Step 2 – Set Weight Limits

How much weight should you carry?


I recommend you fill a pack with the 25% weight to see how it feels. Walk around the block, or a mile or two, now how does it feel? A crappy ill-fitting pack will make the weight feel much worse, but it will still give you an idea of what to expect.

Rachel:  “I just got home from a 5 day prehike. I learned a lot. 2nd day I hiked into town and sent home 18 pounds of stuff. What you think you can carry and what you CAN carry for 8 hours are two different amounts. You don’t realize how quickly a bunch of 2 ounce items add up to pounds. My base weight was 28 pounds and figured I could carry 45 to 50 with food and water. I was wrong.”

Amy: “Ounces add up to pounds and pounds add up to pain!”

You’ll hear hikers talk about “base weight” which means everything you’ll carry except consumables (i.e. water, fuel and food). Ultralight packers will have base weight of 6-7 pounds, lightweight packers shoot for a 12-15 pounds.

Andrew Skurka: “Stupid light”: Why light is not necessarily right, and why lighter is not necessarily better

Carrot: “I followed much of Mike’s advice to the letter- buying the thinnest ziploc bags available, sending myself lots of cheap socks, not packing any toilet paper. A few things I learned on my thru-hike were contrary to the ultralight hiking tips I read.

My first year I carried 48-50 pounds and at 5’4″ I was miserable, but thankfully sufficiently in love with the wilderness to start researching options for lighter weight, better fitting gear.

My current base weight is around 15 pounds, and maximum weight with a week of  food and 3-4 liters of water is 30 pounds, but usually less than 25.


I can guarantee that you don’t want to feel or look like this!

Step 3 – Know Your Budget


Thoughts? Questions? Comments? Broken Links? I'd love to hear from you!

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