. Those weights dont change fast enough to realistically be considered a consumable in the same class as food and water, not in my opinion at least, and as such I think counting those as "consumable" is another bit of dishonesty. Especially when people count the total weight of those items as being "consumable", not just the contents.

Course, thats just my 2 pesos and may or may not answer your question... but hey, I tried. :)

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Plugging in the Formula Correctly... on 07/01/2006 00:11:18 MDT Print View

I like skin-out weights and I think trip duration makes a big difference. An overnight trip is very different from going out for several days. Ditto for season/climate.

Scott Ashdown
(waterloggedwellies) - F

Locale: United Kingdom
Re: Re: Plugging in the Formula Correctly... on 07/01/2006 03:23:39 MDT Print View

Weigh yourself without clothes on.
Weigh yourself with your trekking clothes on, pack etc, ie everything you will take with you. (Exclude, food, fuel and water - I also exclude my first aid kit weight). The difference between the two is the weight, one way or another, your going to carry. Its that weight you should look at trying to reduce. That way, everything you carry will eventually be considered to see if its weight can be reduced. Ie, is my underwear the lightest available, what about my safety whilstle etc.

Not counting it because it is in a fanny pack, or pocket or anywhere else is just just deceiving yourself.

Edited by waterloggedwellies on 07/01/2006 03:24:28 MDT.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Plugging in the Formula Correctly... on 07/01/2006 04:22:04 MDT Print View

Scott, you misunderstand my question -- which is whether certain weights should be counted as "base weight" or "skin out weight" -- in other words, where they fit in the "formula". In the end, they are all counted.

Scott Ashdown
(waterloggedwellies) - F

Locale: United Kingdom
Re: Re: Plugging in the Formula Correctly... on 07/01/2006 04:45:26 MDT Print View


I guess "Skin out weight" is the most important weight for me. I can't see the importance of worrying where I put each weight in the calculation. Sure, excluding food, fuel and water is important as they are big variables. However, after taking that into account, all i'm personally interested in is the overall weight.

However, I accept, your raise a valid question, for those that are interested in publisihng their respective weights, it is helpful to have a standard against which people should calculate those weights, not that they personally have much value for me.


(RavenUL) - F
Re: Re: Re: Plugging in the Formula Correctly... on 07/01/2006 11:08:35 MDT Print View

Another factor, and I apologize if this is going off topic, is that gear (especialy clothing, but other things like speeping bags, and occasionally shelters, and backpacks too) for a 250lbs man is going to weigh significantly more than the EXACT same model items sized for a 105lbs petite woman... So when I am plugging in *MY* formula, I do the "FSO minus consumables" as a percentage of body weight.

Saying "my gear weighs 10lbs" means two totally different things if everything you own is a size XL vs. saying "my gear weighs 10lbs" with all of your gear sized XS.

Michael Wands
(walksoftly) - F

Locale: Piney Woods
Plugging in the Formula Correctly on 07/01/2006 14:03:46 MDT Print View

I'm afraid that I am kind of "on the fence" regarding using a "Skin Out" weight.

When I hike, I wear pretty much the same kind of cross-training shoes that I normally wear. In fact, none of my 3 season clothing would look strange at the mall. I've gotten pretty accustomed to wearing clothes (especially since the restraining order) and I don't think that my body really notices the weight of my normal clothing. For this reason I usually ignore my clothing worn when calculating my pack weight.

David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
Re: Plugging in the Formula Correctly on 07/01/2006 17:35:27 MDT Print View

I think a lot of the good arguments for "skin out weight" are about ambiguity. I remember at an ADZPCTKO a few years back there were people showing off their ultralight base weight. More than one person managed to shave a few ounces off of their base weight by wearing more clothes. This didn't make any practical sense while baking in the deserts of Southern California.

Similarly, you might be confused if you took an extra pair of socks that were a different make or model. Should you wear the heavier ones to lower your base weight? How can it possibly matter?

Skin out weight at least disambiguates.

Ultimately it is hard to take this kind of exercise very seriously. The major reason why us lightweight people find it useful to talk about base weight or skin-out weight at all is the actual exercise of weighing stuff helps us make an arbitrary calculation in your mind about whether you really need something, or whether a multi-use substitute makes sense. Beyond that we are just thumping our chests. That's fun but it is more fun when it isn't taken very seriously.

Any formula has so many variables and error ranges that it is hard to imaging whether something is worn or carried (with the possible exception of footwear) matters very much. And probably won't matter as much as physical and mental state, the nature of the terrain, weather, and grand scenery.

Karl Keating
(KarlKeating) - MLife
Ignoring what we usually wear on 07/01/2006 20:48:39 MDT Print View

Michael makes a good point, which I'll paraphrase this way: What matters is how much weight we're carrying beyond what we carry daily at home.

If our skin-out weight on the trail is 20 pounds but, when out and about at home, our clothing and other items commonly weigh 5 pounds, then we've added 15 pounds in order to go hiking. That's the weight penalty we've incurred.

Michael Wands
(walksoftly) - F

Locale: Piney Woods
A Word on Pack Weight on 07/02/2006 21:01:51 MDT Print View

How much is enough? How much is too much?

When I'm on a busy trail it is not unusual to be stopped and queried about my kit (for 3 seasons I have taken to wearing a 720ci Oprey pack). The comment is always "You don't seem to carry very much stuff". My answer is always the same. "No, I carry everything. I have exactly the right amount of exactly the right stuff".

Pack weight is the means to an end. If you can carry your load for 15 hours today and actually look forward to another 15 hours tomorrow then I have to believe that your pack weight is just perfect. When you stop for a break and don't bother to shed your pack because it just feels natural on your back then I think that you have achieved the perfect pack weight.

Weighing is an important part of getting to the perfect kit. Having an honest post-hike gear evaluation is equally as important. Never quite satified and never really completed! How much is just right? The answer lies in strapping it all on and hitting the trail.

George Gother
(ggother) - F
Re: Plugging in the Formula Correctly... on 07/05/2006 14:25:45 MDT Print View

For me, FSO seems to be the most honest measure of how much I'm carrying down the trail. I have only recently looked at base pack weight because I was interested in getting a G5 pack where GG suggests a Base Pack Weight of 10 lbs or less. In figuring that, I counted what is actually "In" the pack less consumables.

Michael Wands
(walksoftly) - F

Locale: Piney Woods
Re: Re: Plugging in the Formula Correctly... on 07/06/2006 11:43:30 MDT Print View

What I do is simple & cheap. I simply stand on the bathroom scales without my pack & then reweigh myself with my pack in place. The difference is what I consider the cost in weight to be on the trail.

I generally weigh my pack with the initial food I am taking and all of my consumables. This way I know exactly how much I am hauling when I start out.