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If you are planning on hiking, you will need a backpack to carry any items you will need for the trip. But how many are too many items? Remember, you will have to lug everything with you, so you don’t want the backpack to be too heavy.
So, how much should a backpack weigh? Well, that depends on several factors. There is no perfect answer to this question because every hiker’s needs will differ. For instance, what do you need to take along for the excursion? How long will you be hiking? How much can you comfortably carry?
Today we will look at these factors and more, so you can get a better idea of how much your backpack should weigh. Let’s get started.
Start with the Base Weight
The first thing to consider is the base weight. This is the total weight of your gear minus consumables (food, water, and fuel). These consumables are not included in the base weight because the amount you will need depends on the duration of your trip and the conditions you will be hiking in.
The type of backpack you choose will ultimately decide how much gear you can comfortably bring along. For instance:
- a lightweight backpack should have less than 20 pounds of base weight
- an ultralight backpacker should have a weight of less than 10 pounds
- a super ultralight backpacker would have a weight of less than five pounds
Once you have the base weight, you can add the weight of your consumables. Generally, most hikers have a total backpack weight of around 35 pounds.
Ideal Backpack Weight
There are a few things to consider when determining the best hiking backpack weight. For instance, when fully loaded, your backpack shouldn’t weigh more than 20 percent of your own body mass. So, let’s say you weigh 150 pounds. Your backpack shouldn’t weigh any more than 30 pounds.
Ideally, you will travel light, and the backpack won’t be more than 10 percent of your body mass.
Factors to Consider
For every type of hike, there are different factors to consider regarding the weight of your backpack.
For example, how long is your hiking trip going to be? If it is an extended trip, you will need to carry enough food, water, and fuel, adding more weight to your backpack. In addition, because these things are essential, you will have to be more careful when it comes to your other supplies, including clothing and other hiking/camping gear.
You will also need to consider the weather conditions. For example, if you are going to be hiking in colder temperatures, you will need to carry warmer clothing and gear specifically for cold weather. Conversely, you will need to take less when the weather is sunny and warm.
Another factor to consider is your comfort level and how much you can handle carrying. If you want to have a few luxuries while camping, such as a hammock, additional clothing, sleeping pads, etc., you can expect your backpack to weigh considerably more than if you forego these items.
If you are just going on a day hike, you won’t need to lug all this gear around. But there are still items you will need to bring, including a change of clothing, food, water, etc.
Tips for Reducing Backpack Weight
Planning a hike can be challenging because you need to ensure that you carry everything you will need while also ensuring that you are not taking too much. With this in mind, let’s look at a few tips to help ensure that you have all you need without being weighed down and uncomfortable during your hike.
Choose the Right Backpack
Many different types of backpacks are available on the market, so there is sure to be something that will perfectly suit your needs. For example, if you don’t need to take a lot or don’t want to carry a lot of weight, you may opt for a smaller backpack with lightweight materials. This type of pack will also have fewer pockets and zippers.
If you carry less than 20 pounds, a frameless backpack is an excellent option. This will reduce the weight you have to carry significantly.
On the other hand, a backpack with a frame will help evenly distribute the weight, making it easier to carry. In fact, some hikers even find it easier to carry heavy loads when they use framed backpacks because it is easier to balance this type of pack.
But, for the most part, it is best to leave the items you don’t need at home. The less you have to carry, the better. If you take too much, it may come to a point where you need to move your backpack around periodically to stay comfortable.
Choose an Ultralight Shelter
If you plan overnight hiking trips, you will need shelter, adding to your backpack’s weight. It is often recommended that hikers carry ultralight shelters, but this will depend on the weather conditions.
If you are hiking in a dry climate with hot temperatures, you won’t have to worry about shelter as much because there won’t be a lot of bugs to annoy you. In this case, you can get away with just a hammock or use a small hiking bed or sleep pad. If you need protection from the sun, you can also set up a tarp.
When hiking in harsher conditions, you will need a more substantial shelter, so you must carry a tent and possibly a sleeping bag for warmth. Don’t forget that you will also be carrying other gear, so the weight of these items must be factored into the overall weight that you can comfortably carry.
Pack Lightweight Foods
You are going to need food for your trip, and the length of the trip will be the determining factor as to how much you will need to bring along. Therefore, choose foods that don’t weigh much and avoid bottles and cans whenever possible. Here are some of the best foods to take on most hiking trips.
- Crackers, chips, and other salty snacks
- Nuts and seeds
- Dried fruits
- Protein bars
- Freeze-dried foods for backpacking
- Sweet snacks with plenty of carbs for energy
You must have certain things with you on any backpacking trip, no matter how long you plan to be away. Make sure you always have a small bottle for water, as well as water purification tablets. Other necessities can include, but are not limited to:
- Insect netting
- Lightweight gloves
- Small sewing kit
- Duct tape
- Swiss army knife (or something similar)
- Jacket for rain
Pro Tip: Before heading out on your trip, fill your backpack with everything you need, and walk around your home or yard for a little while to ensure you will be comfortable while hiking.
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