Forum Index » General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion » Survey of pack weights?


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Kevin Burton
(burtonator) - F

Locale: norcal
Survey of pack weights? on 07/07/2013 11:26:07 MDT Print View

I thought of this idea as I was LEAVING the woods this weekend.

Would be interesting to just ask 20-30 people that you meet on the trail the weights of their packs (if they even know) ...

If they DO NOT know that's telling too.

But the data could be very interesting. I'm curious what the mean pack weight is...

Some of these guys have 50lb packs.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Survey of pack weights? on 07/07/2013 11:34:03 MDT Print View

Up in the Canadian Rockies, we see a lot of very large loads for weekend treks. I recently saw a guy with a sack of potatoes hanging on the outside of his pack. Having said that, I know that he was only doing 30km in 3 days.

I would say the average weight based on impromptu conversations with this met on the trail is about 40 lbs for 3 days. I see very few lightweight backpackers here, although they do exist.

Kevin Burton
(burtonator) - F

Locale: norcal
weight.. on 07/07/2013 11:44:58 MDT Print View

The funny thing is that while I can physically lift a 35-50 lb pack and could certainly pack with it, the skin on my hips PHYSICALLY can not stand that much weight.

I'm not sure why... I just get horribly bruised and it causes serious damage after a few hours. It seems like 32lbs was the cut off point for me.

Having a 10-12 pack (with food) is definitely awesome.

My goal this year is to shave another 5... somehow!

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: weight.. on 07/07/2013 12:06:51 MDT Print View

I hear ya. Belt slip sucks and then you over tighten the belt to compensate.

Lightweight is the goal but I will say, a 10 pound base is fine for almost any condition. I have tried to get to the SUL range but end up cold in the area where I trek.

spelt the enigmatic
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: Survey of pack weights? on 07/07/2013 12:19:35 MDT Print View

Most of the time I couldn't tell you what my pack weighs on trail, and I have a spreadsheet and everything. What makes you think someone who doesn't weigh any of their stuff could accurately tell you their pack weight?

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
weights on 07/07/2013 12:21:03 MDT Print View

Id say 40-45 is about average for many people.

Its both their gear and their mentality.

Cheap heavy gear, multiple sets of clothing, just in case items, and electronic gizmos add extra 10 lb to many packs. Also every heavy gadget the outdoor store sells.

As long as they have no interest in hiking more than 7 mpd, or doing long hikes, it works for them.

Ive lost count of the # of solar cell panels Ive seen on huge backpacks to charge electronic toys. Thats what it is, a toy, for people that are addicted.

Edited by livingontheroad on 07/07/2013 12:21:56 MDT.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Survey of pack weights? on 07/07/2013 12:25:14 MDT Print View

Spelt brings up a good point. However, many who I have spoken to have said they stand on a bathroom scale with a fully loaded pack.

spelt the enigmatic
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: Re: Re: Survey of pack weights? on 07/07/2013 12:30:28 MDT Print View

Then the question becomes are they giving you full skin-out weight, are they standing on the scale naked wearing their pack? Methodological inconsistency could tank the whole survey. ;)

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Great Lakes Bay Region
Re: weights on 07/07/2013 12:34:55 MDT Print View

I was on a trip last weekend and one of my buddies packs weighed much the same as mine (we never weighed them) but another buddy had a jansport external frame which weighed twice as much.

As we were sleeping, cooking and filtering water as a group I divided out the kit between us, but when we stopped for the day the guy with the heavy pack produced a Gas stove a saw and a heavy tarp, when questioned he said he brought them just in case.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Re: Survey of pack weights? on 07/07/2013 12:39:56 MDT Print View

Thanks Spelt, I just got a visual. LOL

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: weights on 07/07/2013 12:44:48 MDT Print View

Stephen, that almost sounds like another thread - one I'm sure I'd love to read. Over the years, what are the weirdest/funniest thing you saw someone pull out of their pack?

I kick myself for not taking a picture at the time - either my jaw was just too dropped, or I didn't want to be impolite, but I once saw a guy in Lyell valley (in Yosemite, JMT and PCT) with a huge backpack, but attached to either side of this huge backpacks were harnesses, and in each harness hung a 3-4 year old child.

Edited by millonas on 07/07/2013 12:45:57 MDT.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Great Lakes Bay Region
Re: Re: Re: weights on 07/07/2013 12:47:24 MDT Print View

We did not mind though as it slowed my buddy down :-)

Just getting on a flight.

Fitz Travels
(fitztravels)
National Geographic Alaska Show on 07/07/2013 13:00:16 MDT Print View

I dont watch TV much, but this weekend i caught that National Geographic show where a group of people are hiking and boating through Alaska and all of them had HUGE packs, 80L perhaps more, and i just had to wonder.... What in the hell are in these packs. They all are supposed hardcore skilled outdoorsmen but they are cooking in insanely huge heavy frying pans. They arent carrying food either. My heavist winter pack weighs around 15 lbs, minus any food and water, and thats my all frills pack plus i am including both my fleece and synthetic jacket in the weight, which at least one, if not both, will be worn. I understand their needs are different then mine, and perhaps durability becomes more important thus more bulky and heavier...but still, i just cant imagine filling a 80L pack full of gear, no food, and having it bulging.

