I’m helping a small (dare I say short) 5′ 2″, 110 pound female day-hiker named Lisa gear up for backpacking.
Lisa knows she has to go lightweight in order to enjoy backpacking. There’s no way she can carry anything heavier than a 25 pound pack for a 3-day long backpacking trip. That’s close to 25% of her her body weight. So we need to help her find some lightweight alternatives that she can buy that will let her carry food and water, and still stay under a 25 pound maximum pack weight that includes her gear and consumables.
I’m interested in your suggestions here – particularly if you’re a small man or woman who has wrestled with the same questions.
There are a few constraints that you should keep in mind. Lisa doesn’t have any backpacking experience although she has been hiking her entire life. She’s not adverse to learning the skills for going ultralight, but she’s not there now, and I’d be hesitant to recommend that she buy an expensive custom-made product that requires a lot of skill and judgement to use. I’ve wasted a lot of money going down that road, buying ultralight gear, before I understood what I really needed.
That said, I’ve told Lisa that she’s probably going to want to buy an second set of new backpacking gear within a year or two, after she gets used to her first gear list and understands its limitations. She gets it. She’s got enough disposable income to absorb the cost and knows she’ll be able to sell off some of her used gear.
Lisa likes to research a lot of different products before she chooses one. That’s good, because that’s part of the fun!
Lisa also has a few preferences when it comes to what she wants:
- She’s not interested in sleeping on a hammock.
- She’s a side sleeper, but not keen on trying a backpacking quilt.
- She wants to go backpacking during the cooler months in New England, particularly in the Spring and Fall seasons when it’s not too hot and there aren’t any bugs. She HATES bugs.
- She’d like a tent or shelter that she can share with her sister or use solo.
- She’s not freaked out by wearing one change of clothes for an entire backpacking trip, but acknowledges a pre-disposition to over pack clothing just-in-case.
- She’s never cooked on a backpacking stove.
- She has no idea what her torso size is, but you should assume it’s pretty short.
- She’s never had to filter or purify her own drinking water.
- She’s a grown woman and doesn’t expect to get taller than she already is.