Jen's Winter Gear List

These items serve as my core gear list for weekend backpacking trips during the winter. Layering is key for me in the colder months: I tend to run hot while hiking and then cold at camp. Even for a weekend trip, I believe in bringing a back-up to essential layering pieces - I have a spare hat and gloves, as well as camp clothing. Plus, in the Mid-Atlantic, we're known more for slush than snow so changing into something dry at camp makes a huge difference–and is the safe thing to do! My first aid kit and shelter tend to be more robust since, as the co-organizer of the DC UL Backpacking group, I'm often leading or assisting on our trips. My shelter can accommodate two people comfortably, and three in a pinch. My Mariposa holds all this and more for such trips.

Just beginning? Learn how to start lightweight backpacking.

winter backpacking

Lightweight Backpacking in Winter

Category Gear Selection Weight (oz) Details
Packing Gossamer Gear Mariposa (Medium Pack, Small Belt) 29 Switch from SitPad to TorsoPad for winter
Pack liner 1.2 To keep water off my things
Z-Packs Bear Bag 3 Food storage
Exped Schnozzel Bag 2 Leftover from old Exped - waterproof bag used for storing insulation layers
Sleeping Western Mountaineering Versalite 32 Rated to 10 degrees.
Thermarest NeoAir 13 Supplement with GG Torso Pad
Montbell Pillow 2.5 Luxury item, and I love it.
Shelter MLD Trailstar 20 So far I haven't frozen in this! Plus, as a trip leader, I like to have the ability to have extra space in the shelter if needed
Bivy Sack 5.2 Protection against ground, elements, and curious animals.
Packed Clothing Patagonia NanoPuff 11 Worth every penny as a layering piece
Patagonia Houdini Windshirt 2 Extra layering–suprisingly warm for such a light piece
SmartWool Long Sleeve BaseLayer 6.75 For camp
SmartWool Long Underwear 7 For camp
Darn Tough Socks 2 Extra pair
Mountain Hardware Dome Perignon 1.75 Back-up hat
EMS Fleece Gloves 2 Camp gloves
MLD RainMitts 0.75 Adds protection to fleece gloves in case of snow or rain
Hydration Sawyer Mini 2 Don't forget to sleep with it!
Platypus (1L) 1 For untreated water
Bleach 1 Always good to have a back-up
Hunnelsdorf Water Bottle 3 Can open these with mittens. Will add a bottle booty if temperatures look they will be below freezing during the day
Cooking Caldera Cone and Stove 5.5
SnowPeak Titanium Pot 3
Sea to Summit Long-Handled Spoon 0.7
Small Essentials Bandana 0.5 For cleaning
Extra Toilet Paper 1
Toob (toothbrush + toothpaste) 1.5 With toothpaste
Petzl Tikka Headlamp 2.4
Matches 0.5 Lighters and I do not get along… I find matches more reliable
Contact Solution 0.5 For a weekend trip, I'll skip bringing an extra set of contacts.
Glasses 0.75 Back-up in case of contact issues.
Knife 1.75 Good all-purpose knife
First Aid Items 3 Typically I carry BandAids (mix of sizes), blister pads, tweezers, Benadryl, Advil (Day and PM), Neosporin
Diaper Rash Creme 2 For, well, chafing…
Journal and pen 4.5 Moleskin journal for capturing the stories of the day
Mini-brush and mirror 1.5 It's scary when I leave this at home. Plus, the mirror could be used for signaling!
Tenacious Tape 0.75 Gear repair
Total Base Weight (oz) (not including worn items or consumables) 178
Total Base Weight (lb) (not including worn items or consumables) 11.125

This gear list was contributed by former Trail Ambassador Jen "Shuttle" Adach and Editor.

Glen Van Peski's Gear List

Glen Van Peski gear list

Glen Van Peski at Puppet Pass

My typical gear list is for a summer/fall trip of 3 - 6 days in the Sierra or other western mountains, typically mostly above tree line. Temperatures range from freezing to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. My trips are generally composed of some trail, and some off-trail travel, typically with at least one other person. My most common substitutions are adding 4 ounces by going with my heavier sleeping bag, and adding another 3.4 ounces by going with the QTwinn for a shelter if I'm expecting significant weather. If going off-trail by myself, I would invest in a Spot locator. I have used this basic gear for many years, and spent some stormy nights, and days trudging through snow, so am comfortable in a wide range of conditions.

Category Gear Selection Weight (oz) Details
Packing Gossamer Gear Murmur wo/belt 8.4 If load gets above 15 lbs. I add the waist belt.
Pack liner bag 1.0 Mylar bag
Food storage bag 0.6 Homemade grocery-type bag from spinnaker
Clothing stuff sack 0.3 Cuben fiber
Stuff sack for misc small items 0.1 Cuben fiber
60' Spectra 725 line, garlic bag, mini 'biner 1.3 Bear bag setup, if needed. In non-bear country, use food as pillow
Sleeping Sleeplight long 30 deg down bag 17.2 Hood, no down on bottom, no zipper. If I know for sure it will be under 36, I'm likely to take my heavy 22 oz. bag, same construction, more down.
Gossamer Gear Thinlight 3/8" - 30" l, 12-16" w 2.1 Minimal torso sleeping pad requires some good site selection skills, and ability to contour sleeping area
Shelter Homemade Cuben Wedge 4.4 Minimal lean-to shelter, with spectra line, 2 Ti V-stakes, 4 Easton FMJ stakes. If significant weather expected, I upgrade to the Cuben Twinn, total of 8.1 oz. with stakes. No stuff sacks. Trekking poles for support.
Gossamer Gear polycryo - small 1.2 Trimmed down to 20" wide
Packed Clothing Montbell Ex Light down jacket L 5.7 Not strictly needed, but a nice comfort item
Zpacks jacket 5.0 Breathable cuben fiber rain jacket, also used for wind
Zpacks CloudKilt 1.4 May leave this out if good weather expected
RAB MeCo gloves 1.0 Not super warm, but usually enough
Possumdown 1.7 Warm hat
Balega or other wicking socks 0.8 Spare socks allowing for rotation
Fleece sleeping socks 1.8 A little extra warmth for feet, don't always use them
Hydration 1 liter Smart Water bottle 1.6 Use for mixing Emergen-C, can reach it from a side pocket while walking
3 liter Platypus 1.7 Often hike in dry climes, like to have decent capacity, carry outside pack behind sleeping pad
Platypus drinking tube 2.0 I find I stay hydrated better when carrying the extra weight of a hydration tube
Bleach 0.4 In mini dropper bottle, good for 4 - 5 days typically
Cooking Trail Designs gram cracker 0.1 Holds Esbit tabs
Trail Designs Caldera Ti-Tri 0.9 Windscreen and pot support, can be used for wood fires if allowed
paper matches 0.1 In a mini ziploc bag
Zelph Fosters with drink band and lid 1.3 Cook pot with lid
Cozy/stuff sack 0.4 Homemade cuben fiber with insulation
bamboo spoon 0.3 I prefer the feel of bamboo to titanium
Small Essentials Petzl e+LITE 0.9 Headlamp
Whistle on lanyard 0.2 For emergency signaling, I've used it
Dermasafe 0.3 Basically a long razor blade
Head net 0.5 petersheadnets.com Wouldn't take unless expecting bugs
Bug dope 0.3 Mini dropper bottle, don't usually take
mini tube spf 30 plus mini lip balm 0.7 Sample from dermatologist
Finger toothbrush and floss 0.2 Single use floss packets
Dr. Bronner's soap 0.2 Mini dropper bottle, use for toothpaste, bathing, etc
1/2 disposable shop towel per day 0.8 Toilet 'paper', for 'polishing' after natural materials
micro bottle alcohol gel 0.1 Good for about 4 days
blister & minor wound care 0.9 antibiotic, bandaids, compeed, etc
medications 0.8 Imodium,Tums,tylenol pm,naproxin, etc
mini scissors, tweezers 1.8 From Swiss army knife replacement parts
Rite in the Rain page, Sharpie 0.4 For taking notes
reading glasses 0.2 i4u lenses
Sparker and tinder 0.2 Emergency fire starter
8" duct tape, Tenacious Tape, needle/thread, safety pin 0.2 Repair kit
iPhone 6 4.4 For taking photos
Stickpic 0.4 Great for selfies, group photos without propping camera on a rock
Maps and permits 2.5 I usually print maps out at 11 x 17 from AllTrails, both sides
Total base weight (oz) (not including worn items or consumables) 78.8
Total base weight (lb) (not including worn items or consumables) 4.92

Trail Ambassadors in Search and Rescue

Piedmont Virginia Search and Rescue

Piedmont Search and Rescue Training - Richmond, Virgina

If you start Search and Rescue (SAR) to find people, you will be sorely disappointed. The majority of your time will be spent determining where people aren't and training. Along the way you will help those who are lost and their families, meet some great people, build upon your outdoor skills, and acquire more gear.

