I've decided to continually update on my gear outfit since I have found it changing a bit over the summer.
I've highlighted in orange items that have changed since my last update, and any items that I have completely dropped from my pack are noted
Before the photos, pros/cons, weights, prices, and links in the body of this post (after the text list that follows), I have detailed which items have been changed out, why the change was made, and what my impressions have been so far.
The gear described here is suitable for day hikes, weekends in the mountains, or even thru-hiking (in case you have separation anxiety with your gear).
If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions (I'm always looking to try new things), then leave a comment and let me know!
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to use any of these links to make a purchase. I personally use this gear, and I recommend (or don't recommend) it based on firsthand experience – not because a third-party has asked or paid me to promote their products. If you do decide to make a purchase, shoot me a message on Facebook or Twitter so that I can thank you personally!
THE BIG STUFF
- BACKPACK | Osprey Exos 58 (FULL REVIEW)
- SHELTER | Mountain Hardwear SuperMegaUL 2
- SLEEPING BAG | Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15 (R)
- SLEEPING PAD | Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite Sleeping Pad
- LINER | Sea to Summit Reactor Thermolite Liner
- TREKKING POLES | Black Diamond Alpine Ergo Cork
- UTENSIL | Snow Peak Titanium Spork
I have converted to stoveless backpacking for reasons that can be found here.
THE SMALLER STUFF
- HEADLAMP | Princeton Tec Remix
- MULTITOOL | Leatherman Skeletool CX
- RAINCOVER | Osprey UL Raincover
- WATER TREATMENT | SteriPEN Ultra
- WATER BOTTLE | 2L plastic bottle (x2)
HYDRATION | Platypus Drinking Tube
- STUFF SACKS | Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Stuff Sacks (2.5L, 9L)
- SLEEPING BAG STUFF SACK | Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Nano Dry Sack (15L)
- PHONE | LG Nexus 5
- BATTERY | Anker 2nd Gen Astro3 12800mAh
- CAMERA | GoPro HERO3: Black Edition
- CAMERA | Canon 60D
- LENS | Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM
- TRIPOD | Joby Gorillapod
- ACCESSORY | Peak Design Capture Camera Clip (x 2)
- STRAP | Peak Design Camera Hand Clutch Strap
- MISCELLANEOUS | Spare 60D battery, micro USB cord, mini USB cord
Toothpaste, toothbrush, cards/cash, Mini Bic, rubber bands, notebook, pens, Ziplocs
Since the summer I've made some big (and some small) changes – the most prominent being the upgrading of my tent from Mountain Hardwear's SuperMegaUL 1, to the two person version, the SuperMegaUL 2.
I also got myself an inflatable NeoAir XLite sleeping pad, a new pair of Mountain Hardwear shorts, a new hat (my earlier hat was eaten by a river), and some new shoes (that have already been discontinued). I've also ditched my fancy water bottles and gone back to plastic disposables without a hose.
Here is my reasoning behind the changes and thoughts on the new setup thus far:
DROPPED: Mountain Hardwear SuperMegaUL 1
I had been thinking about switching to a two-person tent for a while and finally decided to pull the trigger on the two-person version of my tent, Mountain Hardwear's SuperMegaUL. The UL 2 weighs only 4 oz / 113 g more than the UL 1, but the footprint is much larger (I was surprised by how big it is).
My primary reason for the change was to be more comfortable in adverse weather. The UL 1 doesn't do the best job of keeping everything dry in a typhoon, and there is no room inside for my pack or extra gear (which can make getting in and out a pain since the gear ends up clogging the vestibule).
So far I am happy with the performance, and that's after having had the change to put it to use in some intense rain and wind. The tent is very spacious and could definitely accommodate one more should the need arise.
DROPPED: Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol
ADDED: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite
Honestly, I love the Z Lite Sol (a foam mattress), but the bulk can be a huge con at times. At the suggestion of our trusted friend Mr. Appa, I decided to give the NeoAir Xlite a shot.
I have found myself very comfortable sleeping on it, and pleasantly surprised that Cascade Designs has fixed the problem with the original Xlite; it sounded like someone crinkling a bag of chips every time the user moved.
Admittedly, I miss the ability to quickly whip out my pad for a lunch break, and I am slightly afraid of puncturing the Xlite, but the compactness is so unbelievably awesome that I am willing to sideline these worries until they become real issues.
DROPPED: New Balance 889 Trail Runners
Truthfully, I love the New Balance's 889 series, but apparently they don't share my enthusiasm as they've decided to discontinue the shoe.
The MO989 is a bit heavier and bulkier than the 889, but it is built with Gore-Tex and stands up to water and rain a lot better. I find the shoe equally comfortable and adequately wide (a big must for my fat feet).
That being said, New Balance has already decided to take the MO989 the way of the 889 and have discontinued it's production. Looks like I will be updating this section once again come next season.
The pants/shorts department has given me some trouble over the years as I have had difficulty finding a pair of comfortable hiking bottoms. Many of my earlier endeavors, including my Mesa Convertibles, resulted in ripped crotches and saggy waistbands. The Chockstone Midweight Active Short may have solved my problems.
I've always had convertible pants because, you know, one less thing to buy. However, I find myself using these products as pants very rarely. These are the first dedicated shorts I have used and I love them so far.
The material is stretchy (no crotch rips), they are water-resistant (phone stayed completely dry in front zipper pocket in rain), and they are comfortable with a built-in belt. My only complaint so far is the lack of back pockets. Two pockets is something that will take me some getting used to.
