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Is Backpack Weight Important
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Darcy McCallum
(farfetchfilm) - F
Is Backpack Weight Important on 12/04/2011 23:11:46 MST Print View

g'day this is Darcy from Bicheon, Tasmania OZ (now living near Navy Base in Crib Point, Victoria) with my first post, I'm backpacking ATM down Queensland in North-East Australia, having flown to Cairns from GC after their film fest on Nov 27th, posting any decent gear I picked up and my old backpack, the Aarn Mountain Magic 55 which I picked up in August 2010 after my East Asian trip and have used ever since (thousands of k's and 14 countries thru the Carribean, North America & South Pacific since Feb 2011) I weighed it last month at 1162grams after mods and without counting the S2S Dry Bag I use instead, it could easily hold my old base carrying weight of about 9kg that would flucuate 2 up to 16kg if I was carrying food and putting water in pack (and not just on shoulder-strap clip). So about a six months ago I found out about Ray Jardine and read Trial Life whilst in the mid-west, I lated found that he had a website offering his ideas of lightweight backpacking as DIY packs, I choose the Ray Way Backpack is make and try out, if you want the pack can weight about 280g withouth straps, I added the hip/sternum belts as well as GGear hip pockets and my own custom made shoulder pouches which made the eventual weight 374g, not bad. So I've been camping and walking ever day with it since the 27th and have had a base weight of 6kg, though usually there is 7-9kg, minus the fact I have my phone in my pocket and about 1kg of food/water is in the shoulder pouches which much like the hip pockets have weight that goes unnoticed, so I'd say most of the time I have 5-7kg in a 374g pack on my back, but even though sometimes it feels okay then I have my down vest on, most of the time the weight is unbearable, seems crazy I know, but I've haven't had pack probs like this probably since I was in the aussie army without stupidly made/stuffed packs (2009), so I guess my query is, does the weight of a backpack matter? Ok we are talking about the Aarn here which loads weight completely diffrently, but are these custom made, sub 500g packs I bit taxing, can they only take up 2 8kg or something, is the aarn Conus Clip buckle a piece of magic? I don't know, all I know is that personally, I'm headed back to baby the MM55, which does weight about triple but, I don't seem to notice it, I think its purely cause of the Aarn's superior design and method, or in general do packs weights mean less cause there spread over you're hold back.. I ask..

Chase Norton
(Micronorton) - F
Re: Is Backpack Weight Important on 12/04/2011 23:29:43 MST Print View

Ho Darcy!

Glad to hear that you are enjoying a personal journey! You hit on some discussed about topics here and rightly so! Check out


The bottom line that I have learned is a UL backpack with a lot of volume is best for hikers who use CCF sleeping pads or other bulky but lightweight gear. And, some UL/L packs were just never made for anything more than 15-25lbs. Fair enough.

I have found that a GG Gorilla at I think ~25oz to carry 40lbs (9 days of food and water hike) just as well as my old Deuter 4lb hugger.

My conclusion? Don't try to go as UL as possible with a pack unless you know you will be under the 10lb or 5lb mark. Then really evaluate the different lightweight packs. GG vs. ULA...etc. All packs (even though it looks otherwise:) are made very differently.

Good luck on your journey and pack decisions!


Darcy McCallum
(farfetchfilm) - F
further, uninterupted thoughts on 12/04/2011 23:34:28 MST Print View

I did intent for the title to get peoples attention, though I do believe in most of the ULWB ideals, in fact if I were to adapt to my Ray Way, then the heaviest base-thing I'm carrying would be my Zpack sleeping bag @ about 433g, I'm using a GG nightpad which is awesome and is rather comfortable, but does it distrubt the weight well? seems to make a claim against this type of pad as you're sole back framing, I used to use some Highlander gear with my Aarn though would scrap conventional foam pad any day for the GG night pad, I'll do my gear list soon, though I won't give up on my ray-way-pack, would consider giving it some Aarn sport balance pockets and that beauty gold chest sprap, you never know, maybe some bold customizing could result in a decent flow-mo inspired backpack clocking in at say 650 for 50L capacity? or i could punk out and cross the tasman and try and get one of those trial gigs for the MM for 2012..

