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Pack Weight - help!

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Offline Losthiker68

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Pack Weight - help!
« on: December 18, 2018, 05:18:21 PM »
I just got back from a gear test - a 18 mile overnight at Pedernales. The first night was 12 miles over the less-used trails in the western and southern part of the park. I did the remaining 6 the next day, then swapped for a daypack to explore the falls.

The pack was 43lbs. I'm 6'2", 240lbs. I was carrying 5 days of food and 4 liters of water - since this was a gear test for Big Bend, I figured I should get as close to the BiBe needs as possible.

By the time I got to my campsite, 12 miles and less than 500' elevation change, I was nearly in tears. My neck, shoulders, and lats were SCREAMINGI was carrying about 17% of body weight but I barely made 1.3mph through rocky, heavily forested trails.

Am I just THAT out of shape or is this likely weight distribution and/or pack fit?

I'm planning an OML in a bit over 2 weeks but right now, I don't dare until I figure out what the problem is. Help!
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 RichardM

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Re: Pack Weight - help!
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2018, 06:01:23 PM »
By the time I got to my campsite, 12 miles and less than 500' elevation change, I was nearly in tears. My neck, shoulders, and lats were SCREAMINGI was carrying about 17% of body weight but I barely made 1.3mph through rocky, heavily forested trails.

Am I just THAT out of shape or is this likely weight distribution and/or pack fit?
First step would be to get it checked for fit. The majority of the weight should be borne by the hip belt, not your shoulders. Ideally the shoulder straps just hold the pack in place, while the hips/legs do all the lifting. Once you get the fit and weight distribution worked out, you can start to work on lightening your load.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2018, 06:07:52 PM by RichardM »

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Offline catz

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Re: Pack Weight - help!
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2018, 06:02:31 PM »
43 pounds is way too much weight.  You should get it down to about 25.  You can start by ditching two liters of water and putting pills in your pack instead.   Keep two empties but only carry two full.  There is a lot of water available right now.  Fill all four where you spend the night.  Use two fro the camp and then carry two the next day.

Reconsider everything else--do you really need it? 

Second, 12 miles is an awful long way for one day,   Shoot for seven.
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Offline Losthiker68

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Re: Pack Weight - help!
« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2018, 06:29:41 PM »
43 pounds is way too much weight.  You should get it down to about 25.  You can start by ditching two liters of water and putting pills in your pack instead.   Keep two empties but only carry two full.  There is a lot of water available right now.  Fill all four where you spend the night.  Use two fro the camp and then carry two the next day.

Reconsider everything else--do you really need it? 

Second, 12 miles is an awful long way for one day,   Shoot for seven.

I mentioned in a thread a few months ago that I'm relatively new to this so my pack is beginner-level:
Backpack 70l - 3.5lbs
Bivy Tent - 3.5lbs
Sleeping Pad - 2lbs
Sleeping Bag - 4lbs (people have told me this is a little heavy bit I'm stuck with it for now)
My 0.2lb inflatable pillow fried on the first trip, so I'm getting a different one, likely 0,5lbs. I have a hard time sleeping without my neck elevated so I'm willing to go a little bigger here.
I also carry ~5lbs of camera gear (camera body, 2 lenses, 2 small tripods - one traditional that gets chest height, one with bendy legs). One of the lenses is carried in a fanny pack in front. The weight is figured into the pack weight.

Based strictly on my recent experience, I think I went a little heavy on food for 5 days.

As far as distance, I figured 12 miles with under 500' elevation gain would be a good trial since most of my Big Bend days will be 9-10 miles with ~1300-2000' elevation gain (climbing the Juniper is another story).
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: Pack Weight - help!
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2018, 06:33:19 PM »
Quote
First step would be to get it checked for fit. The majority of the weight should be borne by the hip belt, not your shoulders. Ideally the shoulder straps just hold the pack in place, while the hips/legs do all the lifting. Once you get the fit and weight distribution worked out, you can start to work on lightening your load.

I'm really hoping this is the answer. After reading a pack fit site (Adventure Junkies), the last line in step 6 - Adjusting the Load Lifters, seems to make your point: "Your shoulders should not be carrying any weight at this point. If you feel your backpack pull on your shoulders, your hip belt isnít tight enough.".

