Some people new to backpacking buy rucksacks that are too heavy for their
needs or strength and fitness and this does not lead to comfortable,
successful back packing or trekking. Many 65
– 79 litre volume rucksacks
with full internal framing and massively
padded belts and back weigh 2.5 kilos before putting anything in them.
These are often great quality, well made products and if you are going
to be carrying several days supply of food and water plus all the camping
gear and clothing for an extended trip and you are strong enough to carry
15 plus kilos comfortably day after day they will give good service.
There is a lightweight alternative approach, when carrying large amounts
of food and water are not required, that enables more comfortable trekking
and bigger daily distances with less fatigue and blisters. When we walked
the Camino de Santiago De Compostela I carried a 60
that weighed 7 kilos when fully laden which included a
full size thermarest mat and a tarp and pegs and sleeping bag. My partner
carried a 42
Litre Go Lite pack
which weighed 5.5 kilos and had all the same gear
except the tarp. Children should use the lightest packs - usualy under 20 litre
The secret of the lightweight was partly due to being ruthless in packing
and only using lightweight sleeping bags and clothes and a tarp instead
of a tent, but a main factor was the rucksacks which were frameless and
lightweight with a minimum of padding and webbing. My 60 litre weighed
600 grammes and my partners 42 litre weighed 400 grammes empty.
Another way of keeping weight down is simply to use a smaller rucksack.
I walked and camped the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path carrying only a 35
litre rucksack with my thermarest mat and lightweight tent strapped to
the sides of my pack. It worked well because the weight was kept down
to about 7 kilos.
These frameless, unpadded rucksacks have to be loaded carefully (see loading
) or they are uncomfortable with hard things like
stoves poking in your back but apart from that they are excellent for
lightweight trips where you are carrying less than 9 kilos which in
my experience can be any trips where you are not carrying large amounts
of food and water. One trick for loading them is to use your foam sleeping
mat as a tube/sleeve in the rucksack and to put everything inside that.
Loaded with more than about 9 kilos these ultra lightweight sacks are
uncomfortable with their thinner shoulderstraps and unweildy with their
lack of structural framing, a bit like carrying a sack of coal roped
to your back. So if you think you will be carrying a lot of food and
water and a heavier tent then you will need to step up to shouldering
the extra 2 kilos of the full on traditional backpacking rucksack which
spreads the load evenly and protects your back from uncomfortable objects
in the rucksack.
Many manufacturers are now aware of weight as an issue and are making
their packs lighter, coming in at various weights with differing amounts
of structure and support built into the rucksack.
See Loading Your Rucksack >> and Fitting
Loaded Rucksack >>
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