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Ultralight Backpacking Will Make You Soft

Carrying More Weight
Carrying More Weight

One of the downsides of carrying an ultralight or lightweight backpacking load (20 pounds or less) is that it makes you weak. If you’re not used to carrying a 40 or 50 pound load, including food, fuel and water, you’ll run out of gas quickly if the need arises to go heavier.

I experienced this at the beginning of last winter when I had to transition from a 15 pound lightweight backpacking load to a full 45 pound winter backpacking load over the course of a weekend. I hit the wall after a day of breaking trail in snowshoes and had to bail out of a trip two days early. If that wasn’t bad enough, it took me 2/3 of the winter to build up enough stamina to go out on multi-day winter trips again. I was taken aback by the whole experience and resolved to prevent it from recurring ever again.

Although I’m looking forward to taking many lightweight backpacking trips this spring and summer, I take training hikes a few times a week with a heavier 30-40 pound backpack. It’s a great workout, and I’ve even lost some weight.

I simulate heavier loads by carrying bags of charcoal, like the 18 pound bag shown above next to a ULA Catalyst Backpack. If you’re not familiar with this pack, it’s simply enormous (4600 cubic inches) and can carry 40 pounds without a problem. I bought it for un-supplied expedition hikes that require carrying up to 16 days of food (about 30 pounds) at a time, in addition to gear and water. I was set to do one of these this May before my father passed away two months ago and I had to call it off. (see Hiking a White Mountain Direttissima)

I’ve tried a number of different ways to simulate a 30 pound food load from using hydration bladders full of water to carrying 30 pounds bags of bird seed. But the best way I’ve found so far is using bags of charcoal to simulate food weight  because they take close to the same volume that backpacking food would. I’d use real food but it would just go to waste: bags of charcoal are good because you can buy them inexpensively in all different sizes and weights, they don’t go bad in the trunk of my car, and they won’t attract mice if I bring them into the house.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love carrying a lightweight backpack and sub-20 pound loads on weekend trips, but if you want to do longer distance hikes in remote locations without the ability to resupply, you have to train to go heavy too.

 Do you have a backpacking training program that you follow?

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  1. My training approach is to seek out hills, carry extra weight appropriate to my current fitness status and hike about 50% faster than my typical backpacking speed. The goal of each training hike is to be really glad it’s finished!

    I do similar to what Earlylite is suggesting but using a grocery bag packed tight with newspapers (about 20 lbs) carried in a Kelty Redwing pack. It rides very well on my back, leaves room for daytrip gear and extra water bottles when I get to the point of wanting to add more weight.

    Regarding snowshoe backpacking … the heavier pack plus the trail breaking make a double whammy. I don’t have to travel to find snow for training hikes but still have to dramatically lower my expectations of daily progress when I’m actually backpacking.

    • My hiking training philosophy is to train heavy, but pack light. For example I will often train with my 60 LB weight vest, on the many hills and trails near my home. Every so often I stop on the trail and crank out some squats/lunges or some variation thereof. When the time for my big hike arrives, I pack about 20-25 LBS of gear. This way I feel fit, strong, and I can literally go for miles. If I need to, in an emergency, I know I can easily carry an additional 35-40 LBS. Thoughts? Constructive criticism?

  2. Great post – this is a topic I am very passionate about. If all you ever carry is an ultralight (or worse SUL) load then you’re right Philip, it’s going to be a huge kick in your rear end when you have to double up or help out in an emergency situation. I use a GORUCK GR1 rucksack with bricks (35lbs) in it for short hikes, crossfit workouts, and shuttle runs to build strength and endurance.

    It comes down to overall fitness and strength in my opinion. There are certain things that everyone should be able to do for themselves in order to be fit and safe while outdoors or in an urban situation for that matter. Examples would include, being able to pull you own bodyweight up a rope, buddy lifts (carrying someone on your shoulders), and push ups.

    Doubling up your ruck weight, for training, is a good way to prepare for the unknown and get your body used to the additional burden and effort that requires. But take it easy, more weight on your back leads to different posture, in turn putting stresses on your body in places you may not be use to. As with all strenuous activity, take it easy and start small. ^BG

  3. Call me even weirder than you, but I carry bowling pins for exactly the same reason. Yes, I did say bowling pins. Two of them. Not proud. They don’t leak, you can’t break them, and they won’t get anything dirty. I should probably get a third one and just tell people I’m an aspiring juggler.

