Minimizing your Hiking Pack Weight
Preparing for a hike is often a battle against the pounds or kilos. We do not mean this in a weight loss kind of way. What we mean is that on your hike, you will be the beast of burden and everything you take with you will have to be carried by you. Every time you lift your foot to make a new step, you will be lifting the full weight of your body plus your pack load. Multiply this by many thousands of steps and you will realize how a few extra pounds will make a big difference on a large hike.
There are a few terms used for Hiking Weight:
- From the Skin Out (FSO) Weight: the weight of everything you carry outside of your skin; this includes your backpack as well as your socks, boots, etc.
- Pack weight: the weight of your Backpack, excluding the provisions (food/drink) you are bringing.
So preparing for a hike always involves a great deal of contemplating on what you really need and how you can minimize your FSO weight. Most of the time, making this calculation boils down to choosing between comfort in walking (lighter loads) and comfort when not walking (better food, more and/or better equipment, books, entertainment, etc). Here are some tips:
- A well-trained hiker might be able to carry up to one third of his own body weight as FSO weight. In general, however, one fourth will already be very cumbersome. From one fifth and down, you should be able to hike comfortably.
- Start by contemplating on what you will absolutely need in terms of provisions and gear. Note down these functions. The next section gives more detail on Choosing your Hiking Equipment.
- Try looking for ultra-light and multi-purpose equipment that will fulfill the functions you listed down. The constant demand for lighter pack loads has sparked some very high tech solutions that are able to combine multiple hiking functions in lightweight gear. Most manufacturers cater to our need to find the lightest gear by adding the weight (often very detailed) on the boxes of Hiking and Camping Gear.
- Pack lightweight but highly nutritious Dehydrated Foods. On the flip side of the equation: minimizing your pack weight will actually allow you to bring better food. Of course, this choice is very personal but four straight days of dehydrated foods is no fun!
Learn how to minimize the weight of your load. Take only the things that are really necessary in your Hiking trip.
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