How Much Does a Hiking Backpack Weigh: Every Factor That Matters

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When you’re planning your next hike or adventure into the wilderness, you may be preparing to go harder on the trail than ever before. 

Doing so might mean that you need to increase your stamina and strength, and you don’t want anything holding you back, and that includes the weight of your backpack!

How much does a hiking backpack weigh? Is there an appropriate amount that should be considered? Why does it matter what your pack weighs when you can carry it?

The simple answer is that it depends on what you put inside. Hiking backpacks themselves carry some weight, and that weight will be increased based on what you decide to put inside.

Let’s talk more about the weight of various backpacks and the factors that determine the final carrying weight that you will have to deal with.

How Much Does a Hiking Backpack Weigh

How Much Does a Hiking Backpack Weigh?

The first thing that you need to know when packing up your load is how much your actual backpack weighs. Depending on the size and quality of your pack, it could weigh anywhere from two to ten pounds.

Old hiking backpacks are very heavy, and those with inexpensive frames tend to be too heavy, too. Looking for a base backpack that falls in the three- to four-pound range or that has a frame made of lightweight materials is ideal.

By keeping the weight of your actual backpack low, you can lower your overall backpack weight which can make your entire trip more enjoyable.

General Pack Weight Guidelines (with a Few Bonus Tips)

Generally speaking, you want to decide the final weight of your backpack based on your body weight. If you do the calculation this way, you’ll be able to ensure that you are not carrying more than you can reliably carry while you hike.

Most people interpret the rule in this way:

  • Fully loaded backpacking packs shouldn’t exceed 20% of your bodyweight.
  • Fully loaded day packs shouldn’t exceed 10% of your bodyweight.

These rules are not a strict guideline. Instead, they should be used as a starting point for determining final backpack weight before you figure out your personal needs. If you are very petite, you will likely have to carry a higher percentage of your body weight.

Factors to Consider

Factors to Consider

When you are thinking about how much weight you can carry for your next adventure, you will want to take a number of trips and some weather specific information into consideration to make your final decision.

Duration

How long will you be gone? How much food and clothing will you need? What necessities must come along for a multi-day adventure?

Even if you will be away for more than 10 days, you still want to do your best to keep your pack at around 20% of your body weight so that you will not become overwhelmed or exceedingly fatigued.

Personal Needs

As mentioned, 20% is just a general guideline. If you find that you love having extra blankets and are willing to bear that burden, it’s OK to carry more. The key is that you know what you are getting yourself into, and you are prepared to carry the load.

Weather

It’s a simple fact that you should expect your pack to weigh more in the winter than in the summer. Winter clothes must be thicker and heavier, so you will need to prepare to carry these things.

Simple Tips for Reducing Pack Weight

Are you tired of coming home from fun adventures only to still be exhausted from the weight of carrying too much? Have you found that you don’t want to have such a heavy bag, but you aren’t sure how to lessen the load?

These quick tips will help you to lower your pack weight in no time:

  • Buy lighter versions of old gear.
  • Buy a kitchen scale for accurate measurements.
  • Remove items you didn’t use last time unless they’re for emergencies.
  • Don’t pack more than one extra set of clothing.
  • Thoroughly plan your meals so that you don’t overpack.
  • Repackage things so that they don’t weigh extra or take up too much space.
  • Choose a lightweight backpack.

Know Your Weight Before You Go

No matter how much weight you ultimately decide to pack, the key is that you know how much your bag weighs as well as how much weight you are taking on before you leave on your adventure. Ideally, you will have time to pack your bag, do a small day trip with it, and reassess before you leave on any big trips.

Packing and repacking your bag after testing it out is the best ways to make sure that you’re finding the right spot on balance between good weight and the right tools for your trip.

With some practice, a bit of time, and once you know how much does a hiking backpack weigh, you can figure out exactly what will work for you in any type of hiking situation!

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