Gone Outdoors

How Much Should a Backpack Weigh?

by Felix Dowsley

How much a backpack should weigh will depend on the strength and weight of the hiker, as well as the difficulty of the terrain to be traveled and the weather. "Backpacker" magazine says that if you are a healthy, able-bodied adult, you should be able to carry up to one-third of your body weight.

Find Right Weight

Backpackers generally carry between 15 and 30 percent of their body weight. Backpacking experts agree that your ideal pack weight is dependent on your athleticism and health. Pack weight should also vary based on the length of the expedition and the time of year, because you may need more clothing and food in some situations. For example, Charles Lindsey, the editor of "The Lightweight Backpacker," carries 15 percent of his body weight on a three-day summer trip, but carries 25 percent of his body weight on a seven-day winter trip. According to "Backpacker" magazine, you should not carry more than one-third of your body weight. Children should not carry nearly so much, however, because their bodies are still growing.

Reducing Backpack Weight

According to ultralight hiker Philip Werner, there are a few easy ways to reduce your weight. Buy a lighter weight tent, sleeping bag, and pack. Get rid of non-essential gear. Use gear that is useful for more than one thing (for example, a knife that is also a can opener). Bring gear that is small and compact. This will not actually reduce your base weight, but it will make it easier to have the weight of your pack distributed well, which will make the pack feel lighter.

About the Author

Based in Asheville, N.C., Felix Dowsley has worked as a outdoor deucator since 2008. He has also worked as a Physical Education teacher. Dowsley holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and religious studies from Washington University.

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