How Much Should Your Backpack Weigh When Hiking?

how much should your backpack weigh when hiking

How much should your backpack weigh when hiking? It is difficult to recommend how much weight you should carry based on your intended activities and trips. The average beginner will carry approximately 30 to 35 pounds for their first few trips (including the pack itself). As you gain more knowledge and invest in better equipment, your load may drop to around 30 to 32 pounds.

Backpackers can range from 30 pounds to 65 pounds, with some seeking to reduce their weight as much as possible. There is a lot to consider when it comes to packing weight, and knowing some background information might be beneficial.

Pack Weight For Backpacking And Hiking

green and black backpack on brown wooden log
how much should your backpack weigh when hiking

When determining your pack weight, keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • A  backpacking load should not exceed about 25 percent of your body weight.
  • Make sure a day hiking backpack should not weigh more than 15% of your body weight. 

As a result, an individual who weighs 150 pounds should attempt to carry 30 pounds or less while trekking and 15 pounds or less when day hiking. These bodyweight ratios can assist you in keeping your pack down to a manageable weight. They do 0o’t, however, apply in every case. It is common for women to end up carrying more than 20 percent of their body weight while backpacking because they can only reduce their pack weight so far. In addition to body weight, Loughney points out that the following elements contribute significantly to overall pack weight:

  • Trip duration: Because food, water, and gasoline weigh more when you are traveling long distances, you will need to bring more of each with you. Of course, having extra weight on your back increases the strain on your body. Even on multi-day excursions, you will want your pack to weigh about 20% of your body weight so that all that additional stuff compensates for it.
  • Season/weather: If you are going out when it is extremely cold, you will need warmer, heavier clothes and equipment than if you are going out in the heat.
  • Personal preference: Some campers are willing to overlook the extra weight that comes with hauling in comforts like a hammock, more clothing, and a thick, cushy sleeping mat in order to be comfortable. Others are fine with wearing the same clothes for days on end and resting on a light camping mat.
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What  If You Are Told You Should Not Carry More Than 20% Of Your Body Weight?

Argh, the 20% fallacy. I am going to lose it if I hear someone claim that your pack should not weigh more than 20% of your bodyweight again. That is nonsense. 

Bodyweight, like every other aspect of life, should not be used to determine what a person can and cannot do.

How To Reduce Pack Weight

two gray and orange backpacks on gray rocks at daytime
how much should your backpack weigh when hiking

Carrying less weight is seen as a benefit by most hikers and backpackers: it may allow you to go quicker, further, and more comfortably. However, keep in mind that you do not want to cut corners when it comes to things like a first-aid kit and other Essentials. You can still pick lightweight versions of these, but do not leave them out entirely. Also, do not go so light that you need to borrow food or a warm coat from your trekking buddies. No one wants to be a moocher.

Here are some ways to reduce pack weight:

Know your base weight: The total weight of your equipment is what you will need to subtract from the base weight. Consumables include food, water, and gasoline, and they are all subtracted because their quantities change with each trip and lower as you consume, drink, and cook throughout your adventure. The significant components that make up your backpack will not vary much from the trek to trek, including things like your tent, sleeping bag, water purifier, stove, and clothing. Knowing your starting weight allows you to focus on reducing it over time.

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Backpackers are known for how light their packs are. For example, a typical lightweight backpacker has a base weight of fewer than 20 pounds, whereas an ultralight backpacker has a base weight of fewer than 10 pounds. The majority of traditional trekkers have a base weight of fewer than 30 pounds.

two person walking towards mountain covered with snow

Weigh your gear: To determine the current weight of your gear, use a kitchen scale or a luggage scale. Everything from your underpants to your camping stove is included here. You probably have several items at home with similar features, such as a few fleece jackets, and knowing the precise weight of each one can assist you in deciding which to bring. In a spreadsheet, you may keep track of the weights for each individual component and make plans for your next trip. You may also sum up the amounts to obtain your base weight.

Replace old gear with lighter one: Lighter gear becomes available every year. So, if you have the money, replacing your older, heavier equipment with new, lighter pieces will quickly lower your pack weight. Concentrate on the big four first: your backpack, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and tent. To get started, pick a pack and a tent that weigh roughly three pounds or less. You will be off to a good start if you do the same for your sleeping bag and pad. If you are going for weight savings, there are even lighter alternatives available.

Meal plan: Taking a few seconds to plan out your menu ahead of time is a great way to avoid having an overpacked bag. Take some moments to put down what you will eat each day on paper. Depending on your size, weight, and level of activity, a reasonable objective is 1.5 to 2.5 pounds (or 2,500 to 4,500 calories) of food per person per day. Learn more about preparing for trekking excursions in our article on meal planning for backpacking trips.

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Repackage: Is it really necessary to take along a huge tube of toothpaste on a short trip? What about the box for your mac and cheese? It’s simple to save weight by repackaging or pulling items. For instance, you may use tiny reusable travel bottles for cosmetics such as toothpaste or sunscreen. Instead of taking the original packaging, bring along the simple, lightweight plastic bags for food.

Consider how you will arrange your belongings and clothing. Individual stuff sacks are useful for keeping things organized, but they add weight. The majority of lightweight backpackers avoid using a stuff sack to store the tent and instead carry it inside their bag. The same can be said for stuff sacks that keep the tent poles and stakes in place.

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