General Question

nebule's avatar

What's the average weight of a hiker's back pack?

Asked by nebule (16325 points ) June 1st, 2009

If you were going hiking in hilly terrain..even mountainous and were planning on carrying all your basic camping gear clothes, supplies etc what would the average weight be do you think?

I’m thinking of what an adult female would be carrying for herself and perhaps one child (so a two man tent) and supplies for a 4 days trek.

Actual weights from experienced hikers most welcome and just plain guesses also!

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24 Answers

psyla's avatar

15.5 pounds. Any more makes hiking drudgery.

YARNLADY's avatar

Lightweight backpacks with a frame (internal or external) are designed to shift the weight from the shoulders to the hips and back so that more weight can be distributed for longer hauls. Shoulder straps, belts and even the frame are padded for comfort. With a pack like this, even a 110 lb. cheerleader in moderate condition can carry 30–35 pounds for quite some distance. An experienced, fit backpacker can carry up to 45 pounds for a week with the proper equipment.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

When I went hiking when I was younger (13–16ish) my pack used to be somewhere between 13 and 18kg. Make sure your pack fits well though, once when I couldn’t tighten the straps enough I came home with red friction burns on both shoulders.

DarkScribe's avatar

If you tell me the average weight and fitness level of a hiker, I’ll tell you how much s/he should be carrying. I generally carry around twenty-five kilos (55lbs) plus a rifle – if “going Bush”. Half of that if just on a day hike.

bonus's avatar

Everyone here is correct. The question is, at elevation, what season is it? Can you dispense with some of the heavier stuff and carry summer or 3-season versions of your equipment. Sleeping bags and tents can be the heaviest and most burdensome and space consuming objects to carry. Any way you can shave off weight helps. Multiple pairs of shoes can be horrible overkill. Too much water is bad. Break down containers of food into ziplocs. Do you really need 4 days worth of fresh clothes? No. Just wash stuff as you need it. Bring layers. Make sure they are light.

I have carried medium weight packs (maybe 30 pounds) and much lighter ones (maybe 15 pounds). I have never regretted going light.

bonus's avatar

@DarkScribe Why so heavy? How can you consider a ratio? I guess that sounds very specific to you and the way you do things.

DarkScribe's avatar

@bonus When I go bush it is for several weeks, and often in pretty inhospitable terrain. I tend to carry the major load, my wife a smaller load. I carry the minimum for what is both an enjoyable and a safe couple of weeks. Food, medical kit, hunting/fishing gear, emergency communications, weather protection. I don’t regard it as heavy – just practical.

bonus's avatar

@DarkScribe Oh. Ok. A couple of weeks. That is different. @lynneblundell said this was for a four day trek. That is the only reason I was asking.

Pardon my ignorance but now you have me curious. When you “go bush”, what does this mean? I imagine you live in an area of the country much more wild than I do. And, by country, I mean this nation (the USA), which is an assumption because you may very well live in another part of the world. Are these trips primarily hunting for recreation? Or sustenance?

DarkScribe's avatar

@bonus I am in Australia, in Queensland. Where I usually go bush is in the far north – tropical rainforest and bushland. I’ll hunt for food for day to day purpose, but mostly fish or trap. It isn’t hard to find food.

As several other “flutherites” seem to take delight in recounting, I only kill crocodiles, and then only the salt water species. I don’t skin, eat or use them, just kill them. Their numbers have grown to higher levels than they were a couple of hundred years ago and they are killers. We have been getting an increasing number of fatal attacks over the past decade or two – thanks to “Green” idiocy that protects a species that is in dangerously large numbers.

nebule's avatar

Well I’m actually not very fit…although fairly strong but very overweight (I’m 42 pounds over to be precise) but am contemplating a load of 32 pounds.. my son!

In order to lose weight I’m thinking of walking 1–2 hours per day with my two year old in a back carrier. I asked the question as I wanted to get some idea of what people considered “normal” in terms of weight… I automatically thought about hikers and how they carry heavy loads for hours and hours on end and thought this would be a good comparative place to start… healthy fit hikers carrying weight for 6+ hours a day <compared with> overweight me carrying weight for 1–2 hours per day…

I have a tendency to think that it would be too much to carry and so was trying to see if my perception needed shifting – all things considered of course!!

bonus's avatar

@DarkScribe Wow. Thanks for all that. Sounds very interesting. And exciting. Not probably too relaxing, which is more of my aim out here in the Sierras of California. Also, this explains why you are wide awake right now at a time when I should be dead asleep.