  4. I have done some indoor treadmill work with a weighted pack. I prefer outside, but if you don’t get out of work until after dark…..
    I bring a backpack to the gym with a few towels in it. Then I use a 25lb plate from the gym and drop in in the pack. Max the incline on the treadmill at 15%, crank some tunes on the Ipod, and sweat to the oldies……

  5. Unfortunatly, I’ve been a bit under the weather most of the winter. (I think the doctor finaly changed my diabetes meds.) Generally, though, I use a 5 day routine. Mondays are work. 47lb pack for about 5miles in the mornings.Tuesday is a walk. Wednesday is a 5 mile jog. Thursday is back to the pack. Friday is a jog, (I believe I lost the jog over the winter. At least I have not been able to complete it lately.) Rain? Well, I have not melted yet.

    Conditioning is an essential part of any backpacking trip. While base weight may be 9-11lbs, the live load for a week will easily add another 10-15 pounds often more depending on temperature. And, hiking over mixed terrain, or portaging a canoe for 3-4 miles can be more strenuous and add more load. I agree fully.

  6. And here my wife thought I was the only one cracked! Bowling pins….that is a first!

  7. Philip good post. I feel sometimes that all blogs are about my pack is smaller than yours these days and I agree that for a weekend, try and go as light as you can. However on multiple days out you are going to need to carry more stuff and I also like a bit of comfort as well.

    I often take walks in the evening in the local woods and low hills around me with a 4 day+ pack weight with me. Going down the gym and being tortured …. sorry I mean put through my paces with my PT guy also helps!!

    • It does get rather tiresome doesn’t it. I wish those same web sites would explain to me how to make the 1.75 pounds of food or the water I need to carry each day lighter! Or maybe they live in a different universe where the laws of gravity are not in effect.

  8. Thought provoking title :-)
    One of the great things with lightweight packs for guys like me is that they make you feel just as bushy tailed as in your youth. All you have to do is ‘forget’ that you are only carrying half, if that, of the weight that you used to carry.

    I guess the bottom line is that all training has to be specific. Train for carrying a light pack and you’ll be good at that but not so hot at carrying a heavy pack. So thanks for the idea about charcoal.

    I have found that you can do pretty long winter trips in exposed, arctic areas without extremely heavy packs. A couple of examples of trips that I have done can be found at the links here. For both trips the pack weighed around 38 lbs (16-17 kilos) for a weeks outing.


    • I don’t disagree with you. I always keep my gear weight extremely low. It’s the consumables that we need to train for. Gear/pack lists weights without consumables can be misleading.

  9. For hiking I found that maintaining my snowboard leg training routine does wonders.

    On a leg press machine, I press 175-190 lbs 20 times very quickly, then immediately switch to 20 calf presses then do another 20 leg presses. I do four sets of these with about 4 minutes of stretching in between. This mimics the action of pumping my body weight + gear weight on a snowboard.

    I also mountain bike twice a week and do a few miles of hike-a-bike when i do. Since I trimmed about 5 – 10 lbs from my base weight last year, the training and weight reduction have done wonders. I’m not interested in going much lighter though and find myself willing to take more luxury items as my bag feels great at around 20-25lbs.

  10. There is a growing body of evidence that building strength / endurance is about working to your maximum capacity rather than a big weight (strength training) or a long duration (endurance training). Rather it’s pushing until you can’t go any further giving the body a few days to rebuild and doing it again. In the strength building, there have been numerous studies (most recently from the university of manitoba) which found that doing reps of 20lb weights to failure built just as much strength as someone who did reps with 80lbs til failure. While I don’t believe the data is as complete, there is a growing number of studies which suggest doing a series of all out / maximum effort sprints with short breaks is as effective as long duration training runs for building endurance. I am just experimenting with this, but it seems to be the case. I much prefer the “cost” of a series of short sprints that I can do in town several times a week (less than 30 minutes) to carrying an extra 15-30lbs for a weekend when I don’t need to.

    • How exactly would you exercise all of the muscles needed for backpacking in a gym? I also can’t sprint or run – too hard on my knees. Not saying it can’t be done, but I believe you need to hike to train for hiking. I have the time to take long walks every day and rather enjoy being outside, and like marco, even in the rain.

