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Backpack feels "bulky"

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Offline Losthiker68

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Backpack feels "bulky"
« on: September 14, 2018, 07:12:10 PM »
I'm new to backpacking so maybe its just me but my pack feels bulky.

I finally got everything I need for my first Bender in December.

I went to REI's website and followed their instructions on how to pack a backpack.  The weight seems okay (25# without food and water) but it seems like it is just bursting at the seams.

The pack is a 70l pack. At the bottom I've put my sleeping bag (Certami 3-season synthetic), tent (Bushnell bivy tent), pad (Ecotek inflatable), and pillow (Trekology aluft inflatable). This occupies around 2/3 of the pack, about half of that is the sleeping bag. After that - cooking kit (6.5" x 4.8"), jetboil with 230g fuel, first aid kit (2 part - small one for scrapes/cuts which I keep in an outer pocket and the other kit kept deeper in the pack with an ace bandage, knee brace <I have an old meniscus injury that is being fussy so it needs to be in there>, sunburn gel, etc. water filter, and I'm down to maybe 15% of the pack left for food. water, and spare clothing.

Am I doing something wrong?
Take a course in good water and air; and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own. Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you. - John Muir

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Offline elhombre

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Re: Backpack feels "bulky"
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2018, 07:52:33 PM »
Tent gets placed in the bottom of the pack as if it is lining the bottom.  No bag for the tent.  Just shove it into all the corners on the bottom.  Next, you must have a stuff sack for your sleeping bag.  Once that thing is stuffed in there, you should be able to put the sleeping bag and sleeping pad right beside each other on top of the tent.  Just like two rolls of paper towels side by side standing on end.  Then take all your extra clothes and shove those around the sleeping bag and air mattress bag.  Pay attention not to let the side that sits against your back become rounded.  Allow the outer exposed part of the backpack to swell up.  This flat spot against your back will be much more comfortable.  That should all take up half to 60% of the tallness  of your pack.  Get this down first, then everything else will fit.

If you have a water sleeve and carry a 3liter drink system, get that in there before the sleeping bag and pad .  Also, every time you pack your pack, make sure you loosen all the small straps on the sides of the pack to as big as possible.  EVERY TIME.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2018, 08:00:04 PM by elhombre »
If other countries on the planet want to see America suffer and ultimately destroyed, who are they cheering for right now?  Trump, or the leftist democrats and their media supported hate machine?

Seek out the facts for yourself.  Begin by using Startpage.com,  not google.

May God Bless America!

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Backpack feels &quot;bulky&quot;
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2018, 08:05:16 PM »
First thing is that 25# without food and water is not okay.  Try and get to at least 15#.  The first place to start both weight and bulk wise is with the synthetic sleeping bag, the next is the tent but I am not familiar with the Bushnell tent.

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Offline Homer Wilson

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Re: Backpack feels "bulky"
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2018, 08:38:35 PM »
I've never put everything in the pack. Tent, pad, sleeping bag. Some or all of that stuff is strapped to, below, or on top of the pack.

Expect to have an overly heavy pack your first time, you'll start trimming it down on subsequent trips!

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Offline Losthiker68

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Re: Backpack feels "bulky"
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2018, 08:58:05 PM »
The tent is 3lbs. The synthetic bag is all I have the budget for. Its 4lbs but bulky - 14" x 9". I might be able to upgrade in a year or two. The backpack weighs 3lbs empty. The pad 2.

I am carrying a bit under 5# of camera gear - camera body, 2 lenses, tripod, spare batteries.

Not sure if this affects the opinion of the pack weight but I'm a big dude, 6'2" 237 (down from 250 with all the training I'm doing) so the pack is roughly 10% of my body weight.
Take a course in good water and air; and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own. Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you. - John Muir

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Offline Losthiker68

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Re: Backpack feels "bulky"
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2018, 09:03:28 PM »
HW -

Yeah, I'll likely move the tent to sit under the top flap of the pack so I can get to it quick if I get caught in a sudden downpour.
Take a course in good water and air; and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own. Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you. - John Muir

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Offline dprather

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Re: Backpack feels "bulky"
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2018, 11:03:06 PM »
Someone has described backpacking as ďAn awful way to see awesome places.Ē  Iím afraid that backpacks are  part of the awful.  No matter how much you spend and no matter how good the product, some discomfort is coming your way.

I agree with the poster who said to go with it and then see what happens.  After your first trip you'll know for yourself much more about what and how.  You'll be amazed how an aching back from your first trip focuses the mind for succeeding trips.

