Pack Weight versus Person Size


Original Post
Hayley M · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2017 · Points: 0

Hello,

I am sure this question has been asked before, so feel free to redirect me to another post. Still, as I am about to purchase my first expedition pack (i.e., 75+ liters), I am hoping to find others who have experience in expedition-style mountaineering (e.g., Denali) but are light? I am about 115 pounds and 5'3". With this in mind, though I am generally a "if you can think it, you can do it" type of person, I must admit I am concerned about all Denali guide services saying each individual must carry as much as up to 75 lbs. While I think I could manage up to 50 (maybe even 55-60) in a pack alone (this is not including sleds), I am just not sure I can carry over 64% of my body weight safely. This matters now as I am hoping to use this pack for the majority of my trips over the next decade (and beyond).

Anyone else had experience in this area? Or have any thoughts to offer?

Thank you,

Hayley

Jake wander · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 165

if youre doing the west buttress with a guided team, in my opinion a 75L pack wont be big enough. 

even if you dont carry 80 lbs in your pack, you will need the volume. think how much space a -20F bag and all of those down layers consume, plus youll have 2 sleeping pads, a shitload of personal food, part of a tent, a fuel can or stove, down booties, hard shells, soft shells, various gloves, meds,  avy beacon (in pack lower on mountain), an ipod, toothbrush, wet wipes, tp, bowl, mug, sunscreen, ehh the list goes on.

id try to fit all your needed gear (assuming you already own it from previous climbs) into a pack. even if this isnt a pack of the size your will be carrying, it will show you how much more space you need. 

the guided groups will do a good job of doing carry days and move days separately to lower your load but i would try to be comfortable carry a 60lbs pack. if i weigh 160 and you weigh 115 and we both carry a 60lb pack, its actually  less weight on your legs right?

melissa arnot is 5'3" 120lbs. you can do it. just put on 5-10 lbs of leg muscle.

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 20

Hayley, you are right 75 lbs. is probably too much. And, Jake is right a 75 liter pack probably isn't big enough for Denali. The big warm layers take up space. Melissa Arnot is a freaking bad a$%. She is tiny but that's like saying I should be able to climb like Dean Potter, I can't. You should maybe have more discussions with your Denali guide service and ask them for suggestions on how to manage pack weight and hauling loads. Much of the food will probably be shared, so maybe some of the shared weight can be pushed to some of the other team members, but probably not a lot. 

I've been on trips with other small women and big things can be done, but you need to couple that with a little common sense too. 

Clint White aka Faulted Geologist · · Lawrence, KS · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 158

Everything should be.fairly proportional, smaller bag, smaller layers, smaller clothing = less weight and volume. Opt for the best down fill you can afford. Go on every single hike with a full pack and two weeks of food to stay strong. I always carry over or at half my body weight for that reason. 

As stated, pack it, huck it, practice, talk to the guides. U can do it!

Em Cos · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 5
Jake wander wrote:if i weigh 160 and you weigh 115 and we both carry a 60lb pack, its actually  less weight on your legs right?

melissa arnot is 5'3" 120lbs. you can do it. just put on 5-10 lbs of leg muscle.

Ok so by that logic, a 30 lb. toddler should have the easiest time of all carrying an 80lb. pack? 

OP is right you need to think of percentage of your body weight, not just total weight. 

This is like the "so what if you're short, Lynn hill can do it". It is nonsensical to expect every average woman in the world to be able to perform to the same standard as a single example of a truly exceptional outlier. Lynn Hill and Melissa Armot are famous precisely because they can do certain things better than most. 

You're a guy, so don't say you can't run 100m in under ten seconds. Usain Bolt can do it. 

Jake wander · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 165
Em Cos wrote:

Ok so by that logic, a 30 lb. toddler should have the easiest time of all carrying an 80lb. pack? 

OP is right you need to think of percentage of your body weight, not just total weight. 

This is like the "so what if you're short, Lynn hill can do it". It is nonsensical to expect every average woman in the world to be able to perform to the same standard as a single example of a truly exceptional outlier. Lynn Hill and Melissa Armot are famous precisely because they can do certain things better than most. 

You're a guy, so don't say you can't run 100m in under ten seconds. Usain Bolt can do it. 

It was a joke, I guess I need to throw an emoticon or "jk" for you to get that. And the Melissa arnott reference was just to say women of your exact size can succeed in expedition climbing. Sorry I can't pull up the height and weight measurements of all female mountaineers to compare to. 

The true point of my post is that you need a large pack and strong legs. You will be capable if you train hard enough as many petite women have shown in the past. Some famous some not. 

Man people are always looking to be offended. Maybe I should have said don't try, you're not Melissa arnott and will fail

diepj · · PDX · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 0

Really the thing is expedition mountaineering is an outlier kind of sport.  The average American male can't naturally do it either. Some people have it easier than others.  My wife is in your weight range and starts to struggle north of 55-60 but on Denali pushed through with 70-75 when necessary. She also runs colder and has to bring more sleeping bag and more layers than I do. I have to bring more gear than Colin Haley.  Life's not fair.

Don't try to look at it like the pack weight and your weight. Look at what does it take to climb the mountain and what do you have to do to get yourself there. You may have to distribute more into a sled than would be ideal for someone with a different body type. If you plan to double carry the whole route you only truly need a monster pack on the days you move camp to and from 17.

So look at the group/team gear that needs to come with for that move. Divide it up by 2 or 3 or whatever your team is. Add to that your personal gear. That's what you need to be able to carry...

Lena chita · · Cleveland, OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 240

Osprey Xena pack (85L) comes in XS harness size, so clearly there are tiny women out there who can do it. And yes, I thought of Melissa Arnot, too...

I personally don't think I could carry 75% of my body weight for hours at a time, many days in a row.  I'm 5'2" and 105lb, I have carried 70-75 lb in a pack for short distances only, and oh god, it was heavy!

But if you start slow, and build up to it... it soulds like you really want to, so I think you could.

Em Cos · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 5
Jake wander wrote:

It was a joke, I guess I need to throw an emoticon or "jk" for you to get that. And the Melissa arnott reference was just to say women of your exact size can succeed in expedition climbing. Sorry I can't pull up the height and weight measurements of all female mountaineers to compare to. 

The true point of my post is that you need a large pack and strong legs. You will be capable if you train hard enough as many petite women have shown in the past. Some famous some not. 

Man people are always looking to be offended. Maybe I should have said don't try, you're not Melissa arnott and will fail

People can disagree with each other without feeling offended. It did seem you were genuine with the "your legs are actually carrying less weight than mine" argument, so whether joking or not glad we cleared that up for anyone else reading. 

EWilliams · · Truckee, CA · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 40

I would strongly suggest to put as much as possible in your sled. A super heavy backpack sucks and will make the trip miserable. Double carry with the sled. If it takes a few extra days to get to 14 so what, you will just be better acclimated.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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