I’ve made a lot more changes to my gear list than I had anticipated, but many of these changes have been a long time coming.
This gear is for three-season backpacking and would not be sufficient in winter conditions. Some items have been included for shoulder season hiking – like the base layers – and it’s been noted that I wouldn’t normally carry them for warmer-weather hiking.
What’s changed from my previous gear list? Here are some of the items that have been updated:
- Hat: Montbell Mesh Logo Cap #2
- Sunglasses: goodr BAMFGs Polarized Sunglasses
- Gloves: Patagonia R1 Daily Gloves
- Shorts: Brooks Sherpa 2 in 1 Shorts 5in Inseam
- Socks: Injinji Trail Midweight Mini-Crew Socks
- Shoes: HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat
- Insoles: SOLE Performance Medium
- Watch: Garmin fenix 7X Sapphire Solar Multisport GPS Watch
- Pot: SimmerShield
- Headlamp: BioLite HeadLamp 325
- Satellite Messenger: Garmin inReach Mini 2
- Trowel: Vargo Titanium Dig Dig Tool
- Power Bank: Nitecore NB10000 Gen II
- Headphones: Google Pixel Buds Pro
- Phone: Pixel 7 Pro
- Phone Case: Peak Design Pixel 7 Pro Everyday Case
The Big Stuff
Base Layer – Top*
Base Layer – Bottom*
Fanny Pack Strap
Sleeping Bag Liner
Stuff Sack (Sleeping Bag)
Stuff Sack (Clothes)
Stuff Sack (Electronics)
*These items are included/excluded from my current pack on a case-by-case basis (typically depending on the weather or in the case of the bear canister, the location of my outdoor adventure).
Fanny Pack Gear
The Thrupack Summit Bum (my fanny pack) is more than simply a snack drawer (although it is a glorious snack drawer); it also takes some frequently used gear out of my backpack and puts it somewhere more accessible. And it cuts down on my base weight. Fanny pack weight doesn’t count as part of your base weight, right?
- Head Net: Sea to Summit Head Net
- Utensil: Snow Peak Titanium Spork
- Knife: Opinel No. 6 Stainless Steel Pocket Knife
- Lighter: Mini Bic
- Anti-Chafe Balm: Body Glide for Her
- Lip Balm: Sun Bum Mineral SPF 30 Sunscreen Lip Balm
- Sunscreen: Coppertone SPORT
- Hand Sanitizer: Dr Bronners Organic Hand Sanitizer
- Gear Repair: Gorilla Tape
- Headphones: Google Pixel Buds Pro
- Phone: Google Pixel 7 Pro
- Phone Case: Peak Design Pixel 7 Pro Everyday Case
- Pen: Pilot G2
That’s a total of 1.63 lb / 740 g (including the Summit Bum and Comfy Strap).
Base weight is the cumulative weight of your pack, minus consumables. Generally, consumables include your food, water, and fuel (if you’re using a stove), but this can also include things like toothpaste, sunscreen, toilet paper, and repellant (anything you consume whilst in the wilderness).
A lot of people care far too much about base weight and it’s not something you want to obsess over. As long as you’re happy carrying whatever you’re carrying, you’ll be fine.
- Big 3 (backpack + shelter + sleeping bag): 3.86 lb / 1.75 kg
- Big 4 (backpack + shelter + sleeping bag + sleeping pad): 4.61 lb / 2.09 kg
- Clothing (worn): 2.68 lb / 1.213 kg
- Clothing (in pack): 3.4 lb / 1.541 kg
- Bear canister: 28 oz / 794 g
- Camera gear: 3.95 lb / 1.791 kg
- Gear in pack (minus Big 4 / camera gear / clothing / bear can): 2.06 lb / 937 kg
- Fanny pack + gear: 1.58 lb / 715 g
- Total base weight (minus camera gear): 9.76 lb / 4.427 kg
- Total base weight: 13.71 lb / 6.218 kg
- Total weight (including fanny pack): 15.29 lb / 6.935 kg
Atom Packs Atom+ (40L)
I switch back and forth between using my Atom Packs Atom+ and my Hyperlite Mountain Gear Junction. They’re both excellent packs. The Hyperlite is waterproof and I don’t care as much about breathing the hell out of it, whereas my Atom is colorful, customized, has a bottom pocket, and has two shoulder pockets that are perfect for 700ml Smartwater bottles.