Ten years ago on a wilderness survival campout with my sons' scout troop, we had a Search and Rescue (SAR) team member come talk about SAR and demonstrate how a search is done. At the time I thought that would be fun to do after my sons aged out of scouting. In 2010 after 2 Eagle Scouts, getting out of most of my troop responsibilities, and 100 days on the AT, I needed a new outdoor activity and remembered our SAR team introduction. Ken "DripDry" Holder, fellow hiking buddy, scout leader, and Trail Ambassador, was in the same situation so we both began our SAR journey with Piedmont Search and Rescue (PSAR).

Picture of a potential clue

Picture of a potential clue to be sent back to base with UTM coordinates.

First, a brief background on how SAR works in Virginia. There are 23 volunteer Search and Rescue groups in Virginia, each with an agreement with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM). These groups only get called out when a local legal authority, typically a sheriff or police chief, requests additional resources through VDEM. These resources include ground searchers, K9 teams, equine searchers, trackers, aircraft, and technical rescue groups. All of these groups are staffed by volunteers who provide all of their own gear, uniforms, and time. And we're available to localities at no cost.

Back to my SAR journey. Joining a SAR group is just the beginning, then the training starts. There are some online courses from FEMA and some basic training from your group to get you Call Out Qualified, which means you can go on a search with a chaperone from your group. Now you can finally go out in the woods when called, while praying you don't make a mess of things. For continuing training, our group has monthly meetings, plus quarterly full day training. Then to getit 25 hours of training into a weekend for two weekends while paying for my own gas, food, and lodging. Plus purchasing all of my own supplies.) After basic ground certification you can go back to achieve specialty certifications. As an example Ken and I have completed certifications in basic tracking and team leadership, and plan to take the search management course in January.

The topics covered in training are varied and range from the basics such as knots and land navigation to tracking and crime scene preservation. If you like to learn, SAR will provide all you can handle. I've also learned much more of the geography of Virginia. Our group is centrally located in Virginia, so we get called out to searches in a large area of the state.

Piedmont Search and Rescue

My group - Piedmont Search and Rescue

I want to describe a typical search, but I can't because they are all quite different. People with dementia are one of our most frequent search subjects, however this year has provided plenty of variety with a hot air balloon accident, an F-15 crash, and one of our largest searches ever. So instead of describing a search, I'll cover how I respond to a search.

It starts with a text from our dispatchers asking for availability for a search in a specified county. I'll respond with a message that I'm available. Then I'll start loading the car with my pack and extra supplies, put on my uniform, top off the water bottles, and check the batteries. In the meantime, our dispatchers have sent out the location of the search base and directions to get there. The drive is typically 1-2 hours to get to base. Once I check in at base, it's time to wait for a task assignment. Our group and other SAR groups also provide assistance with search management, so they've already started preparing tasks based on the probable behavior of the subject. Once I've been given a task, I'll fill out the team from available searchers, brief them, then head out to our task area. The task will have instructions on the type of search and how to accomplish it, but there can be big differences between the maps and how the ground looks now, so it may be modified in the field.

Searching an abandoned house

Searching an abandoned house

When we search, we're not searching just for the person, we're searching for clues. Of course the biggest and best clue is the subject. If we can tell that the subject has been through our task area, that can significantly narrow the search. Most of the time our searches tell us where the subjects aren't, which helps focus the search to other higher probability areas. After completing the first task, a cycle of rest then a new task will go on for as long as I am able to search. When the subject is found, an evacuation team is formed to get them out to medical assistance. Finally it is time to check out at base and head back home.

Not all searches end quickly. Some can run for long stretches before they are suspended. We currently have one in Charlottesville related to an abduction that has been going for 4 weeks now. I've been up there 5 times so far, working with ground search teams and canine teams. As volunteers, we go when we can, fitting it around work, family, and other commitments.

DId I mention that SAR is a great excuse for acquiring more gear? If you ever want to start a debate among searchers, just ask what's the best flashlight or pack. You will probably get more opinions than there are people, because everybody has multiple ones. Unlike lightweight backpacking gear, SAR gear has to be sturdy and dependable. Most of the time we are bushwhacking and it almost always involves briars. So no wicking polyester as outside layers for clothing. Heavyweight uniform pants and shirts reduce, but not eliminate, the briars that make it to your skin and they don't snag like a lot of hiking clothes.

Search and Rescue Merit Badge

Trail Ambassadors Ken Holder and Lee Fields teaching scouts land navigation for the Search and Rescue Merit Badge.

We also have to pack some personal safety equipment, such as webbing and carabiners, as well as gloves and eye protection. Sometimes we may need to wait for extended periods while out on task, so extra clothing layers are needed as well as enough food for 24 hours. My survival kit includes an emergency bivy and small water filter, just in case.

SAR is lot like backpacking, you have the planning, the training, the gear, and the dedicated people with a passion for what they do. I feel lucky that I get to pursue both.

This post was contributed by Trail Ambassador Lee Fields. He and fellow Ambassador Ken Holder are members of Piedmont Search and Rescue in Richmond, Virgina.

Going the (Ultra) Distance

Going the (Ultra) Distance

When I packed up my enormous backpack full of crappy gear and unpalatable food in the spring of 2003. I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into. All I knew was that as my friends drove away from the Springer Mountain parking lot all that was left for me to do was to walk. And walk, and walk… across the country.

hike Pope

Pope

I'd never really backpacked before and had really only done a smattering of day hikes in the previous 2 years. As someone who had been sedentary and overweight her entire life the task ahead of me was almost unfathomable. But I had taken up running 6 months prior and had shed 40 lbs. I had gained the confidence that I could at least probably cover 10 miles or so a day.

It turns out that I did much more than that. I completed the Appalachian Trail in 4 months and immediately began planning a thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail, a trail whose existence I hadn't even known about prior to somewhere in Virginia. From the PCT I went on to thru-hike the Continental Divide Trail.

climb Robinson

Robinson

With the Triple Crown under my belt I looked for new activities to keep me occupied, especially during the winter months. Running 8 or 9 miles at a time wasn't really meeting that need to cover distance anymore… and that's when I discovered ultra-running.

Simply stated, an ultra-marathon is any race that is longer than the standard 26.2 miles of a marathon. However, there are other differences as well. Normally they take place on trails. While many are around 31 miles long, there are extremely long ultras that cover distances of 50 to 100 miles (or more).

ultralight hiking

Windy

While I was content to run 50k's for the first couple years, (after all, 31 miles is a heck of a long day by backpacking standards!) I was intrigued by the races at the more extreme end.

I had hiked 50 miles in a day a couple of times in the completion of my Triple Crown, but to run that far? That seemed incredible. Until I did it. And then I realized that I liked that better than running 50k. And if I liked the longer race that much more could I run 100 miles?

heather anish

Greenwood

I ran my first 100 mile race in 2011. I was terrified. That was worth over 3 huge days of hiking mileage. And here I was supposed to complete it in less than 36. I set out toward the middle to back of the pack of runners. Together we climbed in the heat up the steep trail of Goat Mountain. We trotted down dusty forest service roads and gobbled grapes at aid stations.

