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Pack Weight down the years

When I completed my first Challenge in 1993 I did so carrying a pack of 35 lbs (16kg). Then, for my 10th Challenge in 2012, my pack weight was a mere 22 lbs (10kg). Next week I will be starting the Camino de Santiago de Compostella, a 500-mile pilgrimage walk from St Jean Pied de Port in the southwest of France, over the Pyrenees, into and across the hills of Northern Spain to Santiago. I’ll be carrying a pack of only 13 lbs (6kg); such has been the progress in equipment design and in attitude towards what it is essential to carry. Now aged 77, I find pack weight to be a major factor in what I can still tackle.

My longest walk to date was 700 miles in 1999, when I walked from Cape Wrath down to Edale. That walk included my 1999 Challenge from Strathcarron to Arbroath. The full account of that walk is still available on Amazon Kindle (search for Ken Proudler). All proceeds go to charity.

I’ve no intention of retiring from long distance walking!

Re: Pack Weight down the years

Ken,

Your post started me thinking - my first long distance backpacking trip was the Tour of Mont Blanc in 1990. I think I carried about 14kg.
Basic kit was definitely heavier - karrimor cougar rucksack 1650g, Phoenix phreeranger tent 1700g, Daimor murren sleeping bag 1450g. I was hardier in those days and used 3mm karrimat to sleep on. My waterproofs were home made (anyone else remember ‘cyclone’ an early rival to gore tex?) and weighed about 700g. Cooking gear was also a lot heavier. No electrics to carry, but a paperback novel and a small New Testament weighed about the same. I carried a heavy ice axe all round Mont Blanc and only ever used it to hold up a washing line. Most days it didn’t feel too heavy! Not as much food as on the TGO as resupplying every day or two is straightforward on the TMB (just as well as freeze dried food wasn’t around then, simmering rice etc meant I needed two gas cartridges for a ten day trip).

Nowadays I’m neither as fit or as strong and draw the line at 10kg, If I get into the 2020 TGO I anticipate carrying about 1kg less than last year having learnt some lessons on this year’s challenge. At 9kg pack weight, I guess I’ll be towards the lighter end of the spectrum. Though I guess you’re not carrying tent or food on the Camino so 6 kg is not too difficult to achieve.

Enjoy your pilgrimage - it’s a walk I hope to do too at some point in the future - ideally from le Puy in France which doubles the length to 1000 miles.