So maybe I’m not Ultralight and maybe that’s okay.


What’s your pack weight.. Bro?

Ultralight the latest and greatest “who’s bag is better competition.” At this point I’m beginning to get pretty exasperated with the whole concept. In fact, I actually considered not even weighing my pack at all! Just so when someone asked me I could say “I didn’t weigh it.”

Alas, I sat down with a scale and started weighing everything I have. The result was what I figured it would be, a base weight right around 18 pounds. I say right around because I might have gotten frustrated after 13 or so and stopped counting…

And. That. Sucks.

Rewind to a few months ago. I was spending countless hours pouring over gear, waiting for the right thing to go on sale. All so I could have a super light backpack. I looked through previous years PCT gear lists, counted the ounces and did my best. You know what pack weight really comes down too? Money, experience and comfort.

I’m an experienced car camper, rock climber, and short overnight hiker. I am not an experienced thru-hiker. I’d be lying if I said I was. With my lack of personal experience I feel like I can’t get away with going quite as light as others can and still be comfortable. Add in the fact that I ended up buying every single piece of gear, the expenses added up pretty quickly. So here we are in the final month before my hike and I feel like I just took a huge blow.

What is it that everyone in all those groups I follow says? Oh yeah!


So, I guess I’ll have a heavy back pack. I’m still going to put one foot in front of the other and walk every single breathtaking mile. Every hill I’ll feel every ounce on my back. Then when I get to the top,  it will be that much more personally rewarding.
“But Blake you won’t be able to keep up with everyone else!” Good thing I’m going solo! This is my hike and my adventure. Maybe it’s okay that I want my soft, fuzzy wool socks to sleep in so my toes are nice and warm. It’s okay that I don’t want to mail my slightly heavier whippet because of shipping costs so it will double as my trekking pole all the way through. I’m bringing my solar charger because I don’t want to HAVE to stop in town and spend money on a hotel room, just so I can charge my phone. Even though my pack weighs a little bit more, it doesn’t mean I won’t have an amazing experience. Maybe it just means I’ll have the perfect experience.

So the next time your down on yourself for not being Ultralight stop and consider your choices a little bit. Think about why your going out there. If your gear matches your reasons, stop thinking about it and just walk.



**photo from Creative Commons

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Comments 18

  • Petra : Mar 2nd

    Blake, I was a bit anxious about that, too, and you know what you’ll find when you get on the trail? Everyone will have a pack just like yours, and no one will ask you how much it weighs. I would say that the ultralighters make up less than 10%, they just happen to be the most vocal. Be comfortable, and enjoy your hike!

    • Blake Estes : Mar 2nd

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

  • Jesse leal : Mar 2nd

    I’ll be cheering you on from the flat lands !!!

    • Blake Estes : Mar 2nd

      Keep following as you cheer!! I should be updating my posts quite frequently while I’m out there!

  • Todd Cantor : Mar 2nd

    My experience is very similar to yours in that I am a life long rock climber, with plenty of time spent in the same Sierra’s that eveyone is fretting about, carrying comparably massive loads with rack, rope, and all the gear and food for anywhere from 7-10 days trips. Once upon a time when I was much younger, I weighed my pack at Whitney Portal before heading up the mountaineers route to climb vertical rock on Mt. Whitney and Mt. Russel. I carried it as a badge of honor that I was able to get a 78lb pack up to Iceberg Lake. I also enjoyed every can of smoked oysters with gouda and other delicacies that I will not be able to carry on a thru.

    As I have heard many times, hike your own hike and that is what I plan to do.

    With that said, I am still cutting a bit of weight since on my shakeout earlier this week my aging back told me I needed to. Enjoy the process.

    • Blake Estes : Mar 3rd

      A pack loaded down with climbing gear and camping gear is HEAVY for sure!! Lol. I’ll see you out there!! Happy hiking!

  • Michael Sweet : Mar 3rd

    I think you have it just right for now. You’ll be an expert 500 miles in. You’ll soon know what can go and what can stay. Best wishes!

    • Blake Estes : Mar 3rd

      Thank you!!

  • Tosha : Mar 3rd

    Girl, that’s more than okay. I hiked the AT in 2015 and I discovered some items I will never part with, no matter how much they weigh. People are even more insane about the ultra lightness of their pack on the PCT this year which is fine, I’m just not. I don’t WANT to mess with a tarp tent. I want a tent that I know and trust that stands on its own. My tiny cribbage board keeps me sane, and yes, my little solar charged multi-colored blow up light is totally unnecessary, but it makes me happy just looking at it. So here’s to you, comfort and happiness. You got this. See ya out there!

    • Blake Estes : Mar 3rd

      See you out there! I can’t wait to see the solar light! Lol

  • Mig Whitt Trail Neme YIPPEE. : Mar 3rd

    I have done it all, worried about every single ounce, I still do, I am glad I am at 11.8 oz. I will never be at 10, it doesn’t matter. I’m happy with my gear and my pack. 🙂

  • Katie Jones : Mar 3rd

    What brand of solar charger do you recommend? You

    • Blake Estes : Mar 3rd

      Oh man that’s a loaded question lol I’ll let you know if I still recommend it in 3 months!!
      With that being said I’m taking my anker solar lite

  • Daniele : Mar 3rd

    I just wrote an article a couple weeks ago with the same concept and couldn’t agree with you more! I’d rather be comfortable and warm, than ultralight and cold! 🙂

  • Paul Bronco Fuzinski : Mar 4th

    I think you’ll be surprised how many people aren’t “ultra light.” My fiancé and I thru hiked in 2015 and she had a 5 lb Gregory pack and she loved it. I think you have a good mentality about it. Being light isn’t everything. After a month or two you could carry a bowling ball in our pack and you wouldn’t even notice because your legs will be like freaking tree trunks. Have fun!

  • Karyn : Mar 4th

    Hi Blake!
    I’m glad to hear from another solo woman hiker who is doing it her way. I’ve read so much in the last few months that I learned one thing: no one escapes paring down, buying something they didn’t think they’d want, exchanging one kind for another – in other words, everyone had to figure it out as they went along what worked best for them. Unfortunately then they think they have the answer for everyone else. You have to tune out the white noise.

    Happy Trails

  • Ronda Welsh : Mar 6th

    It is on my bucket list to do the Appalachian Trail and maybe the PCT too! I know your mother and am super impressed and excited for you and this adventure! I want to know how to follow your blog! Way to represent Kansas!

  • Amanda Thompson : Mar 11th

    I am so excited for your trip to start and get to follow along! I haven’t hiked your trail, but I have backpacked through India and that was 48lbs I was toting around for several months! Quit stressing about it because once you get out there you’re going to realize you brought what you wanted/needed and it’s not even going to be anything you spend a second thought on. You’re in shape enough for this and you’re one of the strongest people I know! So get out there have fun and enjoy those fuzzy socks woman!!


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