This crocodile hunting you do, it sounds like serious stuff. Is this your occupation or your “hobby”? Both?

DarkScribe's avatar

I don’t hunt crocodiles, I simply kill them if I come across them in my travels. I am in my mid-fifties and was raised to kill them, the laws protecting them came much later. Every male friend I have of my generation as well as my parents generation has always killed them. They are dangerous and have no redeeming features and as they are about as far from endangered as a species can get, the idea of protecting them is ludicrous. They are now in larger numbers than ever before and being found in areas where they haven’t been seen for centuries. They have killed a lot of people recently – it isn’t necessary. Yet the law allows that they can still be farmed for “exotic” food. Where is the sense?

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bonus's avatar

@DarkScribe Fascinating. Thanks for describing. So, I hope you are at least able to incorporate that into your own supplemental income somehow. I read your bio and it sounds like you really know how to live, especially after having a close call with death. Cheers.

DarkScribe's avatar

@bonus No, not income derived – just satisfaction. If you want to see something else from the “Top End” that is big, a big boar in this case, take a look at this This was in yesterday’s local paper, a rather large pig. I have seen many that are two thirds that size, but this one could scare you if you came across him and didn’t have some stopping power. The station owner (standing nest to it) found it eating one of his cows that it had just killed.

bonus's avatar

Yeah. Saw that on Reddit.com. Looks too big to be real.

DarkScribe's avatar

@bonus It was in the local paper because it had just been confirmed as being real by the Northern Territory Government – after a lot debate and disputes from various sources. Unfortunately the media organisation concerned is one of our competitors so I don’t have access the the full details.

simongtr's avatar

The lighter you go, the easier the hiking and the better your body will feel. I used to carry a large, very full pack, but am gradually learning that I can get by with much less weight. Check out a few books on the subject: Ultralight Backpacking, and something by Ray Jardine – Guide to Hiking…

You don’t need nearly as much as you think you do to be very comfortable and safe.

bonus's avatar

@simongtr I agree. It is really about the discipline of minimalism. Bring only what you think you will use and you will be in great shape. Anything extra and you will be cursing it when you get home and unpack.

Of course, this can’t be really known until you have gone a few times. If this is your first trip, hopefully, you are going with a guide (someone with some smarts and some experience) or you are going on something doable for beginners. If you are out of shape, you will quickly find how physically demanding it can be. You should be as prepared for this challenge as possible. Boy Scouts motto, right?

Kraken's avatar

about a hundred pound.

Dilettante's avatar

Lots of variables. I’ve done a lot of long-distance, self-contained wilderness treks. I divide them into 10–14 day segments. Average packweight, Three-season: 37 pounds. Four-season (winter gear): 45 pounds. I go to extremes for lightweightedness, if you want details of items, brands, etc. let me know. I’ve seen long-distance hikers with 85-pound packs. All depends on how important to you the things are, vs. the additional weight. A trade-off.

Dilettante's avatar

Just want to add, re the quest to save weight vs. the durability, functionality, RELIABILITY of the gear. All equipment can fail. When I’m in the middle of nowhere, twenty miles from a road, and my little trick to save weight backfires, I’m in for one very uncomfortable, maybe even life-threatening night. Quality, proven reliability overrules all else, believe me. Let someone else try out the newest, most innovative lightweight gear and wait for the results from a reliable source.

Dilettante's avatar

Extremes I go to, to save weight: Trim the margins off my maps. Remove the tags from my teabags. Cut the handle off my toothbrush. Stop laughing at me! Of course I eliminate all unnecessary packaging—transfer all food items from glass and other heavy or bulky containers to gerry tubes, other plastic containers I carry minimal water—carefully scrutinize topo sectional maps pre-trek, locate all water sources in advance; plan the day’s march from water source to water source, same with campsite. I call it, “Walk to water.” I just don’t get all these “hydration pack things, giant squishy water containers etc”...I think they make too much of it. Water is almost always your heaviest load. I rarely carry more than a quart.
How do you find water in the wild? LISTEN for it. For example, in mountainous terrain, stop dead still, listen for the trickle of a spring, or creek, whatever. Also, the sound of birds. If you begin to notice there’s more birds—visually too—than there was a while ago, chances are there’s water nearby. Birds always know where the water is, if there is any. Of course I realize I’m excluding desert, rockscapes, other very arid terrain…done my share of it. In that case, enough water must be carried, so begin the trade-offs mentioned by others here, to facilitate the absolute necessity of carrying a lot of water, I also of course shorten the lengths, both time and distance, of each segment, day’s journey. Others here are providing a lot of good info too.

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