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  1. #1
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    Default Pack Weight Woes

    Hi everyone,

    I am gearing up for my 2020 AT thru hike. I thought I could figure out this puzzle of what to take with me but in the process have become very frustrated. My issue is my pack weight. I am already at 52 lbs (food and water included). I am not sure where/what I should/can cut from my pack. Of course, in my opinion, I NEED everything on the list. Any suggestions on how to whittle this list down would be helpful. I will be starting the trail at the end of February and have tried to account for cold, snow and ice in my gear.

    https://lighterpack.com/r/694if5

  2. #2

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    Well congrats on putting a lot of thought into packing, obviously. I noticed possible duplication in the clothing dept, four hats, two hoodys, more than one wool top, at least two kinds of pants... Yes it's going to be cold and you are wise to prepare, but one idea is to pack a layered outfit that will keep you very warm if you need to put everything on at once (this won't happen often). Perhaps question items that are in addition to that? Mostly, your kit looks pretty well designed, even luxurious.

    I don't know what you are bringing for food, but maybe that can be trimmed down (expand or contract that based on resupply distance). And my rule is not to carry water up to water. Study maps and adjust water weight based on what is needed for distance, weather, temp, etc. But you are on the right track!

  3. #3
    4eyedbuzzard's Avatar
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    1) Start later in warmer weather and you can likely shed 5 lbs of insulation, food, fuel, other gear. Winter hiking means heavier loads. No way around the required gear.
    2) Many multiple entries as noted in RockDoc's post, including little things like knives, Bic lighters, etc. - it all adds up.
    3) 9 pounds of food is pretty extreme from an average standpoint - usually you'll have maybe four days worth at 1.5 lbs per day leaving town. The average food load obviously goes down as you go. As does the 4+ pounds (2 liters) of water - it's all use as you go, and many places you'll only need to carry 1 liter.
    4) 3.34 pounds of electronics? Is it ALL really needed?
    5) 1.39 lbs meds/first aid? Is it ALL really needed?
    6) All the little things add up, like the foot roller/massager. A water bottle could serve double duty here. Look for other items that are nice, but not needed.
    7) Take it all, carry it for a week plus to Franklin, NC, then other than warm stuff and foul weather gear for the Smoky's and TRUE emergency stuff like the epipen, mail home what you haven't used.

    NEEDS vs WANTS - explore this concept further
    Last edited by 4eyedbuzzard; 01-02-2020 at 06:58.

  4. #4

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    Only you can decide what’s necessary for your hike. The best way to figure it out is to go backpacking with your gear (more than once) and then decide what’s necessary. Once you start hiking the AT, you will have opportunities to readjust. Have a great hike!

  5. #5
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    Leave the bivy, tent foot print and poncho.Take one sleep mattress not both. Only one knife. Filter or drops not both. The 'bella is heavy. Your pack is heavy in my opinion. Are you planning on using the tent only? Not staying in shelters? Have you done an overnight trip with this load? You'll find that you do not need as much as you think you need. I've found this to be true on the trail and well as in life.
    Last edited by Two Tents; 01-02-2020 at 07:12.

  6. #6
    4eyedbuzzard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Two Tents View Post
    Leave the bivy, tent foot print. Take one sleep mattress not both. Only one knife. The 'bella is heavy. Your pack is heavy in my opinion. Are you planning on using the tent only? Not staying in shelters? Have you done an overnight trip with this load? You'll find that you do not need as much as you think you need. I've found this to be true on the trail and well as in life.
    ^^^So much truth in this.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Two Tents View Post
    Leave the bivy, tent foot print and poncho.Take one sleep mattress not both. Only one knife. Filter or drops not both. The 'bella is heavy. Your pack is heavy in my opinion. Are you planning on using the tent only? Not staying in shelters? Have you done an overnight trip with this load? You'll find that you do not need as much as you think you need. I've found this to be true on the trail and well as in life.
    I have to disagree, which is why it’s all about personal preference and experience. I always carry two sleep mats when bp’ing in winter because I’m a cold sleeper.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Traffic Jam View Post
    I have to disagree, which is why it’s all about personal preference and experience. I always carry two sleep mats when bp’ing in winter because I’m a cold sleeper.
    I hear ya. If I'm sleeping on the ground in winter then maybe if I did not have an insulated mattress I'd consider a closed cell and an inflatable. If I'm in a shelter then I only need one mattress. If my pack weighed 52 lbs I'd look at any redundancies.

