I think there needs to be a handicapping system for base weights based on region! (I have had this in mind for awhile.)
When everyone posts their 3- and 4- and 5-lb base weights, I am always amazed. Not having traveled much, it's so hard for me to imagine some these gear lists keeping the user alive without the need for a lean-to and a giant fire! But I know there are places all over the US (and possibly somewhere in Canada too I suppose) where the air stays essentially at room temperature all night, there are no bugs, storms are rare, and a naked man with a pocket knife and two matches could probably have a very enjoyable hike!
In my neighborhood, I never hike anywhere in the backcountry where I don't have to be prepared for the reasonable *possibility* of one of the following conditions:
1) Mountain hiking: days near freezing, nights below freezing, wet snow or freezing rain plus fog possible any time or all the time 24 hours a day. Infinite insect density if the wind is below 10 knots. Large predatory grizzlies and medium-sized black bears; more than 1000 bears are destroyed per year in BC for various reasons including aggression towards humans. Bear predation on humans happens multiple times annually here and usually only makes it past local news if it's a tourist.
2) Coastal hiking: days near freezing, 100% humidity with blowing fog and constant rain varying in intensity from the instant you step out of your car to the instant you get back in. Walking in nothing but mud, slick mossy rocks, with significant falls due to terrain a frequent possibility.
Not trying to brag or say I'm some kind of tough hiker; I'm not. It's not often you'd be trapped for an entire week in a weather system like that. But everyone I hike with has similar stories.
We have incredible weather and incredible hiking up here too but we tend to pick our weather windows for hiking trips. Our mountain highways are posted with signs that say "Expect Severe Winter Weather Conditions Year-Round" and they're not kidding. I've come down from passes in 4wd in 6" of snow in mid-July and I've had to huddle beside the engine of my motorcycle to get my fingers moving again in an August snowstorm.
Apparently Ray's base weight was 12lbs when he got up to BC; I make gear lists that dip to 9 lbs but they give me the heebie jeebies. I wouldn't go out without a pound of bear spray and a 20* sleep system; last summer was the first time I went without a redundant set of dry clothes. Poncho tarps need not apply!
Anyway what's our base-weight handicap up here? I think that 3lbs would be fair. Or, conversely, should people insist that the worst expected conditions be described when a gear list is posted? :)
I'd love to know what Erin McKittrick's base weight is!