Suggestion: the more you think about your backpack he more you will feel your backpack.  Accept the fact that backpacking requires a backpack and that backpacking requires a learning curve (it'll be better next time).  Focus on the joys of the trail and you won't notice you backpack nearly as much.

Hoisting and weighing a backpack at home is like shooting your deer rifle at the range - you notice the weight of the pack and the recoil of the rifle much more.  Toting your backpack down a beautiful trail is like shooting the same rifle in real live hunting - you really won't notice things as much. 
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PS: plan on spending some money.  Another truism of backpacking is that it is all about the toys.  Trimming pounds with higher quality/lower weight equipment is fun on the "shopping for" side but a bummer on the "paying for" side.

Note: you can skimp of some things, but base-weight items need to be of as high as quality as you can stand paying for.

Example: most of us have paid several times the price for our tents that you have for your Bushnell.

After a couple of trips you'll chant, "Yes, I see."

« Last Edit: September 14, 2018, 11:11:46 PM by dprather »
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Backpack feels "bulky"
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2018, 11:27:26 PM »
Mule Ears is right about base weight: 15lb is waaaay better than 25, but it's also not realistic for a beginner. It takes a lot of experience and discipline to get down that low. I've been backpacking for 40+ years and I still don't always get there. If you're at 25lbs INCLUDING 5lbs of camera gear, then I'd say you're already ahead of the learning curve. 3lbs isn't bad for a first tent, and 3lbs is pretty darn light for a beginning pack, especially one as large as yours. Most people start out a LOT heavier. With your body size and strength, you should have no problem toting your loaded pack. Your challenges lie in the bulk and placement of your items. The sleeping bag is your #1 culprit...it's just too heavy and bulky. Same with your pad. But I understand your constraints. Like Homer and Dprather said, and you implied, you'll figure it out and upgrade over time. El hombre's advice about ditching the tent bag is good stuff. I never put my shelter in a bag, I just stuff my tarptent into my pack loose, or better yet, into a mesh pocket on the back (aka front) of my pack. Tent poles (if required) strap onto the side of the bag. Much like you suggested, I like to be able to grab my shelter immediately and easily if I get caught in a downpour. Shelter goes up, I and my pack go in, and I sort everything else out from there. A word of caution about strapping your shelter under your pack's top pocket: Big Bend is a very prickly place and any gear that overhangs the sides of your pack is in great danger of getting punctured by thorns and other stickies as you hike, or even as you're taking off or putting on your pack. My small tarp has always been OK in a pocket on the rear of my pack, but I would never strap a tent to the outside of my pack or even under my top pocket when traveling in the Chihuahuan desert. I've also chosen to use closed cell foam (uninflatable) sleeping pads so that I never have to worry about them getting punctured. That allows me to strap them to the outside of my pack, usually at the bottom, as that helps my pack stand upright on its own when I take it off. Saves internal space which allows for a smaller, lighter pack . That might be something to consider down the road.  Last point: I follow El hombre's method of packing, in that I try not to think of my pack's contents as solids, but almost as liquids....meaning that I don't pack things into tight, stuffed unyielding bags, but tend to organize like-purposed things in lightweight color-coded stuff sacks with spare room inside and then really STUFF them down into my pack to fill all available internal space, while trying to avoid causing the back panel to bow out toward my back (uncomfortable!!!!). A well-filled pack with very little left-over air space, with compression straps pulled tight, seems to make the pack ride much better on my back and maximizes what I can get into my pack. You may be surprised at how much extra stuff you can fit into your pack when you think of the contents as something other than rigid solids. Like El hombre said, always loosen your compression straps before repacking your pack each day, and always put the heavier items close to your back and midway up. There's a reason water bladder pockets are put where they are inside a pack.  Good luck!!!

"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline Hookim

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Re: Backpack feels &quot;bulky&quot;
« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2018, 12:28:59 AM »
It's interesting how we all have differing opinions... Like dprather indicates, you live and learn. I generally carry 2 bladders - one 3L, one 2L and stuff them both against my back in the sleeve. Sleeping bag is at the bottom in a compression sack that is accessible by a U-zip. Food, clothes in the middle, and tent at top under the lid to access quickly, near the rain cover. Z-lite pad strapped outside on bottom. Extra 1-L Naglene filled with water and electrolytes attached to outside, along with walking poles if not in use. Lid has first aid and safety. Side pockets include quick snacks, map, multi-tool, camera, and spade/wipes/trash bag. For me, the main thing with all of it is how the pack fits, though. I went to an expert at REI to walk me through it the first time, and that free session was priceless. I carry the weight on my hips so that the pack actually holds my posture nicely erect no matter the grade, and the shoulder straps barely touch so they're not rubbing or wearing out my neck. I pack heavy in a 60L and don't have a problem carrying it. Have a great trip! After this first one, you'll have the process down.

