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Newb question about pack weight
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Nate Boyer
(NateB123) - MLife
Newb question about pack weight on 11/02/2012 09:28:35 MDT Print View

Do you guys consider "base weight" to be everything in your pack (pack included), except food/water/clothes? Or are clothes not worn included in your base weight?

It seems there should be a "sticky," or something about this type of stuff.

I'm down to 11.5 lbs without water/food/clothes. I'm hoping to get down to ten, without using an alcohol stove. I'll be posting my geargrams list when I'm a little more dialed in.

Here There
(cowexnihilo) - MLife
Re: Newb question about pack weight on 11/02/2012 09:48:49 MDT Print View

Hi Nate,

Clothing not worn is also included in base weight. Only "consumables" (food, water, fuel) and clothing worn are generally excluded from base weight.

Go ahead and post your geargrams list and you'll get tons of helpful feedback to get you to ten or below!


Nate Boyer
(NateB123) - MLife
fuel on 11/02/2012 09:52:21 MDT Print View

I'm suprised fuel is not included. Interesting. Thanks. I'll post my list for December's trip to Mount Elbert in Colorado once I get my clothing figured out.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Newb question about pack weight on 11/02/2012 10:56:28 MDT Print View

Total weight is very important. Base weight without consumables gives a frame of reference for comparison and discussion. In general, you would be using the same kit for 3 days or 3 weeks, with consumables being the variable.

Nate Boyer
(NateB123) - MLife
kit on 11/02/2012 11:28:20 MDT Print View

This seems wrong to me. When I'm out in Minnesota winters, versus Minnesota summers, my base weight will chage significantly due to clothing carried.

Minus the clothing, I would agree that your base weight would normally be the same.

Would you agree?

Nate Boyer
(NateB123) - MLife
weight on 11/02/2012 11:31:24 MDT Print View

You're saying for the same trip....base weight would be the same for 3 days, or 3 weeks. I see.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: kit on 11/02/2012 12:32:32 MDT Print View

Nate, your base weight will change during the winter. here are some examples:

Sleeping bag/quilt- Summer and winter bags/quilts weights are different. I would not carry the same bag/quilt in the summer as I do in the winter (way to hot).

Sleeping pad- as with the above you need more insulation in winter, so your pad(s) will weigh more.

Clothing- yes clothing is included- because it is a non-variable weight, it doesn't change while you are on your trip.

The only thing you don't include (as stated above) is consumables, i.e.- Food, Water, Fuel. Everything else should be a constant. Base weights change depending on the season and your list will also change.

A lot of people will disagree with David's comment above "clothing worn are generally excluded". This is a constant and it is weight that you are carrying as well as the stuff in your pockets. This is termed "skin out" base weight and if you look at most of the gear lists that are posted by those that have been here for a while, they will list everything.

Be careful this can become an incurable obsession.

Edit- spelling

Edited by bestbuilder on 11/02/2012 13:45:34 MDT.

Here There
(cowexnihilo) - MLife
Re: Re: kit on 11/02/2012 12:39:25 MDT Print View

I agree that when posting a list it's best to include everything that you're taking with you, including worn items. Heck, people might even be able to point out ways that you can save weight on consumables. All I was referring to above was base -pack- weight, which does not usually include clothing worn (though doing things like trying to make your pack look lighter by putting more things in your pockets is just silly).



Geargrams makes all this pretty easy for you: just mark food, water, and fuel as 'consumables' and mark clothing you wear all the time as 'worn'. Things like puffy jackets and rain gear do not get marked as 'worn' and should show up in your base pack weight. Then you get a nice breakdown of everything so you can see what your base pack weight is (just listed as 'pack' in geargrams), the weight of items worn, and the weight of all consumables.

That way once you dial a list in (like a winter list) all you have to do is change the amount of consumables depending on trip length.

Edited by cowexnihilo on 11/02/2012 12:47:04 MDT.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Weights on 11/02/2012 14:22:26 MDT Print View

There are a few measurements that get compared most often.
Base weight: everything but consumables, some will say food fuel and water, only. Others say things like bug dope, soap, water treatment drops "anything that gets consumed" on a trip. Usually this is ONLY applicable for three season hiking.
FSO: "From Skin Out" All of the above and including clothing worn, things in your pockets.
Pack Weight: What you carry in the pack at the start of a trip. This is easy to measure with a bike scale.
Winter Weight: The weight of everything you need for a comfortable winter camping trip.
There are other things that can have meaning:
20 degree base weight. Or 0 degree pack weight. But these are used for discussion purposes mostly.
XXSUL means a base weight of 2 pounds or less.
XSUL means a base weight of 3 pounds or less.
SUL means a base weight of 5 pounds or less
UL means a base weight of 10 pounds or less.
Light weight means a base weight of 20 pounds or less.
Midweight means between 20-30 pounds.
Heavy weight means over 40 pounds.