22.2 oz / 630 g
After using the SlingFin SplitWing for the entirety of the Arizona Trail and the Kings Canyon High Basin Route, it’s proven itself to be an awesome (and lightweight) shelter. It’s a modular shelter system that consists of a separate mesh body, tarp, floor, and vestibule. You can use only the tarp, a tarp+floor combo, a mesh+tarp combo, all the pieces, or any combination that suits the conditions. I’m a fan of the mesh body and tarp used with poles from Ruta Locura although you can use two trekking poles to set up the shelter if you carry them.
Detailed Review | 21 oz / 595 g
Katabatic Palisade Quilt (6′)
I’ve been using quilts for a while now after long resisting them and my current go-to is the Katabatic Palisade. I have the 6′ version in a regular width with 900-fill goose down. I love the pad attachment system and the elastic binding around the bottom designed to prevent drafts. It has a sewn footbox and an internal stash pocket.
18.5 oz / 525 g
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite (Regular)
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite is a staple of long-distance backpacking and thru-hiker kits. It has an R-value of 4.2 and the one-way valve is amazing. Now the only question you need for your three-season pad is whether you want the short one (or some minimalist foam pad). Con? It will likely keep your hiking partner(s) awake.
Detailed review | 12 oz / 340 g
Ridge Merino Solstice Lightweight Pullover Hoodie (Medium)
I’ve slowly grown into a connoisseur of backpacking hoodies and the Ridge Merino Solstice is by far my favorite at the moment. It has a high-volume hood with drawstrings that can usually keep it from flying off (you may have to loop or tie them), thumb loops, and is super comfy. They now have a Citrus (i.e. yellow) color for men’s and Alpenglow (red) for the women’s version. The red is far superior to the yellow. For more on hoodies, check out the best backpacking sun hoodies.
Detailed review | 9 oz / 255 g
Brooks Sherpa 2 in 1 Shorts 5in Inseam (Medium)
I was a longtime Patagonia Strider Pro user, but I’ve now fully converted to the Brooks Sherpa 2 in 1 Shorts 5in Inseam. These are what I wore for all my long runs while training for my ultramarathon and also what I ran during the 100-mile race. I’ve since worn them on backpacking trips with equal success.
3.9 oz / 111 g
Injinji Trail Midweight Mini-Crew Socks (Large)
I resisted toe socks for a long time but after seeing many of my hiking friends take to them and after using them myself during long-distance runs, I’m a convert. My go-to at the moment is the Injinji Trail Midweight Mini-Crew. I still love my Darn Tough socks and will switch back and forth (or bring one of each) depending on my mood. If you’re the kind of person that takes off your socks from the ankle down (so they turn inside out) you’ll just have to deal with righting them to get them back on. For more on socks, check out the best socks for thru-hiking.
2 oz / 57 g (pair)
HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat (12, Wide)
After hiking the Sierra High Route and running 100 miles in Speedgoats, I am pretty confident they can get me through anything. Sliding through scree, boulder hopping, or running on trails, I’ve been very happy with the Speedgoat (which comes in a wide version – something I require). I’ve yet to have a blowout and usually end up replacing them because I’ve completely worn down the tread. For more on shoes, check out the best shoes for thru-hiking.
21.6 oz / 612 g (pair)
UltraGam Gaiters (XL)
If I’m going to be out for more than a day – and especially if I’m going to be off-trail – I consider gaiters to be a necessity. UltraGam Gaiters come to us via Etsy and have some of the most amazeballs designs available. They attach to your shoes via a hook at the front (that goes on your laces or connects to the designated gaiter loop) and a piece of velcro at the back (you’ll need to apply a piece of velcro to your shoes if you don’t already have some built-in).
2.6 oz / 74 g (pair)
SOLE Performance Medium
I used insoles when I first began thru-hiking and then decided to drop them without a real reason. After running all year, I’ve decided that taking care of my feet is important (while running or hiking) and the SOLE Performance Medium insoles are what I’ve returned to in the world of insoles. There’s a wide version (nice for my wide shoes) and a variety of thicknesses which means that there are also versions compatible with snowboard/ski boots or everyday shoes.
4.6 oz / 130 g (pair)
goodr BAMFGs Polarized Sunglasses
Sunglasses are a personal choice, but I do recommend you get something polarized. I discovered the goodr BAMFGs Polarized Sunglasses and have been happy with them since they 1) come in large sizes to fit my extra-wide head, 2) are affordable which means I can beat up on them a bit more, and 3) they come in a variety of awesome colors.
0.9 oz / 26 g
Montbell Mesh Logo Cap #2
Hats are another personal choice. I’ve always worn hats but have the same problem with hats as I have with sunglasses – I have a big head. The Montbell Mesh Logo Cap #2 fits me great and reminds me of all the time I spent climbing mountains in Japan (need to get back there). Recommended if you’re looking for a simple, well-fitting hat to explore in.
