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Pack Base Weight - What am I doing wrong?

I am fairly new to backpacking, just getting back into it after several years since my last trip. I'm prepping for a five day moderate weather trip on the BMT, and my pack base weight is at 27 pounds. I've included a list below of what I've packed... just want to validate that I'm not doing anything ridiculously wrong and that this isn't an absurd weight. I don't plan to carry more than a liter of water at a time considering the multiple sources on my route, and I plan to be at around 1.75 pounds of food per day, so I expect my full weight to be around 37-38 pounds, which from what I can gather is on the higher end of where I should aspire to be. Appreciative of anyone that can weigh in for a bit of a "sanity check" based on my list . Let me know if you think anything I am carrying is just a completely noob mistake. Note that I have removed everything from stuff sacks unless otherwise noted below...

Pack - Osprey AG65


Tent, poles, fly, footprint, stakes (no stuff sack)

Repair kit - 2 cord locks, 1 buckle, multi-tool, 10 meters MSR ultra-light cord, coreless duct tape (.4 oz), 1 small tent pole repair sleeve

30 degree bag and inflatable pad (in compression stuff sack)


Sawyer squeeze filter and platypus bag

First aid - band aids, moleskin, ankle wrap, bandage, neosporin, tylenol

Hygiene - toothbrush, travel toothpaste, travel bug spray, travel sunscreen, chapstick

Single burner backpacking stove, 100g fuel, titanium spork, 2 cup pot

Clothes that won't be on my body - 1 extra pair of wool socks, synth. long underwear, long sleeve synthetic, lightweight rain jacket (few ounces), down puffy jacket will be on and off

Misc. - small lighter, mag strike fire starter, whistle, compass, Nat Geo folding map, plastic trowel, light pack rain cover, BV450 bear canister, titanium hiking poles, 2 carabiner clips, REI medium quick dry towel

Luxury - earbuds (no case), frisbee, 3 oz inflatable pillow, 1 lb 11oz flexlite camp chair, book, deck of cards


15 Replies

For 5 days, that doesn't sound (to me, anyway) to be that unreasonable. Regardless of whether you're heading out for one night or twenty, there are certain items that you have to take: shelter, sleep system, cooking system, etc.

Tents can range (I know because I've been fretting over which one to get this year) from under a pound to over 5 pounds. Sleeping bags can be under a pound to close to four. A pound for your pad, and then your cook stove and pot can be a few ounces to a pound. Those items right there give you a range of under three pounds to over 10.

If you're not traveling far AND your pack feels comfortable, I wouldn't worry if you're weight is 35 pounds (ish) including food. But, if you're doing 15-20 miles per day, you could look at the tent you're carrying and see if there's a lighter one you could use.

My dad use to tell me that if you look after the pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves. I suppose you could apply that to backpacking - if you take care of the ounces, the ponds will look after themselves.

It's really easy (I know) to feel that anything over a 10 pound base weight is excessive if you watch too many ultralight packers on YouTube. I am not one of them and never plan to be.

Anyway, if you feel it's too heavy, check your tent and your sleeping bag to see if there are lighter options - those seem to be the easiest to change and reduce weight.

“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.” (John Muir)

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Thanks for the reply and insight! I do think my tent, bag, and pad are on the heavier side, combined just shy of 10 lbs. I haven't purchased any high end light weight gear in this category due to budget, and I am not keen on sleeping under just a fly or in a hammock, so I suppose this will have to suffice for this trip. We'll see how it works out and look at potentially making an investment in some lighter shelter/sleep system in the future if this ends up being too much.

@gth840x - the good news is that you have a good pack. Or, I should say, a pack with a good reputation for properly distributing the weight. So, assuming you've got it configured right so that it fits you properly, you'll likely be fine.

Of course, if you want assistance in making sure it fits properly, sign up for a virtual outfitting appointment. They'll help you make sure it's set right and can even assist you in how to pack it for best comfort.

“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.” (John Muir)

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Agreed with everything @Dad_Aint_Hip mentioned.  I've recently started to get into the lightweight/ultra lightweight gear, and one thing I noticed right away is how differently an ultra light pack distributes the weight inside the pack around your hips.  So the load of a 10-15 pound base weight with an ultralight pack can actually FEEL HEAVIER than the load of a higher base weight, but with a more reinforced pack to distribute the weight.

With that said, I do really enjoy my lightweight gear.  I'll just have to get used to the weight distribution!

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
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look at the weight of the big 3, pack, tent, sleeping bag; btw what are their weights?

REI Member Since 1979

I don't this is unreasonable, especially for traditional backpacking. If you're fine with it, then I'm fine with it. If you wanted to lose some significant lb/oz, the first place I would look would be your shelter and sleep system. They can really cause your weight to go up quickly. I have gone from a sleeping bag to a quilt recently and I'm not looking back. I also don't personally take pots with me when I'm backpacking so I'm not familiar with how much they weigh but that also might be somewhere that you could shave some weight off. But you do have a very comfortable pack so that's nice! I tend to want to lighten my load for my knees sake, but to each their own. It just stinks that the quickest ways to lighten your pack weight are far and away the most expensive.

My overall advice would be to look into your big 3 when you have the extra money, but ultimately, just do whatever you have to do to enjoy your time the most. Backpacking is about being out in nature and being outside is more fun if you're back and knees aren't hurting as much. Me and my friends joke that I've spent way too much money to be able to walk and sleep outside.haha. Good luck!

