I get asked by many people: “What do you bring on the hike?” The simple answer is: Everything I need to survive. The real answer is more complex since I will carry slightly different equipment on different sections. I will do an overview then my choices for equipment.
Equipment becomes almost a religious topic for hikers. Regardless of your background, sex, or age we all have that one common topic to discuss. And everyone has an opinion on what is best or lightest or whatever. The old adage: “Opinions are like rear-ends, everyone has one” is true. That’s why I have a bigger opinion than most. (and the real reason for my Blog!)
Old Days, Light, Ultra-Light, and Crazy-Light
When dinosaurs walked the earth and I started backpacking as a teenager, 50+lb packs were the norm. I faintly remember the bruised hips and the open frame packs. Anyone who has read the book or seen the movie Wild with Cheryl struggling under her “Monster” pack has an idea. Enter the 90s with people like Ray Jardine who advocated light and ultra-light equipment, and a whole cottage industry was born. In general, Lightweight refers to Base Weights under 25 lbs and Ultra Light is Base Weights under 12 lbs. Base Weight is defined as Everything in your pack except Food, Water and Fuel. (Consumables) Crazy-Light is under 8 or even 5lbs, which is masochistic behavior beyond me.
Another way to look at Base Weight is as a percentage of a persons body weight. This makes sense, since a small framed person at 120lbs would struggle more than, say I would at 215lbs with the same pack. “Some Studies” (Google them yourself) have shown Base Weight should be no more than 8-10% of your body weight. (This is the ONLY time it pays to be a Big Guy)
I will start with The Big Three Essentials and they almost define the Light or Ultra-Light categories by themselves. A combined weight of under 9lbs is light, and under 6lbs is Ultra-Light. Not easy to achieve! They are:
- Sleeping system
I then tackle the Sub-Categories later:
- Cooking system
- Emergency / Toiletries
- General Tools
Here is my Overall Base pack contents; (No consumables)