2.8 oz / 79 g
Arcteryx Zeta FL (Medium)
The Arcteryx Zeta FL is made of Gore-Tex Paclite Plus and is a lightweight, packable shell. The hood isn’t helmet-compatible which is a good thing because it means it’s not going to fly off your head in the wind when you cinch it down. It’s also got two zippered hand pockets. I think I probably should have gotten a large one, but other than that, I’m happy with the jacket.
7.8 oz / 221 g
Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody (Medium)
The Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody is a lightweight puffy with Patagonia’s synthetic PlumaFill insulation designed to keep you warm even when it’s (a little) wet. It has two zippered handwarmer pockets and two internal drop-in pockets (I love drop pockets – why would you not include them?) With an elasticized hem and cuffs, it does everything I need to keep me warm (basically while setting up camp and for the first 30 minutes of hiking each morning).
Detailed review | 9.3 oz / 264 g
Patagonia Houdini* (Medium)
The Patagonia Houdini isn’t something I always bring with me, but if I’m expecting wind, weather, or colder temperatures, then it earns a place in my pack. Hiking in my shell when it’s windy is rarely an option since I run incredibly hot and will end up just sweating. The Houdini is lightweight enough to not provide too much warmth but to be able to defeat the wind.
3.7 oz / 105 g
Patagonia Capilene Midweight Crew* (Medium)
When temperatures drop, I do (sometimes) bust out the base layer (unless I’m hiking in Nepal in which case I typically live in my base layer). The Patagonia Capilene Midweight Crew is a lightweight base layer that can be used in lieu (or in addition to) a sleeping bag liner – or to add some warmth to your setup. If you want something with a zip, for 1 oz / 28 g more, you can get a half-zip version.
6.2 oz / 176 g
Macpac Nitro Polartec Alpha Pullover* (Large)
A friend of mine put me onto the Macpac Nitro Polartec Alpha Pullover, and another friend of mine (located in Australia) was nice enough to send one of these across the ocean to me. The material is not at all flexible (why I got a size large) and it feels fragile and flimsy at first glance. It is indeed fragile, but it can keep you warm. I find it best for long and chilly descents (I run hot) or cold days without a lot of climbing. Used in conjunction with my Patagonia Houdini, it could be a puffy replacement so long as it’s not below-freezing outside.
4.94 oz / 140 g
Montbell Dynamo Wind Pants*
Although I typically bring them as bug protection, the Montbell Dynamo Wind Pants have served me well in unexpected windstorms (and on cold mornings) as well. They keep the bugs off me, and I can roll them up when I inevitably begin sweating. I wish there was a way I could get them on and off without taking off my shoes, but I suppose zippers would add some of that much-feared weight.
2.8 oz / 80 g
Ridge Merino Aspect Midweight Bottoms* (Medium)
I love both my shorts and waking up and hiking early. However, some mornings those early-morning chills are sometimes at odds with my shorts and so the Ridge Merino Aspect Midweight Bottoms become a nice thing to have. Wind pants are also an option in these situations. How do I put these on and take them off when I use shorts with a liner? Get naked.
6.2 oz / 176 g
Buff CoolNet UV+
I use the polar buff as a beanie, but I use a Buff CoolNet UV+ on my neck/head/face/wrist during the mornings/evenings/cold parts of the day when the polar is too warm. This buff is designed to be used in the sun and supposedly doesn’t heat up as much as an original buff, but I have trouble keeping it on an entire day (I run hot).
1.2 oz / 34 g
The polar buff is the original buff, but with 9 in / 22.8 cm of fleece at the end making it a bit warmer and more versatile. I ditched my beanie and just use this instead. Folded over, it does a good job of blocking out the wind (or of being an eye mask). I usually wear this on my head at night, but if it’s not too cold, I’ll turn it inside out and use it like a pillowcase.
2.29 oz / 65 g
Sea to Summit Head Net
I know that wearing a head net makes you look like a tool, but deep in mosquito country, nobody cares about how dumb they look – only about how many mosquitoes are not currently in and/or on their face. The Sea to Summit Head Net is a lightweight solution with an adjustable hem that it’s probably worth bringing two because you’ll be able to sell one for ten times the price to some sucker without one.
1.2 oz / 34 g
Patagonia R1 Daily Gloves (XL)
Gloves, as with tights, are a necessary part of my early-morning backpacking kit. Patagonia R1 Daily Gloves are lightweight enough that I can stand to wear them for an extended period without my hands getting too hot (I run hot). They do a decent job of blocking moderate wind but aren’t great for rain. They do (at least for now) work well with my phone’s screen.