About 20 miles or so into the race I climbed up steeply through the forest and popped out at a trail junction. The tree ahead of me had a familiar emblem on it: Pacific Crest Trail.The next 38 miles followed the crest and I ran where I had once walked. I spied the places I had slept, and where I'd drank years before. The memories were excellent distractions from the pain. Soon, darkness fell and I clicked on my headlamp. Into the night I ran.

climbing Townsend

Townsend

The people I had run with in the morning I had not seen in hours. They were somewhere behind me. As my feet continued in a rhythm I began to catch and pass people. Many of them were much stronger and faster runners than I am. As dawn broke I reveled in the new day. I continued to pass people. They looked haggard from many miles and lack of sleep.

I finished the race in about 26 and a half hours. I was tired, but not exhausted. What in the world does this have to do with backpacking?

Hoodoo

Hoodoo

I believe that I excel at 100 mile races because of my long distance backpacking. Through thousands of miles of hiking in all conditions I have trained my body to pace itself. To not get tired. To burn calories efficiently.

In that same way, I believe my ultra-running has made me a better long distance hiker. It has taught me to go without sleep for days on end. To push harder than I thought I could. To believe my body is capable of more in a day. To take a 2,000ft climb in stride.

gossamer gear quiksak

Robinson

Distance is concrete. A precise measure of terrain covered. Covering that distance in different ways teaches your body different coping strategies as well as prepares you mentally for a variety of situations.

I stumbled into backpacking quite by accident and I found ultra-running in much the same way. However, they have proven to be complimentary forms of training, each enhancing the other.

gossamer gear lt4

Townsend

This summer I have set my focus on climbing the highest 100 peaks in the state of Washington (this is a multi-year endeavor). While most of these climbs are short in distance their verticality and technicality more than make up for it. Some peaks may require 15 hours to cover 15 miles. My experience with the ultra-distance has again made its benefits obvious. I am not tired, even after an all-day climb. I have loaded my pack and run 20+ miles deep into the wilderness to climb peaks for several days and then run back out.

Once you have taken the leap and become adept at the "ultra"-distance the possibilities are nearly endless. With ultra-light gear you can take it to the next level consistently. My Gossamer Gear Gorilla pack has had a helmet, crampons, boots, ice screws, a harness, rope, and a lot of other things crammed into it. And it has handled like a champ, much to the amazement of my climbing partners who continue to carry their 7lb (empty) packs.

climb Lost Peak

Lost Peak

With the new skills I am learning I am excited to see how I can now move through the mountains in new ways, undeterred by both distance and terrain. The adventures on the horizon are infinite.

heather anderson

Remmel

This post was written by Brand Ambassador Heather "Anish" Anderson.

November 04, 2014 — Brian Fryer

The Lightweight Backpacking Conundrum

Do we need to redefine backpacking weight categories? Most lightweight backpackers are aware of the concepts of base weight and backpacking weight categories, but are the categories getting out of date?

For those not familiar with the concepts, I briefly review them here; for those already familiar, jump to the next section. Are you a beginner? Learn how to start lightweight backpacking.

lightweight backpacking

Lightweight backpacking and more comfortable gear weights makes hiking more enjoyable for people of all ages.

Base Weight Definition

Base Weight is the total weight of your entire gear kit, excluding consumables which are food, water, and fuel. Consumables are not included because the amount varies by trip length and conditions.

  • A lightweight backpacker (LW) carries a base weight under 20 pounds.
  • An ultralight backpacker (UL) carries a base weight under 10 pounds.
  • A superultralight backpacker (SUL) carries a base weight under 5 pounds.

For comparison purposes, if we use 10 pounds as the weight of consumables for a 5-day backpacking trip, then the total weights are 30, 20, and 15 pounds respectively. Those numbers assume your base weight is at the top of the category, which is probably isn't.

Conventional backpackers simply go by total pack weight, which is typically 35 pounds or more.

Making Pack Weight

Fifteen years ago – when lightweight gear was scarce, silnylon was revolutionary, and we often had to make our own gear – it was challenging to "make weight", i.e. get our base weight under the limits listed above. Fast-forward to the present. We now have a myriad of lightweight and durable materials, and there are nearly 100 companies, large and small, making lightweight and ultralight gear. We have lots of choices in every gear category, and it's easy to make weight.

When I prepare for a presentation on lightweight backpacking, I load one pack with lightweight gear and one with ultralight gear so people can see what's in a sub-20-pound base weight and a sub-10-pound base weight. For the pack full of lightweight gear, I try to be luxurious by throwing in a double-wall tent, 15F sleeping bag, a full-length inflatable sleeping pad, Jetboil stove, headlamp, etc, and guess what – the whole kit and caboodle weighs only 13.5 pounds! When I do the same for the ultralight load, it comes in around 8 pounds. However, the SUL kit is always hard to make weight; a 5-pound limit is very restrictive. I have previously proposed a Mountain SuperUltraLight (M-SUL) category with an easier to achieve base weight of 6 pounds, which also provides adequate protection, warmth, and comfort for the conditions.

Traditional Backpack

A fully-loaded and heavy conventional backpack like this is what we commonly see on the trails, which begs the question: How do we reach these people and inform them of the lightweight alternative?

The Lightweight Backpacking Conundrum

Frankly, given the availability of lightweight gear, I find it hard to understand why there are so many conventional backpackers on the trails. Is it because they don't get the information, because they don't understand it, because it takes too much effort, or because they are just not into it? Or all of the above?

One thing is very noticeable: when I walk into an outdoor store, or REI, I don't see very much lightweight gear. When I ask about it, they say it doesn't sell. It is true that buyers prefer familiar brands, so that's what retailers stock their in their stores, because that's what sells. There's a catch-22 here: retailers don't stock LW gear because it doesn't sell, and it doesn't sell because they don't stock it!

What this means for a backpacker who wants to lighten up is she needs to deliberately find the information she needs, select the gear she wants, and locate where to buy it. That takes some time and effort, and I believe that's where the conundrum lies – many people don't want to invest the required time and effort. And it goes further than that because there are barriers to overcome as well (fear of getting wet or cold, or being uncomfortable), which largely require knowledge and experience.

murmur

Gossamer Gear Murmur Hyperlight Backpack

Do We Need to Adjust the Categories?

From a purist point of view, lowering the weight limits sounds like a reasonable idea given the abundance of high quality lightweight gear. However, from an evangelical point of view, there's nothing to be gained from lowering the base weights and excluding some people.

One thing I have observed over the years is that there are a lot more potential lightweight backpackers out there than potential ultralight backpackers. For example, when my wife and I give our lightweight backpacking presentations, we find that most of our audience (80-90%) is interested in lightweight backpacking and only a minority is interested in ultralight. On the trails we see 95% conventional backpackers. So, do a few conventional backpackers evolve into lightweight backpackers, and a few of them further evolve into ultralight backpackers?

What is really needed is to reach more people and get them on board. We have been preaching for 15 years and we are still a small denomination. How do we reach out and enlighten more backpackers?

It would be helpful to have a philosophical discussion on this subject. If lightweight and ultralight backpacking is so easy to achieve and has so many advantages, why aren't more people doing it? Your thoughts are most welcome.

This post was contributed by Trail Ambassador Will Rietveld.

October 14, 2014 — Brian Fryer

Paul Osborn's JMT Backpacking Gear List

JMT backpacking gear list

Gossamer Gear Gorilla Backpack at Forrester Pass

This was my backpacking gear list for the John Muir Trail in the summer. This 211 mile trail in California winds through the Sierra Nevada, crossing over 13 000 and 14 000 foot passes. Although the valleys were warm, nights can be close to freezing, especially at higher elevations. This list includes the awkward but necessary "bear canister" required by the parks that the trail passes through. Water is plentiful even in the summer meaning that you can get by with 2 litres in your pack, especially if you drink an extra litre at your water sources. If you feel cold as a rule, you may want a warmer insulating layer than the merino layer that I took.

