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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

@gth840x - Get a scale and weigh everything is most critical.  Reconsider the book and cards IMO.  Evaluate what is your purpose of getting into wilderness.  Many people are frightened of silence and a non-busy brain.  They feel the need to DO something to avoid being truly alone.  Take out the earbuds and listen to nature....birds, water moving, wind the trees, silence of a peaceful lake.  In 32 years of backpacking I and my group seldom went more than 6 miles a day.  Stop and really experience this wonderful world.  I also never took a chair.  Stick you hiking staff at an angle into the ground and lean the backpack on it....a perfect 'chair'.  Plan to be dirty or wash a shirt in river water on a sunny afternoon.  No real need for clean clothes, just enough for protection from cold  Do your research and practice ahead of time so when you are out there you are not worrying about what new gear do I need.     

OR just take what makes you feel good and safe and gain knowledge and skill through personal experience so you can have full and relaxing trips.  There is nothing wrong.

In another post I wrote this for a beginner backpacker.  It might be useful here as well:

Understand that clothes and sleeping bags are NOT WARM.  A thermometer in them would record ambient temp.  The key to keeping warm is regulating the source of heat=your own body.  There are 5 ways a body looses heat: evaporation, conduction, convection, radiation, and respiration.  Clothes will control several of those but the actual heat comes only from food and drink and conserving what heat your body can generate.  I think this is the most important thing to know about beginner backpacking.   

Remember the big three are where most weight is usually found.  a tent should be no more than 2 LBS and pack the same.  Camp chairs as luxury should be looked at as there are much lighter options (Sit pads). 

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

Ditto above. Some things I would cut: camp stool (bear vault works). Platypus (take off pack for 5 minutes ea hour, sip from water bottle, & have a small bite). Cards (unless there are knots shown on the back). Frisbee (I get too tired). Tent (poncho works well w taut-line-hitch tie-outs, and also replaces pack cover when hiking). I prefer lightest pair of small pliers I can find to a multi-tool (pocket knife's always in my pocket).
I’d also add: light poly beanie covering ears that fits under hats or helmet. Silk balaclava (for sleeping & cold-weather. Silk bandana for neck in cool morning or overnight. A guy, I use triple-stitch swim trunks w net liner, skip underwear altogether.


Take everything you think you want, camp in your yard or somewhere close to home that you are not packing into. Keep a list of stuff you actually use. (fyi, pad and pencil are a good item to have in your pack)


@gth840x - I started using the site Lighter Pack. You enter all of your gear, including weight, and it tells you what your weight is; it calculates base pack weight, consumables, items worn, and skin-out weight. 

By being able to see the total list of what I was bringing and what it all weighed, I was able to find quite a few items that I could leave at home or replace with lighter options. Using the site,  I was able to my base weight down to 22½ pounds (and I still to re-evaluate a few items and decide if I really want a chair. So I may actually get it down to just under 20 lbs).

It takes a little while to get everything entered in but I think it's a worthwhile effort. Plus you end up with a great inventory sheet that you can use as a packing list as well as a list to double check to make sure  you're packing everything you need.

“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.

Chair, book, deck of cards.

Did you cut the labels off of everything? Saw your toothbrush in half? Kidding.

Don't look to others for approval on your backpacking habits. Look within.