1.3 oz / 37 g (pair)
Batman Sandals (camp shoes)
Camp shoes are not an essential piece of gear. However, the utility of having something easy to wear around camp or in town outweighs the cost of carrying extra weight (for me). I found these Batman Sandals at a Walmart on the Continental Divide Trail and have had them for almost five years now. Camp shoes do not need to be fancy. Just get something cheap, light, and somewhat durable (you probably want something that won’t disintegrate if they get wet).
6 oz / 170 g (pair)
Garmin fenix 7X Sapphire Solar Multisport GPS Watch
The Garmin fenix 7X Sapphire Solar was something I considered for a long time before I finally decided to add it to my kit. My only regret is that I didn’t get one sooner. Its battery life is superb, it does an excellent job of accurately tracking my activities (even when in canyons or places where my phone’s GPS has historically had difficulty). The watch’s (and the app’s) functionality has proven impressive at every turn and my only complaint is that it uses a proprietary Garmin cable to charge, not USB-C.
2.9 oz / 82 g
Thrupack Summit Bum
The Thrupack Summit Bum has become an essential piece of my hiking kit (and my not-hiking kit – I shamelessly use it off the trail and receive nothing but complimentary stares from everyone). This lightweight fanny pack revolutionized my hiking and is now where I keep all of my snacks for the day, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, lighter, etc. It has an exterior pocket that can fit a large cell phone, two interior pockets, and it’s water-resistant. Not to mention its huge sex appeal.
Detailed review | 2.5 oz / 71 g
Thrupack Comfy Strap
The Thrupack Summit Bum comes with a strap, but if you want an upgrade on both your comfort and your awesomeness, then a Comfy Strap is worth the investment. This strap comes in a variety of prints, but most importantly it is stretchy (and comfy). It’s unnecessary, but I am happy I have one.
2.2 oz / 62 g
LOCUS Gear CP3
I don’t always use trekking poles, but since I started using a shelter (the SlingFin SplitWing) that can be set up with trekking poles and since I’ve started doing more off-trail exploring, I have found that a trekking pole has again proven itself useful enough to be carried with me through the wilderness. I picked up a CP3 from LOCUS Gear (based in Japan) and it’s been working out nicely. I wish it had a cork handle, but other than that, no complaints thus far.
5.47 oz / 155 g
The Platypus QuickDraw is the newest offering from Platypus and I used it for the entirety of the Arizona Trail. It operates similarly to the Sawyer Squeeze with a few key differences. It has two caps – one for the top and one for the bottom, it can be field-tested to see if it has been compromised (i.e. to see if it’s still working), and it doesn’t come with a bunch of unnecessary things you won’t use. You can get it by itself, or with a compatible Platypus bag (that the QuickDraw locks onto for filtering).
Detailed review | 2.2 oz / 62 g
I’m not committed to the “bring a stove” or stoveless categories, but the newest stove I’m trying out is the Soto WindMaster. It’s been a favorite among Pacific Crest Trail hikers on the Gear Survey which I felt justified some experimentation. I like the stove and the supports, but I hate that I can’t fit this stove, the supports, and a small gas can into my pot. Ultimately, this will probably be the reason I end up switching back to something more compact. That said, still a great stove with excellent performance in windy conditions.
2.3 oz / 65 g
The SimmerShield system includes a 650ml titanium pot, pot koozie, windscreen, floor, and stove (BRS-3000T). I don’t use the stove, but I use the rest of the kit to complete my kitchen. I am a massive fan of the koozie. It prevents me from burning my hands and makes it easy to keep food warm once you remove it from the stove. It’s a great way to conserve fuel if you leave your food soaking a bit longer in the koozie. The one drawback to using this system with the Soto WindMaster is that the WindMaster won’t fit in the pot with a 3.9 oz / 110 g gas can (the can nests inside the pot with the screen and floor).
5 oz / 79 g
Snow Peak Titanium Spork
Yes, you can get a plastic spoon from McDonald’s, but if you want a utensil that’s going to last forever (so long as you don’t lose it), then get a Snow Peak Titanium Spork. It won’t melt, it’s easy to clean, and it’s mother fucking titanium (which means that you can use it to fight off wild animals). With this spork, I can eat my trail meal like the champion while also looking like a total loser because I have a titanium spork – win-win. Just don’t forget it; this is easily my most often forgotten piece of gear.
