I believe that I have said before that back in the day, the wilderness rangers would wander down to the barn, where we would oh-so-casually hang our loaded pre-hitch packs on the scale to see what kind of weight we would be carrying. Typically mine would top out between seventy and eighty. We didn't complain about this because, well, that would be wimpy. Instead, each of us threw out little remarks like, "Oh, it's light this time. Only sixty-eight pounds!" Unlike regular hikers, we collected the stuff that people left in the backcountry, so by the time we returned our packs were even heavier. Secretly, I kind of liked having a heavy pack. Secretly, each of us thought we were badass.
Which makes me laugh as I prepare a gear list for the JMT. Now people are in pursuit of the lightest gear possible, and "base weight" is the new catchphrase. As in, "my base weight before food and water is eleven pounds!" That is now considered badass.
I don't know what my base weight will be, but I am aiming for a total weight of less than thirty pounds. I know I could go super lightweight and only take a tarp and a pack with no stays, but the whole point is the balance between comfort and lightness. Time will tell if I can get there. So far the main items I will be carrying are:
Pack: Deuter women's ACT Lite 60 (something like that anyway). Gone are the days of the seven pound Gregory packs! This one is about two pounds.
A Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 1 tent. Yes, I could share a tent with one of my companions, but I don't sleep that well anyway, and this tent is featherweight. No tarping it because, well, mosquitoes.
A Go-Lite sleeping bag of +20. My go-to summer bag.
My Thermarest NeoAir. Love, love, love.
Aqua Mira water purification tablets. I like filters, but they are heavy and can clog. I can deal with plop and fizz for three weeks. Also, I got something similar to giardia when I worked in the Sierras, so I'm not willing to take the chance of untreated water.
Clothes: Mostly lightweight smartwool and icebreaker to keep the stink down. A skort, for fashion. My lightweight down puffy. Rain gear. Pretty much I will wear the same clothes for three weeks.
Merrell pace glove shoes for river crossings and camp, and to hike in if I need to. I will mostly hike in my Ahnu boots.
Miscelleaneous first aid stuff, toiletries, and my luxury item, a Kindle and solar charger, so I can read at night.
For a stove, my friend may bring her whisperlite, we have not decided yet.
Because (gasp) there are bears! It is one pound something ounces which kind of bugs me, but when I worked in the Sierras the bears were a menace. You regularly piled up rocks beside your tent as weapons for the inevitable midnight visit. The bears were so smart that they figured out how to climb a tree and jump down on your food bag, bringing it to the ground. Since these canisters have been required, the problems have reportedly abated significantly.
My friend Ken used to say I had "packing anxiety" because I would pack for a trip way in advance, then unpack and throw things out, repack, and so on. I wouldn't say I am anxious, not yet. After all, the trip is five months away. Plenty of time to weigh, and throw out, and repack. Right?
If you do a lot of backpacking, what is your weight goal?