20 Days out
If you are doing the PCT soon (or even the AT or CDT) and don’t have a digital kitchen scale, I suggest you go right now down to the store and buy one. You can find them in any major grocery store in the baking aisle near the baking timers and graters etc. Get one that goes up to at least 11lbs (176oz), they should do both grams and ounces. It will cost about $20-$30 but I think it is worth it.
Weight is really important to people who have to carry all their stuff for thousands of miles.
Previously I was either going based on manufacturer listed weight, the weight that is stated on Amazon for the item or simply guessing when Amazon would only provide ‘shipping weight’ of 1lb for a pair of underwear. So, for the guessing, I would ‘guess’ that a handkerchief would weight in at 1oz, that seems like a fair guess right? No, it is 1.3oz, so when you start guessing like that and assume that your 1.4oz underwear are 1oz and that a shirt should reasonably be 3oz instead of the 4.6oz it is, this can go bad, and all these things add up fast. Sort of like when you take your change into one of those coinstar things, for whatever reason it is always more than you think. Hiking gear is like that I have found out.
My base-weight (the weight of your pack before fuel, food and water) was several pounds heavier than what I thought it was. Last night I went on a gear slash-and-burn thinning out of my gear and getting rid of tons of weight to get me back to the ~15lbs I am comfortable with, I need to do another pass as well. It is kind of humbling realizing that you will not in fact need, want, or probably even use something like a gopro while out there. Anything it can do, my phone can do (except be under water). I don’t need the smartwool long-top I had got as well most likely, I can bounce that forward and pull it out for the sierra when I don’t need to carry as much water and it will be cooler.
And ‘water’ really is the issue; in the first sections I need to be concerned with water and have the ‘capacity’ to carry up to six liters of water (which at 2.2lbs per liter is up to 13.2lbs) along with carrying 4-7lbs of dried foods for 3-5 days all in a pack that is rated for max 35lbs. Though, I will typically never need to go over 5 liters of water as the general rule is one liter per three miles and most times you are not over 15 miles from water.
Water is heavy.
With water my total carrying load could be over 35lbs with 15lbs of gear, obviously this goes down rapidly as I eat food and drink water, however you can see the necessity of keeping the weight down and not low-guessing your gear weight. If the pack is overloaded you run risk of damage to the pack or yourself and I neither is good. Also, in sections where I don’t need to carry as much water lighter means faster hiking. You can see why thru-hikers are absolutely obsessed with base-weight.
It was a huge improvement last night after the cuts I made when holding the pack. I have several more I am going to make. Including removing the parts of my pack I don’t need like the hydration sleeve and the detachable mesh pocket (2.5oz), and I think I will replace an eVent compression sack (6oz) with a trash-compactor bag (2.5oz) along with some changes to my 8oz medical kit like removing most of the duplicate items and things I you almost never need like the irrigation plunger, that should shave that down to 4oz. Additionally I have rethought my sleeping pad system and ordered a few different ones to try out before leaving including a gossamer gear pad which will drop my pad weight good and keep me below the 15lbs which was my goal and I ‘may’ swap to a 2/3 size inflatable after the desert and the water worries that come with it.
This is all part of the fun and I will be updating the gear list in the navigation with the final gear list and final weight.