0.6 oz / 17 g
BioLite HeadLamp 325
BioLite recently upgraded its headlamp lineup and I’m a fan of the BioLite HeadLamp 325 (the replacement for the HeadLamp 200). If you need something a bit brighter, there’s also the BioLite HeadLamp 425. For even more light, there’s the BioLite HeadLamp 800 Pro – this is what I used for my ultramarathon and it burned bright all night long. The only downside? It’s still a micro USB plug. Where’s the USB-C, BioLite?
1.76 oz / 50 g
Garmin inReach Mini 2
I dIf you’re going into the backcountry, you should be carrying a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), but the Garmin inReach Mini 2 only weighs 3.5 oz / 99 g – so why not be a little safer? It has 2-way texting (which works well), tracking (also works well), and SOS capabilities (fortunately, I haven’t had to test this). The only catch is that it requires a (paid) monthly plan to function. For more on PLBs, check out the best personal locator beacons.
3.5 oz / 99 g
Rab Silk Neutrino Sleeping Bag Liner
A sleeping bag liner isn’t necessary, but I am taking a Rab Silk Neutrino Sleeping Bag Liner for a couple of reasons: 1) to keep my quilt clean (because having and eventually washing a dirty sleeping bag is no fun), and 2) for when I end up too hot during the night and just want to use the liner as my sleeping bag. I’m on my second one of these because I managed to tear my first one into shreds (I think with a sharp toenail), but I’m still a fan.
3.1 oz / 88 g
Sea to Summit Aeros Premium (Large)
I accidentally ordered a Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Pillow and instead of returning it, it somehow found its way into my pack. I still have, and probably should be using the Aeros Ultralight Pillow, but it’s been nice to have something a little plusher. That said, my face has been making this thing pretty disgusting and I should probably be sleeping with my buff over it. I will probably end up switching to the regular size of the Ultralight Pillow or maybe I’ll just be cool and use a car sponge instead.
4 oz / 114 g
It took a while to justify, but I spend enough time in California’s Sierra Nevada (where a bear canister is often required) to warrant the purchase of an expensive (but relatively lightweight) bear canister. The Wild Ideas Bearikade Scout has a larger capacity than the BearVault BV450 and weighs 5 oz / 142 g less. The catch? It costs four times as much. As I said, it’s worth it for me, but probably not worth it if you don’t plan on using it more than once every couple of years.
28 oz / 794 g
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Roll-top (Medium)
Even with a pack liner, it’s a good idea to keep your sleeping bag in a dry sack (because your sleeping bag keeps you alive at night), and while the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Roll-top Stuff Sack is not technically a dry bag, so long as it’s inside of your backpacking and you’re not planning on completely submerging it, you won’t have to worry about your bag getting wet.
1.2 oz / 34 g
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Drawstring Stuff Sack (Large)
Could the job of storing my extra clothing be done by a plastic grocery bag? Sure. But that would be wasteful. The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Drawstring Stuff Sacks weigh virtually nothing (because Dyneema because expensive), they’re water-resistant (these are less waterproof than the roll-top bags – if “less waterproof” is technically a thing), and they come in three colors and six sizes. I have found the large to be big enough for my extra socks and clothing (I keep my shell and puffy separate). Are Dyneema stuff sacks nice to have? Absolutely. Are they necessary? Not at all.
0.53 oz / 15 g
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Drawstring Stuff Sack (Small)
Could the job of storing my electronics (mostly cords) be done by a Ziploc bag? Sure. But that would be wasteful (I use enough Ziplocs for my food already). The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Drawstring Stuff Sacks weigh virtually nothing (because Dyneema because expensive), they’re water-resistant (these are less waterproof than the roll-top bags – if “less waterproof” is technically a thing), and they come in three colors and six sizes. I use a small for my cords and spare camera battery/memory cards, but could probably get away with a nano (which would save me a whole 0.21 oz / 6 g).
0.35 oz / 10 g
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stake Kit
These are tent stakes. Hyperlite Mountain Gear stakes are made from aluminum, lightweight, and 8 in / 20.3 cm long. The heads are drilled to allow you to attach a cord to each of the stakes (I did so using this). Special tent stakes will not make your hikes any better or more enjoyable (unless you’re camping in the snow). They are just tent stakes. That said, make sure you have stakes appropriate for the conditions – especially if you don’t have a freestanding shelter.
0.4 oz / 12g (per stake)
RAWLOGY Cork Massage Ball
Is a RAWLOGY Cork Massage Ball a luxury item? Is caring about my tortured muscles a luxury? Does it matter? These cork balls measure 2.5 in / 6.35 cm across and weigh 1.4 oz / 40 g each. Not light enough for you? There is a 1.9 in / 4.82 cm version that weighs 0.7 / 20 g (this is what I bring). Best to bring the pair so that you can give one to a new best friend on the trail.