"I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees."- Thoreau

27lb is not a horrible base weight unless you are intending big miles. With that pack you should be able to carry it fairly comfortably so long as the pack fits you properly, you are reasonably fit, the daily elevation gain is not excessive, you keep it to <~10 miles a day. If your plan has you going much faster/further than that then you might want to re-think your plan or your gear.

For comparison my full start weight for 7 nights of the southern end of the JMT was about 43lb including 2 liters of water. I think my base weight was in the low twenties probably not including the bear can, with a similar list of things but more food obviously. We averaged about 10 miles a day and 1500 feet+ varying between about 6 and 13 miles and 1000+ to 3000+ feet elevation gain all at around 10,000+ feet which may have affected the distance some.  I used a BV500 and a heavier pack but possibly I have some lighter depends on the details. My big 3 (really 4) on that trip weighed around 12.5 lb. (5.5lb pack, 3lb tent and giblets, 3.5lb sleeping bag, 12oz pad)

I assume you have tried out the full weight? I threw stuff in my pack to get to 47lb and hiked 5 miles in the rain over some elevation gain as a feasibility test...worked fine but I changed out my rain jacket as a result.

First step is to get a luggage scale and a kitchen scale and weigh everything. Then evaluate if you really need it, if there is something lighter you can use instead or that could be used to improvise the purpose of several items that together weight more. You don't want to compromise your safety to save weight but you should be realistic about what the likely risks are. From your list I'd say you may be a bit on the minimalist side with a couple of exceptions so it's not clear where the weight is hiding. You can use to break down the detail

A few thoughts...

Most obvious differences is I had no you really need a ~2lb chair? It can be nice if you are hiking to camp but if you are camping to hike then a chair is probably extraneous. It's worthiness may depend somewhat on the terrain and weather you expect and the company you expect to keep. Evenings around a campfire with friends can be chair worthy...raining and tired so straight to bed makes it pointless weight.

Hiking poles generally are not counted as packed weight...unless you never use them but then why take them?

Nalgene?...I carried one on that trip but I also use disposable SMART water bottles with and instead...they are a fraction of the weight although you cannot put hot liquids in them...Not sure Platypus bottles work with the Squeeze...the thread is different. EverNew bottles are supposed to work. Make sure to test out whatever you chose. I use a CNOC VECTO but they are sold out right now. You can just use a disposable SMART water bottle for the squeeze part. You should have capacity for 2L in case things are drier than you anticipate. You don't necessarily need to fill them to capacity and you can dump water if it is obviously not a going to be a problem. Take some PUR or aqua-mira to back up your filter.

What stove? Sounds like you have something fairly light but if not there are fairly cheap lightweight stoves available. I like the Soto Amicus igniter <3oz but there are many others. You may want a Talenti ice cream pot or some kind of cup in addition to the cooking pot. You can shake up a cold granola breakfast in a Talenti while using the pot for coffee fex. Snow peak hot lips can help when drinking from a hot metal pot but if the pot is titanium you might not find them necessary.

What multitool? I carried a Leatherman micra <2oz...useful if something comes up. If yours is a full size one I would re-think that.

Your spare clothing sounds a bit skimpy actually...for a 4 night trip I generally carry a change of underwear (tee and briefs) in addition to long underwear and full rain gear, puffy, wool beanie, fleece gloves, change of socks. I wear a wide brimmed hat in the sun and change to the billed running hat to work with a rain hood if it rains. Generally I wear the long underwear to bed unless it is warm out. My experience is in the Sierra which is almost always cold at night but mostly sunny in the summer although we had 3 days of off and on rain/hail on that trip.

I recommend carrying a Deuce poo trowel or the orange Coghlans...unless where you are going is very mostly deep leaf litter or has pit toilets...People that say they use a trekking pole or a boot are almost certainly not burying their poo under 6 inches of soil and are probably lying if they say they do. That is hard enough to do with a trowel in many places.

You can probably be more efficient with food. For trips up to to 7 nights I have found that often I'm not that hungry. "Hiker hunger" takes about 1.5 to 2 weeks to kick in from what I have read and observed so you may need less food than you is hard to judge but for 4 nights, if you are basically healthy, you are not going to suffer that much if you get it a bit off. The 2lb a day rule of thumb is based on 3200 cal @ 100cal/oz as needed by an active 18 to 35 year old male. Carry a bit more calorie dense food like nuts and fats which are typically ~200cal+/oz (add olive oil to a meal to boost its calories fex.) and you can probably reduce the food weight a bit.

Phone, charger, battery bank and cables? An essential!

You have good advice in the preceding posts and I will not repeat, but simply observe that the best way to pitch a tarp is not as a fly but as a lean to - the windward side on the ground, with the other end pitched relatively high.  A lot depends on your anticipated weather and the terrain you will traverse.  There is considerable variation in the weight of tarps; you can obtain plastic sheeting which is very light, and probably only suitable for one trip. 

I have been fortunate enough to spend time in country where natural shelters were common, especially rocky overhangs.  The best of these are superior to any tent and you can't beat the weight savings....

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@gth840xDon't see anything wrong with your packing list or base weight. Seems like you have everything comfortably covered. As you and a couple others mentioned, shedding significant pounds could cost hundreds of dollars. You're the best judge of the pros/cons of that.

If you really want to nitpick what you already have, here are a few thoughts that could shed a few ounces.

- small lighter and mag strike fire starter: seems like you could do with just the lighter, especially for 5 days. you'll unlikely burn through all the fuel.

- bug spray and sunscreen: I hike in a long sleeve to cover my arms from sun and bugs. That way I can leave the bug spray and sunscreen at home.