|Here I am with my “big three” (tent, sleeping bag, and backpack).|
Before I got into thru hiking, if anyone would have asked me the brand or weight of any of my gear, I would have shrugged and thrown out a couple of halfhearted guesses. I wouldn’t have had any idea of how many ounces were in a pound(16oz) or how much a liter of water was and how much it weighs (2.2 lbs). Now, I can rattle off a detailed description of the specs on any object in my pack along with the exact weight (to the ounce!). This is not unique to me. That information is general knowledge to a thru hiker. When you know you’ll be relying on your gear out on the trail, and carrying every ounce of that weight on your back for 5 months, you’re gonna pay attention!
I have posted a gear list tab a the top of my journal. Many trail journals include a gear list. It is part of my identity on the trail. Many of you will laugh at the detail, but as I said before, EVERY…OUNCE…MATTERS. My gear selection is a work in progress and I’m sure it will even change as I hike.
What is Base Pack Weight?
You will notice the term, base pack weight (BPW) at the top of my gear list. This is the weight of your pack excluding water, food, and cooking fuel. Some hikers don’t include electronics or some toiletries in this weight, but I do. If it’s going to be in my pack, I’m honestly counting it. My current BPW would categorize me as lightweight backpacker (10-20lbs). I’m probably going to have about 16lbs for my BPW. That is average compared to many hikers.
There are few reasons why my pack isn’t as light as others. First off, as a solo hiker, I am not splitting the weight of shared gear like a tent, phone, stove, cookware, etc. Second, I need some comfort when I camp. Some hikers use tarps or sleep out in the open without a fully enclosed structure. I definitely need an enclosed tent. Also, many hikers can lighten their load by using a light foam sleeping pad that doubles as the rigid support in their backpack. Since I can’t sleep comfortably on a foam pad, I can’t save weight there. One area where I could shave weight would be my water filtration. I currently have a water filter (11oz) that I will use in S California. Then I’m going to try Aquamira water treatment drops. I’m finicky with taste and texture. If i can adjust to the drops, I can get rid of the filter the rest of the way. Another factor is that I get cold easily. I will be carrying insulating layers that weigh a bit more. The comfort will be well worth the weight. Finally, I will have my iPhone and camera. Everyone finds that balance between weight and comfort and I feel good about my choices. Getting my back and shoulders comfortable with it will be a whole other story!