….and why I am not (and probably will never be) an ultralight hiker.
Disclaimer: I am an amateur hiker with minor experience. While there may be great merits to packing light, I am stuck in my ways of packing to enjoy my trip. This post is to show the trials and tribulations of packing, pack weight, and what I think truly are the essentials.
Even though my trip is in a week and a half, I had to pack! Next weekend, I will be super busy as I have a wedding to go to and tickets to the African American History Museum. I figured everything in my pack is nonperishable anyway, let’s just get this over with.
Like many beginners out there, I have scoured the internet to find answers to packing questions. Questions that go like, “How heavy should my pack be?” and “How much food/water/clothes/anything else do I need on a backpacking trip?”.
My one backpacking friend turned me on to this site called: lighterpack.com. It’s a pretty cool site, the goal is to see how much everything in your pack weighs before it goes on your back. I wasn’t too committed to my site as she was; its looks pretty bare and I guesstimated. It did help with me trying to figure out the weight of everything.
When it comes to the weight of your backpack, the Girl Scout answer is it should be less then 30 percent of your weight. My goal is for my backpack it be under forty pounds total (with consumables and base weight combined).
Check out this link to see more of the above site. My list is deceiving, read more below.
Ok, so you might be wondering where I pulled out all these numbers. To be honest, all of them were a mismatch here and there from different sites and books.
The main consensus on food was bring around 1.5 to 2 pounds of food per day of your hike. I will be hiking for 6 days until I reach a town to resupply. I estimated here and put 8.5 pounds of food which does sound light. However, I won’t need breakfast the first day because that’s when I am starting so I will probably eat on the road. I will also be in the town by lunch on the sixth day, so I don’t need to worry about a half day of meals.
For water, I found so many different opinions on what to bring and even how to store it. The lasting opinion I heard was try to drink/have 3 liters of water a day. In the end, I decided on just bringing my water bag which fills 3 L. There are several springs a day, so I am not too concern on going days without seeing water. If I am in a pinch and need more, my Sawyer water filter comes with a water bag.
I guess fuel is also considered consumable, but I didn’t put it on my list. Whoops! My fuel weighs 4 ounces. So just imagine that on the list.
Those three weights are considered consumable. They will fluctuate as you hike. Your base weight is everything else in your bag. An ultralight hiker’s goal is a base weight under 20 pounds. The list above makes it look like I did a great job. It’s clearly missing some things.
Mainly its missing all those tiny things you don’t think about like your poop shovel, the first aid kit (which I know some hikers don’t pack but I’m a clumsy mess sometimes), my phone and keys… I also am totally pulling a Cheryl Strayed and bringing books. I know, I know! It sounds absurd, but I need to read out there and don’t want to waste my phone battery on a book.
One of the main reasons why I can never be ultra light is I want to enjoy myself out there and if carrying some books will add to this, so be it, I will take the hit. Also, I want to hike in comfort. I am far from a hiking princess, but I like the idea of having a tent at night with my little blow up sleeping mat. Sue me! People rave about the hammock but I just cannot get behind it as I feel like it would be awful for you back after day three. And sure, I could maybe cut down on clothes or skip the deodorant, but at what cost? .2 pounds worth? There are many points of backpacking, but something I really enjoy is understanding the weight of your materials and the pride that comes from hiking it up and down mountains.
OK! So the grand total weight of everything in the pack was 34 pounds! Look, it was under my goal weight and I am satisfied with this number. Packing it was a bit of a struggle though…
It was a complicated, hot, and sweaty mess to pack this bad boy. Here’s to hoping it will get easier.
Ok, so if you came here just for a really extensive packing list, see below.
My packing list for a two week hike…
My pack: Osprey Ariel something something 65
- Big Agnes Cooper Spur UL1 Tent
- Marmot Sleeping Bag I got like four years ago
- Therm-a-Rest sleeping pad
- Food in food bag (stay tuned for chef Marisa post on this)
- MSR Backpacking Wind Proof Stove with fuel
- A spooforknife
- A Platypus water bag
- Sawyer water filter with back up clean water tablets
- 1 pair of leggings
- 2 t-shirts
- 4 pairs of socks
- 2 pairs of shorts
- 1 heavy duty hiking pants
- 1 base layer sweater
- 1 mid layer heavy duty Patagonia sweater
- 2 sports bras
- Rain pants
- Rain poncho
- Camping flip flops
- Ripped pages of AWOLs book
- A lighter
- A compass
- A first aide kit along with bug spray and sunscreen
- 50 ft. thing of cord
- A backup battery for phone
- Head lamp
- SpotOn tracker
- Pack rain cover
- Keys, wallet
- TP and Poop shovel
- Extra plastic baggies
- Little notebook with 2 pens, 1 pencil
- Tiny thing of deodorant
- Tiny thing of biodegradable soap
- Travel tooth paste with travel tooth brush
- Hand Sanitizer
- Tracks by Robyn Davidson
- Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
- The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac
She’s all set!