The assumption that a lighter pack equals more comfort in backpacking may not necessarily be true. This is not a post to elicit documentation of how a lighter pack saved you….I know all that. There are thousands of accounts to attest that but the general statement that a lighter pack is the key to comfort needs to be questioned, especially for new backpackers.

1) Understand your individual level of comfort.

Perhaps you just expect backpacking to be an uncomfortable ordeal and you will deal with it because you are a tough gal :-).

Sure a beginner can take a 40 lb pack and be turned off of backpacking, but she can also take only a 15 lb pack the first time and be turned off by being unprepared, miserable and unsafe.

For instance I actually believe that the inside of a tent should be dry. Taking a 1 lb single walled tent that drips condensation is not comfort IMO. Carry another 2 lbs with a double walled tent and feel safe and dry. (I ruined a camera once because of condensation.)

What are you willing to compromise? Perhaps to feel really safe and warm and have an easy time, you are willing to spend 4 more pounds or even 20?

2) Know your own body.

Many on-line videos showing 7 lb base weights is not realistic for the average person. I personally would suffer from hypothermia if relying on those to make my gear decisions. 20 degree bags in actual 30 degree temps has never worked for me. In 32 years backpacking and learning all the tricks to keep warm, my 10 degree down bag has been a necessity through it all.

Experience in many different environments is the only solution but I bet you know if you are a cold sleeper or not. Learn all the ways to retain your body’s heat and make decisions about gear from that.

Where is your information coming from? A fit 20 year old from dry CA may not be the best source of knowledge for a middle aged flatlander going on a week trip to CO mountains.

Do you really want to reduce weight extremely to run 25 miles down a trail or is 8 miles a day enough in such a gorgeous place to actually spend the time to fully absorb it all?

Get to know your style and purpose for being in remote places.

Can you tolerate 15 lbs on your shoulders or is the extra weight of padded hip belt worth whatever the cost in ounces. Not all light packs shift the weight to your hips and that can be painful.

Certainly knowledge and skill can replace weight, but your decision and choices need to come from common sense about your own body.

Bottom line---is lighter better?….It is a matter of degree and compromise. Safety and comfort to me are more valuable than strictly lighter.