  9. #9
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by tinybee View Post
    Hi everyone,

    I am gearing up for my 2020 AT thru hike. I thought I could figure out this puzzle of what to take with me but in the process have become very frustrated. My issue is my pack weight. I am already at 52 lbs (food and water included). I am not sure where/what I should/can cut from my pack. Of course, in my opinion, I NEED everything on the list. Any suggestions on how to whittle this list down would be helpful. I will be starting the trail at the end of February and have tried to account for cold, snow and ice in my gear.

    https://lighterpack.com/r/694if5
    That's heavy for a tiny bee. I'm not a thru hiker but as said above by some pretty smart folks that's been doing this for awhile, I see alot of redundancy that's really not needed. And by the way! . !!

  10. #10
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    Less is more

    thom

  11. #11

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    Itís not nearly as much a survival experience as you may currently imagine. Youíre just walking from hotel to motel and hostel to hostel. Staying warm should be priority 1. Starting later in the year makes that a LOT easier. Anything you label as ďjust in caseĒ should probably be left at home. Start with too little with the expectation of picking it up later if you really need it.

    Here are suggestions:

    Leave the cup
    Pot cozy is too heavy. Whatís it made out of?
    Leave the aquamira since you have a filter
    Leave the compression socks
    Leave the knee braces unless you know from experience you need these
    Leave the watch. Youíll have a phone.
    Leave the gators unless you just really like them. Less to fool with.
    8 oz compression sack? Replace with Cuben fiber
    Leave the balaclava
    Replace gloves. Consider zpacks possum down with rain mitts
    Camp shoes too heavy. Go to Walmart. Get the absolute lightest shoes you can find. Will save several ozs.
    Hike in shorts. Do not carry insulation for legs except for sleeping. This works down to about 25 F.
    Leave the umbrella
    Replace rain pants with rain skirt
    Leave the micro spikes
    Leave the cold weather mitts. Use rain mitts only
    Leave the poncho since you have a rain jacket
    Leave the portable toilet thing whatever it is
    You have two packs of wet wipes. Leave one
    Med kit too heavy. Leave most of that. Can detail suggestion in another message.
    Leave pepper gel
    Knife way too heavy. Get smallest you can find.
    Leave camera remote
    Leave Hoya filters
    Leave extra lenses
    Leave lens brush and cloth
    Battery WAY too big. I started with a 13000 Ah and finished with a 3500 Ah. You have a 20000
    Leave thermometer
    Leave the Logitech keyboard. Oh my.
    Leave the awol guide. Use PDF version on phone

  12. #12
    Leonidas
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    Your Reactor liner is ridiculously heavy and might give you an extra 5 degrees of warmth. You could add a 50 degree quilt to put over your Bandit, "should" give you close to 20 degrees of additional warmth and weigh ~11 oz.
    AT: 471 mi

    Pinhoti Trail '18-19'

    @leonidasonthetrail https://www.youtube.com/user/tehJC13

  13. #13

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    The other approach is start with whatever gear you want and plan on stopping at Mountain Crossings and pay them ship a lot of stuff home plus plan on a big credit card bill after they sell you new gear. Some folks skip Mountain crossings and litter the trails and shelters with "essential" stuff they quickly discover is not so essential (don't be one of those folks ). No substitute for experience and that first couple of days with a cinder block of extra gear in your pack is going to give you lots of hard won experience. There is no substitute for experience on the trail in the weather conditions you are encountering. Keep an eye out on what other folks are doing and fairly quickly you will see what you can live without. Some folks make a further gear tweak in Hot Springs or Damascus.

    A few comments on the above detailed list. I carry an OR lightweight balaclava pretty much year round and a pair of liner gloves. Both are minimal weight but makes a big difference in heat loss. Ideally if you can cover all your skin even with thin synthetic fiber it dramaticly reduces heat loss when windy. When I do not need the balaclava I roll it up into a beanie (I am mostly bald on top of my head so I need a bit of extra coverage ) . I leave the filter and go with Aquamira, water sources are plentiful in the spring and once you figure out the tricks for getting clean water to begin with aquamira works with a bit of planning. If you want carry a life straw to get that quick initial sip out of the spring but just plan to always stay one bottle ahead.