Category Gear Selection Weight (oz) Details
Packing Gossamer Gear Gorilla 26
Trash Compactor Bag 2.2 I only used this for my sleeping pad and sleep bag. My clothes were in a waterproof stuff sack and my food was in my bear canister.
Bear Vault BV500 41 This beast is an unfortunate necessity. There are more expensive and lighter weight options out there.
Sea to Summit Ultra sil 5l 1 This 5l stuff sack fit all my packed clothes for the trip.
Sleeping Therm-a-rest Antares 31 This quilt style bag is rated for 20 degrees (the new one is rated for 15).
Therm-a-rest neoair All season 19 This is not a light pad, but with the long miles it helped my recovery for the next day. Next time I'd probably go with something lighter like a small Neoair xlite.
Shelter Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 1 36 Despite a river running under my tent, I stayed dry in this free standing shelter. The hiker whose trekking pole shelter fell down has since bought a UL 1.
Packed Clothing Montane Minimus 8 This UL rain jacket performed swimmingly, although I did accidentally rip off the velcro cuff on the trip.
White Sierra Trabagon Rain Pants 6 I used these twice on the trail, once to keep warm in the AM and once when coming down off of Muir Pass in a squal.
Terramar Merino half zip 7 This insulation layer was all I needed 90% of the time. Only one morning had me wearing all of my layers (including rain gear) to keep warm.
Terramar TXO Body Sensor Boxers 3 These offer great breathability, which is an essential when spending a day hiking in the Sierras.
Point 6 3
Terramar Smartsilk base layer pants 6 I wore the matching top most days while hiking. These were great for sleep wear. I can't speak highly enough of this now out of production base layer.
Coghlan's Bug Net 1 I never bother with bug spray. I'd rather opt for gloves, a jacket and mosquito netting.
Hydration Platypus 1L soft bottle 0.8
Platyreserve 0.8 L 0.8 My other platy developed a leak and this was all they sold at Tuolomne Meadows.
Aqua Mira Drops 2 I burned through 90% of these drops in my two week trip.
Cooking Olicamp XTS 6.7 This 1l anodized pot is extremely efficient due to its heat exchanger.
Olicamp Vector 3
Fold-a-cup 0.8
Light my Fire spork 0.5
mini bic lighter 0.5
Hand Sanitizer 1
Small Essentials Leatherman Squirt PS4 2.2 In addition to the standard file, punch, screwdriver and can opener, this tool has a knife, pliers and scissors.
First Aid / Survival Kit 5
Leukotape 2 In my opinion, Leukotape outperforms duct tape and is much more versatile. The only downside is that it is not impermeable.
Tenkara Fishing Rod & gear 16 I brought rice for a few meals and added several trout to my menu.
Pelican VP3 visor light 1 I brought spare batteries for this, but never needed them.
Compass 1
Spot Messenger 6
Trowel 3
TP (brawny sheets) 2
Dr. Bronners Soap/Toothpaste 1
Toothbrush 1
Mapset 4
Total base weight (oz) (not including worn items or consumables) 250.5
Total base weight (lb) 15.7

This is the gear list that Trail Ambassador Paul Osborn used when he hiked the John Muir Trail.

Appalachian Trail Thru Hike Preparation

Appalachian Trail Thru Hike Preparation

There is a saying about many athletic ventures that it's 90% mental. Although the percentage may not be that extreme, I would agree that mental fortitude is a huge part of backpacking that often gets overlooked. Regardless of how long the trip is, or how many people are on the hike, there is a mental component to hiking that can often times be more challenging to master than the physical. As an experienced long distance solo backpacker, I am often asked what makes the difference in people who attempt long trails and those who complete them. My answer is always MENTAL. There reaches a point in hikes where the physical becomes automatic and what remains is the mental. There are constant nuances and adjustments being made mentally while hiking. Here are the strategies and techniques I've used for navigating the mental trail along with some images from my recent thru hike of the Appalachian Trail.

Great Smokey Mountains

A foggy morning in the Great Smokey Mountains.

Train Mentally Before the Hike

Just like physical training, there should be a mental aspect to training for a long distance hike. If possible, try to train in similar terrain that you anticipate hiking in or conditions that you will find challenging. Take it seriously and force yourself into the challenging situations. If you know you'll be encountering uncomfortable weather make an effort to do a test run in less ideal weather. It isn't always fun, but it will help for when the real situation presents itself. This isn't always possible, so at least think mentally about how you'd handle various conditions mentally when faced with them. Although many anticipate hiking with a partner, be sure to give yourself time in training to hike in your own head and spread out for extended periods of time. Even when you're with other people on a long trip, there will be a lot of time spent on your own and in your own head. Experiencing it before the hike will allow you to get more comfortable with being in your own mind and finding personal motivators.

Jane Bald, North Carolina.

Jane Bald, North Carolina.

Remind Yourself Why You're Out There

Everyone has their own reasons for being out on trail and what drives them to leave the comforts of home, family, and friends for extended periods of time. There will definitely be times when the pull to leave the trail will be greater than that to stay. Do what you can to remember why you're out there during those times. There are many hikers that leave and quickly regret the decision they made in a fog of negative thoughts. Some hikers make an actual list before they leave to remind themselves when the going gets tough because those reasons will be far from your mind when you've crossed over to the dark side. However you choose to do it, make at conscious effort to recall that longing for the trail and what it represents for you.

James River foot bridge

The James River foot bridge is the longest foot traffic only bridge on the AT.

There Will Be Ups and Downs

Like many endurance activities, long distance hiking is not always enjoyable the whole time you're doing it. Learning to ride the wave and endure the literal and figurative storms is a huge part of hiking. One thing that makes hiking so incredible is the unpredictable feeling of euphoria one feels from time to time. It may last hours or mere seconds, but it makes all the challenges worth facing. In fact, it's the most difficult challenges and lows in between that make those highs that much sweeter. The key is to recognize this during those difficult moments and tell yourself that you may be in a down, but it is temporary and an up is sure to come to make it all worth it.

Shenandoah National Park

The lush green of Shenandoah National Park.

New Normal

Living outside for days, weeks, or months at a time will be a shock and adjustment to the body and mind. You will be away from your usual comforts and unable to escape most hurdles put in front of you. There will be little options to avoid difficulties and facing things head on will become routine. I've adopted a mental note that I'm sure to tell myself when I realize that I'm in a long term challenge or discomfort. I tell myself, "It's the new normal." It's amazing how realizing something and shifting the way you view it can greatly change the perspective. For example, when hiking in the desert, the heat is intense, feet are burning, and thirst is strong. Instead of dwelling on these things, I try to accept it as a new normal and move on from there. I'm in the desert so what was I expecting anyway, shade and lakes?

hiking umbrella

Putting the umbrella to use in exposed farmland on the way into Boiling Springs, PA.

There Will Be Discomfort

A large chunk of hiking may be mental, but it only takes one physical discomfort to take you out of the mental game. Hiking all day is inherently going to be uncomfortable at some point, if not much of the day. Expect to be tired, sore, hungry, thirsty, hot, cold, or whatever other feeling you could have that will make you dream of lying down in a big soft bed. The discomforts don't really change, so it's best to accept them as the "new normal" and go from there. It's amazing how accepting the discomfort can, in itself, dispel much of it.

Cumberland Valley, PA

Some lush green in the Cumberland Valley, PA.

Slippery Slope of the Downward Spiral

Negative thoughts tend to bring on more negative thoughts, so they can pile up quickly. I refer to it as the downward spiral and try to be on guard to stop it before it goes too far. It's a slippery slope and it can happen suddenly. Climbing back out of a negative swarm of thoughts or emotions can take exponentially more time and energy than it took to slip down that slope. It's natural and healthy to acknowledge discomforts and challenges, but dwelling on them to the point that they consume your every thought is to be avoided. Just be alert to your cycle of thoughts and if you find yourself repeatedly ending in that darkness, try to trace it back to the root and find out where you can redirect to a more positive outcome. I know, much easier said than done, but after repeated efforts and enough time, it does get better.

AT Pennsylvania

Thankful for an umbrella in a downpour in Pennsylvania.

Some Days Will Just Suck

In the end, there will be some days that are just miserable and quite frankly, suck. It's part of backpacking and part of life in general. There will be elements that are out of your control and the only thing you can control is how you choose to react to it. I'm not saying you need to dance and sing in a cold rain, but it does no good to anyone to get upset or negative. It is what it is and getting upset won't change it. It very much helps to be prepared for rain as a skill set; before your big adventure. Again, it's these moments and days that will make the good ones that much greater and more rewarding. If it wasn't a challenge, everyone would do it!

