A guide to backpack weights based on your body weight
There are several factors that affect a person’s comfort level when humping a pack into the great outdoors. The pack weight itself, the physical and mental condition of the packer, as well as the terrain and conditions within which one is travelling. When considering the topic of optimum pack weight, it is important to consider all of the above factors, holistically. Each person is unique and should spend time discovering for themselves their optimum pack weight. For instance, my 9.5 kg 7-day pack (and 6.16 kg, 3-day pack) are optimum for me. I invested the time to discover what felt best.
I am 6’1 tall and weigh 85 kg, I do not smoke nor drink alcohol. I am not overweight and stay in good physical condition. I work out daily & carry a pack several times a week as part of the workout. I do most all of my packing in the hills and mountains where significant elevation gains are routine and weather conditions run the gamut.
One of the factors that I considered when pursuing the optimum pack weight was the ratio (%) between pack weight and body weight. My 7-day pack is 1/6 (16.4%) of my body weight. That was my goal for a 7-day pack – 1/6 bodyweight.
Over the years, I’ve heard that 1/4 of a person’s body weight is an optimum pack weight and even 1/3 is correct if you’re in good shape. In recent years, I’ve been aiming at 1/5 to 1/7 of my body weight. Currently, for 3-season mountain travel, I’m very happy in the 1/6 range. In winter, I add more food and clothes, a beefier sleeping bag, an extra sleeping mat, more fuel, a heavier stove, and heavier boots. In winter, my pack weight is closer to the range of 1/5 to 1/4 of body weight.
But pack weight is relative! Depending on your weight, conditioning, terrain, etc. your optimum pack weight, at any given time, could be 1/4 or even 1/6.
The main point is to figure out what is optimum for you (the pack weight to body weight ratio is an important factor to consider).
The big take away ‘ounces count’