1.4 oz / 40 g
Opinel No. 6 Stainless Steel Pocket Knife
Unless I’m traveling (and not checking a bag), I carry an Opinel No. 6 Stainless Steel Pocket Knife. I need something to cut my cheese – and fight off woodland creatures. You can even get one of these in different colors. Very exciting, I know. If I was truly ultralight I would just use my credit card to cut my cheese. Unfortunately, my credit card isn’t as good a substitute when it comes to doing battle with night creatures.
1 oz / 28 g
Therm-a-Rest Instant Field Repair Kit
I can tell you from experience that sleeping on a leaky sleeping pad is no fun. Waking up in the middle of the night, blowing up your sleeping pad, waking up your friends, and then repeating throughout the night is no way to prepare for a day filled with what will presumably be a lot of physical exertion. I bring two (but I might start bringing three) sleeping pad patches with me out on the trail; I usually leave the alcohol swabs at home since they typically are dried out by the time I end up using them. A couple of patches are a wise thing to have stashed somewhere in your pack.
0.2 oz / 6 g
Noso Puffy Patch
Noso Puffy Patches are pretty sweet. Ripped your puffy, sleeping bag, or just want to decorate your gear? Instead of some duct tape, why not fix things up with a cat? A bird? A colored ‘X’? They’re a lightweight solution to hemorrhaging feathers from your gear. That said, they’re stupid expensive for what they are – maybe just get some tape. Make a good gift?
0.35 oz / 10 g
Tape. An often overlooked, but incredibly useful thing to have with you on a thru-hike. Tear your down jacket? Tape! Rip your tent? Tape! Need to shut up your hiking partner? Tape! Just don’t bring an entire roll. I like Gorilla Tape because it’s incredibly sticky, waterproof, and thick. I’ve used this to patch a hole in my shorts before and the tape didn’t come off even after multiple washes. That said, get whatever tape you want – just bring some (because you can’t have mine).
1 oz / 28 g
Smartwater Bottle (1L x 2, 750ml x 1)
You just use a store-bought plastic water bottle? Yes. And you use it over and over again until the label has fallen off and it’s practically turned into a sock before you replace it? Also yes. Smartwater (and LIFEWATR) bottles are quite structurally sound compared to something like collapsible Arrowhead bottles and they slide easily in and out of backpack pockets (trust me, this is important). You can also put a Platypus QuickDraw or Sawyer Squeeze on the top and filter from one bottle to another. That said, I’m using a plastic bottle so I’m going to hell.
1.4 oz / 40 g
The Soto WindMaster has an ignition button, but it doesn’t always work as great as I would hope. So I need to carry a lighter (I should probably carry one regardless). I carry a Mini Bic. It is like a regular Bic, but mini. You know, because ULTRALIGHT. I guess I could just carry like five matches instead and that would be even more ultralight, but I’ll stick with the lighter. Be responsible with fire, friends.
0.39 oz / 11 g
Vargo Titanium Dig Dig Tool
I’ve talked a lot about pooping in the woods and packing out your toilet paper in the past, and I will probably continue to do so. Backcountry poops aren’t glamorous, but they are a reality of trail life. A lot of people don’t bring a trowel saying that a shoe, a rock, a trekking pole or whatever will substitute. Sometimes this will be the case, but other times you are not going to be able to dig a proper cat hole (that’s a hole for your poop). The Vargo Titanium Dig Dig Tool is an excellent solution to the trowel question.
1.2 oz / 34 g
Ben’s 100 Max Formula Insect Repellent (1.25 fl. oz.)
I’m not the biggest fan of DEET, but it works. I’ve been taking a 1.25 fl. oz. bottle of Ben’s 100 Max Formula Insect Repellent with me out on the trail because the bugs have been bad and DEET works. I know it’s terrible for plastics and probably me, but when there are swarms of bugs all over me, I don’t care what I have to do to make the horror stop. I could bring a smaller bottle of repellent on the trail, but I want to be able to apply liberally and without the worry of running out which is why I have a 6 fl. oz. bottle and not a 3 fl. oz. bottle instead.
Sawyer Permethrin Pump Spray (24 oz)
I really hate bugs. Even gazing at a beautiful photo of your hike can be tormented by memories of mosquito swarms. That’s why, in addition to carrying repellent, I treat my clothing with Sawyer Permethrin before hitting the trail. One treatment lasts up to six washes or six weeks. Just don’t use it to insect-proof your cat (it’s toxic to cats in its liquid form – but safe after it dries and binds to your clothing).