Saddleback Mountain

Hiking over Saddleback Mtn, ME. Photo credit: Rita "Jett Cat" Borelli.

Have A Sense of Humor

Just with anything in life, being able to laugh at yourself and situations always helps. Keep it all in perspective as sometimes realizing the ridiculousness of a situation, can give you the perspective you need to view it more enjoyably.

Positive Self Talk

I know this seems a little too "self help" but it's amazing what positive self talk can do. You will be alone a lot out there, so feel free to have a conversation with yourself. It can be internal, but funny enough, I find it more helpful to be out loud. Get pumped! Play the Rocky theme song as you do it if you need to. Don't be afraid to tell yourself how awesome you are and that you are strong and kickass! Remind yourself of how far you've already come and how few even dream of being where you are. I personally like telling myself sarcastically that pain is weakness leaving the body and that I'm getting SUPER STRONG! Whatever it is that gets you psyched and pumped to keep going, give yourself that pep talk when needed and power on!!!

Vermud

Vermud!

Journal

An unexpected benefit of journaling is the perspective it can give you when you take the time to reflect on your day. I often start a journal out with "well today was miserable" or "nothing really happened today" and then as I write, it unexpectedly evolves into something else. Writing things down also makes thoughts more concrete. Things that may have seemed like a big deal earlier in the day may end up seeming not so bad once they're written down. Journaling helps me to realize that each day is unique and no two days are the same out on the trail. In a general sense, they can all run together and be a blur of the same, but by dissecting each day as they happen, you're better able to appreciate the nuances and uniqueness each day holds. There's power in writing things down. Regardless of how often you do it or who may see it, journaling can be one of the most beneficial things you can do to improve your hiking experience.

fog on the AT

Love the fog!

Take Photos

Although photography is a physical act, it is amazing what it can do to your hike on a mental level. Consciously making efforts to photograph all aspects of the hike (not just the scenic vistas) will help you to appreciate the most mundane things and really magnify what you see. This perspective will change the way you view your surroundings and you'll begin to see inspiration and beauty in the most unexpected places. Looking back on your photos from time to time will also help, just as journaling does, to reflect on a day and have a greater appreciation for the nature you've hiked through.

Pay Attention to the Little Things

When boredom hits, it can make each minute seem like an eternity. A great way to make the mundane more exciting can be to really focus in on the details of what you're walking through. Paying attention to each individual plant, noticing the variances in trees, or listening and looking for different types of birds are just some of the ways to hone in on the little things and really appreciate how much is going on around you. When you've been out for a long time, it can be easy to take it for granted, or overlook the subtle nuances, so it's always good to remind yourself from time to time to open your eyes are really see the world of things around you.

hike Katahdin

Katahdin casts a shadow on the memorable final day in Maine. Photo credit: Alex "Trademark" Weiss.

Goals & Rewards

One of the most effective and motivating techniques I've used is finding small goals or rewards on a long hike. I like to challenge myself some days or moments and I'll play games with myself to see what I can do. How many miles can I get in before 10am? Can I wake up early for a sunrise or make it to a further site to camp at a great spot for a sunset? How fast can I reach a summit? Setting mini goals like these that are challenging yet attainable are amazingly motivating. I also set up rewards. Little things like carrying Starbursts that I get at the top of a climb, or holding off on a favorite song until I've gone a certain distance or time, or taking an extra break at a well earned vista or lake. Another fun one is to find a "rabbit" (another hiker ahead of you). I like to go "rabbit hunting." It's fun when I see a fresh footprint on the ground and am able to catch up and match that footprint to a person. This can take minutes, hours, or days and the fun is in the anticipation. The reward is meeting someone new and having the further distraction of overlapping with someone for awhile.

Variety

If it ain't workin', fix it! It's plain and simple, but so integral to keeping a good mental balance. Changing things up and keeping things fresh can be key to anything in life. Some people need more variety than others, but don't be afraid to change things up if it's not working. There are many ways to do this on a hike, so do what helps in your situation. Sleep in, hike in the dark, hike with people, hike alone, eat different food, wake up for a sunrise, listen to music, take more or less breaks… you get the point. Do what you can to make each day new and unique. Some hikers are quite tied to a routine on the trail, but sometimes changing just the smallest thing can make all the difference. Don't be afraid to change things up a bit.

Summit of Katahdin

Summit of Katahdin after 111 days and 2,185mi.

Distractions

When all else fails, use distraction techniques. My top two are listening to music/audiobooks and making a phone call. I know many of you will cringe at this and think that it is the antithesis of being in nature, but it totally works! This may not work for everyone, and there are other distractions, but it's amazing how motivating it can be to hear music on a tough climb or talk to someone during a rough patch. Even just a brief distraction can be enough to break you out of a slump or boost spirits. Plan ahead for this and think about what distractions best help you in rough patches. Have them in your arsenal for when you find the need.

I hope you find these techniques and strategies helpful and I'm interested to hear any others you have found for navigating the mental trail.

This post was written by Brand Ambassador Erin Wired Saver and Editor.

October 07, 2014 — Brian Fryer

QiWiz's Uberlight Backpacking Gear List

This is the list of gear I used on the 2014 Allegheny-100 Challenge. The challenge I chose was to cover 100 miles on the North Country Trail in 72 hours. Not being the fastest hiker, 17 of these hours were night hiking by headlamp. This kit is about as light as I am able to use for 3 days on trail in Pennsylvania in mid-June. Wet trail conditions and occasional thunderstorms are the norm. Night temps are often in the 50's, daytime into the 80's.

Polycryo Tarp

Gossamer Gear DIY Polycryo Tarp and Minimalist Backpack

Category Gear Selection Weight (oz) Details
Packing Gossamer Gear Minimalist Daypack 10.1 "Just" a daypack, but works well with this light kit
Gossamer Gear Pack Liner Bag 1.2 Keeps the insulation dry
Large Stuff Sack 0.6 DIY out of Spinntex, holds quilt and clothing
OP Sack 1.3 For food
Sleeping Hammock Gear Burrow 50 11.8 Down top quilt
NeoAir Xlite Regular 12.0 I can't sleep well on something less cushy
Shelter Polycryo Tarp 5.3 DIY from a large Gossamer Gear Polycryo ground sheet
Skewer stakes (6) 1.2 Titanium
Zpacks Poncho Ground Sheet 5.1 Double-duty as rain gear
Packed Clothing Silk Skins Top 4.1 Sleepwear
Silk Skins Bottom 4.6 Sleepwear
Spare Fox River Liner Socks 0.8 Wash and hang one set to dry on pack while hiking in the other set
Spare Darn Tough Hiking Socks 2.7 Wash and hang one set to dry on pack while hiking in the other set
Spare Under Armour Boxers 3.2 Wash and hang one set to dry on pack while hiking in the other set
Fleece Beanie 1.1 DIY from generic fleece
Hydration Sawyer Squeeze Mini 1.4
Sawyer 2 L reservoir 1.0
Gatorade 20 oz bottles (2) 4.2 Wt. includes attachment to pack straps with cords and cord locks
Cooking Stoveless / Potless 0.0 If I brought one, it would be a beer can pot and Esbit burner
Small Essentials iPhone 5 4.9 In LifepProof case; use for map and navigation, music, photos
First Aid / Repair Kit 2.4 Bacitracin ointment, Aleve, Leukotape, Needle/thread, Etc.
Zebra Light Headlamp 2.9 Bright enough for night hiking, did many hours of this over 3 days
Spare Lithium AA's (2) 1.0 I used both spares, so good I had two
"Original" cathole trowel; TP 0.7 Titanium cathole trowel from QiWiz.net
Total, oz 83.6
Total, lb 5.2

This ultralight backpacking gear list was contributed by former Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador Rob "QiWiz" Kelly.

