What Is Included in Base Weight for Backpacking?

By Michael Ferguson

Backpacking is a great way to explore outdoor destinations and gain an appreciation for nature. Knowing your pack’s total weight is essential for a successful and safe backpacking experience.

For this reason, it’s important to understand what is included in the base weight for backpacking.

The base weight of a backpacking pack is the total weight of the pack and its contents without any consumables such as food, water, or fuel. This includes every item that you are taking on your backpacking trip, such as clothing, shelter, sleeping system, cookware, tools/repair supplies, hygiene items, and other miscellaneous items.

Clothing includes any clothing that you plan on wearing during your trip such as shirts, pants, socks, hats/visors, shoes/boots. It also includes any extra clothing that you plan on bringing just in case the weather changes or if you get wet.

Shelter refers to the tent or tarp that you will be using during your backpacking trip. The weight of shelter can vary significantly depending on the type of shelter you choose (tent vs tarp), so it’s important to consider this when calculating your base weight.

Sleeping System includes your sleeping bag or quilt and sleeping pad. This can be one of the heavier items in your base weight depending on the type and quality of sleeping system you choose.

Cookware includes anything related to food preparation such as pots & pans or a stove & fuel container. If you plan on cooking meals during your trip then this will be an important part of your base weight.

Tools/Repair Supplies: Even if something doesn’t break during your trip it’s always a good idea to bring along some tools and repair supplies just in case something goes wrong while out in the wilderness.

Hygiene Items: Hygiene items are typically very lightweight so they don’t add too much to your overall base weight but they are still essential for having a comfortable backpacking experience.


Base Weight for Backpacking includes all items which will be taken on a backpacking trip such as clothing, shelter, sleeping system , cookware tools/repair supplies and hygiene items. Knowing how much each item weighs is essential for calculating an accurate total base weight before embarking on a backpacking trip.