      • I respectfully disagree, I feel that training for a particular activity should take more forms than just doing said activity. That is why ONLY doing lightweight or UL backpacking will make you weak.

        Doing weight and core training at the gym, my 25 lb pack starts feeling like a 18 lb pack just because I’m stronger (The Charcoal/Bowling Pin effect). I also train for biking (or snowboarding in winter) so the three activities all support each other and help hit any muscle groups I miss. If I don’t get out to do any backpacking for awhile, I still stay active and strong enough to not get overwhelmed when i do.

        It took me 13 years to figure out that having a constantly active lifestyle is the only way I can stay in shape and motivated to keep going to the gym and the gym motivates me to do my outdoor activities better. For me biking plays a huge part in that as I despise running.
        I would recommend trying a mountain bike for you if you want some cardio and a full body workout without much impact on your knees. Its a great way to rediscover trails as well as getting in top hiking shape! In an hour and a half I get a better workout biking on a hard trail than doing anything else. Plus you can use it as a means of transportation. I stopped driving to trail heads and started riding to them to cut my footprint.

        Also a lot of my hiking gear/clothing gets used for biking. Thinking about combining lightweight backpacking and biking into a trip this summer.

      • Yeah, UL backpacking makes you weak. That’s why all the UL guys I know can make 30 mile days in mountainous terrain. I have to because I broke my knees carrying 85lbs in Iraq. There is nothing strong or macho about carrying a 50+ lb pack. My pack weight is 26lbs fully loaded, and I’ll never carry a heavy pack again after hiking and feeling the difference it makes.

        I can’t think of any possible reason I would need to carry more than 30lbs.

      • This is a tongue-in-cheek post dude! I’m joking, although you won’t find many UL hikers carrying winter loads. Not even me.

    • Mark/ Philip I watched a documentary recently on British TV (Horizon – BBC2) showing work carried out by a university in England – I forget which one, that suggested that you could get pretty fit by simply getting on a exercise bike and sprinting as fast as you can for 1 minute and repeat 3 times a week. What is know as HIT( High Intensity Training). I don’t know if this works, but my PT guy down the gym, has me doing weights and other exercises for 1 minute at a time with 9 exercises in total split into 3 with a bike sprint for 1000m (about 2mins for me) in between each 3 exercises. This is repeated twice so I get 6 sprints in total with exercises. Hard work but what I can say at 50 years old I look and feel better than I have in years. My % body fat has dropped quite a bit. The fitness regime with a lean protein low carb diet has helped this. I am going to post up something on blog relating backpacking when I have chance.

  11. Mark,
    I’ve heard of similar research on training. However, it goes contrary to what has been the norm so far, about specific training. This sort of being that if you exercise your muscles with low loads and many reps you are going to look like a marathon runner. Doing high loads and few reps will make you look like a bodybuilder. The looks being secondary, but they say a lot about the capacity of the muscles. I still believe that most expert claim that if you want to be able to lift heavy weights at all you have to practice lifting heavy weights.

    But maybe it all boils down to how you define ‘strenght’ and ‘endurance’. Is strenght the capacity for lifting heavy things or is it something else?

    Endurance can also have different aspects. Sprints with short breaks is good for building your cardio-vascular capacity. However, for running a marathon (or walking day after day with a pack) your muscles, skeleton, ligaments etc have to be able to handle working for a long, long time. I doubt if they will be able to do this solely from 30 minutes of sprints even of you have a great set of heart and lungs.

    However, it certainly would be nice to be able to condense your training but I feel I need more evidence before I buy into all of it.

  12. Charcoal sounds awesome – I’ve been using bags of rice, though I don’t have a mouse problem in my garage ;)

    While I was training for running various trail races, I did most of my hiking with maybe 6 lb on my back. When I signed up for Denali I had to get back into 80 lb loads and that was very tough training back into.

    So I agree, a loaded backpack on a regular basis just makes sense if you’ll ever have to do it on a real trip.

    Thanks for the fun charcoal idea.

  13. Great idea–using the bag of charcoal (bowling pins is funny :-). I get tired of packing and unpacking my spare clothes for various training sessions.

  14. Great post sir, definetly something every backpacker ( UL or not ) should consider. Thanks.

  15. Phillip,

    If you enjoyed the book about Chris’s walk you might also enjoy “Hamish’s Mountain Walk”

  16. “Twice the weight, half the distance, every other day” is my training mantra.

