How Much Should A Winter Backpack Weigh? | The Ideal Weight

Whether a seasoned camper or just starting out, having the right equipment and preparing correctly can make or break a trip. The best way to prepare for your winter camping adventure is by planning.

A winter backpack shouldn’t weigh more than 20 percent of your body weight. You should always know what you want to bring on your trip and how much it will weigh. You shouldn’t overpack your backpack more than you should because it’ll cause problems and make your trip less enjoyable.

If you’re about to go camping and don’t know exactly what to pack and how much is enough, then continue reading this article.

The Ideal Winter Backpack Weight – Things to Consider

For you to calculate the ideal winter backpack weight, there are several things you have to consider.

We’ll take a look at how trip duration, backpack size, and personal preferences all play a role in backpack weight. Let’s go through some of these factors individually and understand why each is important.

Also, as a bonus, we’ll talk in the end about how you can reduce weight from your backpack.

1. Trip Duration

How long do you plan your camping trip to be? If you’re going for a weekend getaway, you’ll probably be fine with a lighter backpack.

However, if you’re planning on spending a week in the mountains, you might want to think twice before packing light.

With that being said, you still have to apply the 20% rule, so let’s say you weigh 85 kg / 187 lbs.; your backpack should weigh less than 17 kg / 37.5 lbs.

There’s a small margin of error; you can move 2% in each direction low or above. In this case, that would mean 1.7 kg / 3.75 lbs.

Now, if you have a long trip and the passage is in rough conditions, filling your backpack to the fullest may not seem like such a good idea. Your back will thank you if you spare as much weight as possible.

The additional weight is tiresome and might ruin your mood with back pains, but it also can be dangerous if combined with snowy paths.

I do understand that sometimes on a longer trip, you may want to pack more supplies, such as food and water, which are essential.

However, don’t forget the 20% rule; you should abide by it to get the most pleasurable experience.

Trip Duration

2. Backpack Size

At first, you might think this factor has nothing to do with the actual weight of your backpack. Instead, it’s all about the size of your backpack! The bigger the backpack, the heavier it gets.

That doesn’t mean that you should avoid big bags. I recommend using a large backpack for trips lasting over three days.

However, if you’re planning to stay somewhere for a night, you shouldn’t worry about the size of your bag. You need to know the backpack size you’ll get after you’ve figured out the trip duration.

If you’re going on a long trip, you need a big backpack weighing around 2 – 2.5 kg / 4.4 – 5.5 lbs.

Otherwise, a small or medium-sized backpack weighing around 1.5 to 2 kg / 3.3 to 4.4 lbs. will be more than enough if you’re on a trip for a day or two.

You need to realize that when you calculate the weight of the items you need to carry, you must consider the actual backpack weight.

Even going 2 kg / 4.4 lbs. over the ideal winter backpack weight may make your trip miserable. A good general tip for campers is to always weigh their tools and items that are truly essential when camping.

That way, it’s easier to figure out how much food and other supplies you can carry.

3. Personal Preference

In the camping community, there’s a huge debate between campers about how much you should pack in your backpack.

Some fall into the category of packing as lightly as possible, and others think you should take as much as you’re comfortable with.

I resonate more with the latter, and I think that, combined with the 20% rule, will make your trip more enjoyable. 

For newer campers, I would suggest you pack only what you deem essential and are truly needed in the wilderness.

Try to keep the weight of your backpack as low as possible to avoid unpleasantries.

Ask yourself this question: What will I use this item in the wilderness for? If you fail to find an answer in the first three seconds, you probably won’t need it.

Then again, if you’re a more seasoned camper, you can pack your backpack as full or empty as you want. It’s a matter of preference. I like to follow the 20% rule, which has worked perfectly for me.

How to Reduce Weight in a Winter Backpack?

Sometimes even after you’ve selected items for your backpack and answered the question above, you’ll still have plenty of items.

You’ve deemed them essential for camping. At the same time, you don’t want to go over the 20% rule, so what do you do? You find ways to lighten your load.

1. What Gear Are You Bringing?

First, you must consider the gear you’re bringing camping or hiking. I want you to weigh each and see if you can find alternatives that do the same job but weigh less.

If you also have old, outdated gear, why not upgrade? There’s no better time than right now for you to do a gear upgrade. The newer the model, the more likely it’ll weigh less and be even better.

So if you’re serious about shedding weight from your winter backpack, this is a good starting point.

2. Meal Preps

Secondly, taking a bunch of food randomly and putting it in your backpack doesn’t cut it anymore. You need to do meal preps and calculate calories properly.

This will be the most significant weight saver and will drastically remove the amount of unnecessary food from your backpack.

Typically a normal human should consume around 2500 to 4500 calories per day depending on their size, weight, and activity level.

If you can pack calorie-dense food, that would mean less weight added to your back, which you’ll be thankful for in the end.

Meal Preps

3. Go Over Your List At Least Twice

Lastly, you need to repack and remove unnecessary items from your backpack. Maybe remove the ladder if you see that you have a multi-tool with a short knife and another knife packed.

Using lists will help you be organized and remember what tools and items are essential and should be brought camping.

This tip works especially well for novice campers, who tend to get more stuff than they need.

Closing Thoughts

I hope these tips help you realize the ideal weight of your winter backpack. Remember that every person is different, and you’ll need to make adjustments based on your needs.

But hopefully, you understand what it means to pack accordingly and the “do’s and don’ts” of winter backpack packing.

If you have any questions or doubts about the article, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’ll do our best to provide you with a valuable answer as soon as possible.

Shailen Vandeyar

A proud Indian origin Kiwi who loves to plant trees and play with his pet bunny when not out in the woods, exploring the infinite beauty of mother nature.

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