Forums The Gear Room Riding with Heavy Packs
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    Iv’e used my splitboard as a climbing approach tool, but found it almost impossible to ride when I have a really heavy (35+ kg) pack.

    I know that’s super heavy! Were talking lots of ice and rock climbing gear as well as camping gear. I wont be lugging that much gear again!

    How heavy can people go and still ride? What are peoples overnight and week long trip pack weights and is there a trick to riding with such a heavy pack?

    Would a sled be better?

    151 Posts

    found it almost impossible to ride when I have a really heavy (35+ kg) pack.

    I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to lugging that much gear, certainly I wouldn’t carry a 35kg pack for any long approach, it’s just too heavy for me. I’m not into rock/ice climbing so the most ‘technical’ gear I’ve carried is an ice axe, crampons and harness (+prusiks/biners/belay device).

    This is about as big/heavy as I’m willing to go, this was gear for a 3 day tent overnighter, so I’m carrying a tent, sleeping bag, 2 insulating mattresses (one therma-rest, 1 foam), jet boil and food + usual layering/split/avy stuff. Not really sure how much it weighed (way less than 35kg though!) I’d say less than 20kg, but for the sections I had to boot, it sure felt heavy with the board on my back!

    Being able to ski helps for those short downhill sections (particularly with a heavy pack), I recently got the heel lockdowns for my karakorams. If the slope’s a bit steeper and I’m worried about eating shit or there’s some exposure I’ll ski shallow / kick turn / ski back etc. omfg I can’t believe I’m talking about skiing… :nononno: :scratch:

    I don’t think there’s any ‘easy’ answer to boarding/skiing with that heavy a pack other than to dial back a little on your riding, like anything it gets easier with practice. 🙂

    I don’t have any experience with sleds, but it’d want to be a long flat approach to your staging area. I can imagine the elegance and grace of an icy traverse with a sled!

    10 Posts

    Interesting topic. Up until last year, i hadnt really had to do any riding with weight on my back (mostly resort days). So when i did end up doing some backcountry with a bit of weight on my back (maybe 10kg max) i really sucked balls. I’m sure its a get better with practice thing, but i found it really messed me up. Hate to think how i’ll go with 15kg+ this season with overnight gear.

    Any tips?

    797 Posts

    The combination of compromised body mechanics and less hardware stability make for a dramatic departure from unloaded or lightly loaded riding.

    Heavy packs can sharply affect ones riding mechanics by causing more bending at the waist instead of knees for insufficient core, back, butt, and leg strength and flexibility. It takes an extremely strong core to lever against the weight throws of a pack. I’ve found yoga and strength training helpful (for riding in general).

    Remember that extra weight affects how your hardware rides too. Boots, bindings and boards will flex more and provide less stability; boards will not float as well and will be more prone to folding. Different board and hardware configurations may be worth considering.

    And of course one simply cannot ride the same with a heavy pack as without, so, all that said, one should expect to have to ride differently and usually more conservatively with a heavy pack.



    At times in soft snow, I’ve found the hardest part can actually be standing up to start riding!

    I sometimes keep a pole out for this.

    I think the real solution is….

    A lighter pack!

    721 Posts

    It sucks having big heavy packs.

    3 day trip I get away with 55lt pack
    Gets used as day pack too

    This was a week trip out the back of the main range near Kosi

    Me in the red jacket 70Lt pack

    Wet and super heavy at the end

    I’d take this next time

    Adam West

    643 Posts

    I’ve carried some incredibly heavy packs in my day. Stupid shit. It can make riding out a huge PITA. I used to have an expedition tent that I took everywhere. 9.5 lbs. My partner didn’t want to share a tent, so he also brought another 4 season tent. Multiple water bottles, extra layers, stoves, water filters, TNF Denali jacket, and a -20 bag. All kinds of unnecessary crap. And some trips were in the spring, with no weather in the forecast. Definitely funny to look back at some of the dumb stuff I’ve hauled and ridden with. Some of this was way before spiltboarding was an option, so we were on snowshoes. Ugh.

    Now, I have a lightweight 40L pack, megalite tent, jetboil, and a 2lb down bag. I can go for a few days and be pretty minimalist. Sure, don’t have all the creature comforts, but you really don’t need much. If it doesn’t fit in the bag, I don’t take it. It also makes riding much more fun and easy. Allows you to travel further with less energy and have more energy for what you are there for, snowboarding.

    675 Posts

    ^^^^ This.

    I think most of us who have done lots of summer backpacking start off with just trying to cram all their summer bp stuff, plus all their snowboarding stuff, into a bag and haul it around on a splitboard. Foolish! And it really takes away from the snowboarding experience.

    Look to alpine climbers for inspiration. They get by for 3-4 days with 40-50L packs. There will always be tradeoffs and sacrifices with what you can take, but for me it’s well worth it to go lighter.