    This spring I’ll finish up The Long Trail in VT. The hike will be approx. 90 miles in 7 days. My base back weight will be 11 pounds; add 4 days’ worth of food, 5 ounces of fuel, and at some point on the trail maybe 2 liters of water. Plug these values into my training formula and my training goal is to be comfortable hiking 7 miles while carrying 45 pounds.

    This basic training formula has allowed me to leave my cubicle at work, jump on a Greyhound, and backpack 12 consecutive 20+ mile day’s on the Appalachian Trail. I used the same training method with the same results for over a thousand miles of section-hiking the A.T.

  17. I am still working my way up from day hikes, but I use bags of dog food in my pack when I want to add additional weight for training. Similar to charcoal, and I always have some around!

  18. I’ve mulled the issue of a lightweight pack and higher mileage versus a heavier pack and lower mileage as a training tool. My purposes are preparing for bigger alpine objectives with a need for technical and colder weather gear (and thus a heavier pack). And I’m not necessarily convinced that UL makes you soft–the answer may be to just push yourself harder with your lighter pack by stepping up your mileage, pace, and your hours of hiking per day. I feel like by traveling lighter you are able to cover more mileage, more elevation change, and are just as able to wear yourself out and prep yourself for slogging beneath a heavy pack. I have not noticed myself severely impacted by a sudden change to a heavy pack (mid 40 lbs) when in my training/preparations I never carried more than 20lbs. But of course, the mileage covered and hiking pace is less than with the 20 lb pack. I suppose the problem arises when you expect to be able to hike equal distances, hours per day, and at an identical pace in your 45lb pack as you do with your 20 lb pack.

    • That’s what I am training for – being able to carry a 45 pound for 15 to 20 miles for 16 days – 20 days with 4,000 feet of elevation per day. Doing that with a 20 pound pack is comparatively easy, even though I’m over 50.

      • I guess training-wise my question would still be whether it couldn’t be just as beneficial to shoot for higher mileage (25-30), longer days (12-14 hours), and bigger elevation gain (6,000ft) with a lighter pack, as just going out and slogging under the heavy, expected weight of a pack. I don’t have a scientific answer, but I would be interested in finding out more. Reminded of an article that I’ve saved: http://cosleyhouston.com/alps-training.htm

      • That’s a really good article.

  19. I just plugged Earlylite’s numbers into my formula and about fell on the floor, until I realized the error of my above post. “Twice the weight” is twice the “average” weight I expect to be carrying. NOT twice the Maximum weight I’ll be carrying. So with that clarification I should have posted my training goal to be “comfortable hiking 7 miles while carrying 36 pounds”.
    (12 lb base pack + 24 lb max weight pack = 18 lb average pack weight)

    • I should qualify too. The average weight I’m training for is closer to 30 pounds, but would be 45 pounds in the beginning before I eat it down. My philosophy, rather than a formula, is to train at about 70% of max and rely on grit, adrenaline, and sheer will to get through the heavy days.

  20. Mark Twight has an excellent fitness program — It’s described in detail in Extreme Alpinism. Modify as needed.

    I’ve come to really enjoy weight training, I think it has made a big difference in my weight carrying ability…

  21. Regarding strength training as prep for hiking… its helps immensely and there is definitely benefit, but for the most part its not the major muscle groups that people have trouble with, its the minor supporting structures and soft tissues. Strength training falls way short on that front – endurance training is where you work those bits. Working from the bottom to the top of the fitness pyramid (endurance, stamina, economy, speed) is the recommended way to do it. Strength (speed) helps everything, but without the underlying endurance, its’ all for naught. Hiking relies first and foremost on endurance, and endurance is gained by lots and lots of moderate exercise (hiking).

    I keep in good shape year round. I swim 1-2 times a week, road bike and/or mtn bike 1-2 times a week, run 10-30 miles a week, do some form of strength training 1-2 times a week (Crossfit right now). If you asked me to go run a marathon this weekend, I could do it. But the first 20 mile day of the season with a pack on (I only hike about 3 mos out of the year) will just about kill me.

