View Full Version : Pack Weight Revisited

2006-01-23, 23:56
A sub 15lb pack base weight is really fine for many of you. But, as evidenced by the photo posted by JimTanker elsewhere here on this site, you can see that I am a bit larger than your average hiker.

I propose the following: from this point forward, all discussion based on pack weight should be replaced with discussion which centers around how much your pack weights in relation to your body weight.

IE: instead of base pack weight, we can use; pack weight ratio, or pack weight as a percentage of personal mass.

For instance, take me for example. I am near 300lbs. I carry a heavy pack, well over 30 lbs. My clothes are bigger, my bag is bigger, I eat more. In reality, if you compare me to a 100lb hiker, my pack is equivalent to a 10lb pack in comparison.

Maybe we can change the way we talk about all aspects of hiking? JimTanker is an animal, capable of doing his 12 mile ruck march in record time. (very impressive) This is something that I could not do. At least at this weight. But, when you take into account my size, we see that a simple 3 mile snowshoe trek is truly noteworthy. Maybe we can refer to hikes in relation to distance/elevation/and personal mass. Maybe one of you math Wizards can help me to better define the mathematical equations involved here.
(My snowshoes are so big, they have warning lights at each end of them.)

Some of the drawbacks of being larger than your average hiker have probably gone un-noticed by most of you. Take for instance, mosquitoes. I have two times the exposed skin, and twice the heat signature...I represent a juicy steak to your friendly mosquito flock. Whereas some skinny shittt looks like a dry pretzel! No meat on dem' bones.

Other notable drawbacks are: I break things that should not break. A heavy set friend of mine recently broke his foot. When asked how he broke it, he replied "I stood up". This is not actually normal for your average big-n-tall hiker, but I have crushed those little air ride suspension pockets in the heels of my hitec hiking boots. I now refer to that pair as my "sqeakers". Normal folding camp chairs pose an unusual risk to the larger hiker. Much danger when crossing those cute little suspension bridges and other poorly engineered river crossing doo-hinkies. Ice on the lakes really moans when I am on the lake. This makes you feel really special.

Their are positive aspects to being larger, I just can't think of any right now...

My hunting buddies like having me around for draggin deer or carrying elk out on my back. Put 100lbs of meat on my back, and this is only 1/3 of my body weight. Not so bad! Breaking tree limbs is easy for a nice campfire. I shoot my 300ultra mag without wincing. These are real benefits.

Who am I trying to kid, I need to lose some weight! Never mind, you can go back to what you were doing before....

2006-01-24, 01:00
One positive side would be that you killed a bear when you were only 3. Davy, Davy Crocket, .......

You probably could handle alot of things on the trail that smaller hikers couldn't. Like big wind storms. It would take alot more to make your tent into a kite with you in it than a 100# person.

Those are just a couple right off the top of my head.

I would also want you with your 300 ultra super duper mag with me in the woods too.

2006-01-24, 01:08
Yah, yah, yah,
I'm with with Iceman, as one of my 4xl shirts weighs as much as some of you little guys entire kits. Lets go by ratios.

And in addition to carrying more weight my legs are shorter than normal therefore my hikes should count for at least double.

- I have mentioned I'm built somewhat strangely before, haven't I?... upper body of a 6+ footer, lower body of a -5. Wide and squat.

2006-01-24, 02:16
Hey, I know the feeling. People have said that I look sort of like Fred Flintstone, all torso and no legs. My nickname when I played ball was "stump". When I wear a black robe and I can double for Fester. Makes for one heck of a halloween costume, I scare the bajeezeez out of those greedy little trick-or-treaters. :biggrin:

Oh, just remembered one negative-I have to cut the tops off rubber boots or I risk splitting them with my 18" calves. Had to wear sleeping bags for gaiters.

Just Jeff
2006-01-24, 14:47
Do you, by chance, have a pet ox? :)

I'm with you on the pack weight. Not only does it make more sense for the reasons you mentioned, but it also goes to the whole point of weighing your pack to begin with - making it more comfortable to carry.

Who cares if I could bump my 10 lbs pack down to 5 lbs, unless I'm more comfortable hiking with it? For me, the difference isn't even apparent below about 20 lbs, so why would I sacrifice 10 lbs of camp goodies just for the sake of a number?

That's about 10% of my body weight. So if I'm comfortable at 10%, and you're comfortable at 10%, that seems to have more meaning for planning packweights than saying, "Mine is 20 lbs and his is 30 lbs." Ya know?

Of course, as an academic exercise just to see what can be done, I like reading about the sub-5 packweights, regardless of body weights. Applying those principles to my pack means that I can get my necessities to sub-5 (my big four are just over 6 now), then spend the next 25 lbs on luxuries.

FWIW, my pack is usually 15-20% of my bodyweight.