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Offline Hookim

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Re: Backpack feels &quot;bulky&quot;
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2018, 12:37:18 AM »
Check Sierra Trading Post or REI outlet for discounts on backpacking equipment.
Another thing about hiking BBNP aside from prickly things is the issue of water. You must pack it in and it's heavy. I bring a filter, but have only had the luck to use it once.

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Offline Homer Wilson

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Re: Backpack feels "bulky"
« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2018, 03:39:40 AM »
The tent is 3lbs. The synthetic bag is all I have the budget for. Its 4lbs but bulky - 14" x 9". I might be able to upgrade in a year or two. The backpack weighs 3lbs empty. The pad 2.

I am carrying a bit under 5# of camera gear - camera body, 2 lenses, tripod, spare batteries.

Not sure if this affects the opinion of the pack weight but I'm a big dude, 6'2" 237 (down from 250 with all the training I'm doing) so the pack is roughly 10% of my body weight.

That won't be bad for heading to the chisos. My friend and I once went down the Dodson with about 60lbs each. You'll learn what matters and what doesn't.  I think it's almost required to go heavier than necessary and trim back from there. A 70l bag should be able to support at least 50 lbs.  But your legs will still lift that weight no matter how well supported it is. I now generally backpack with a 40l and keep the weight under 40lbs.

Check mule ears blog posts on what he carries. He has A LOT of experience, and that can help you. But don't stress it too much. If it's too heavy, your hike will be miserable and you will adjust accordingly for your next trip.  :D

It probably takes a couple years before you stop tinkering with your pack.

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Backpack feels "bulky"
« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2018, 07:17:57 AM »
My apologies, I was a bit hurried on the cell phone with my response.  I agree with HMOD about if 25# includes camera gear then not a bad start.  Your real problem with bulk is the sleeping bag and I totally understand not wanting to buy a new one right off as it is the most expensive piece of gear.  Yes it is a process that your kit evolves over time.  I think my first OML my pack must have weighed 60 pounds with books and lots of other stuff.  The other thing I find most people do is carry too many extra clothes and usually too much food, lots of folks come off the trail with lots of food left over, they start out thinking they will be extra hungry and then many people actually have a hard time eating a lot.  With clothes it is either thinking they will be cold so pack extra layers they really don't use or that they need lots of spare clean clothes.  Maybe an extra pair of socks, maybe maybe an extra pair of underwear.  Some folks will carry a very thin set of long johns to sleep in to keep the sleeping bag cleaner.  I just sleep in my clothes if cold.

All good suggestions above on packing, definitely the heaviest stuff, which is usually food and water, near your center of gravity, against your back and middle of the pack on top of the sleeping bag.  Yes on thinking about thorns and punctures, never put an inflatable pad on the outside or a soft sided water bottle.  You will have a great time and then start refining your kit, it is an obsession but a good one.   :icon_biggrin:

Hookim is correct about a pack that fits you well and allows you carry the weight, or most of it, on your hips.  70L should be big enough for about anything.
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
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Offline Hookim

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Re: Backpack feels &quot;bulky&quot;
« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2018, 10:04:40 AM »
My apologies, I was a bit hurried on the cell phone with my response.  I agree with HMOD about if 25# includes camera gear then not a bad start.  Your real problem with bulk is the sleeping bag and I totally understand not wanting to buy a new one right off as it is the most expensive piece of gear.  Yes it is a process that your kit evolves over time.  I think my first OML my pack must have weighed 60 pounds with books and lots of other stuff.  The other thing I find most people do is carry too many extra clothes and usually too much food, lots of folks come off the trail with lots of food left over, they start out thinking they will be extra hungry and then many people actually have a hard time eating a lot.  With clothes it is either thinking they will be cold so pack extra layers they really don't use or that they need lots of spare clean clothes.  Maybe an extra pair of socks, maybe maybe an extra pair of underwear.  Some folks will carry a very thin set of long johns to sleep in to keep the sleeping bag cleaner.  I just sleep in my clothes if cold.