    Its not quads, or calves, or back, or shoulders – it’s little weird stuff I can’t exercise even running. Heels are the first to kill me. When running, I’m mainly on my toes – when hiking, I’m mainly on my heels. It takes me a week or more to “break in” my heels. The other weird one is shin muscles. I live in Florida, there’s no downhill here, so there’s nothing to workout my shins. There’s nothing in a gym I can do to exercise heels or shins, but plenty for calves. Hip flexors are the other thing that get me the first week of a big section. Mine are in pretty good shape, but 12 hours of dirt pounding works them differently than a marathon or anything in a gym (Crossfit probably does the best for that).

    When getting ready for the first big hike of the season, I add two things to my normal routine beginning about two months beforehand. I’ll do about an hour of stadium “ramps” both uphill and downhill to try to fit-up the heels and shins. The first month is sans pack, and the second month is with an “overweight” pack (with the bowling pins). The second thing is hiking in sand. Sounds fun already, doesn’t it. The first month with normal weight pack, the second month with the bowling pack. Normal for me is 25 (15 base + 10 food/water) and bowling weight is 35 – about the max I’ll carry. I don’t winter hike per se – winter hiking in Florida is like spring or fall everywhere else.

    That’s my thoughts, anyway. Strength training is a good way to try to catch up from a deficiency, but the only way to get good at hiking is to hike.

    • We’re all mad aren’t we? I mean we do this for hiking? I had no idea that so many of you are as cracked as me!

      I’m still really into functional training. One of the benefits of hiking, besides balance and all the synergistic muscles, is really dialing in my footwork. Ever watch the feet of a really good hiker. We do a lot of energy conservation.

  22. I carry my daughter (~30lbs) on my shorter hikes. 25lbs pack + 30lbs daughter = 55lbs. Now, that’s training. :)

    It helps too. I recently carried 9L of water to a dry camp that I was going to use as a base camp. That’s about 18lbs of water!


  23. What a timely discussion. I just did an overnight backpack this weekend and my pack was 3 x heavier than normal. I need conditioning for sure, but frustrated when I slipped when tired ands could not get back up without removing the pack. I felt like Bambi.. I’m not defeated. I’m losing weight on the D.A.S.H. diet and my logic is to lose a “backpack” of weight. Off trail, I can work on my conditioning, but I sure was looking for a solution when I was hiking and HAD to keep going.

    • I had that happen to me on snow with a heavy pack. Laying there on the snow trying to wriggle out from under a heavy pack with my head pointing downhill.

  24. This post caught my attention. I can’t imagine anytime in my hiking future when I will need to carry a 40 or (gasp!) 50 pound pack- winter or summer, but props to you for being able to carry such a load- I’m sure it’s not enjoyable. I definitely don’t agree that going ultralight makes one weak. I think it’s simply smart, especially with all the gear choices that are now available.

  25. I assessed what I had packed when I got home and I may have been able to shave off some weight-but I could also argue what I had in my pack. The extra meal, clothing, “what ifs” in case of injury or delays. I was dehydrated because my water pump wasn’t conveniently packed and I didn’t want to stop.

    As part of a team, I could have shared gear, but didn’t want to so I could practice using what I have.

    I take the experience as what my maximum load would be for my current physical condition. As hard as it was…I’m ready to go again-only ache was 1 sore toe!

  26. Being three weeks shy of sixty, I’ve gotten wimpy and soft anyway. UL backpacking is what has enabled me to keep on the trail and pass the love of hiking on to my grandchildren. Full load winter gear in Texas doesn’t include snowshoes, crampons, ice axes, etc. It might require a light down puffy somewhere in the pack–Oooh the anguish!

  27. I disagree with the title, but agree with the content. Just because you carry an UL, SUL or XUL doesn’t mean you shouldn’t train. If you know you will carry heavier loads due to a lack of resupply, then you train for it. It is all about training for the intended mileage, elevation, climate and pack weight. You don’t get in shape for backpacking by running; not that running isn’t a good way to create a base, but reliable research has demonstrated that all training must be sport specific. You get in shape to backpack by backpacking or at least simulated backpacking (i.e, day hiking with a pack uphill and downhill, on rough trails, at a similar elevation to be encountered, when possible). Everyone’s body responds differently to training so you need to develop your personal program and be consistent.

    • There is an inherent flaw with this ideology for casual hikers/backpackers… If you get in shape for backpacking by backpacking & day hiking then you are, by default, out of shape when you initially go backpacking. Its a chicken or the egg situation.