This really felt like my shoulders were doing all the work.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2018, 06:35:45 PM by RichardM »
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 RichardM

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Re: Pack Weight - help!
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2018, 06:37:57 PM »
Quote
First step would be to get it checked for fit. The majority of the weight should be borne by the hip belt, not your shoulders. Ideally the shoulder straps just hold the pack in place, while the hips/legs do all the lifting. Once you get the fit and weight distribution worked out, you can start to work on lightening your load.

I'm really hoping this is the answer. After reading a pack fit site (Adventure Junkies), the last line in step 6 - Adjusting the Load Lifters, seems to make your point: "Your shoulders should not be carrying any weight at this point. If you feel your backpack pull on your shoulders, your hip belt isnít tight enough.".

This really felt like my shoulders were doing all the work.
The length of the pack (i.e. torso length) can make a huge difference. Too short and the hip belt rides too high to support the weight. Too long and the shoulder straps don't keep it in place.

Think of it this way: Your legs are supporting all of the weight anyway, so why burden your spine? Put all of it on the hips and hit the trail!

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Offline Losthiker68

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Re: Pack Weight - help!
« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2018, 07:00:13 PM »
Quote
The length of the pack (i.e. torso length) can make a huge difference. Too short and the hip belt rides too high to support the weight. Too long and the shoulder straps don't keep it in place.

Think of it this way: Your legs are supporting all of the weight anyway, so why burden your spine? Put all of it on the hips and hit the trail!

If I bought the wrong pack for my torso, is it likely I'll be able to adjust the shoulder straps to compensate?
« Last Edit: December 18, 2018, 09:24:14 PM by RichardM »
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: Pack Weight - help!
« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2018, 08:20:27 PM »
Did you have to attach stuff to the outside of the pack?  If so, you're bringing WAAAY too much stuff.  70l is a huge pack.  Everything should fit inside nice.  Also, 50 minutes walking, 10 minutes resting with the pack off.  Do this like clockwork till you get some miles under your belt.  With the rest, you should be able to do around 1.25 miles per hour all day long.  Big Bend is rocky, as you know.  Walk slower the first day when your pack is heaviest, and you will naturally speed up as you eat the pack lighter.

Point and shoot camera till you get your pack figured out.  Then after some trips with miles, you can start adding on "luxury" items.  Learn to backpack first "grasshopper".   ;)
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Offline mule ears

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Re: Pack Weight - help!
« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2018, 09:01:59 PM »
Quote
The length of the pack (i.e. torso length) can make a huge difference. Too short and the hip belt rides too high to support the weight. Too long and the shoulder straps don't keep it in place.

Think of it this way: Your legs are supporting all of the weight anyway, so why burden your spine? Put all of it on the hips and hit the trail!

If I bought the wrong pack for my torso, is it likely I'll be able to adjust the shoulder straps to compensate?

Depends on the pack but if it is really too short, which is what it sound like, there is only so much you can adjust.

As to food, no more than 2# a day and that is full days, usually I figure a 3 night trip, for instance, is 3 days food.  I am usually around 1.7# a day.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2018, 09:24:42 PM by RichardM »
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Offline Hang10er

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Re: Pack Weight - help!
« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2018, 09:07:33 AM »
Not a lot of experience in overnight backpacking but I do have some suggestions.

Did you re-evaluate the items you carried on your warm up trip?
                      When I get done with a trip, i always seem to find things I didn't use at all, even when it's a car camping or day hike trip. I find I can wear clothes more than a day.  Guide book I
                      could have left in the car.  Binoculars I didn't use.  Etc. 
Did you eat all the food you took?
                      I am not skinny and know that I sometimes eat because I'm just bored.  When I go camping, I stay busy and consume a lot less food.  So I'm slowly realizing I don't need to pack
                     and travel with as much.  Although I'm also learning to take more calorie dense foods, lot more nuts and jerky and protein bars. 
Instead of a pillow, roll some clothing up. 

Biggest thing I think is what everyone is saying - adequately fitted backpack.  I see you found a web site saying how to size them.  If you live near an REI store, they can show you the proper way to fit one.  Then you can see if your pack is able to be properly adjusted. 

