Why Backpack? Why not just dayhike?
Trails are of different lengths horizontally and vertically which results in different trails having different levels of difficulty.
So it's a trade off between taking only your water and lunch, and taking a 35 pound pack that has all the claptrap associated with sustaining a human for several days and nights.
For everyone it's different. A friend of mine hiked 22 miles recently in one (long) day as a dayhike, the hike also included about 7,000 feet in accumulated elevation gain (AEG). I can't go that far. My body is too old and my lungs and legs just won't support that level of sustained output for one whole day.
But I can and have hiked many times hiking with a 17 pound pack distances ranging from 5 to about 12 miles. So I feel comfortable going on a 10 mile hike with a daypack. But if it's much more than 10 miles, it's a backpacking trip for me.
On at least 4 different days I've backpacked with a 35 pound pack distances ranging from 4.4 and 6.2 miles, so I have no trouble signing up for backpacking 5 to 7 miles per day as long as there is less than 1,000 feet of elevation gain in that distance.
Bottom line: If the trail is 16 miles, then it's a 3 day backpacking trip. If It's 20 miles, then it's a 3 day backpacking trip. If it's 25 miles, it's a 4 day backpacking trip. If it's 12 miles, it's a dayhike. Now if you're talking about gaining more than about 2,500 feet per day instead of 1,000 feet elevation gain, then you can add another day. That's the reason to backpack. So that you can see places that require more hiking than you can accomplish in one day.
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Last Update: April 22, 2015
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