In the final stages of trip planning and packing, I have a tendency to enter what I call the “kitchen sink” phase. While I have no proof, I suspect others run into the same challenge. At this phase your pack is packed, the weight dialed in on your spreadsheet, key decisions made about what to bring and what not, and then the little extras begin:
- Sure, I’ll bring the tent footprint, it only weighs 4 oz.
- Why yes, I do need that whole 4oz tube of diaper cream.
- I really ought to pack this protein powder and these other supplements, they’re only 20 oz total.
- I might need that 3rd pair of socks… and a backup tshirt.
- I should carry both the first AND second section maps just in case.
- Let me just top off my ibuprofen supply, and add some blister-pack Immodium.
Before you know it, you’ve added another 3-4 lbs to your back, and not all of it as “essential” as the original list; your Big Four (pack, tent, bag, pad), and things like a knife, water bottles, and raingear, etc.
The other problem is that not everything is evenly divisible. You either need a 32oz peanut butter jar, or you don’t. On day 1, it’s 32 oz, maybe on day 7 it’s empty. You COULD buy tiny ones every few days, but even if you could, there’s a point where the money part of the equation becomes stupid. Likewise with things like tortillas – heavy but crushproof, and they come in a pack of 8. Do you need all 8? You could do the math and throw away what you don’t need… but then what if you do? Wouldn’t that extra 200 calories be worth it THEN?
Pack weight right now with 3 quarts of water and 2 days food is 27 lbs, including all my slowly consumable items like protein and vitamin supplements. I’m not exactly happy with it, but a couple of things work in my favor:
- I’m not carrying some of the stuff forever. I own the supplements and protein, but when they’re gone, they’re gone.
- Some of the other weight is consumable as well – water treatment tabs for instance. When I switch to bleach I won’t be carrying double duty.
- I’ll get in better shape.
- See point 3 – the best way to save weight off your back and feet is to take it off your waist.
- Finally, even with the stove, bear can, spikes and 8 days of food, I’m only brushing up against 40 lbs, which is well within the capacity of my pack (comfort) and in better shape, easily well within my capacity. When I started the AT in 1999 with 3 days of food, my pack weighed 44 lbs, 7 of it was the pack itself. However you slice it, I’m much better off.