October 06, 2014 — Brian Fryer
The Lonely Hiker: An Essay on Solo Hiking

The Lonely Hiker: An Essay on Solo Hiking

hiking Colorado

CDT Near Berthoud Pass, Colorado - Photo Credit Ryan Choi

John Muir said, "The mountains are calling and I must go", but what if I'm used to going as part of a "we"?

After 12 years and close to 10,000 miles of backpacking I have found myself in a strange situation… time off in the summer and the desire to go hiking. What could be better? Well, the truth is that I am used to sharing high ridge walks, dips in alpine lakes, hail, snow, ice-cold springs, and the deep, black starry night sky with others. My husband, also a thru-hiker, has his heaviest workload in the summer. My other faithful hiking companion, Gimpy the dog, passed away last spring after 14 years of vagabonding with me, his tail wagging and his giant, velvety ears always on alert.

hiking with dogs

Solo hiking is nothing new in the hiking world, but it is new for me. I guess I could say I hiked the AT as a solo hiker, but that is not a solitary experience. Whenever you set foot on a long trail, in the same direction as most thru-hikers, you are bound to share views, water sources, and stories with kindred spirits.

The idea of going to many of the wild places that I've been dreaming about seems somehow less enjoyable without at least one of my two favorite companions in tow. When you are used to being part of a team, even if the other member of your team has four legs and can't help you put up the tent, it takes a lot more effort to venture out alone.

hike Wind River Range

Hayley Pass in the Wind River Range - Photo Credit Sarah Zhang

It's not that I'm afraid to go by myself; I just want to share the breathtaking views with a fellow enthusiast. My other thru-hiker friends are working and have only a couple of days on the weekends. I have tried forcing some of my colleagues (teachers) out into the backcountry - and they loved it - but their not itching to do trip after trip after trip.

As I finish this short essay, my backpack sits ready by the door for a three-day middle of the week adventure high on the divide. I'm pretty sure it is going to be the first of many amazing solo trips. I'm pretty sure the views will blow me away. And I'm pretty sure I'll miss my two favorite hiking companions just a twinge when I settle into the tent alone.

hiker mountain goat

POD with Goats on the CDT in Colorado - Photo Credit Ryan Choi

The mountains keep calling… and I'm going to go. I'll enjoy sharing the views with lichen and dwarfed flowers and alpine butterflies.

This post was contributed by Trail Ambassador Felicia Hermosillo who goes by the trail name POD or the Princess of Darkness.

September 30, 2014 — Brian Fryer

Lightweight John Muir Trail (JMT) Gear List

Going lightweight on the John Muir Trail (JMT), does not mean being uncomfortable, unsafe, or without a few non-essentials. Properly researching your hike and having the skills necessary is important for creating your checklist. Beginning? Learn how to start lightweight backpacking.

Do your research! Knowing the variable conditions could equal pounds as you will know whether you can bring a lighter sleeping bag and exactly how many clothing layers you will need. I could go even lighter without a journal, GoPro, and Delorme, but those items added to my enjoyment on the trail. With the careful selection of the rest of my gear, these extras I had still added up to a very comfortable 12.27 pound backpack base weight.

John Muir Trail

Allison on the John Muir Trail

This lightweight gear list was used for my 15 day thru hike of the John Muir Trail. I encountered temperatures ranging from 30-100 degrees. In late July it is generally warm and dry and you can expect afternoon thunderstorms. On my hike I experienced an unusual 2 1/2 days of rain. Water is abundant throughout the hike. The biggest concerns among hikers preparing for the JMT are altitude and bears. My heavy, but necessary bear canister was the only solution needed for the latter concern. This gear list is made up of most of my essentials for 3-season hiking in various locations including New Hampshire's White Mountains, where I typically hike.

My Gear List used on the John Muir Trail

Category Gear Selection Weight (oz) Details
Packing Gossamer Gear Mariposa Backpack 21.5 Removed the sit pad and placed a Klymit Inertia X-frame in its place. Removed metal stay as well.
Bear Canister 41 Mandatory on the JMT- BV500 carried 7 days of food well. Heavy but it's a good price plus it's see through and waterproof.
1 Sea to Summit Stuff Sack (size small) 0.6 Used to store extra clothing and items mainly used at camp (ex: journal, headlamp).
1 Sea to Summit Ultra-mesh bag (size xxs) 0.2 Used to carry day's snacks and lunch.
Sleeping Western Mountaineering Summerlite 19 32 degree Sleeping bag- no stuff sack- stuff it around bear canister to provide cushion against my back.
Klymit Inertia X Frame 6.1 Use it as the back pad in my Mariposa.
Sea to Summit standard silk liner 2.5
Shelter Six Moon Designs Wild Oasis 13
Gossamer Gear LT4S Trekking Poles 4.1 Used during the day for stability and to support my tarp at night.
Gossamer Gear Polycryo Ground Cloth- Medium 1.6 Used as my groundsheet. Doubled as a pack liner.
Packed Clothing EMS rain jacket 4.2 No longer sold.
Backcountry Hadron Down Anorak 8 Lighweight. Folds into own pocket and has a hood.
Icebreaker Wool Everyday Leggings 5
Glacier Glove Sun Gloves 1 Found them uncomfortable/unecessary for me on the JMT.
Injinji Socks 1 Extra pair.
Sleep socks* 2.9 Only had sleep socks for the second half for sleeping at higher elevations.
Columbia Womens Baselayer Long Sleeve 1/2 Zip 6 Extra layer with omni-heat.
EMS Women's Techwick Endurance Crew 4
UV Buff 1.3 Very versatile.
Hydration Sawyer Mini Water Filter 2 No wait time for filtering. Extremely lightweight.
Platypus 2L Hoser 3
Cooking 1 empty plastic bottle 0.9 Used for protein shakes and flavored water.
Lighter 1 If needed for emergencies. Went stoveless.
Light My Fire Spork 0.2
Small Essentials Toothbrush, Floss, toothpaste 1.35 Cut toothbrush, remove floss on roll from case, 1/2 bottle travel toothpaste. Want to swap to powdered toothpaste.
Bens bugspray 0.5 Bugs were not a big concern at the end of July after a dry winter.
Sunscreen 2
First aid kit 2.5 Leukotape, antibiotic ointment, vitamins, ibuprofen, tylenol, duct tape, body glide- placed extras in resupplies.
Maps 1 Only carried a section at a time of the Harrison Map Set.
Headlamp - Petzl Tikka 2.2
Rite in the Rain notebook 2.24
Bic Pen 0.16
Leatherman Style CS Multi-tool 1.4
Electronics Smart Phone 4.6 Downloaded Guthook's JMT Hiker App.
GoPro Hero 3+ and headstrap 8
Delorme InReach SE 6.9
Charger cord 1
Samsung p&s Camera 6.2 Good P&S with panoramic feature.
RAVPower Element 10400mAh External Battery Pack 7.9 Not the lightest but very reliable. Can charge smart phone 4 times.
Total base weight (oz) (not including worn items or consumables) 196.45
Total Base weight (lb) (not including worn items or consumables) 12.27
JMT Gear List

Hiking on the JMT

My Gear Post-Hike Thoughts

Overall, my gear worked extremely well for this hike. Here's a look at my favorite items as well as recommendations for those contemplating a hike in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Gossamer Gear Mariposa Backpack: I really loved the exterior pockets of this pack. Having easy access to my shelter and large hipbelt pockets were ideal for me. The BV500 fit extremely well. In fact, I removed the metal stay and just stuffed my sleeping bag inside for padding using the canister as the structure for the pack. I used the 2012 version of the Mariposa and felt the straps needed more padding. The Robic bag fixed that and is a better fit for women overall.

Sawyer Mini Filter: I was very surprised at how few of these water filters I saw on the trail. I used mine this in-line with my Platypus Hoser. I simply filled my bladder and it filtered as I drank. Once I placed it in my pack correctly it was very easy to drink through. At 3 oz it is alarmingly lighter than other filters. The only downside I you need another method of filtering/purifying water for cooking or things like shakes if you make you filter in-line with a water bladder. I brought the tool for backflushing but never needed to.

