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I am a big guy!
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Shane Mihalko
(adudeuknow) - F

Locale: SW PA
I am a big guy! on 07/27/2012 03:56:10 MDT Print View

I am roughly 6'2, 305lbs...i'm in very good shape despite the extra fat put on since college wrestling ended 5 years ago. to put it as simply as i can:

Is there any way I could ever approach the 20lb mark outside of warm months?

I am as new as one can be to light backpacking. I have done 100 mile hikes with 40lbs on my back and I have to say that while I was able to pull it off, my back was very angry at me every night.

I have no experience in this area. I am very versatile in the woods and can make do with very little but am really looking into learning about fabrics/materials, etc....

Probably not looking into making anything on my own at the moment or in the near future but a kick in the right direction should serve a fella like me quite well.

Thanks in advance.

Shane in PA

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: I am a big guy! on 07/27/2012 04:18:33 MDT Print View

The good thing is that big people generally require thinner insulation, but that's more than made up by the need to wrap a bigger body.

Short answer, yes.

Probably the best way is to minimize layers. A poncho tarp should fit you while hiking and sleeping, and even a slightly bigger custom poncho tarp isn't going to weigh much. That may not be fun in wet weather though, and probably a bad idea when it's snowing. I'd want a tarp dodger in that weather or a different type of shelter. A wearable quilt would take be wider than for most people, but it'd save weight by serving as your down jacket.

You might need a wider pad. That's going to push 20 ounces in the winter.

I bet you could go under 15 pounds in the winter in cooler months.

Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
Big Guys Unite! on 07/27/2012 05:50:43 MDT Print View


I'm a big guy as well...6 feet tall and around 275 pounds. Sadly, I'm not in good shape, but yes - you can hit the 20 pound mark. I also live in PA (near Lancaster) and for trips from March - November I'm at around 20 pounds starting weight for a weekend trip - and that includes food and water.

When I first returned to backpacking after a 30-year hiatus I'm sure my pack weighed at least 60 pounds. Here are some of the highlights of what I carried on a June trip where the temperatures were a high in the 90's and lows in the 70's:
- Pack: ArcTeryx Bora 80 (8 pounds empty)
- Tent: Mountain Hardware PCT2 (6 pounds with groundsheet)
- Sleeping Bag: Sierra Designs Sandman 15-degree (4+ pounds)
- Water: 4 liters to start (9 pounds on a trail that crosses good water every 2 miles)
- Fuel: 1.5 QUARTS for my whitegas stove on a summer weekend trip
- Hammock & Tarp: Another 3 pounds so I could lounge a bit (this was in addition to my tent)

Clothing? I had a complete change of clothing for each of the three nights we were planning to be on the trail plus another full set of "just in case" clothes. I carried my Crocs (1 pound) as camp shoes. My raingear at the time weighed more than 3 pounds.

Looking back at it now I realize how little I knew, but I certainly couldn't see it at the time. Mike Clelland! gave me the best tip: Weigh everything. That's where you need to start because it gives you a reference point to see where you can get the most bang for your buck.

I've purchased a lot of gear in the past 7 years in an effort to lighten my load. I've made some good decisions and some rather poor ones. You can learn a lot from looking at the BPL forums.

Shoot me a PM if you're looking for PA trails to hike to test your setup. I have a bunch of suggestions.

Andrew McAlister
(mcalista) - F
Not that much extra on 07/27/2012 07:32:28 MDT Print View

I would have thought that the extra fabric involved would only be a few ounces.

If you post a gear list, I'm sure that there will be plenty of suggestions on how you can trim your pack weight down.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Sure on 07/27/2012 08:47:16 MDT Print View

Most of the stuff that has to be scaled up for body size really isn't that heavy. Silnylon. Down. Etc. Heck, I think you could get under 10 pounds base pack weight (not counting food and water) if you were fanatical enough- but it doesn't sound like you're one of the fanatics. I'm average-sized (5'10") and I can do a weekender on 8 pounds BPW comfortably.

Not to mention that logically you sasquatchi are also stronger as well as larger and thus should tolerate carrying a little more weight.

Later on in this post I tried a tongue-in-cheek method of figuring out how much of a difference body size makes:

It goes on for quite a while...

PS- @ Kevin- You drink FOUR LITERS every two miles? In Pennsylvania ?!?! Heck, man, water falls from the sky in Pennsylvania! It's not like here out west. For that matter, how on Earth do you use 1.5 QUARTS of stove fuel in a weekend? Wash your hands with it? I'd measure mine in ounces, brother. (Unless you're a backcountry gourmet or something...)

Edited by acrosome on 07/27/2012 08:52:39 MDT.