These are all just used in conversion. Basically, anything less than UL means you have the proper mind set for dual purpose gear, for choosing light weight gear, for choosing small volume gear that fits in smaller volume packs. For critically analyzing durability vs reliability. For paying dollars by choosing super light gear. For making light gear work in systems that keep you comfortable and safe in the wilderness. For making sure you stay found. For making sure your partners are minimally supplied for the outside. It also means shaving a 20 degree safety margin down to 5 degree safety margin. And doing it all comfortably. Without getting soaked in summer and not being able to change into dry clothing on 50 degree nights. Without shivering all night doing 50 situps every half to generate body heat.
Without climbing into a rotted log for warmth. Without worrying to much, wether the sun will shine tomorrow. Can you prdict the weather for the next twelve hours by looking at the winds, sky and remembering past trends?

These are all just conversational names we put on things, knowing that wilderness conditions are highly variable. Each of the things mentiond becomes the subject of study and experimentation in the field. 'Cuz it is nice to carry a light pack.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Base weight vs. FSO on 11/03/2012 18:20:35 MDT Print View

Personally I find it much more useful to compare FSO (from skin out) weights than base pack weights, because thee is no consistency in what people wear or carry in their pockets. So it makes more sense to me to compare FSO weight, since that includes everything you have with you, and thus everything you are moving down the rail and up the hill.

d c
FSO on 11/03/2012 19:48:21 MDT Print View

You need to look at what you are wearing as seriously as your base, so FSO is the only thing that is meaningful to me. When you get to the point of counting ounces, it is easy to blow it with a heavy pair of shorts, junk in your pockets, stuff hanging around your neck, heavy trekking poles, a giant GPS watch, designer sunglasses, big hats, etc. You can be kidding yourself if you don't consider FSO.

Edited by dc on 11/03/2012 21:09:53 MDT.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
FSO? Rarely used except as comparison. on 11/04/2012 06:20:51 MST Print View

I guess FSO weight is fairly unimportant in discussions, to me.

I always use the same clothing for 3 season camping:
Pants, shirt, socks, hat, shoes, staff, pocket knife, map & compass and car key... FSO means simply adding my cloths, staff and pocket knife, they weigh around 5 pounds give or take, always.

I always carry the same base weight for 3 season camping. About 9-11 pounds, depending on what sleeping bag, and thickness of my long johns, always.

Consumables or "live load" in my pack means a LOT more to me than base weight and FSO weight. Water is mostly 2 pounds: 2 .5L bottles. Food can varry...between 1.1 pounds and 2.5 pounds. This means my pack weight will varry from 11 pounds for two nights out to 24 pounds for two week canoe trip. Yet FSO doesn't catch a trip like this, either. None of the definitions will catch the overall loads of walking a canoe on wheels down a trail.

Like base weight for two night or two weeks, clothing doesn't change. FSO is important as an overall definition. But FSO or base weight do not answer the basic question: Where can I reduce weight and still be comfortable? It does not answer where. My cloths? My pack? My tarp? To me this means it is less precise than pack weight. While always considered, I rarely use the FSO definition. I can add in 5 pounds to mine or subtract 5 pounds from yours...roughly speaking I can derive the pack weight. Does this mean I will not change out a my 1 pound, heavy nylon pants for 12oz UL rail riders? No.

But, all definitions are only descriptions of what is actually happening. Man (or woman) walking over a trail. How much weight does he carry? Wheeling a canoe means half the weight of the canoe, the other half is on the wheels. Do you add the entire weight, or only half? All are imprecise as far as they go, never absolute...till you are actually walking on the trail, they are only words and only used for comparison. FSO, Base weight, Pack weight are only words. Everyone will have their choice measurement. To a new hiker, understanding them all is what IS important.

Brian Johns

Locale: NorCal
Consumable Containers on 11/04/2012 13:07:32 MST Print View

Nate, one caveat that I am not sure has been mentioned above - possibly because it goes without saying on some level - but you should include the weight if your water bottle, fuel bottle or empty fuel container(s) for a gas stove, and food bag as well as any water/odor-proof bags you carry meals and snacks in your base weight. This is why Alcohol or esbit can help with weight so well, especially on shorter trips, where you won't have to carry a steel can for your fuel, and also why you see folks around here prefer a .9 oz. recycled spring water bottle over a 6 oz. Nalgene bottle.

base on 11/04/2012 19:06:00 MST Print View

Most of the time when talk about base wt, people are referring to 3-season.

However, in summer, you can usually be much lighter, no insulation required at all in some places, and minimal shelter.

In winter, you may be MUCH heavier if looking at temps in teens or less, snow, etc. You may need different shelter, different sleeping gear, different pack to carry it all.\

So you still have to compare apples to apples. But the point is that you know YOUR basewt for various conditions., that lets you know what your pack will weigh for a 2 day trip, or a 7 day trip in given condions.