All good suggestions above on packing, definitely the heaviest stuff, which is usually food and water, near your center of gravity, against your back and middle of the pack on top of the sleeping bag.  Yes on thinking about thorns and punctures, never put an inflatable pad on the outside or a soft sided water bottle.  You will have a great time and then start refining your kit, it is an obsession but a good one.   :icon_biggrin:

Hookim is correct about a pack that fits you well and allows you carry the weight, or most of it, on your hips.  70L should be big enough for about anything.
Another suggestion on the sleeping bag is to borrow a light one from a friend. I did that my first time. Just make sure it doesn't get wet. Mine sat in the back of the car in the pack near a leaked two-gallon jug of water. Upon arrival at the campsite, I had to set up quickly due to an impending storm (hail), so was unable to let it dry. Atop that, the pad didn't air up properly. I ended up wrapping myself in the crinkly emergency blanket. Those things work! But man, they are noisy. Miserable, memorable night. Despite that, the excitement of the challenge led to a splendid day. You may have a rough time, but as long as you stay hydrated and keep your blisters in check (note: wool socks and moleskin), you'll be good and happy.

REI rents a bunch of stuff, too. I don't know if they do bags, but worth checking into...

And I agree with Mule Ears on food and clothes. I wear a wicking set of clothes for hiking ("cotton kills"), but I have to sleep in cotton against the slick bag. Bring extra undies and socks. A compressed light jacket, a bandana, and a rain slick. That's it. No change in attire. Doing a hot meal is always nice, but last time I didn't even mess with it - lot of extra water usage and prep time.

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Offline Losthiker68

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Re: Backpack feels "bulky"
« Reply #13 on: September 15, 2018, 11:18:32 AM »
Extra clothing won't be an issue - I'll be hiking in hiking pants and a full-leg base layer, long-sleeve wicking shirt and hoodie, maybe an extra shirt if needed and my well broken in combat boots. Likely I'll only carry extra socks, undies and maybe an extra shirt.

After all the reading I've done here and elsewhere, I'll try to avoid the extra food trap but water could be an issue. I drink a LOT of fluids even sitting on my couch. I'm always thirsty to the point that I've been tested for diabetes insipidus. I'll be carrying a 1l Nalgene at my hip and three 2l Platypus bladders in the pack. I'll likely add 2 more Platys when I go to Guadalupe.

For my sleeping pad, it's not all that big, only 8" x 2". I'm using an inflatable rather than solid cell because I want the extra thickness. I'm a side-sleeper and I assumed solid-cell wouldn't be as comfortable. I have a rare but minor peripheral nerve disorder that causes fascicle cramps (among other symptoms). Fascicle cramps where where bundles of muscle fibers cramp rather than the entire muscle. This seems worse in my legs when I sleep on my back or when my legs are restricted from moving at night.

When I go to Guadalupe in May, likely I'll dump the sleeping bag for a thin blanket. I've also got some leftover Hot Hands from my field time working on my thesis so likely they'll get tossed in the pack for BiBe and GMO as an insurance policy.

I thought about skipping the hot food but I'm going with it for this trip. I'm not a coffee drinker but hot tea is my go-to in the mornings and the weight is minimal. Plus if it gets cold up on the Rim, I imagine something warm will be a blessing.

Hookim, sadly I don't know anyone local who hikes. My graduate advisor has a jet boil that he let us use during our field work but he car-camps so I doubt his equipment is streamlined in the least. I am still in touch with him so I could borrow if he had anything worth borrowing.

I didn't think about renting from REI. I'll look into it.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2018, 11:23:44 AM by Losthiker68 »
Take a course in good water and air; and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own. Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you. - John Muir

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Offline elhombre

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Re: Backpack feels "bulky"
« Reply #14 on: September 15, 2018, 02:42:52 PM »
REI Austin and San Antonio don't rent backpack stuff anymore as of 3 months ago when we checked. 

You would do yourself a solid one by backpacking in and spending the night at Enchanted Rock or Colorado Bend SP for a trial run.  Nalgene bottles are bulky and heavy compared to a Platapus bag.  If you don't want to spend anymore money on another bag, use cheap water bottles with a screw cap.  You can squish those down when not in use and they weigh at least 3 times less than your nalgene.  If you need a wide mouth, get a 20 oz gatorade bottle.

Cook if you want to.  The "extra" water used is going in your body either way, so you are not needlessly carrying more.  Also, it takes water to digest all food, so in reality, you're consuming it either way.   The extra weight is only in the cook set to heat no more than 2 cups of water each meal.

One extra pair of underwear and socks only are needed.  If you get grossed out by wearing the dirty clothes, carry more next time.

And Yes, I too "drink a LOT of fluids even sitting on my couch"   :beer_chug:   but whiskey is much lighter on backpacking trips!
If other countries on the planet want to see America suffer and ultimately destroyed, who are they cheering for right now?  Trump, or the leftist democrats and their media supported hate machine?

Seek out the facts for yourself.  Begin by using Startpage.com,  not google.

May God Bless America!

 


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