2006-01-24, 16:03
So let me get this straight - if I gain back the 35 pounds I lost, I can comfortably carry another 3.5 pounds on my back? :dancing2:

Seriously, though, I'm with JustJeff - anything under 20 pounds is comfortable, and there's not that much difference between carrying 10, 15, or 20. My base pack is about 12 pounds, so I can carry 3-4 days of food between resupplies without ever going over 20. At 170#, that means I range from 7% to 12% of my bodyweight for my trips.

Jim Henderson
2006-01-24, 18:36
One advantage to being large is that you are too big for any wild animal to eat in one bite.

There is some truth to what you say. My kids are scouts who used to weigh about 60-80 pounds. The "recommended" pack weight was around 30-40 pounds. That is a pretty hefty load for a kid to hike with even if it was for short distances. Pretty funny to watch a troop of staggering scouts tho.

Relative to my sleek(uh huh) 270+ bulk that is nothing. When my friend and I were younger and stupider, we thought nothing of hauling about 30% of our body weight in the pack, even for a 3 day weekend. Back when we were younger and stupider and more importantly weighed only about 180#, this meant we routinely hauled 60# packs. I shudder to think if we followed the 30% rule now. Then again I could probably haul along my ice chest with beer since it probably wouldn't go over the limit.

Big guys need big clothes, big shoes, big sleeping bags, tents etc. So a 15 pound pack probably isn't going to cut it for me. I have not tried to go ultralight, but wild guess is that I would probably wind up with about 40-50 pounds including food and water. If I was willing to give up luxuries, like a lantern, a gasoline stove a change of clothes and a frozen steak, then I suppose getting into the 30s is doable.

Jim Henderson

2006-01-25, 11:23
For instance, take me for example. I am near 300lbs. I carry a heavy pack, well over 30 lbs. My clothes are bigger, my bag is bigger, I eat more. In reality, if you compare me to a 100lb hiker, my pack is equivalent to a 10lb pack in comparison.

It is really a matter of economics and perception. What you need to do
is start hiking in Canada. A pound of anything Canadian is worth about,
30% less an American pound of the same thing. So your 300lbs body
weight is already only worth 210 lbs Canadian. Now of course 15 % of
that is all in taxes, so your 210 lbs is actually 178.5 lbs.

Then of course we have to take into account the scale you are
weighing yourself on says "made in China". So right there you can
guarantee the thing is out of calibration by their acceptable tolerance
of 5 %. That is providing the thing didn't disintegrate when you took
it out of the box. So by weighing yourself IN Canada, using our much
more accurate Japanese scales, you really weigh like 169 lbs.

But now really, that again is pretty useless to us here in Canada,
and *cough* *cough* the rest of the world.... because really,
what the heck is a pound? Its all metric. So in reality we call you
about 77 kilograms.

This poses a serious medical problem for a man of your height,
being dangerously underweight. Hospitalization, with
24hr monitoring, an expert nutritionist and personalized diet could
take more than a month to safely put your weight back on. A private
room with this kind of quality health care could cost your upwards
of 60,000 dollars in the US. But going home of course is too dangerous
for a man in your condition.

As your personal advisor at this point, I would have you explain to
customs and immigration that "you find french women quite attractive, and
you think you saw a beaver once". This should prove more than
adequate reason and explanation to provide you with full Canadian
citizenship as a landed immigrant. Of course if you purchase your
application with American cash, we will immediately waive you
through any forms that request your intentions for employment.
At the same time Revenue Canada may see your "green money", and
give you an automatic tax break to deposit some in a Canadian bank.
Your one US dollar bank balance is now raking in double interest as a
Foreign Currency account. A small hold on your available withdrawl
limit is being compensated by contributing to your Canadian Pension
Plan. And of course that is tax deductable, so you can reinvest
the credit amount into a second personal RSP.

So in conclusion:

Just by stepping across the border you are 131 lbs lighter and $60,000
richer, and ready for retirement.

Your base pack weight ratio is now equivalent to like a zip-lock bag strung
on a piece of dental floss.

2006-01-25, 11:49
as they say in Quebec: "le nouveau mathematique"

john pickett
2006-01-25, 13:02
I have three words for you people.
South Beach Diet
I've lost 30 pounds in the last year and a half.
I've lost the 6 pounds I put on at Christmas and I'm going down.
Target - 175 pounds (only 75 pounds to go)
John Pickett

2006-01-25, 21:31
Geez, Turk--where do you come up with this stuff? :laugh:

I'm glad to hear this conversation. I'm 6'4" and 250 lb. I need a bigger bag, a bigger tent, my boots are bigger, yada, yada, yada, and that means everything is heavier. Sleep is not something that comes easy to me even in my own bed, so comfort outdoors is a big priority for me, and my equipment shows it. Also, I need a large-volume pack to carry all that bulk.

All that said, I'm happy to be able to get my summer base pack weight down to 30 lb, which is 12% of my body weight. Wow. I feel good about that now. Good thread, Iceman!