Sun Bum Mineral SPF 30 Sunscreen Lip Balm
I made the mistake of not bringing any lip balm on an eight-day hike in the Sierra Nevada once and it was one of my worst experiences in the backcountry – so painful. Now I’m stocked up on Sun Bum Mineral SPF 30 Sunscreen Lip Balm to make sure I never have to go through that again. Whatever lip balm you bring, just make sure it has some SPF.
0.8 oz / 23 g
Body Glide for Her (0.35 oz)
The worst thing on the trail is chafe (and more specifically, ass chafe). Thankfully, there is Body Glide for Her to alleviate the suffering. It’s the same thing as Body Glide Anti-Chafe Balm but it’s also “rich in vitamins A, B, E, and F”. What? Do only “hers” need vitamins? I want some, too. Just remember to apply before the chafe parade starts.
2 oz / 57 g
Dr Bronners Organic Hand Sanitizer
If there’s one thing I can say my long-time hiking partner Mr. Appa taught me, it’s that he taught me about Dr. Bronner’s Organic Hand Sanitizer. It’s a spray-on hand sanitizer that makes my hands smell lavender-y and (hopefully) cleans them. There’s a peppermint version available as well but it’s always more difficult to find.
2 oz / 57 g
Sunscreen should be broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB), it should be designed to not run off when you sweat, and it should ideally be SPF 50 (above SPF 50 provides only marginal additional protection at an often much more expensive price). I like the consistency of Coppertone SPORT SPF 50 (I don’t like Banana Boat). What do you like? Not being sunburned? Excellent.
3.2 oz / 91 g
A lot of people don’t talk about (or don’t bring) any kind of first aid into the backcountry, but it’s a good thing to have some antibiotic ointment around for when you slice your hand open whilst cutting off some of that sweet and delicious cheese. I carry a small tube of Neosporin Ointment to fight off the infections. Have I used it? Yes. Is it worth carrying? Sure.
1 oz / 28 g
GUM Folding Travel Toothbrush
I like the GUM Travel Toothbrush because it folds into itself for storage and packs away easily. However, once the bristles start to wear they get stuck in the brush when closing it. Still, I typically use one of these on the trail since they can fit easily in my pocket, fanny pack, or backpack.
0.8 oz / 23 g
Dr Bronners Travel Toothpaste
In case you are unaware, there are small versions of toothpaste available. You do not need to bring a huge tube of toothpaste whilst hiking. Get some Dr. Bronner’s Toothpaste (or just any travel-sized toothpaste) and keep yourself from becoming a complete woodland savage. Or you can just do the super-uber-duper-mega ultralight savage thing and don’t brush your teeth with toothpaste.
1 oz / 28 g
3M Medical Tape
Carrying a bit of 3M Medical Tape won’t cost a lot in terms of weight, but it can be very helpful should you slice something open and need more than just a Band-Aid. I guess I can just rely on my Gorilla Tape, but I don’t want to rip all my hair (and skin) off.
0.6 oz / 17 g
Charmin Ultra Soft
Oftentimes I have to take what I can get in terms of toilet paper on the trail, but if I ever get the choice, it’s Charmin Ultra Soft for the win. Keeping clean will minimize butt chafe and maximize your poo-free-ness. I usually pack out an entire roll – way too much. And remember to pack out your toilet paper!
1 oz / 28 g
Sea to Summit Wilderness Wipes
It took me a while to come around, but damn, having some Sea to Summit Wilderness Wet Wipes (or any wet wipes) can be life-saving in the backcountry. In addition to ensuring the cleanest of bums following a backcountry waste disposal, they can be used to clean your disgusting feet to help keep them blister-free. But as with toilet paper, just remember to pack them out.
3 oz / 85 g
It’s not a bad idea to have a couple of Band-Aid Bandages tucked away somewhere in your pack for stopping the bleeding that will inevitably occur somewhere on your body during your hike.
0.2 oz / 6 g
Nitecore NB10000 Gen II
It took me a while to ditch my bulkier and heavier battery pack in favor of a Nitecore NB10000 Gen II. However, I have two of these, and depending on how long I plan to be out, I will bring both. Even together, they weigh less than my previous battery pack. There is one USB port and a USB-C port (used to both charge the battery pack and a device).
5.6 oz / 159 g
One of the most important things I look for in earbuds is battery life. The Pixel Buds Pro offer up to 31 hours of battery life (around 11 hours for a full charge with additional charges available via the case) and have excellent noise canceling. They’re comfortable to wear for long periods (i.e. all day) and the microphone works well.
