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Lightweight backpacking can increase you hiking pleasure, but it isn't for everybody. Backpacking style is a very individual matter. There are all kinds of backpackers, and I doubt if you will find exactly the same mix of gear in any two packs.
At one extreme you will find backpackers who struggle under an enormous 60 - 70 - 80 pound or even heavier load. Typically they do not travel very far and are more focused on comfort in camp than comfort while on the trail. Planning and preparing for this type of trip is fairly easy - if you think you might want or need something throw it in your pack. The only real limitations are is your pack big enough and can you pick your pack up and carry it. If your pack ends up being too heavy or your load too bulky, you simply eliminate some of the luxury items like your two volume set of birds of North America, or your cast iron frying pan, or the case of pop or beer, or your backup SLR camera, or take a smaller tent, and so forth.
There is a definite relationship between weight carried and the distance you can hike in a given day and how comfortable the miles you put in on the trail will be. So at the other extreme you will find backpackers with the absolute minimum of equipment. Their focus is on comfort and/or distance while on the trail not comfort in camp. Planning to go light is unfortunately more difficult than packing heavy. It takes very careful planning indeed to get your base pack weight into the ultra-light range.
Each backpacker must find the right balance for himself or herself. It has been my experience that more backpackers lament the weight of their pack while on the trail more than the lack of some luxury item while in camp, and I have found this to be true for myself as well. At the planning stage of a trip it is easy to load up, but once out on the trail a lighter pack is definitely more enjoyable, and a lot of the luxury items that seemed so worth while at the planning stage never even get used.
As you do more backpacking or begin going on longer trips there just seems to be a natural progression towards packing lighter. I don't know if anyone has actually checked this on not, but I believe out of the hundreds of people who start out to through hike a long distance trail each year more people with lighter packs complete their trip than those with heavy packs, and more people that start with heavy packs end up with much lighter packs, and hardly anyone ends their long distance hike with a heavier pack than when they started with unless they are forced to carry more to accommodate changes in seasonal weather.
I remember while hiking for awhile with some other backpackers on the PCT in Oregon in the early 1970's the subject of how to lighten up our loads came up several times, and I know I was giving it some thought while I hiked each day.
Much of the information on this web site is designed to help make your hiking experience more pleasurable by helping you to safely lighten up your pack.
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