Smartwool Maybell Skirt: Hiking in a skirt is a game changer as a woman. It's easy to be discreet about changing layers and using the bathroom. My Smartwool skirt was the perfect length and so comfortable. It dried fast (and I had about 2 1/2 days of rain on the JMT). I'm not sure I could go back to shorts! The only downside was not having any pockets. For all you guys and gals looking for a hiking skirt, check out Purple Rain Skirts. I discovered them after my hike. The pockets are amazing!

Dirty Girl Gaiters: I didn't realize how good these gaiters were until I went two miles without them. Using trail runners, my shoes have a very low profile and in those two miles I got an unbelievable amount of sand and dirt in them! When wearing the gaiters I never had to stop to get something out of my shoes.

Guthook's JMT Smartphone App: I know this is not really a gear item, but it made bringing my phone along worth it. I relied on it a lot to plan out a rough itinerary before my hike even began. I also was able to check out potential water sources, tent sites, and other vital stats. I loved using it forell as there is a description of each pass and who it is named after!

hiker and creek

Gear Recommendations

Before the JMT I had a heavy 15 and a 32 degree bag. I bought a silk liner to use in conjunction with my 32 degree Western Mountaineering bag to save some weight. While I am a warm sleeper, I had a few cold nights where I wore all my layers, included a hooded down jacket. It worked for my situation, but if you are looking to purchase a new sleeping bag, I'd recommend a 20 degree bag. I purchased a 20 degree Enlightened Equipment quilt and think it would be perfect for a trip in the Sierras.

Sending thin winter gloves in your final resupply bucket may be useful if you plan to summit Whitney early or sleep close to the higher passes. I used my sleep socks atop Whitney but you may just like a pair of gloves to keep your digits warm.

Leave the GoPro behind. Unless your goal is to make a semi-professional looking short film on the JMT and want to purchase extra batteries or a solar charger, I wouldn't bother with a GoPro. The lifespan is so poor that it really wasn't worth carry around.

If you are still contemplating bringing the GoPro or another camera for recording your trip, Check out photography from the John Muir Trail! A cool little video that may inspire you to do so!

Article and photography by Allison Nadler and Editor

September 29, 2014 — Brian Fryer

Hikin' Jim's Lightweight Backpacking Gear List

family gear list

Trail Ambassador Hikin' Jim and Daughter Joyce

This is my general summer backpacking gear list for mountain regions (elevations up to 14,000') in the Southwestern US for temperatures down to about 40F/5C. For lower altitude summer trips, delete the rain jacket, down vest, hat, and gloves. This list is suitable for locations that do not require a bear canister, but a bear canister can be swapped in as necessary (see notes in "Packing" section, below). Water sources in the Southwestern US are generally some distance apart, so I carry sufficient capacity for 4L as a default. If a specific trip requires it (desert hiking for example), I may carry up to 8L.

Category Gear Selection Weight (oz) Details
Packing Gossamer Gear Mariposa Backpack 29.2 1. Large enough to hold a Garcia bear canister.
2. Large enough to hold gear for my daughter and me if not carrying bear canister.
Ursack (Vectran Model) 7.7 Bearproof food storage. Substitute a Garcia bear canister, 44.9 oz, as needed.
Sleeping Western Mountaineering Summerlite Sleeping Bag incl stuff sack and waterproof cover 23.5 Rated at 32F/0C, but used without problem at lower temperatures when wearing down vest inside.
Thermarest Neoair (original) 3/4, incl stuff sack 10.8 Used in combo with (detachable) back pad of Mariposa backpack.
Thermarest Neoair Pillow (small), incl stuff sack 2.2
Shelter Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape 12.5 Add bivy sack (15.4 oz) in cold, wet, or windy weather.
Tyvek Ground Sheet 4.2
Six Titanium Shepards Hook Stakes 1.3
Packed Clothing Patagonia Capilene 2 top & bottom 13.4 Base layers
First Ascent Down Vest (800 fill) 10.7 Insulation layer
Fleece hat and gloves 7.1
Windshirt and pants 7.5
Marmot Essence Rain Jacket 7.4 Shell layer
Socks 5.6 Sleep socks and spare socks
Dollar Store flip flops 4.5 Camp shoes
Headnet from Peters Headnets 1.4
Hydration Platypus Plain top 1L bladders (4) 3.5 May carry up to eight bladders in desert.
Steri-Pen Traveller (with spare batts) 6.1
Cooking Trail Designs Ti-Tri w/ Evernew 1.3L Pot (alcohol only mode) 8.9 Add 2.1 ounces if bringing wood burning kit
Plastic bowl 2.8
Snow Peak Ti Sierra Cup 1.5 Measuring cup, drinking cup, water & snow scoop.
Sea to Summit aluminum spoon 0.4
Small Essentials Emergency Kit 12.5 Duct tape, storm proof matches, signal mirror, etc.
First Aid Kit 15.8 Triangular bandage, med tape, gauze, scissors, etc
ACR ResAfix 406 MHz satellite PLB 6.9
Potty kit (snow stake, sanitizer, TP) 6.0 Snow stake can also be used with my shelter
Mammut S-Flex Headlamp 2.7
Ditty bag 20.7 chapstick, sunscreen, lighter, cordage, DEET, Ibuprofen, soap, patch kit, safety pins, etc.
Garmin eTrex20 GPS with case 7.1 Optional if you're a decent map reader
Paper Map 1.8 Sure nice to have if GPS runs out of juice
Sony DSC-HX30V camera w/ case 11.9 Gotta take pix.
Cyclops external battery 6.6 For recharging camera or smart phone
Pocket New Testament 3.2 For recharging soul
Total Base Weight (oz) 267.5
Total Base Weight (lbs) 16.7

This gear list was contributed by Trail Ambassador Jim Barbour, also known as Hikin' Jim. Joyce there is a Jr. Trail Ambassador and an excellent hiking companion.

Wired's Gear List for a Thru-Hike

Wired's Gear List for a Thru-Hike

Choosing the right overnight backpacking gear for yourself can be a struggle. Strive to find that balance of cost, weight, and comfort. Gear is a very personal thing and there is no magic gear list. I've had 4.5 years of backpacking to dial in my gear list and I still tweak it each year depending on the type of hiking I plan on doing. I've had a total of over 500 nights and 10,000 miles of thru hiking to test out gear, and I feel like I've found my comfortable 3 season gear list. Over the years, my base pack weight (BPW) has evolved from 16 to 13 pounds. I consider myself a lightweight backpacker that enjoys certain "luxury items" on the trail. I was content to have an average BPW when I started in 2011 (PCT). Then came the Continental Divide Trail in 2013. With more challenging terrain and longer food and water carries I knew I wanted to upgrade to lighter gear to enjoy the hike.

Backpacking

Last day of the Great Divide Trail hike ound I cut was just an ounce here or there by either paring down extraneous items, or buying lighter versions of what I was already using. It really is amazing how an ounce here or there adds up! Once I lowered my pack weight, I realized how much more enjoyable hiking was with less weight. Gossamer Gear's motto of "Take Less, Do More" rings true. I've repeatedly said that the Mariposa Pack is the one pack I've worn that fits so well that I sometimes feel like I'm not wearing a pack at all. Of course, it isn't the pack alone that changes everything. You need to have the right gear to put in the pack for it to work. Below is the gear I've dialed in as my 3 season gear list… and down from that I have some additional items I will sometimes bring on hikes depending on the conditions and terrain.

