What’s a Good Backpacking Base Weight?

By Alice Nichols

Backpacking can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it also requires some careful planning. One of the most important factors in determining a successful backpacking trip is the amount of weight you are carrying on your back. Having a good base weight for your trip is essential for making sure you don’t end up carrying too much or too little gear.

A base weight is the total weight of all your gear, minus food, water, and fuel. It includes everything that you need to survive in the wilderness, such as your tent, sleeping bag and pad, clothing, first aid kit, cookware, stove and other items. The idea behind having a light base weight is that it allows you to carry more food and water without becoming overburdened by your pack.

The amount of weight that is considered “good” for a backpacking trip varies widely depending on several factors such as the duration of the trip, the terrain being traveled over and the weather conditions. For example, if you are going on a three-day weekend trip in mild weather conditions then a good base weight would be around 20 pounds. However if you are going on an extended week-long trek through mountainous terrain then a base weight of 30-35 pounds might be more appropriate.

When setting out to determine what your ideal base weight should be it’s important to consider both your body size and strength as well as the type of gear you will be bringing along with you. For example if you have larger feet then it may make sense to bring along an extra pair of boots or shoes which will add some additional weight to your pack but could make all the difference when it comes to comfort while walking long distances.

It’s also important to be realistic about what items are actually necessary for survival versus those that may just add extra luxury or convenience while out in the wilds. Bringing along items such as extra books or luxury food items can quickly add up in terms of total pack weight so it’s often best to stick with basic lightweight essentials only when setting out on a backpacking adventure.


Finding an ideal base weight for any given backpacking trip can be difficult but ultimately comes down to considering both your body size and strength as well as the type of gear being brought along with you for any given journey into nature’s wilds. A good rule of thumb when starting out is to try and aim for around 20 – 35 pounds depending on duration and difficulty level of terrain being traveled across, whilst also attempting not to overload yourself with unnecessary items that may just add extra luxury rather than survival essentials during any given hike away from civilization’s comforts!