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Offline Losthiker68

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Re: Pack Weight - help!
« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2018, 09:44:10 AM »
Did you have to attach stuff to the outside of the pack?  If so, you're bringing WAAAY too much stuff.  70l is a huge pack.  Everything should fit inside nice.  Also, 50 minutes walking, 10 minutes resting with the pack off.  Do this like clockwork till you get some miles under your belt.  With the rest, you should be able to do around 1.25 miles per hour all day long.  Big Bend is rocky, as you know.  Walk slower the first day when your pack is heaviest, and you will naturally speed up as you eat the pack lighter.

Point and shoot camera till you get your pack figured out.  Then after some trips with miles, you can start adding on "luxury" items.  Learn to backpack first "grasshopper".   ;)

You are probably right, Master, but the camera is non-negotiable. I'll cut weight somewhere else.

I do like the 50 minutes on, 10 minutes off idea. That was how I studied in college and grad school - 50 in the books, 10 away from the books.

Could I ditch the bulky and heavy sleeping back for a thick, flannel sheet if I supplemented with Hot Hands?  I was thinking about that in camp and may try a night on my porch doing exactly that and see how it feels. That should drop 3-4 pounds right there if it works. I'm 99% sure that's what I'll do for summer backpacking.
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: Pack Weight - help!
« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2018, 09:55:50 AM »

Did you eat all the food you took?
                      I am not skinny and know that I sometimes eat because I'm just bored.  When I go camping, I stay busy and consume a lot less food.  So I'm slowly realizing I don't need to pack
                     and travel with as much.  Although I'm also learning to take more calorie dense foods, lot more nuts and jerky and protein bars. 
Instead of a pillow, roll some clothing up. 

I was wearing most of my clothing to stave off the cold - 2 shirts, a hoodie, hiking pants, long-leg base layer, and 2 pairs of socks. I only had one extra pair of socks, one extra pair of undies, one extra shirt, and a small towel. My inflatable pillow was a piece of crap and didn't hold air more than 5 minutes.

I took 5 days of food for an overnight trip because this was a gear check for Big Bend. I didn't eat much. I had a light breakfast on the drive to Pedernales (a few cheese sticks, a mug of tea, and some rice cakes). I didn't stop for lunch on the trail. I ate very little in the way of snacks in 12 miles (~10 hours), only a handful of jerky and the same amount of sweets. My shoulders were hurting so bad I didn't want to prolong the hell by stopping.
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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Re: Pack Weight - help!
« Reply #12 on: December 19, 2018, 10:47:22 AM »
Did you have to attach stuff to the outside of the pack?  If so, you're bringing WAAAY too much stuff.  70l is a huge pack.  Everything should fit inside nice.  Also, 50 minutes walking, 10 minutes resting with the pack off.  Do this like clockwork till you get some miles under your belt.  With the rest, you should be able to do around 1.25 miles per hour all day long.  Big Bend is rocky, as you know.  Walk slower the first day when your pack is heaviest, and you will naturally speed up as you eat the pack lighter.

Point and shoot camera till you get your pack figured out.  Then after some trips with miles, you can start adding on "luxury" items.  Learn to backpack first "grasshopper".   ;)

You are probably right, Master, but the camera is non-negotiable. I'll cut weight somewhere else.

I do like the 50 minutes on, 10 minutes off idea. That was how I studied in college and grad school - 50 in the books, 10 away from the books.

Could I ditch the bulky and heavy sleeping back for a thick, flannel sheet if I supplemented with Hot Hands?  I was thinking about that in camp and may try a night on my porch doing exactly that and see how it feels. That should drop 3-4 pounds right there if it works. I'm 99% sure that's what I'll do for summer backpacking.

Personally, I agree with Elhombre, I'd leave the heavy camera equipment home until I knew what I was doing, especially given that the camera equipment might be the straw that breaks the camel's back (or trip, so to speak). But it's your trip. You decide what to bring. If the photos are more important than the completed hike, then so be it. But bear in mind that that may, in fact, be the trade-off.

But first and foremost, before anything else, get the fit of your pack checked by someone who knows how to do it. If your pack can't be fitted properly to your body, nothing else really matters. You will suffer mightily no matter what else you do or bring, and there's a good chance you won't be able to finish the hike, or if you do, you'll wish you hadn't.  If the pack simply doesn't match your body, you might have to bite the bullet and get a new one that does. Stinks...but there it is.

That said, here's my two cents about how to streamline your pack contents and weight.

