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Pack Weight

As summer approaches, I’m increasingly excited about my plans, and hiking the Pinnell Mountain trail is at the top of that list. Four days of walking solo. Four nights of cooking and camping with nothing but what I have on my back.

I’ve consulted a number of backpacking websites lately looking for recommended gear lists. The dominant theme of all of these websites is the ‘go light’ mantra. No one wants to walk up hill, all day, with a 50 or 60 lb. pack. I’m not sure I even could. And so I’ve begun making lists of my own of what I’ll take, and what it weighs.

My in-laws gave me a great hanging fish scale for Christmas. It was probably the second best Christmas gift I received after the Acorn slipper socks. They intended for me to use it to weigh the boys periodically, but I have yet to do this. Instead, I have been pulling out my gear to find out exactly how much it weighs.

The advice I’ve found on these websites concerning ‘going light’ begins with the three primary pieces of gear: the pack, the bag, and the tent. The recommended weights are 3 lbs. for the pack, 2 lbs. for the bag, and 3 lbs. for the tent. And so the first thing I did was weight my pack: 6 lbs. 4 oz. dead empty. Hmm. Then I weighed my sleeping bag: 3 lbs. even. Hmm again. I’m already 4 lbs. 4 oz. over the goal. I’ve settled on but have not yet purchased a tent that weights 2 lbs. 14 oz., so there’s something. And now I’m weighing and borderline obsessing about everything else. My pillow is out. As is the cast iron cookware. And the lawn chair.

These websites that discuss backpacking have come across as having all of the obsessive compulsive fanaticism of some obscure and ascetic religious order. One site recommends cutting the tags out of clothing along with the liners of any pockets not being used, another recommends not taking any more clothing than you can wear, while another tells me to find the calories/per ounce of the foods I carry to make sure I’m not carrying anything unless it is calorically worthwhile. Now, I don’t think I’ll be drilling holes in the handle of my spork, but I am trying to keep the weight down as much as possible. I can tell already, this is a long way from car camping!

It does make me think, however, about what a person really needs in life and about all of the things that are unnecessary. What material possessions does a person really need? And how much of what we own weighs us down and makes it harder to get through life? I hope my family’s roots grow deep in the place we finally decide to call home, but I also hope we learn to shed the anchors of things, debt, schedules and worries that keep us chronically tied down so that we can travel fast and light through life. Able to look and marvel at the scenery rather than stuck constantly watching the trail at our feet.  

Posted on Friday, April 6, 2007 at 11:23PM by Registered CommenterBrian Rozell | Comments1 Comment

Reader Comments (1)

The thought of bonding and doing the "wild thing" really got to me when we talked about joining this adventure, but then, reality sets in. I am out of shape, much older, and dont't really have the gears to do this properly. So, I am having second and third thoughts. A sad and dissapointing reality.
April 7, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDad

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