    Dirty Girl type gators that cover the gap between the top of the hiking shoe or boot and the sock is all you need. Standard gaiters are heavy and overkill unless you plan to be trudging through snow drifts. Learn how to "bread bag" your feet, put a thin pair of liner socks on then slide a bread bag over your foot then slide a standard sock over that. it keeps your feet warmer for minimal weight. Just make sure in typical wet spring that you let your feet dry out at night.

  14. #14
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    All good advice above about shedding weight by eliminating extras and redundancies. Something else you might want to think about is looking at your big four again. You have a lot of weight in your pack, shelter, and sleep system. Start with the pack, which is pretty heavy at 64oz. Look into a lighter option, like one of the ULA packs (a Circuit, for instance, has a larger capacity but still weighs 23oz less.) You can get all the features of the Osprey in a much lighter package. Ditch the fanny pack, since any decent pack will have hipbelt pockets sufficient for what you're listing as carrying in it. Likewise, cut down on your shelter's weight by switching to a lighter alternative, like one of the light Tarptent models. You could drop as much as 29oz by switching to something like the Aeon. Get rid of the redundancy in your sleep system. You're already using a 20* quilt and inflatable matt in the Bandit/Vector combo. With the listed sleep clothes, you'll be good down to about 10* (or lower) so there's no need for the liner or the Z-lite. Just getting rid of them saves you another 27.5oz without even needing to buy other gear. Put just those three suggestions together and you could drop just shy of 5lbs off your base weight. Couple that with the kind of trimming that other people have suggested above and you could easily get your total weight down to somewhere around 20lbs (minus food and water) and make your hike a lot less burdensome.
    Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.
    Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

  15. #15

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    I have like five pair of long gaiters cuz I figure I don't need them and then find out I do. They go a long way in keeping the bottoms of your pants clean and dry and duff out of the boots. It's not so much snow you need them for, but wet, muddy trail and there will be a lot of that until you get into VA.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  16. #16
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    Thanks so much for all of your helpful suggestions! You have made some good points. I am always planning for "just in case" and "what if" which I don't think is necessarily a bad thing. I just have to temper it a little. I will definitely use your suggestions to lighten my load as well as re-examine how necessary some of my pack items are.

    Additional suggestions are welcomed!

  17. #17

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    When all the "what if" and "just in case" stuff pushes the pack weight up over 50 pounds, that is not a good thing.

    Ideally, you want to shoot for about a 25 pound base weight. (no food or water). Your at just under 33 now, so you don't have to skimp on too much extra stuff. Realistically, your not going to be carrying 17 pounds of food and water at once. But you will hit the low to mid 40's though and that is still a heavy load to lug any distance up hill. In the rain. Through the mud.

    Your basic gear list looks pretty generic. Any changes there is nit picking clothes options or replacing hardware at great expense, not likely an option at this point.

    You need to pare down all the little optional things. There are items in your list which you might eventually want, but not right now in the cooler weather.

    BTW, I don't think I saw sun block on your list. That's one thing a lot of people forget. There will be no shade until well into April or early May. While you might go days and days without seeing that bright light in the sky, when it does appear, it doesn't take long to burn.

    The best thing to do is load up all the stuff on your list into the pack (and see if it actually fits) and go for a one or two night hike near your home. It looks like a quick run up the interstate and you'd be in the SNP. If you don't use something at least once during the hike, you don't need it.

    I keep all my little odds and ends in a 24 oz Rubbermaid rectangular food container. It keeps everything in one place and is water proof. Fully loaded, it weighs about a pound of "what if?" stuff and spare parts. It comes into the tent with me at night.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  18. #18
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    Shades of Minnesota Smith.
    Everyone has a photographic memory. Not everyone has film.

  19. #19

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    I canít help myself...ditch the tampons and get a Diva cup.

    (Thatís life-changing advice that will affect you long after your thru hike is completed.)

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hillwalker View Post
    Shades of Minnesota Smith.
    Hardly. Only one roll of mountain money. Winton Porter reported that MS had 9. Plus a few other odds and ends. Mostly odds...

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