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Why is my pack so heavy?

Q. I’ve been in Scouts for about a year and I was wondering why my backpack is so heavy. I only pack about two pairs of jeans, extra socks and two shirts. I also pack a mess kit and a flashlight plus batteries. My sleeping pad is not heavy; neither is my sleeping bag. Why might my pack be so heavy and do you know how to fix it?
—Overweight Robert, Coventry, R.I.

A. The first thing you said that raises a red flag is that you always pack two pairs of jeans. Now, I love jeans as much as the next guy, but they probably aren’t the best choice for outings for a couple of reasons: 1) they do weigh a lot, about 1 to 1.5 pounds per pair; 2) when they get wet, they weigh tons more and give you zero insulation from the cold.

So, swap those jeans for a single pair of nylon zip-off pants. They are more versatile (can become shorts when you’re warm), quick-drying and weigh only about 10 or 12 ounces—half as much as a pair of jeans. If it’s cold, throw in a pair of long underwear to layer underneath. As for two shirts, that’s not excessive, but just make sure that the two shirts you bring can work together. So, for example, bring one long sleeve and one short sleeve. They should be made of a quick-dry polyester blend or even wool, both of which will keep you warm even when wet. When it gets cold, wear them layered together.

Finally, pack only what you really need. Click here to check out some of our easy-to- follow gear packing lists.


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16 Comments on Why is my pack so heavy?

  1. not too old // August 16, 2015 at 4:01 pm // Reply

    If you prefer long pants or its too cool for shorts and you are on a budget, try ‘summer weight’ BDU pants. These very light weight military pants have a rip-stop construction so that small holes stay small. They last forever and come in a fairly wide range of sizes and different colors. They are extremely comfortable, and sometimes can be found used (turned-in, sanitized, and sold surplus) in good shape. BDUs are older style and have button pockets. ACUs are newer and use velcro. Avoid ‘winter weight’ ones or you’re back to heavy jeans again.

  2. If you have food ditch it and go with trail-mix its light and easy. Also get a light tent. Also wear your knife in a sheath on the outside.

  3. Water. Water is what is weighing you down. Water can easily take up 1/5 to 1/4 of your weight.

    • Boy Scout 41 // August 2, 2014 at 5:48 pm // Reply

      While this is true water is essential and if you’re in an arid or dry region with few water sources you need to pack as much water as you need/can for the trip.

  4. ComittedChair // October 22, 2011 at 8:41 pm // Reply

    Lose the frying pan in the mess kit, go with a spork of a plastic spoon. You can cook meals in just the 2 cup pot.
    Look at what your food is packed in. If you are carrying cans, change you menu to stuff that you can add water to. A weekend’s food should fill a gallon frezzer bag. I can do it and I am bigger than the average bear.

  5. LaxAttackman // August 16, 2011 at 3:16 pm // Reply

    Jeans are the dumbest thing to bring on any trip. Never bring them.

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