    1490 Posts

    Sometimes riding with a heavy pack is unavoidable. While I certainly embrace everyone examining the weight of every piece of gear, if you need to pack in some climbing gear (even just glacier travel stuff), some overnight gear, food for a few days, and fuel and winter clothing and shelter, at some point, you are going to be riding with 60 lbs, if not more.
    Fitness goes a long way towards making this fun, so train for it. Do some laps with the weight a few times before hand, and/or do some serious squats in the gym. Hill hiking on dry ground, with a heavy pack will train you right up as well. Keep the heavy items in your pack as close to your back as you can, and make sure you have a pack which really hugs your body, and is stable on your back; nothing is worse than a heavy pack which is also shifting around on your body as you ride.
    As for gear, consider that you might want a little bit longer board, and a little more stiffness, it will help. But you cannot go too stiff, as you need the boar to ride well with less weight.
    I remember riding out from doing a descent of Mt Columbia in the Canadian Rockies, we had a lot of gear, ropes, glacier travel stuff, camera stuff (including a 16 mm movie camera and 35 lb tripod). We rode right down the small icefall which joins the Athabasca Glacier to the upper Columbia Plateau. Good thing we did not take any falls… But the board felt really soft when schlepping all of that weight, and I was glad to have some length and stiffness to help stabilize the additional load.

    875 Posts

    ^^^solid advice from barrows as always.

    165 Venture Divide/Spark Frankenburners/La Sportiva Spantiks
    163W Jones Solution/Phantom Alphas/Dynafit TLT5s
    162 Furberg



    its all about having the right gear that works for you.

    i save weight in a few ways

    dynafits and rome whiteroom and gecko skins took 4 lbs off my setup

    super warm closed cell foam 3/4 pad adds warmth and 30 degree bag w/ large puffy to sleep in (and chill in around camp and when it gets cold on top of the mt.) saves weight over 15 or 0 degree bag with a self inflating pad and sleeping in base layers

    closely examine you climbing gear, you’ve probably got way too many slings and caribeeners, instead of anchoring in with webbing or PAS just use climbing rope to anchor you in, if its a mellow ice route or there is no chance of rope cutting on rocks use a thinner lighter weight rope (i frequently use 1 half rope for “smooth” climbs, i also have a 30m 8mm rope for simple glacier travel that is 3 lbs) aluminum crampons and axe can save lots of weight too if your doing snow climbs.

    shelter! a snow cave weighs nothing… or a 5 by 8 ft sil nylon tarp and a sheet of tyvek will weigh in at 7 or 8 oz, dig a trench put it over the top. youll get just as much shelter as a 4 season tent and possibly be warmer too.

    stove- jetboil sol ti is super lightweight works in many conditions, or msr reactor if youre going to harsher locales will save over a white gas stove

    food- just be like mark twight and steve house and just eat power gels all day long. extreme alpinism!

    clothing- you can usually leave behind heavy gore tex layers and go with ultralight rain gear instead, and closely examine your layering. i do thin layers and a big puffy when its nicer weather, saves a few lbs over my polypro-softshell-gore-tex paclite winter setup.

    water weighs a ton, if there is running water around you dont need to carry much.

    those things could potentially shave 15 or so lbs off your setup.

    1669 Posts

    just cause you can stuff and hang all your shit on a 50 or 55L pack, doesn’t mean you should.

    just got the osprey aether in a 70L. 😯 yeah, it’s big, but hardly heavier than their 60 and it holds a load real well and I don’t have to hang all my shit on the outside. this keeps the weight closer to my body for a better ride.

    ditch the tent (I still gotta learn this one 😀 ).

    for climbing gear, I take a skinny rope and rack more cams on a single biner, scrutinize every piece I bring and use a lightweight harness (Camp Blitz)

    keep poles out when riding and no jibbin

    460 Posts

    Totally agree that hanging tons of crap off your pack boy scout style is no bueno.

    But I would like to respectfully suggest that unless someone is paying you to porter or you are aid climbing a backcountry big wall, melting snow every day and hauling a pack raft you don’t need to carry a 35+kg pack.

    A week touring should be doable in a ~50l pack no problem.

    Carry less crap.

    225 Posts

    We did an eight day Sierra Crossing with a starting load of 44lbs, including food and water. No crampons/axe/rope/pro, but I would expect that to send it to 50lbs max, presuming a group of three splitting gear.

    162 Posts

    Make sure you have plenty of beer to wash down the roids. 😉

    Half barrel was a 1/3 full. Appox. 85 sloshing lbs.

    Keep the weight low and tight.

    721 Posts

    Some crazy NZ gear hauling!

    :headbang: :headbang: :headbang:

    Adam West

    150 Posts

    Don’t ask…

    I’ve never been more terrified split-skiing in my life.

    298 Posts

    How well does a pulk work? Let’s say we need to haul a large expedition dome and two small ones, and winter camping stuff for about ten persons. I don’t really see how we could do this with just backpacks, even if we have the manpower. Just the large dome weighs 51 lbs and doesn’t pack small enough for a pack.

    I’m thinking of building two small pulks specific for doing this. It will fit in a skintrack and have some lateral stability to allow sidehilling. There could be one person pulling, and one at the back pushing.

    But we’ll be going up pretty high, and the terrain might be quite steep.

    Ideas and experiences with pulks welcome..

    875 Posts

    Check out, I have a couple Paris sleds made into ski pulks with their hardware.

    165 Venture Divide/Spark Frankenburners/La Sportiva Spantiks
    163W Jones Solution/Phantom Alphas/Dynafit TLT5s
    162 Furberg


    291 Posts

    Sidehilling w/ pulk can be challenging. So can going up steep. Steep with switchbacks? Double trouble. I only take the pulk out for gentle to moderate approaches and in those situations it’s brilliant.

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