Packaging Weight Created 07/11/00 Anozira
Updated 01/31/02

Keep track of how much total carry weight is packaging
Packaging can account for a lot of the total carry weight if you are not careful. Recognize that a backpack with a frame weighs five pounds or more, a many-pocket vest weighs two pounds empty, and a simple web belt with suspenders weighs a pound before you put anything on it. The over-organized should watch how much weight they spend on stuff sacks, bags, cases, and holders within the overall bag.

A pack with many pockets can be beautifully organized but will weigh more, for a given capacity, than one with only one or two big compartments. My 3,600 cubic inch (59 liter) external frame backpack, with seven compartments and a well padded suspension, weighs almost six pounds. This is fairly typical. Weight depends on volume and on the strength & comfort of the suspension more than on the kind of frame. Look at a bunch of packs. Divide the weight by the volume and you will get a fairly constant number. Actually this is almost unavoidable because more stuff requires more volume (amount of cloth) and, since it weighs more, it requires more strength (thicker cloth). And the more the total bag and contents weigh, the more you are likely to add better strap and belt padding, making the packaging an even bigger part of the total.

Since six of my forty pound target goes for the pack, only thirty four pounds are left for stuff. The pack is 15 % to the carry weight - or, said the other way around, it adds 18 % to the weight of my stuff. AND, some of that thirty four pounds goes for more packaging.


Some Examples of Package Weight
My wilderness survival kit items are fitted into the many pockets of a vest. The items are rather heavy at almost 7.7 pounds while the vest adds 1.9 pounds. Again the package adds 24 % to the useful contents. If I lightened up the contents, the vest would be an even larger percent of the total. I have worked it out with a web belt and a butt pack, and the results are the same - so build it anyway you think makes sense - the packaging load will be about the same.

One of the items in the vest is a knife. A double lock-back folder with a stainless blade and a gut-hook/bone saw. I feel this is a useful tool to process game was well as general knife duties. The knife weighs 4 ounces. The nylon belt case that comes with it weighs 1.1 ounces. The package again adds 25 % to the contents. I do not mean to say that packaging is wasted or useless; being able to carry this on the belt is a useful option. It is just that the kit builder must recognize that there is a lot weight that is not usually considered when items are aded up to figure the carry weight.

My mini 8X21 binoculars weigh 6.7 ounces, the vinyl belt case that comes with them, 1.3 ounces. The package adds more than 19 % to the weight. It doesn't get packed.

Count on 25% of your outfit being packaging
You are starting to see a pattern. Collect the stuff you think you want to carry and get a total weight. You probably have to add about 25 % to this for a final carry weight or, to put it the another way, 20 % of what you carry will be packaging. That means for a 40 pound (18 kg) total load, you may only have 32 pounds (14.5 kg) of stuff - the rest might be the carry packaging.

Don't Forget Required Accessories
For example, most tent makers state the weight "of the tent"; the stuff sack and stakes are additional as is any optional ground cloth and tension cords. If you have upgraded the stakes there is probably more weight, but, you may just remember the tent was advertised as 4 pounds, 4 ounces.

If you carry a pistol, say a 1911A1, to its 40 ounces, add the weight of the holster (3 to 8 oz), 2 spare magazines (6 oz), canvas mag pouch (7 oz), ammo in the weapon and mags (21 oz), and maybe a cleaning kit (8 oz). The accessory kit doubles the weight without a cleaning kit.


Water is one of the heaviest things you will carry
A quart (liter) of water weighs 32 ounces, but you have to carry that water in something. A plastic canteen weighs 4 ounces - more for a metal one. A nylon cover holds it on my web belt adding 5.5 ounces. A canvas cover would add even more. The total is 41.5 ounces which is 30 % more than the weight of just the water - the packaging is 23 % of the total.

Food-grade polyurethane or vinyl water bladders are alternatives to canteens. A Camelbak HAWG holds a bladder and serves as a very small backpack. The outfit weighs 23 ounces and holds 90 ounces of water. Of course there is some pack capacity too (most of that 23 ounces is backpack) but the package is 26 % of the water weight. The simpler Pacteen weighs 9 ounces and carries 50 ounces. Here the package weighs 18 % of the contents.

Some backpacks have a compartment that accepts a water bladder from Camelbak, Platypus, or Blackburn. Besides consolidating your kit, this reduces total weight. A 70 (2 liter) weighs 3.5 and a 100 ounce (3 liter) bladder weighs 4 ounces, the same as a plastic canteen, and the added cloth wall may weigh less than canteen covers. It also puts the weight flat against the back, high on the shoulders, instead of hanging from a web belt. Platypus makes a $3 adapter to connect their bladder to the output of a filter meaning no other containers are necessary (except if you need to cook). Drink tubes make it easier to have frequent, slow hydration without stopping. Drink tubes with bite valves can be bought for canteens, they are part of the bladder system.

All this is a great reason to keep down your weight load down from the start - adding 10 pounds of stuff adds another 2 pounds of packaging.

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