Am i becoming a snobby, self righteous gear snob?

Edited by fitztravels on 07/07/2013 13:01:24 MDT.

M G
(drown) - F - MLife

Locale: Shenandoah
methodology on 07/07/2013 13:03:18 MDT Print View

BPL used to sell a fairly compact and light digital scale. Something like that could be carried to provide consistent measurements.Of course you would still have to adjust for amount of food, water and days out....Best approach might be to do it at a trailhead with a a brief informal set of questions ( how much water, how many days out,) to get meaningful results. Would be interesting to see how the results would vary seasonally and regionally if repeated over time and in different locations.

Edited by drown on 07/07/2013 13:03:58 MDT.

M G
(drown) - F - MLife

Locale: Shenandoah
Re: National Geographic Alaska Show on 07/07/2013 13:05:52 MDT Print View

I would certainly not use NG as the benchmark for lightweight, quite the opposite in fact. They are about as mainstream as it comes despite publishing Skurka's book.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Survey of pack weights? on 07/07/2013 13:21:15 MDT Print View

This thought never crossed my mind.

I only care about how much MY pack weighs.

I could care less what others do. If I see someone struggling under a heavy pack, I say, "Hi" and keep going, minding my own business. People with heavy packs don't ask about my pack weight, I guess they assume I am a day hiker or irresponsibly light.

I don't weigh it anymore. I take what I need, and what it weighs, is what it weighs. I use a spreadsheet as a checklist so I can calculate the weight if I want.

I have a couple packs that can carry heavy loads with no hip discomfort, a good pack can do this.

Kevin Schneringer
(Slammer) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma Flat Lands
Everything - in its place on 07/07/2013 14:18:02 MDT Print View

Large packs full of insane gadgets and goodies.
Mostly I see odd, just in case, items where I hike.

Extra stuff requires stuff sacks, dry bags etc.
Where does it stop?

Like Nick I just do my own thing.
It used to be somewhat entertaining but now I just wish
I could educate them. Most wont listen.
So I just try and ignore them.

My hiking buddy had 9 stuff sacks 3 weeks ago
On a 2 day/2 nighter. I had one- for food.


We both enjoy critiquing each others gear.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Survey of pack weights? on 07/07/2013 14:22:08 MDT Print View

Popular in the Trinity Alps is carrying some ginormous external frame pack with a fully loaded JanSport daypack either strapped on the back of the pack or worn in the front in an effort to balance out the load. More than once I've seen full size pillows from home.

50 pound packs? I'm guessing closer to 70 in some cases for a three day trip.

Edited by kthompson on 07/07/2013 14:22:57 MDT.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: Survey of pack weights? on 07/07/2013 14:35:17 MDT Print View

"Popular in the Trinity Alps is carrying some ginormous external frame pack with a fully loaded JanSport daypack either strapped on the back of the pack or worn in the front in an effort to balance out the load. "

Maybe these are the same people who drive a 40 foot luxury RV and drag their car along on the back.

Still as far as the OP original idea, I'd say most people likely don't care enough about the weight of their pack to know it, so the whole idea may not work. You need to remember that it is *we* that are the weird one. I neither care, nor do I think it matters, so long as I/they feel happy. I do get a tremendous amount of amusement out of the issue sometimes, but I know I more than make up for it by the amusement I provide to the "normal" backpacker walking by.

Kevin Burton
(burtonator) - F

Locale: norcal
Re: weights on 07/07/2013 14:36:18 MDT Print View

to be fair I'm addicted too but I just bring an extra battery.

Between GPS, podcasts, kindle, movies, documentaries, audiobooks, ... it's not something I want to live without.

I feel WAY more at home in the woods when I can sit in my hammock and listen to an audiobook if I'm in the back woods for longer periods of time.

spelt the enigmatic
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: methodology on 07/07/2013 16:23:47 MDT Print View

I like the parking lot idea. People would probably be happy to do it, the ULers for lightweight bragging rights and the heavyweighters for their own trophy (it is made of lead).

M G
(drown) - F - MLife

Locale: Shenandoah
Re: Re: methodology on 07/07/2013 16:44:07 MDT Print View

The trailhead approach was used by some friends of mine when looking at map use in National Parks:
http://www.shadedrelief.com/Zion/index.html

Dena Kelley
(EagleRiverDee) - M

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
"Survey of pack weights?" on 07/08/2013 10:44:29 MDT Print View

I always step on a scale and weigh mine before I leave, just for curiosity's sake. But I'm more of a light backpacker, as opposed to UL. I could drop 5 lbs by leaving a few of my comfort items out, and yet I always take them.