Darcy McCallum
(farfetchfilm) - F
Re: Re: Is Backpack Weight Important on 12/04/2011 23:42:50 MST Print View

thanks mate, maybe GG can makes better packs than ma & I, I guess thats what you get if you pay a little more, though have you ever worn the Aarn MM, I swear the secret is the golden chest buckle, man I should google those to see if you can buy em'.. (obviously you can tell I'm missing my pack, though only have to wait till the 25th at least.)

Ben F
(tekhna) - F
weight vs. comfort on 12/04/2011 23:43:47 MST Print View

As far as I'm concerned comfort is more important than superultra light.
I remember when I was part of the SUL cycling world people would build these ultralight, ultrafragile bikes that would basically never be used outside of perfect conditions and as a prop for photos on an internet forum. I drank the kool-aid, put my bike on a diet, and in the end it was uncomfortable and I rode less. Go with what works for you. There seem to be people here who can make it work for them, which is awesome. Doesn't seem to work for me. I use a heavier bag.

Chase Norton
(Micronorton) - F
Re: Re: Re: Is Backpack Weight Important on 12/04/2011 23:56:23 MST Print View

Design is everything and if you can design it on your own then more power! Myself, I found certain pay-for packs to handle much better than I could ever do, but then some that I feel could be made in my sleep. Tell me more about this golden chest buckle cause I will tell you about the golden shoulder straps GG has that at first I hated, but after a hard thru hike proved to be heavenly sent. I could carry the 40lbs without my belt hip attached because the shoulder straps were wide enough to spread the load and make hiking constant ups and downs painless.

The UL game has a learning curve in my opinion. You start your hiking career heavy with pointless gear. After a couple long hikes with this heavy gear, you read, learn and modify your gear to reduce weight. You then attempt to minimize everything (and most should be)! As time goes on though, you learn that some items (like a pack) can be a little heavier to fit what you enjoy.

Heavy-SUL-UL was my progression

Cooking gear, sleeping system, clothes, and lighting system are all items I say go as light as possible. Shelter and pack though tend to be the items that I will allow for a few extra ounces because too low for me equals pain on the trail. You seem to be discovering what works for you and in the end that is the only thing that matters.

safe trails,


Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Is Backpack Weight Important on 12/05/2011 00:50:16 MST Print View

Is Backpack Weight Important?

No. Comfort is.

I have some really light packs, the lightest is 113 grams (4 oz). If my total pack weight including food and water is over 4.5 kg (10lbs), the UL packs are uncomfortable. I own and have used some other light packs with minimal frames and have found all of them to be unsatisfactory. If I go much above 10lbs these days, then I use a McHale pack. It makes that much difference. Other folks thresholds for what is or is not comfortable may vary.

Chase Norton
(Micronorton) - F
Re: Re: Is Backpack Weight Important on 12/05/2011 00:57:40 MST Print View

+1 to McHale packs. He is insane, but so is Tinny at MBD. However, insanity breeds some of the best products Ive found. Sometimes, it is the insane idea of another that drives an entire market.

Edited by Micronorton on 12/05/2011 01:00:22 MST.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Is Backpack Weight Important on 12/05/2011 01:13:38 MST Print View

Dan isn't insane, he knows packs and materials. I am going to get another one and my wife is paying for it as a birthday present. She said she thinks I only want another pack so I can talk to Dan on the phone. Dan and I have a lot in common. Or maybe it is because I am insane?

Anyway, bottom line is that Dan builds his packs and suspensions to comfortably carry loads. Weight follows function and longevity.

Chase Norton
(Micronorton) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: Is Backpack Weight Important on 12/05/2011 01:26:53 MST Print View

Then, yes, you too are insane:-) I say insanity in the best way. These makers are fanatic about their products and so they should be! But insane? yes! Either way, we are agreeing about the same thing, McHale backpacks are the end all of the pack search;-)

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Is Backpack Weight Important on 12/05/2011 02:01:05 MST Print View


Edited by skopeo on 06/17/2015 16:40:09 MDT.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
"Is Backpack Weight Important": Yes on 12/05/2011 05:34:22 MST Print View

As you found out, 2lb makes a LOT of difference at 10-20 pounds. The question is, what difference is carrying 2 extra pounds at ANY time?

In rare cases, the suspension for light weight packs justify a bit of extra weight.
For a week to 10 days there is never a need for heavy packs, unless you want them. Kind'a hard to imagine WANTING to carry 2 pounds extra any distance.

