How Much Weight Should You Carry Backpacking

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How much weight should I carry backpacking? How much can I possibly stuff in my backpack without hurting myself? Is it even recommended adding the entire load while going on a trip? These are all entirely typical questions one would ask before going on a trip. They become even more essential when one is considering hiking backpack weight. 

Hiking is a vigorous activity in itself. Adding extra backpacking weight to this task can only make it more tiring than it already is. There are multiple ways to go about how much load one should carry while backpacking. It has many factors influencing it. These factors mainly include what your priorities while going on the trip are. 

Hiking, Preferences, and Priorities

Before the stuffing your backpack part comes in, deciding the trip is the first step. How long will it be? What are you looking for on this trip? Is it merely an escape, taking in the sights, enjoying your hot cup of coffee at the camp, and exploring? Or are you looking to push your limits and hike as much as you can and get those miles in without making camp? 

How Long Is Your Trip?

All these are essential questions in determining the next process, making your backpack. If your trip is short, you won’t need many of the basic necessities, so you can forget luxury items. You won’t need to think much about how much food to keep with you or get that extra pair of clothes. There’s a very distinct difference between a backpack for a three-day trip and one for a seven-day trip.

Where Are You Going?

Now that the time for the trip has been decided, you discuss the place. The terrain for different areas can also bring about a different set of problems to tackle and a different set of things required for your trip.

Why Are You Going?

After all of this has been planned, you decide what the goal for this trip is. If it’s merely an exploration escapade, you don’t need to worry about emptying your bag pack. The point of your adventure isn’t to go farther but to relax and enjoy what you have. 

If you go out to explore, you’ll be more willing to keep more luxury items like comfortable clothes or maybe a fluffier sleeping bag. You don’t need to put in the grind. All you need to worry about is toasting those marshmallows the right amount. You also don’t have to contemplate much about stuffing your headphones along, do it and head forth!

If your priorities differ from wanting a simple exploring experience, you might need to ditch that oversized sleeping bag. For someone who plans on setting up camp only when it’s indispensable and hiking the rest of the time, the way your backpack looks and feels is going to be poles apart.

Your to-do list would mostly consist of things like setting out at dawn and setting camp only at dusk. Planning on pushing your limits to squeeze those extra miles can only come with less baggage. Any extra backpacking weight would mean getting tired earlier. That would also mean taking more frequent rests, and hence less distance than what you initially could have achieved without it. 

Materials For Backpacking

For circumstances like these, stuff made with lightweight materials is more preferred. But like everything, it has its pros and cons. Even if you add more stuff to it, it’ll generally feel more comfortable to carry because of the way it is made. 

While bag packs made with ultralight material are a better choice, they’re also much more expensive. Not everyone can afford them, and it also matters to the person making the investment. Are you someone who frequently takes trips that would require you to consider these bags? If yes, then the investment would definitely be worth it in the long term as well.

If your answer to that question is no, you might not need to invest in this expensive gear as much as you think. Standard gear works perfectly fine as well, and it doesn’t precisely bite compared to the lighter weight one. It’s merely a bonus for your comfort, and not spending too much on it for a one timer is perfectly fine. 

Calculations With Body Weight 

When all is said and done, there still exists the myth that you must only carry no more than 20% of your body weight. While this holds for a part of the population, it does not account for everyone. It simply cannot. 

Using your body weight to calculate the amount of something, like it’s a fixed system is merely unhealthy. Although the 20% rule would somewhat make sense for someone with an average weight, it still would not hold entirely correct for everyone with that particular weight. Some could carry more, and some could carry less, so it’s not really an issue you should be dwelling over.  

The problem does arise when you add enough stuff to have to lean forward to carry your bag. Your hiking backpack weight should already be less than maybe what torture you could have handled back in school. 

If the weight on your back ruins your posture, you need to be decreasing the load you’re throwing in your hiking backpack weight. If you don’t, well, don’t say we didn’t warn you about the world of back pain you are about to experience.


Conclusively, there is no one strict answer on how much you really can add to your backpacking weight. It depends on a lot of different factors, including the person’s personal preferences. There’s also no restriction on what you would want to add to your hiking backpack weight, so you can add all sorts of stuff if you find it beneficial to your trip and the way you would want it. 

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