Jolly Green Giant
(regultr) - MLife

Re: I am a big guy! on 07/27/2012 08:49:03 MDT Print View

Hey Shane, welcome to the club. I'm 6'5" and about 290 right now. In almost any season, depending on gear choices, my kit ranges from 9-13 pounds with big-boy sized stuff and a responsible kit (versus leaving important things at home just to save weight). I could take it to 5 pounds, but I wouldn't be very comfortable. I could carry more and have plenty of comfort (in camp), but I don't want to carry a heavier load all day just to be comfortable for the few hours I'm in camp. So it comes down to what you choose to bring and the conditions you will face. This site offers a lot of insight when it comes down to lightweight and effective gear choices. There are also a lot of custom shops out there who can make gear to fit you using high end materials. Set up your PM and we can chat about it if you like.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: I am a big guy! on 07/27/2012 09:41:28 MDT Print View

My husband is 6'4" and has carried quite a few small loads. It comes down to picking as light of gear as you can. For my husband teh hardest issue has been packs that fit - he has a very long torso/normal legs. Not easy when you are a tall and NOT skinny guy!

Gerry Volpe

Locale: Vermont
Big Guys on 07/27/2012 10:33:41 MDT Print View

Another big guy here 6'2'' and 260. You will have no problems breaking 20lbs. As was said bigger clothes and sleep gear won't add enough weight to worry about unless you are gunning for something like sub 5lb skin out. Like all size humans our base weights are more a function of the money and time we put into it. I easily can pack a sub 10lb base weight of modestly priced gear without even resorting to my scale. The biggest advantage I see in body size is that perhaps shorter and smaller folks can get by with smaller shelters. I would love to use my small tarp regularly but except for short fairweather trips or a shelter heavy itinerary at a low use time of year it just doesn't cut it for me.

Shane Mihalko
(adudeuknow) - F

Locale: SW PA
wow!!! thanks on 07/27/2012 10:49:52 MDT Print View

I am already in love and obsessing over this site and the people here. I can't believe I've received so many in-depth responses so far. I will get my PM setup soon and hope to start talking a little more with the folks on here. I learned a ton just from reading the replies so far. Thank you to everyone! I can already tell what kind of community this is!!!

Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
Big Guy on 07/29/2012 16:05:32 MDT Print View


Sorry - I wasn't clear...No - I don't drink 4 liters every two miles. I was trying to explain the weight of my pack when I first got back into backpacking. I loaded my 3-liter Camelbak and had a full Nalgene in the side pocket. Although I was carrying a brand-new Sweetwater Pump filter I didn't have to use it until we got to camp the first day. I kept crossing over streams thinking how clever I was to be carrying water so that I didn't have to stop to fill up.

As for fuel: It was the first time I was using my stove and I had no concept of how much fuel would be needed for a three-night trip, so why not carry as much as you can? I laugh at myself now in hindsight and am amazed that my daughter (who was with me on that first trip carrying what was probably 40 pounds) is still willing to go with me.

To say that I've learned a ton from this website and resources suggested herein would be a major understatement: I feel as if I've learned almost everything I know about backpacking here.

So Shane, keep reading and looking at the posts. You'll be down to a 12-pound base weight in no time.

K ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Proportion? on 07/29/2012 16:49:12 MDT Print View

This has probably been touched on already, but if a 280 lb guy is shooting for a 12 lb base weight, in proportion I should be shooting for just over 4 lbs. I think you big guys actually have the advantage when carrying a pack.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: Proportion? on 07/29/2012 17:17:46 MDT Print View

"This has probably been touched on already, but if a 280 lb guy is shooting for a 12 lb base weight, in proportion I should be shooting for just over 4 lbs. I think you big guys actually have the advantage when carrying a pack"

But Kat, you are stronger than most us guys here!!!!.

K ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Re: Proportion? on 07/29/2012 17:30:11 MDT Print View

"But Kat, you are stronger than most us guys here!!!!."

Ha, ha :)
Maybe in proportion....or "Determination"??

Shane Mihalko
(adudeuknow) - F

Locale: SW PA
i remember college wrestling on 07/29/2012 21:07:53 MDT Print View

i was a heavyweight wrestler in college(197lbs-285lbs) and weighed around 245 and my coach used to make us do 1 mile buddy carries. i was lucky enough to get to carry the other heavyweight(265lbs) on my back in a fireman's carry for a mile+ at a time(yes, div 1 wrestling coaches are all psycho). if i could only keep thinking of that while hiking with my heavy pack this site would be null and void. hahaha

Edited by adudeuknow on 07/29/2012 22:57:21 MDT.