November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Pack Weight Semantics
Display Avatars Sort By:
Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
Base Weight Semantics on 07/27/2011 13:23:24 MDT Print View

So I had a few questions about calculating base weight and wanted a consensus. I realize it's kind of semantics, and it's kind of just not that important. I'm intrigued by comparing base weights however and was wondering what sort of "the standard" is, which has led me to a few questions.

A) Do you count things you might wear? My example of this is a windshirt. I'll likely wear it at some point, but not most of the time. What's your threshhold for this?

B) Do you count only empty containers or the contents too? My example is sunscreen in a tiny bottle.

C) Do you count ziplocks for food? My example is bulky packaging for oatmeal I've repacked in a ziplock.

D) Do you count things in your pockets? My example is a thing of lip balm. Does it really matter if I carry it in a pocket or a hip belt pocket on my pack? That's confusing.

I realize at some point you just have to laugh because trivial things are just that. I realize everyone will have different methods. I'm curious anyways =)

Edited by Trout on 07/27/2011 13:24:03 MDT.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
My "Base Weight" on 07/27/2011 13:49:40 MDT Print View

1.I count all worn items, whether clothing or a knife or lip balm

2. I count all packed items EXCEPT food & containers, fuel and water

So "equipment" which includes everything (other than the consumables of food, fuel and water) counts as base weight.

So while I don't count fuel I DO count the stove and windscreen - plus all kitchen stuff that is not consumable (unless you get so anal want to include the "weight" if the fuel in a lighter). ( ! ) :o)

Edited by Danepacker on 07/27/2011 13:50:24 MDT.

Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
Semantics on 07/27/2011 14:09:34 MDT Print View


If you throw your SPOT device (you have one for the sake of the question) into your pocket, does it suddenly become weightless? That's my problem with counting worn stuff. Also if you decide to bring a windshirt you don't wear all the time, maybe 50%, does it count as worn or packed?

Thanks for the response

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Base Weight Semantics on 07/27/2011 14:17:03 MDT Print View

I would say that if you plan on wearing it 80% of the time or more, then you could count it as worn.
I would honestly just throw anything in your pockets into your pack weight, to make things fair when comparing how or what you pack against what others pack.

Clint Wayman

Locale: East Tennessee, US
base weight on 07/27/2011 21:19:56 MDT Print View

I never really saw that big of a gray area when figuring out base weight.

-If it's in your pack for an extended period of time because it's not needed, it's 'base weight'

-If you consume it, it's under 'consumables'

-If you are wearing it or it's in your pocket, it's under 'items worn/ carried'

For general ease, i say that packaging goes under consumables, but I'm not really that nit-picky

Erik Dietz

Locale: Los Angeles
What I think... on 07/27/2011 22:54:02 MDT Print View

Hi Michael,

I think a lot of this stuff is subjective and I'm sure you will get a million different opinions. I'm no expert but I consider everything that I would take with me on a trip (regardless of length) as my base weight. So containers and what's in them (i.e. sunscreen, deet, bodyglide, etc) get counted. I don't count the clothes that I wear all the time (shorts, shirt, briefs, socks, shoes, etc) because they stay on my body all the time. I'm never carrying them in my pack. However my windshirt would get counted, even if I end up using it some of the time. I don't count the ziplocks used for FOOD but I do count them If used for any of my actual gear. I only carry lip balm and a small rag in my pocket and they do get counted in my base weight. However, that has more to do with how I organize things on paper.

So basically, I count all my gear minus food and water. I do include fuel though which I'm sure most people would disagree with. There you go, another persons opinion!

Christopher Yi
(TRAUMAhead) - F

Locale: Cen Cal
Re: What I think... on 07/28/2011 01:54:03 MDT Print View

"So basically, I count all my gear minus food and water. I do include fuel though which I'm sure most people would disagree with. There you go, another persons opinion!"

I agree. You're always going to have an amount on you, more so for canister stoves. I assuming people disagree since it's a variable, beginning trip weight vs. end. Same with toilet paper for those that use it. :P

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
re: semantics on 07/28/2011 03:03:03 MDT Print View

I too go back and fourth about what counts as far as pack weight goes. I always bring some kind of knife and sheath when I go out, even on day trips, so I had thought about taking that weight off of my base weight. But then I would have to do a whole worn/carried weight, and then it's a whole slippery slope to FSO weight, both of which I am not interested in getting into. I spend enough time and energy weighing and packing and re-packing my backpack and its contents. So I just include in my base weight anything I have on my belt and pockets, plus any clothing (such as a jacket) that I don't plan on wearing while I am hiking, but wear at camp in the evening/at night. If it is cooler outside, especially in the spring/fall, then I will not include say, a jacket because I have it on nearly all the time.

I also prefer metric light weight figures, which give a little more wiggle room with weight (LW = less than 10kg, UL = less than 5kg, SUL = less than 2.5kg, XUL = FSO less than 2.5kg). But most people on here use the American weight scale, so when adding my gear lists I just stick to that rather than try and convert everyone to the metric LWB scale.

It's all arbitrary, but arbitrary can be fun and useful at times.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
the internet is for...freeware on 07/28/2011 05:20:23 MDT Print View

Lots of very good unit conversion programs out there, from the simple to the powerful. Or 1 kg ~ 2.205 lbs, for the fans of hand calculation. I say use grams if you like. :)

T kawa
(kitsune) - F
base on 07/29/2011 13:37:25 MDT Print View

D) it seems that everything in your pockets, or hanging from your clothes should go under base wieght... pockets and sheaths just seem like small packs to me.. clothes worn goes in clothes worn, it may not always be worn, but it's accounted for.
But anything else your carrying goes into base weight (or consumables), otherwise you could just buy one of those vests with a bunch of pockets and say your baseweight is zero.
why wiegh your stuff if you're not going to be honest about it? Not counting what's in your pockets just seems like lying to yourself.

carl becker
(carlbecker) - F

Locale: Northern Virginia
Re: Base Weight Semantics on 07/29/2011 15:58:25 MDT Print View

You can get pretty nit picky about these things. I am just concerned about what I will have to carry and deal with on my trips so the most important item for me is the total of everything but me, including one or two liters of water depending on where I am hiking. I don't really care if my Swiss Army knife is in my pocket or pack, it is weight my legs will be moving. My knife does stay in my pocket. Clothing for warm mid day does not count in my base weight but all spare socks, base layers, down or rain gear is in my base weight. What I take depends on the worse weather expected plus a bit more. My base is just below 10lbs and my skin out is about 26lbs. My heavy camera gear is included as is one liter of water. This forum has helped greatly in reducing my pack weight so I can enjoy the walk all the better ;~)

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
"Pack Weight Semantics" on 07/29/2011 17:12:49 MDT Print View

Yeah, there are a lot of ways to count weight.
From Skin Out - Everything on you plus pack weight plus any hiking aids.
Pack weight - everything except cloths, hiking aids and items in your pockets (measured at the trail head)
Base Weight - Everthing in your pack except food, fuel, and water, but including the pack.
Pase Pack Weight - Everything in your pack excluding consumables, including the pack
(I have seen these last two interchanged, and, used identically...)
Light weight - less than 20 pounds base weight.
UL - Less than 10 pounds base weight
SUL - Less than 5 pounds base weight
XUL - less than 3 pounds base weight