Weighing your pack and gear

Weighing your backpack is the first step to reducing its weight. The second step involves weighing each individual item filling it. That’s when you can start deciding what to take, leave or replace with a lighter product. Weighing items is also a good way to test whether a manufacturer has been honest about their products weight. Doing this requires some type of weighing scale.

Luggage scales

You probably own some bathroom scales. ‘Bathroom scales’ typically refers to scales you stand on to weigh yourself. When I tried to weigh my pack using digital bathroom scales, the scales failed to produce anything but the word ‘error’. Whether this is due to something I was doing wrong or the scales being faulty I don’t know. In order to weigh the pack I found myself standing on the scales and then subtracting my own weight from the total.

In my search to find a more convenient method, I found the most suitable devices for weighing a pack and gear seem to be luggage scales and certain digital table top scales. Luggage scales are used to weigh luggage before traveling to make sure it doesn’t exceed weight limits. They typically have a hook or strap beneath them that’s used to suspend the luggage from. This is a great way to weigh your pack, but it doesn’t allow you to weigh individual items of gear conveniently.

Digital scale

Digital table top scales are those with a plate on top, on which you place items to reveal their weight. While many of these might be referred to as ‘kitchen scales’, there are also brands that market themselves as ‘sports scales’. Digital table top scales offer precise accuracy, but some have maximum weight limits so make sure you check the limit is adequate for your intentions before purchasing one. The surface of these scales may seem small, but many of them feature a ‘tare weight’ setting. A ‘tare weight’ setting is a feature that allows you to place an item with a larger surface area on the scale (for example a tray) which can then have a larger item placed on top. The weight of the tray is then deducted using the tare feature. I find table top scales to be the best option as its possible to weigh both the entire pack and individual items with ease.

Here a some features to check when shopping for scales:

  • Maximum weight limit
  • Ability to convert between different units of measurement
  • Accuracy

Once you’ve got yourself a scale you can get started by finding your ‘base pack weight’. This is done by weighing your pack- minus any consumables, i.e food and drink. Make sure you include any containers you might use to store consumables such as flasks or lunchboxes. This is your base pack weight. Getting that weight as low as safely possible is your next objective. Weighing each item individually will reveal the main contributors to the bulk of your pack, and make you question whats necessary. Do the same with your consumables.

Now that you’re ready to start re-arranging and discarding gear from your inventory, use a free tool like Lighterpack.com to make the process easier. Good luck!