      No amount of day hiking can FULLY prepare you for 2+ days of 8+ hours of backpacking large amounts of vert IMO unless you are day hiking a mountain 3 times a week.

      I have tried this method of “getting in shape” and it does not work for anyone that doesn’t live near a mountain they can hike after work 3 days a week or own a Stair Master and as far as a time commitment, its inefficient. I’ve also tried actually getting in shape with weights, biking, and interval training for backpacking without hiking and it makes a HUGE difference as does STAYING in shape.

      Training for ANYTHING should ALWAYS involve non sport specific activities in order to keep your whole body strong. To your point: THIS IS WHY RUNNING FAILS AT TRAINING FOR BACKPACKING. Look at any sport or athlete, they always train intensively using different activities.

      I feel like a lot of backpackers have an aversion to the gym, weight training, and possibly just training indoors. It makes sense but it is undeniably and unnecessarily tough to compensate for a complete lack of weight training. Granted that’s not the only aspect of backpacking as Blitzo succinctly described above, but to me personally it has made the biggest difference. Merely hiking with weight is just doing the bare minimum imo and misses the majority of muscle groups. You don’t NEED a strong upper body for backpacking but it sure does help.

      But I agree, it’s different for everyone and consistency IS key but I would add that variety is a very close second; it’s easier to be consistent when you have a variety of activities/exercises so its a yin and yang thing in regiment.

  28. A 30 lb toddler in a child carrier backpack works great too. The downside is that you’re robbing them of exercise…not that they mind.

  29. I like to carry a few extra items that improve the quality of the hike for me. Bird, wildlife and plant identification guides; a fun but heavier stove like a stormkettle, and so on. If I want to go ul, I leave them, if I have a heavier pack to carry, I’m more used to it.


  30. I worked hard at getting my pack weight down but could never get it as low as the zealots. I’ve settled on about 20-23lbs for warm weather and 30-35lbs for cold weather for a three day/two night trip. I’m certain I could drop another 5lbs off of each season’s load by upgrading my sleeping bag and tent but I can’t bring myself to crack $500 each. In the meantime I’ve justified it by arguing it makes me stronger and more fit. Thanks for the validation! Lol!

  31. Oh yeah…other than stretching like a fiend to stay limber, I train for hiking by hiking. :-P

  32. When I was prepping for a week long hike I used gallons and half gallons of water, plus my platypus. It used water for several reasons the main one being that if something come up and I needed get back to my vehicle quicker I could just dump the water and go.

  33. Really good article Phil! When I’m training the way I want to I always try to push my normal backpacking weight. I use a large rucksack, that is one of my heavier ones so I don’t take it in the field anymore. I use old pillows, Nalgene bottles full of water, and even hand weights to simulate my loads – adjusting in accordance with my fitness. I also like to put on ankle weights, wear heavy-duty backpacking boots, and sometimes carry hand weights. My objective is to train at a weight level HIGHER than I’ll carry if possible.

  34. In addition to my hiking, I frequently take long canoe trips in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) – my portages are rarely longer than a mile – many being 1/4 to 1/2 mile average – but there can be many of them in a long day of paddling. I typically try to single portage – 1 trip across, bringing all gear, food and canoe in a single trip – with my solo pack weight of 35-40lbs (full of food) and my canoe weight of 32lbs (solo kevlar canoe) or 45 lbs (tandem kevlar) or 68 lbs (tandem royalex) I will carry anywhere from 70 to 108 lbs per portage depending on the trip point within the trip. Again, the portages aren’t long, but they can be very hilly with poor, challenging footing and after 13-15 of them in a day, they add up. These trips make my hiking trips (avg base load 14-15 lbs)seem very light by comparison.
    To train for these I do a variety of walking, biking, running, hiking on the roads and trails and hit the gym for squats, shoulder presses, core stuff. it all all helps.

  35. Been training with a 46lbs bag because if shtf what do all the ul ppl do. Fail and die(oh yeah I didn’t bring enough supplies)

    • Can’t really carry everything you need, for shtf or backpacking, even with an 80lb pack. Personally, I’d be fine with a 20lb pack, rifle, and pistol, and associated ammo. That is about the max I would want to carry to stay mobile. Fast and light. Still, that would be close to 40lbs with ammo. Carried a lot more overseas, and I paid for it with health issues.

      Survival is much more about skills than gear.

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