First, keep you sleeping bag. Temps in the field can drop 30 degrees in a day. Last December I left the trailhead expecting fair weather and ran into an unexpected snowstorm and temps in the teens. You don't want to be caught without the means to keep warm. That can kill you. It HAS killed people in the areas you'll be hiking through. As for a pillow, use your pack. And/or any clothing layers you're not wearing. (In winter, I sleep in all my layers except rainwear, in order to carry a lighter sleeping bag, but that's not an option for you on this trip).  Stick with your groundpad systerm: good sleep makes for good hiking.

Second, forget the Hot Hands. They'll work on feet and hands, but they don't work well enough to keep your body warm. Instead, bring enough fuel to boil extra water in the evening. Pour the hot water into your water bottle (nalgenes work well for this), make sure the bottle's sealed well, and stuff one or more of them into your sleeping bag when you go to sleep. They'll stay warm for a few hours. When you wake up cold, either repeat the process, or take the now-cool nalgenes out of your bag so they don't become heat-sinks. You can drink the water later, so no extra weight penalty for the water, only for the fuel. 

Thirdly, only carry enough water to get you from source to source. In this incredibly wet year, there should be plenty of water in Boot Canyon, in Upper Juniper Spring, even at Dodson Spring, at nearby Adler Spring, at Fresno Creek and its lower drainage, and you can always cache at Juniper junction and Homer Wilson ranch. The less water you carry, the lighter your pack will be. And if you can camp near water sources, you won't have to hump all that water for breakfast and dinner meals down the trail. The lightest way to treat water in the backcountry is disinfecting pills (there are a few different kinds but all work well) and a bandanna for straining out chunkies from natural water sources as you transfer it into your containers.

Fourthly, cut your food down to the bare minimum. Hunger won't kill you on a short trip, and as Hang10er points out, being busy and focused on your surroundings will keep you from feeling as hungry as you might at home. Eat high carb foods during the day (GORP, energy bars heavy in grains and sugars, GU gel, etc. ) for quick energy, and foods high in protein and fat at night for recovery and warmth. Shoot for Mule Ears' target of no more than 1.7lbs of food each full day of hiking, proportionally less for partial days.  Your final day can be even less because you'll finish up in civilization (or at least at your vehicle) with access to more food.

Fifthly, only bring a single set of base layer clothing. One pair of socks (okay, maybe two if you don't trust your boots to keep you dry and blister free), one pair of underwear, one t-shirt, one long-sleeve-shirt, one pair of pants. On the other hand, DO bring extra layers for protection against cold and rain. Good headwear is worth its weight in gold. Keeping your head dry and warm is the single best thing you can do to survive inclement weather. I use a wide-brimmed booney hat and a microfiber balaclava: they get me through just about anything. Use you rainwear as your last layer against cold: layering it over your warming layers (e.g., fleece or synthetic puffy, or down) can up the insulation value of the warming layers and cut the wind, both of which will greatly increase your feeling of warmth.

Sixthly, beyond the basics of clothing (inc. footwear), pack, shelter, water, and food (inc. cookset), everything else is negotiable and should be cut to the absolute minimum. For you, camera equipment is non-negotiable, fair enough. Navigation tools should be, too. You'll need to take whatever maps, compasses, GPS, light, etc., that you feel you need to stay on-trail and not get lost. But everything else, like hygiene supplies, first-aid supplies, and anything else, can be trimmed to almost nothing. A toilet trowel, some toilet paper, a large ziploc for trash, a toothbrush (forget the paste for a couple days), a set of tweezers, enough disinfectant and antibiotic cream for a few applications, a few bandaids, some OTC painkillers (Advil, etc.), a little duct tape and maybe a needle with thread, and you should be good to go.

Three things tend to wreck people's OML attempts:

1. Pack weight fatigue
2. Navigation errors
3. Panic and/or despair

You can control all three.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline wrangler88

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Re: Pack Weight - help!
« Reply #13 on: December 19, 2018, 01:25:58 PM »
I know you said you didnt stop much for food while hiking. That is something I used to do and still struggle with from time to time. But I have found I tend to feel way better and have a lot more energy if I stop and eat, even if I'm not hungry. The calories help a lot. Plus you aren't carrying that weight on your back anymore.

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Re: Pack Weight - help!
« Reply #14 on: December 19, 2018, 03:30:37 PM »
I once told my wife that nothing makes me happier on a hike than a good toilet break, because youíre never REALLY free of that weight until....


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