I would suggest that unless you have some special need for super suspension system, there is really no need to carry the extra 2 pounds, anytime. It will ALWAYS make a difference to use a heavier pack than is necessary.

wander lust
fit and comfort is important on 12/05/2011 16:04:19 MST Print View

I kinda disagree with the last post.

Fit and comfort is really important. Than you can talk about weight.

A 7 to 10 day load can be heavier than 20 pounds, which is the comfort level for most frameless packs for most people. That really depends where and when you hike though.

If frameless packs work for you and you can stay under 20 pounds, go for it.

But ones you get over that comfort level such packs won't work as comfortable.
Sore shoulders just suck.

Besides, 2 extra pounds in the 10-20 pounds load range won't stop you doing stuff.
A pack with a frame is always more comfortable and worth the weight for me.
Well not when I carry stupid light loads.

Some people also just want a pack that does almost everything for them.

Aaron Croft
(aaronufl) - M

Locale: Oregon
Variables on 12/05/2011 16:24:19 MST Print View

"Some people also just want a pack that does almost everything for them."


I've started subscribing to this philosophy with most of my gear. Obviously I have a daypack for shorter hikes, but as a poor grad student (har har), I use the same pack for 1-3 nights as I do for 7-10. Not to mention that I carry climbing gear on occasion, so I really do need a frame for carrying that rack.

I think another variable is where you hike. I just did a thru-hike of Zion National Park where I was required to carry large amounts of water for long stretches of trail. Speaking from personal experience, I wouldn't want a frameless pack in this situation or locale. Conversely, I spent last summer in the PNW where there is water every 3 feet and a frameless pack would still be comfortable. YMMV.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
frameles v.s. internal frame packs on 12/05/2011 18:21:11 MST Print View

I am of the "Internal Frame Persuasion". We "Internalists" feel that a frame didtributes weight far better than any frameless pack, ESPECIALLY as loaded weight climbs above 25 lbs.

I like the Osprey EXOS for comfort and light weight.

Re: Re: Re: Re: Is Backpack Weight Important on 12/05/2011 22:36:40 MST Print View

From what I remember, McHale's are based on a design then you get to customize your final pack. What pack did you go with? As Ive only seen a few in person I would assume the Windsauk or LBP?

FWIW every McHale owner was absolutely satisfied.

Can we get a pic of yours?

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Weight & Comfort on 12/05/2011 22:58:03 MST Print View

I'm of the 'adequate comfortable-ness' mentality. I want the lightest pack that is 'adequately comfortable' and by that I mean I can carry it all day without encountering unreasonable discomfort. I don't need the most comfortable, padded, super duper pack, just one that isn't going to bother me as I hike.

There are two kinds of comfort at play here. There's how the pack feels on your back, and then there's the effects of carrying that pack on your whole body. A super padded 6 lbs backpack might feel awesome on your hips and back, but your poor legs have to carry those pounds too and they are going to wind up more tired & sore (ie. less comfortable) at the end of the day as a result of those pounds. You can swing too far one way or the other and wind up in rough shape.

For me, 15 lbs or less and I'm using a 5oz frameless cuben pack. 15-30 lbs and I'm using a light internal framed pack around 15-25oz. I don't regularly hike heavier than that, but if I was doing some huge unsupported wilderness treks that required 35-50 lbs then I'd be looking at a little more backpack structure.

Corbin McFarlane
(raven15) - MLife
packweight = 1/10th pack contents on 12/05/2011 23:04:42 MST Print View

Apparently, the ideal weight for a pack is 1/10 the weight of its contents, with a very few exceptions. Makes it easy...

50 lb = 5 lb pack.
30 lb = 3 lb pack.
10 lb = 1 lb pack.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Is Backpack Weight Important on 12/05/2011 23:13:33 MST Print View

When it comes to packs, there is good weight and bad weight. If you pack is it a little bit heavier, you want to make sure it's for a good reason (better weight capability, comfort ect.). But I guess that's what makes a pack good or not.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
simply on 12/06/2011 01:29:13 MST Print View

to put it simply ... yes any weight is important including the backpack

but worry about everything else first before your pack, if it already works for you

there are 2 pieces of gear where weight is irrelevant if it doesnt fit correctly or feels uncomfortable .. packs and shoes ...

most other gear you can "make" work ... i remember when i was a kid with oversized rain jackets ... and adult sleeping bags ...

packs and shoes are the one thing that absolutely must work ... regardless of how "heavy" or "light" it is ...