Item Specific Item Cost Weight Weight (oz)
Backpack
Backpack Gossamer Gear Mariposa $235 1 lbs 14.7 oz 30.7
Waterproof Liner Trash Compactor Bag 1 oz 1.00
Shelter
Tent ZPacks Solplex w/8 Titanium V Stakes $535 1 lbs 0.2 oz 16.20
Tent Stakes Tite-Lite Titanium V Stakes (8) $24
Stake Bag Gossamer Gear Q Stake Bag $15 0.1 oz 0.06
Sleeping
Sleeping Bag ZPacks 10 Degree $390 1 lbs 3.8 oz 19.80
Sleeping Pad Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Women's $160 11 oz 11.00
Sleeping Pad Stuff Sack Therm-a-Rest $15 0.5 oz 0.50
Kitchen/Food
Alcohol Stove Toaks Titanium Siphon $40 .7 oz .7
Cooking setup/windscreen Caldera Cone Set $35 3.2 oz 3.2
Pot Evernew Titanium .9L $41 4.1 oz 4.10
Spoon Gossamer Gear Long-Handle Bamboo Spoon $10 0.6 oz 0.55
Food Bag ZPacks Roll Top Blast Food Bag $30 1.4 oz 1.40
Hydration
Water Filter Sawyer Squeeze $40 3 oz 3.00
Mini Dropper for Bleach Gossamer Gear Mini Dropper w/bleach $4 0.4 oz 0.40
Water Bag Platypus SoftBottle 34oz $9 1.2 oz 1.20
Water Bag Platypus Platy Bottle 70oz $13 1.3 oz 1.30
Water Bottle Smart Water Plastic Disposable 1.7 oz 1.70
First-Aid/Hygiene
First Aid Band-aids, cloth tape, mini lighter $36 3 oz 3.00
Knife Gossamer Gear Pocket Knife $20 0.8 oz 0.80
Toiletries Chapstick, toothbrush/paste, floss, bodyglide, wet wipes, razor 4 oz 4.00
Stuff Sack Gossamer Gear-Sm/3L $10 0.3 oz 0.3
Brush ALAZCO Folding Brush (customized w/out mirror) $4 0.5 oz 0.50
Sunscreen Sawyer Sunscreen $3 1.2 oz 1.20
Menstrual Cup Diva Cup $20 0.7 oz 0.70
Potty Bag Toilet paper, ziplocs, hand sanitizer 2 oz 2.00
Trowel Deuce Backpacking Trowel $20 0.6 oz 0.6
Electronics
Stuff Sack Gossamer Gear-Sm/3L $10 0.3 oz 0.3
Camera iPhone SE 64GB
Headlamp Petzel e+Lite (Ultralight) Headlamp $17 1 oz 1.00
MP3 Player SanDisk Sansa Clip $50 1 oz 1.00
Headphones Apple Earbuds 0.4 oz 0.40
Phone iPhone SE 64GB $500 4 oz 4.00
Phone Charger Cord Apple 5W USB Power Adapter 1.4 oz 1.40
Flash Drive SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive(64GB) $100 1.1 oz 1.10
USB Travel Charger Adapt. NooQee 27W 5.4A 4-port wall charger $11 3 oz 3.00
External Portable Battery Anker PowerCore 20100mAh $42 12.6 oz 12.6
USB Cords in Reach, MP3, & Extern Charg. USBs 2 oz 2.00
Personal Locator Device DeLorme inReach SE $300 6.7 oz 6.7
Watch w/alarm Head of a generic watch with alarm in tent
Miscellaneous
Selfie Stick Camera Mounter StickPic $9 0.8oz 0.80
Selfie Phone Adapter StickPic Cell Phone Adapter $8 .9oz .90
Sewing Kit Mini Travel Sewing Kit $7 0.1 oz 0.10
Field Repair Tape Tenacious Tape (clear) $5 0.2 oz 0.20
Umbrella Liteflex Hiking (Chrome) Umbrella $39 8 oz 8.00
Hanging Rope Dynaglide Bear Hanging Line 50' $16 1.3 oz 1.3
Compass Suunto A-10 Compass $20 1.1 oz 1.1
Wallet Gossamer Gear Cuben Q-Storage Sack $5 0.1 oz 0.05
Tripod Pedco UltraPod Mini Tripod $15 1.6oz 1.6
Sit Pad Back Pad on Pack Doubles as Sit Pad 0 oz
Mosquito Head Net Sea to Summit Insect Shield $11 1.3 oz 1.3
GPS Phone App GAIA GPS $10/yr
Extra Clothing (in pack)
Stuff Sack Gossamer Gear-Lg/10.5L $14 0.5 oz 0.5
Heavier Rain Jacket (heavier) Montbell Torrent Rain Jacket $225 8 oz 8.00
Rain Pants Sierra Designs Hurricane HP Pants $50 6.2 oz 6.2
Insulating Jacket Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer $350 7.2 oz 7.2
Waterproof Rain Gloves Disposable Nitrile Medical Gloves $0.40 0.4
2nd Pair of Socks Balega Enduro VTech Quarter $10 1.2 oz 1.20
Pajama Top Smartwool Microweight Crew Long Sleeve $65 5 oz 5.00
Pajama Bottom Smartwool Microweight Long Underwear Bottoms $75 5 oz 5.00
Gloves Seirus Hyperlite All-Weather Gloves $30 1.8 oz 1.80
Warm Hat Outdoor Research Flurry Beanie $20 2.2 oz 2.20
Buff Buff Original Buff $20 1.3 oz 1.30
Sleep Socks Lotion Infused soft socks $10 1.5 oz 1.50
2nd Pair of Underwear ExOfficio $12 1 oz 1.00
Ankle Brace Walgreens Ankle Support $9 1 oz 1.00
Camp Shoes Teva Mush II Flip Flops $12 5.3 oz 5.30
Sub Total $3,746 12lbs 12.8 oz 200.71
Worn Clothing (not in pack)
Sunglasses Road Runner Sports Sunglasses $30 0.6 oz 0.60
Shoes La Sportiva Bushido (men's) $120 11.3 oz 11.30
Hiking Poles Fizan Compact Trekking Poles $60 11 oz 11.00
Sports Bra Nike Pro Core $28 3.7 oz 3.70
Underwear ExOfficio $12 1 oz 1.00
Top Mizuno Short Sleeved Tech Shirt $39 3.7 oz 3.70
Top Adidas Long Sleeved Tech Shirt $40 4.6 oz 4.60
Pants White Sierra Teton Trail Convertible $35 10.6 oz 10.60
Socks Balega Enduro VTech Quarter $10 1.2 oz 1.20
Skins (under pants) Andiamo skins (unpadded) $15 1.9 oz 1.90
Hat Nike Feather Light Hat $20 1.9 oz 1.90
Gaiters Dirty Girl Gaiters $17 1 oz 1.00
Sub Total $426
Other Gear Used on Various Trips When Needed (not in total BPW below)
Rain Jacket (lighter) Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket $150 5.8 oz 5.8
Bear Canister BearVault BV500 or BV450 $80 2 lbs 9 oz 41.00
Odor Proof Food Bags Loksak OPSAK $13 1.7 oz 1.70
Bear Bag Ursack Major S29.3 AllWhite $90 8.7 oz 8.70
GPS Garmin eTrex 30 $300 5 oz 5.00
Camera Panasonic Lumix DMC ZS25 $300 6.5oz 6.50
Wi-Fi SD Camera Card Toshiba 32G FlashAir III $40
Shoulder Strap Pocket Gossamer Gear Shoulder Strap Pocket $16 1.5oz 1.5
Ice Axe Black Diamond Raven $80 15.9oz
Microspikes Kahtoola MICROspikes $70 11oz 11.0
Bug Spray Sawyer Insect Repellent $3 1 oz 1.00
Sub Total $1,132
Combined Total $5,304
Hayduke

Hiking on the Hayduke Trail

I would consider the above list to be my general gear list. There are a few changes I make if conditions or terrain warrants them. I will take more water bladders if I know there will be long water carries. In situations where I might experience colder rain or snow, I exchange my OR Helium rain jacket with the heavier duty Montbell Torrent Flier rain jacket. In bear country, I will either take a BearVault food canister or Loksak OPSAKs. If I will be in areas where snow still lingers, I will bring Katoola Microspikes and a Black Diamond Raven Ice Axe. Finally, if I will need to do a lot of navigation, I will bring my Garmin eTrex 20.

This thru-hiking gear list was contributed by Brand Ambassador Erin "Wired" Saver. She has hiked over 10,000mi, including hiking's Triple Crown (AT, PCT, CDT). This past summer, she thru hiked the Hayduke Trail, Tahoe Rim Trail, and Great Divide Trail. For more detail on her gear and comprehensive gear reviews, see her Walking With Wired blog (link in her profile above).

September 10, 2014 — Brian Fryer