2.2 oz / 62 g
You’re probably not looking at this gear list in hopes of finding yourself a new phone, but I get asked which phone I am using often enough that I’ve decided to include the Google Pixel 7 Pro here. I’m not an iPhone fan, so I stick with the Google. This thing has a killer camera and a battery that makes me think twice about my need for my enormous battery pack.
7.41 oz / 210 g
Peak Design Pixel 7 Pro Everyday Case
Peak Design makes both excellent camera and phone accessories. The Peak Design Pixel 7 Pro Everyday Case has a magnet that allows me to attach my wallet and a variety of optional mounts that make using my phone in my car or on my bicycle a breeze. Does any of this help hiking? I guess not, but this is still an awesome case and is still officially part of my pack.
1.5 oz / 43 g
Sony A7R IV
After dropping and breaking my Sony a6500 while carrying my bicycle across the Grand Canyon, I figured my money would be better spent investing in an upgrade rather than a repair. The upgrade? The Sony A7R IV. In the past, I had told myself that I didn’t want a full-frame camera because of the weight, but now that I have one, I regret not making the switch sooner. This camera is incredible and I’m extraordinarily pleased with its performance thus far. That said, it is heavy and an argument could probably be made against it, but I’m happy with it.
1.46 lbs / 665 g
Sony FE 24-70 f2.8 GM
I’ve made a lot of purchases in recent years and thought to myself sometime later, “Damn, I should have just spent a little more and gotten the upgraded version of X”. I decided not to make this same mistake with my camera setup and got the only lens I could imagine myself ever wanting or needing (unless I want to go wider) with the Sony FE 24-70 f2.8 GM. It’s wide enough for epic landscapes and has enough zoom/speed for anything I will want to photograph in the backcountry. Sure, I could get a huge zoom lens, but 1) I don’t want to have to carry it, and 2) wider is better as far as all the things I’ll be taking pictures of (or at least 98% of the time).
1.95 lb / 886 g
Peak Design Capture
The Peak Design Capture Clip is practically part of my backpack, I never take it off. It makes carrying my camera incredibly easy and saves me from having to open my pack to access my camera or having it hang annoyingly from a strap around my neck. There’s also an attachment for a GoPro if I decide I want some POV video (or if I need a dashcam for my inevitable fight with a bear).
3 oz / 85 g
Peak Design Shell (Medium)
To me, the Peak Design Shell is an essential piece of equipment with the Peak Design Capture. The Shell comes in three sizes and is designed to keep your camera dry in the rain. I had to switch from the small to the medium with my new camera. It also protects from the sun, dust, would-be robbers, and snow should you be so (un?)lucky. It can be tricky to adjust the zoom and focus with the Shell on and I usually remove it each time I take a photo. It’s made from a stretchy fabric that will also help to prevent nicks or abrasion when you inevitably bash your camera against a rock.
2.68 oz / 76 g | Detailed review
Slinger Silicone Camera Skin
I don’t know that my Slinger Silicone Camera Skin is completely necessary given that my camera is already being protected by the Peak Design Shell, but I’m going to take as few risks as possible with what’s essentially my most expensive piece of backpacking equipment. This lightweight piece of silicone gives me a little more peace of mind while carrying my camera through the backcountry.
1.59 oz / 45 g
Sony PCK-LG1 Screen Protect Glass Sheet
The same story with my Sony PCK-LG1 Screen Protect Glass Sheet as my silicone camera skin, I’m doing everything I can to ensure I don’t destroy my camera in the backcountry (also need to protect that resale value). The A7R IV has a touchscreen (that I never use), so making sure it’s free from debris and cracks is probably a good idea.
0.03 oz / 1 g
Sony TOUGH-G SDXC Card (64 GB) x2
One of the drawbacks of deciding I should spend more on my camera is the fact that I must now spend more on memory cards (at least if I want the best performance). I have two Sony SF-G Series TOUGH Cards at 64GB each – 64 instead of 128 because they’re half the price (i.e. no price break for a 128) and I don’t want to risk having 128GB of photos lost on a single card. The TOUGH specification means their bend resistance is high, as are their waterproof and dustproof grades (IP68).
0.03 oz / 1 g
What do we think? Do you have any suggestions, critiques, or questions on the gear? I’m always happy to talk gear – though I’m often hesitant to admit it. Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts.
This page contains affiliate links which means at no additional cost to you, I may receive small commissions for purchases made via these links. This helps to pay the bills and keep the site up and running. Thank you for your support!