Backpacking Conditioners

Backpacking Conditioners

Backpacking Conditioners Introduction and FAQ

Backpacking Conditioners are a series of pre-season conditioning hikes offered by the Seattle Backpacking Committee. They typically run from February through June, with the goal of helping people prepare for the peak high-country backpacking months of July through September. They also provide an opportunity for new and returning Mountaineers backpackers to meet and compare notes for the coming season. Backpacking Conditioners are open to any member of the Mountaineers Backpacking community with a Basic Backpacking Skills or Backpacking Course Student badge.

Click here FOR A LIVE LIST OF AVAILABLE Backpacking Conditioners

The conditioners are meant to be time-efficient workouts that take up a part of a day instead of the entire day. To reduce drive time and increase boots-on-trail time, many conditioners are on easily accessible early season routes in the Issaquah Alps and along I-90.

We try to offer two per month; one on a weekend day as well as a mid-week after-work option for those who can't make it out on a weekend. After judging interest and availability, more options could be added to meet the needs of the backpacking community.

Exact routes and schedules are at the discretion of the leaders.

Monthly Goals

Backpacking Conditioners have informal monthly elevation and pack weight goals that increase gradually every month. Weights are expressed as a fraction of a person’s target pack weight, which is a personal goal that is different for everyone. Some Backpacking Conditioners begin with a brief optional pack weigh-in.

Month Distance Gain % weight
February 4 1000' 66%
March 5 1500' 73%
April 6 2000' 81%
May 7 2500' 90%
June 8 3000' 100%

Backpacking Conditioner FAQ

Q: What’s the difference between a Backpacking Conditioner and a regular conditioning hike?

Most conditioning hikes set an aggressive pace and assume everyone is carrying a regular day pack that typically weighs no more than 10 - 15 pounds. Even though they exercise all your hiking muscles and joints, the emphasis of most conditioning hikes is cardio training with the goal of preparing someone for even longer, faster day hikes, climbs, or scrambles. By contrast, Backpacking Conditioners are designed to prepare your body to carry heavier loads at slower speeds. They still improve cardio, but there is also an emphasis in building strength, especially in the parts of your body that will have to carry and balance the heavier load of an overnight pack: muscles, joints, calluses, etc.  

Backpacking Conditioners also start earlier in the season than many conditioning hikes, so that training goals can be achieved before the peak season begins.

Q: What ARE the monthly weight targets be for my target pack weight?

Pack weight varies by person and by trip. Your target pack weight for July is a personal choice. Here are some suggested monthly targets for a range of final target weights.  Pack weight increase by approximately 10% per month.

% of June goal June Pack Weight Goal (lbs)
20 22 24 26 28 30 32
February 0.66 13.1 14.4 15.7 17.1 18.4 19.7 21.0
March 0.73 14.6 16.0 17.5 19.0 20.4 21.9 23.3
April 0.81 16.2 17.8 19.4 21.1 22.7 24.3 25.9
May 0.90 18.0 19.8 21.6 23.4 25.2 27.0 28.8
June 1.00 20.0 22.0 24.0 26.0 28.0 30.0 32.0