I do look at other people's packs. And while bulk isn't proof positive of how heavy the pack is, I can generally gauge weight by appearance and the amount of staggering the person carrying the pack is doing. I did a day trip this weekend on a trail that is a common 2 day through-hike called Crow Pass here in Alaska and saw some huge packs that I would estimate were in the 60 lb range.

Edited by EagleRiverDee on 07/08/2013 10:45:04 MDT.

Ben Pearre
(fugue137) - MLife
Re: Re: Survey of pack weights? on 07/14/2013 10:55:10 MDT Print View

I'd be curious to see a graph of pack weight vs. household income. Not everyone (especially in rural Canada) considers upgrading a piece of kit while the current item is still functional. Although sacks of potatoes and children seem to suggest a peculiar kind of gourmand...

I can't seem to get my pre-food skin-out weight below about 10.3 kg in Colorado in summer (thanks for the recent "mountain SUL" piece; it helped somewhat). There are just too many things I "need" (such as 1.2 kg of SLR+tripod+bag (an EVIL camera is the least cost-effective upgrade on my list, saving a scant 0.5 g/$ if I go Sony), and my heaviest item at the moment is my 2-kg pack).

Best surprise item I've seen a friend pull out of a pack was a kite. He _really_ wanted to fly it from the continental divide :)

Best surprise item I've pulled out of my own pack was my SLR that time I'd forgotten to bring the SD card.

Edited by fugue137 on 07/14/2013 11:01:30 MDT.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
"...32 lbs. is the cutoff point..." on 07/14/2013 13:48:24 MDT Print View

Yeah"! Me too B/C 32 lbs. seems the max comfortable 3 season pack load for a week long trip. That's what I started with in Utah's Coyote Gulch trip a month ago.

At the trip's end I had about 25 lbs. total and that 7 lbs. made a difference in the spring in my step (well, that and the prospect of a cold beer that afternoon. ;o)

Now maybe an Osprey EXOS 58 would feel better. I may try it and give my REI UL 60 to a deserving Boy Scout.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Survey of pack weights? on 07/15/2013 00:33:18 MDT Print View

As a long time fisherman, I have always had some kind of fish weighing scale that I can toss into the trunk of my car if I'm backpacking with a group of friends (in the old days it was a spring scale and I now have a digital scale which seems pretty accurate).

I love to pull out the scale as the packs are unloaded from the vehicles and dare everybody to weigh their packs. I don't hike with light weight backpackers, so most of them have no idea what their final pack weight is (although I suspect some might do the bathroom scale weigh-in). Most people are very curious and want to know their starting pack weight but the odd guy will refuse. The scale is good to 50 lbs so anything over that is... well... just embarrassing for somebody! Most seem to keep it under 50 lbs for a week long trip.

My favorite thing is watching them struggle with the scale... it's really hard to hold a fish scale out in front of you with a 45+ pound pack on the hook!

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Packs on 07/15/2013 07:10:24 MDT Print View

"What in the hell are in these packs. They all are supposed hardcore skilled outdoorsmen but they are cooking in insanely huge heavy frying pans."
I think that "frying pan" is actually a gold panning pan. Those guys do have huge packs. They are supposedly going from one adventure to the next with the same gear (except for special gear like packrafts one episode), so there's a lot of gear that's packed for niche uses and doesn't come out most episodes (ie. climbing ropes). But still, the packs do seem huge.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Mine's so heavy...lol on 07/15/2013 14:29:02 MDT Print View

 photo Bridge_zpsa44adb91.jpg

A long time ago (eg. 4 years ago), I cared about my pack weight. My pack was oh-so-tiny. I wore my UL Wanker Crown proudly.

Then Triple B (Bowling Ball Buns) came along. Then Lord Chubbington, The First, of Backbreakingshire arrived.

See that photo above from 2 weekends ago? LC weighs in at 29 lbs naked, at 17 months. Add in a 8 lbs of pack, plus water and gear for him and I? We are talking between 45 and 50 lbs. (He has to have that pack as well - the Deuters are the only ones tall enough for him - he is also nearly 3 feet high.....)

It's a good thing I took up weight training. Seriously.

Went backpacking 3 weekends ago and while I had a daypack on, I truly didn't care what went in. A solo overnight pack is a dream weight compared to hauling Lord Chubbington.

Anyhow...I have come to the realization that weight doesn't truly matter much anymore, for a few more years. Well it does, in a way...at the gym. Lol.....

Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Re: Re: Re: weights on 07/17/2013 18:51:02 MDT Print View

"...with a huge backpack, but attached to either side of this huge backpacks were harnesses, and in each harness hung a 3-4 year old child."

I actually considered taking one of those framed backpack kid carriers (whatever they are called) and attaching my gear (using stuff sacks, etc) to it so I could take my daughter. When I started adding up the weight I changed my mind! I have to give it to that Dad! :)