The other day, I spent a couple of hours collecting every single item on my packing list from the stove to clothes to a needle and thread. In my massive, comprehensive spreadsheet, I’d calculated that my base weight – everything minus food and water – would be 24 pounds. I knew that I’d inevitably add a few small items that I’d forgotten but first wanted to get a visual before I panicked.
I thought you guys might want to see what I’ll be carrying on my person for the next six months, or at least until the weather warms up, at which point I’ll lighten my load and swap out a few items. It’s not particularly well organized since, ya know, that’s not a strength of mine, but either way, take a gander. Seriously, I’ve included everything I could think of, soup to nuts.
After going through this exercise, my mom rifled through her drawers and found a load of bandaids, lotions, etc. that I added to the mix. And I also put aside my first few days worth of food into a waterproof stuff sack and loaded it. Before I weighed the pack, I wanted to make sure all was accounted for.
Finally, I stepped on the scale. My homeostatic weight is about 143 pounds +/- a couple of pounds. It’s amazing how much I’ve let myself go this winter. “Jor, do you want ice cream?” “Hm, I’ll be hiking the Appalachian Trail soon, so I’m sure I’ll burn this off…eventually.”
Well, although I’m still (snugly) fitting into my size 8 pants, I have most definitely earned every single additional pound read on the scale, all the way up to 155. It’s been years since I’ve been this heavy, but I’m guessing it’ll come off pretty quickly as soon as I begin hiking (I know my body). We shall see.
Then I donned the pack. Without the food loaded, it weighed 24 pounds; with the food, it came to exactly 30. Score!
Oh wait, I forgot the jar of almond butter. OK, that’ll be 31. Oh, and the fuel canister will be another half pound. Oh, yeah, and water will be another 2-4. Right. So, now we’re talking fully loaded at close to 35 pounds.
It’s not the lightest, but it’s not the worst case scenario either. With the recent frigid weather, I’m guessing I’ll be wearing some of the layers I’d accounted for in the pack weight, such as my puffer jacket (1 pound) and maybe my rain gear for insulation (over a pound).
Oh, and I will almost certainly be wearing my ski mittens (6 ounces) and winter hat (3 ounces).
Besides, I know there’s room for improvement still. I’m thinking I’ll ask other to-be thru-hikers at the Hiker Hostel for advice on pack organization. They may have some pointers on how to consolidate stuff sacks or otherwise streamline what I’m carrying.
Also, really, I know this sounds cooky, but there was something about the way my new Deva 60 fit that made the 30 pounds feel more like 20. It’s so comfortable. And hey, if all this strategizing and rationalizing doesn’t hold beans once I start climbing mountains, I’ll be sure to remind myself that’s it’s more likely the weight on my body and not the weight in my pack that’s dragging me down. Hopefully I’ll enjoy taking the weight off as much as I enjoyed putting it on.