Is 50 Pounds Too Heavy for Backpacking?

By Robert Palmer

The answer to the question of whether 50 pounds is too much for backpacking depends on the type of trip you’re taking. If you’re going on a short, weekend trip, 50 pounds might be too much. But if you’re going on a long journey, such as a thru-hike, then it could actually be too light.

For those who are just starting out in backpacking, the general rule of thumb is to keep your base pack weight (that is, the weight of your gear before adding in food and water) around 15-20% of your body weight.

So for someone who weighs 150 pounds, that would mean carrying around 22-30 pounds. That should give you plenty of room to bring what you need without having to resort to ultra-light gear.

For more experienced backpackers, however, that number may go up significantly. Some hardcore ultralight backpackers can carry as little as 5-10% of their body weight but this usually requires expensive and specialized gear. For the majority of backpackers who don’t want to break the bank on ultra-light gear, a good rule of thumb would be to aim for 20-30% of their body weight depending on the type and length of their trip.

So if you’re planning on going on a multi-day backpacking trip, 50 pounds might not be too much depending on your body weight and type of gear that you have. However if you’re just planning a short weekend trip with no extended stays in one place then 50 pounds might be overkill.


In conclusion, it really depends on the type and length of your backpacking trip as well as your body weight when determining whether 50 pounds is too much or not. For short trips it may be too heavy while longer trips may require more gear which could make 50 pounds seem light.