OSPREY EXOS 58 (M)
Comfortable, lightweight, detachable hood, stretchy mesh pockets, wide enough for bear canister or winter sleeping bag, lifetime warranty
Not an ultralight pack, poorly designed sleeping pad attachment strap
42 oz / 1.19 kg / $220 US
MOUNTAIN HARDWEAR SUPERMEGAUL 2
Freestanding, incredibly spacious, two mesh pockets, holds up in rain a lot better than the UL1, light for a two person tent
The footprint turns out to be a lot bigger than I imagined, expensive
34 oz / 980 g / $450 US
MOUNTAIN HARDWEAR PHANTOM 15 (R)
Warm enough for summer months, compressible 800-fill down, lightweight, lots of room, built-in pocket, dries quickly (moisture due to condensation, not submersion)
33 oz / 935 g / $500 US
THERM-A-REST NEOAIR XLITE
Surprisingly compact, 3.2 R-value, lighter than the Z Lite Sol, comfortable, made in the US
Inflating and deflating takes some getting used to, cannot be deployed quickly during breaks (like a foam pad), risk of puncture wounds
12 oz / 350 g / $130 US
SEA TO SUMMIT REACTOR THERMOLITE LINER
Adds warmth, can be used in lieu of sleeping bag on hot nights, makes bag more comfortable, keeps bag cleaner
Adds unnecessary weight
8.1 oz / 229 g / $58 US
BLACK DIAMOND ALPINE ERGO CORK TREKKING POLES
Cork grip prevented hands from becoming filthy (as happens with rubber grips), easily adjustable, locks never failed under stress
Never used for going downhill, I think I prefer poles with shocks (more fun to lean into whilst stopped)
19.9 oz / 564 g / $140 US
MOUNTAIN HARDWEAR GHOST WHISPERER DOWN JACKET
Awesome jacket – incredibly warm, lightweight, and compressible (and works wonders as a pillow), waistband drawstring, elastic cuffs, and turtleneck ensure maximum warmth
Mountain Hardwear's sizing is not the best, expensive
7.2 oz / 204 g / $300 US
COLUMBIA OMNI-FREEZE SHIRT
Comfortable, lightweight, quick-drying, convertible sleeves
Columbia's “omni-freeze” gimmick does not actually keep you cooler in my opinion, eventually my pack wore holes in the back of the shirt, expensive for what it is
9.6 oz / 272 g / $95 US
DARN TOUGH 1/4 HIKING SOCKS
Comfortable, wool, lifetime guarantee, great cushion
You will never want to buy another brand of socks
7.2 oz / 204 g / $20 US
NEW BALANCE MO989 TRAIL RUNNERS
Comfortable, water-resistant Gore-Tex, wide (come in 4E), great grip
Hard to find in stores or online
13 oz / 369 g / $100 US
SUPERFEET WIDE GREEN PREMIUM INSOLES
Offer more support than generic inserts (and arch support), don't easily come up out of the shoe, comfortable
They don't last forever, out of the box they need to be cut to fit your shoes
0.42 oz / 12 g / $45 US
UNDER ARMOR 9″ COMPRESSION SHORTS
Comfortable, effective at preventing chafe, rarely begin to smell, dry quickly, can be passed off as shorts
An inside seam on one pair tore (still usable, will replace)
4 oz / 113 g / $30 US
MOUNTAIN HARDWEAR CHOCKSTONE MIDWEIGHT ACTIVE SHORT
Very comfortable, awesome stretchy material (no more crotch ripping), quite water resistant, two zipper pockets, built in belt that appears to work
No rear pockets, only two large zipper pockets in front (this can be good or bad depending on your needs)
9.9 oz / 280 g / $75 US
MOUNTAIN HEARDWEAR DOME PERIGNON BEANIE
Warm, good at blocking the wind, comfortable for sleeping, can be worn multiple ways
A bit heavy for what it is, not entirely necessary
2.8 oz / 80 g / $36 US
PEAK DESIGN CAPTURE CLIP
Makes carrying a DSLR incredibly comfortable and easy, it's durable, lifetime warranty
Nothing, this thing is awesome.
3.5 oz / 100 g / $60 US
PRINCETON TEC REMIX HEADLAMP
Bright, doesn't eat through batteries, multiple settings, adjustable beam direction
No red light (didn't realize then when purchasing), no strobe
2.9 oz / 83 g / $30 US
Kills protozoa, bacteria, and viruses, quick and easy to use, rechargeable (no heavy batteries)
Does not remove sediment, doesn't work with murky/cloudy water, need container to fit, reliance on technology
4.94 oz / 140 g / $100 US
LEATHERMAN SKELETOOL CX
Sharp, locking blade, clip, changeable bit, externally accessible tools
Heavy, but I carry in a pocket, pliers have yet to be useful – I'd prefer scissors
5 oz / 142 g / $90 US
OSPREY UL RAINCOVER
Packs into itself, drawstring and button to cinch, can protect bag in vestibule from puddles
Could be replaced by a trash compactor bag (which I may do soon)
2.8 oz / 80 g / $30 US
SEA TO SUMMIT ULTRA-SIL NANO DRY SACK (13L)
Waterproof, durable, roll top
1 oz / 28g / $13 US
SEA TO SUMMIT ULTRA-SIL STUFF SACKS (2.5, 9L)
Lightweight, drawstring closure, have never had one tear or break on me
Not completely necessary, expensive for what they are
.4 oz, 11g / .7 oz, 20g / $9, $14 US
Am I doing anything right? Something wrong? Did I miss anything? Do you have any suggestions? I will update this again next season and as things continue to change in my pack.
Comment below and let me know what you think!