I have started to research and collect data and opinions on gear that I will need for a successful Thru Hike. As such, I figured it would be good form to list out the gear that I currently have, along with some of my thoughts on it. My goal in preparing my gear is to make sure everything has as many “uses” as possible, while limiting my base kit weight (without food and water) to less than 25 pounds. I am sure this will all be tweaked as I hike. Obviously, a lot of this list is incomplete or outdated, but you have to start somewhere. Also, keep in mind that most of my backpacking experience was done with a group of 4-12 people, so some items here are too large or heavy for a single hiker, but when not so bad when spread across other hikers. Try not to judge just yet, this is still evolving, but here is what I have in my gear box as of right now.
Backpack – Jansport Middleton external frame
This pack has seen a lot of miles. And it shows. Unfortunately, the bag is starting to break down and crumble, so a new pack is certainly in my future. But I will miss this old hauler.
Backpack – dad’s Jansport Klamath 75 Internal Frame
Weight: 4 lbs. 13 oz.
This is my dad’s backpack, which he has loaned to me. I plan to try it on a short hike soon, to see how well it suits me and my needs. I have never really used an internal frame pack before, so the actual stuffing of it has me a bit intrigued.
Tent – Eureka Timberline 2
Weight: 5 lbs. 13 oz.
This is a great 2-person tent. I first used this style while at Philmont. It has great interior space, is very quick to set up, and is freestanding, which comes in mighty handy in rocky areas. However, at over 5 pounds, it is a pretty heavy tent for a single hiker. Two people can easily split the tent and tent poles, etc.
Tent – Eureka Solitaire
Weight: 2 lbs. 9 oz.
I bought this tent with the intentions of using it when I was hiking solo, but the interior feels so small, that I tend to only use it on short trips. Other than how small it is, it is a good tent. It is a little heavy for the size, though.
Sleeping Bag – old Slumberjack (Unknown temperature rating)
This bag has seen more miles and nights in the woods than most people can imagine. It has been on every backpacking trip I have ever taken, including all preparation trips for both Philmont Treks. And it still works, albeit it should come with a nose plug if you plan to burry your head inside. I would like to retire this old bag, but my heart strings are wrapped tight. But my nose may win. Phew!
Sleeping Bag – Slumberjack Superpacker 20-Degree Bag
Weight: 3 lbs. 6 oz.
This bag was a gift from my dad, years ago. I have used it a few times as a non-backpack bag, and it is comfortable and warm. It is stuffed with synthetic fillers, so it is a bit heavy, and does not compress down as small as a down bag would, but with the addition of a bag liner for a few extra degrees, this may be my starter/finisher bag when it is colder. I will most likely try it once on a weekend backpack trip, so see how it packs and carries. But I do have my eyes on a nice new winter bag from Nemo. If I win the lotto.
Sleeping Pads – ThermaRest and RidgeRest
ThermaRest Weight: 30 oz. +/-
RidgeRest Weight: 14 oz.
Yep, I have two pads. No, I do not normally carry both. I used the ThermaRest self-inflating pad for both of my Philmont treks, and pretty much every camping trip since purchasing it. The RidgeRest was a cheap pad used as extra insulation during cold months. I have backpacked with both, when hiking in the winter, but do not foresee that being the case for my Thru-Hike. I am still considering purchasing a new ThermaRest, as they fold down much smaller and lighter than this “original model”, which only rolls up and would need to be strapped to the outside. Since it is a non-essential upgrade, I will most likely wait until closer to my trip to see how the funds are flowing.
Stove – Coleman Exponent Feather 442 Dual Fuel Stove
Weight: 24 oz.
Again, this was a stove that we first used at Philmont. Yes, it is big. And yes, it is certainly heavy. But it is the most reliable stove I have ever used. Plus, it is a dual fuel stove, which adds to its versatility. There is a small capacity fuel tank on the stove, but most people carry a red MSR bottle with extra fuel. Unfortunately, that is more gear and weight to carry. This stove would be great for canoeing trips or car camping, but is a tad heavy for backpacking, especially if you are a solo hiker. It was used with good outcomes during a Philmont trek, when there were a dozen people carrying all of the “shared” equipment.
Stove – MSR WhisperLite International
Weight: 11 oz. (not including MSR Fuel Bottle; 6 oz. plus fuel)
Another Philmont item. We used this stove a lot on our prep hikes and on the actual trek. It is small, lightweight, and uses the same fuel as the Exponent, so together, we had two stoves. The one thing I do not love about this stove is the “bottle on a line”, as the fuel bottle has a habit of tipping the stove if it is not on level ground. Easily overcome, but was a learning experience.
Stove – JetBoil Sol
Weight: 10.5 oz. (not including fuel canister)
This is a recent purchase, based on lots of reviews and feedback. I have not used it, and am not sure if I will take it on my Thru Hike, but ultimately, I wanted to see if the product was worth the hype. It uses canister fuel cans, which offers some convenience as long as you can find replacements when needed. The mug holds 0.8 liter of water, and reportedly boils that in 4 minutes.
Stove – MSR Pocket Rocket
Weight: 3 oz. (not including fuel canister)
I bought this stove about a year ago… mostly because it is a 3 ounce burner! It uses the same canister fuel that the JetBoil stove uses. I have used it once and was impressed with the output from such a small little thing. Reportedly, it can boil a liter of water in 3.5 minutes. If the JetBoil does not work out, this will most likely be my Thru Hike stove. Plus, it offers a bit more flexibility as to which cup/pot I use than the JetBoil does. Ironically, the JetBoil mug can be used on this burner, it just does not lock in like it does on its own burner.
Pot – GSI Halulite Minimulist Pot
Weight: 6.3 oz.
I bought this a while ago for use on the Pocket Rocket. It is a nice lightweight single person pot that can double as a cup. It comes with an insulating sleeve to keep food warm, and a travel cup style lid to minimize spills. Again, if the JetBoil does not make the trip, this will be used with the Pocket Rocket.
Utensil – Sea to Summit AlphaLight Long Spoon
Weight: 0.4 oz.
Seriously, this is feather-light. At 0.4 ounces, I could carry a dozen of them and not notice. Do not worry, I am only going to carry one.
Hydration – PUR Hiker Pump Filter
Weight: 11 oz.
I was first exposed to this filter at Philmont and shortly after returning, bought my own. I have used this throughout Michigan, including a week-long backpack trip on Isle Royal National Park, where it was used to supply all three hikers with all the water needed. It still works like new and shows no signs of wear. But it is a bit on the heavy side, so I am researching a few other options, just to see. I am not against using this pump, though.
Hydration – Water Bladders vs Nalgene Bottle vs Gatorade Bottle
I have always used a water bottle for all of my outdoor adventures. Recently, I acquired two different hydration packs, one from Osprey and one from Camelbak, and am learning how to drink from them without choking. I also like the no-cleaning-required Gatorade Bottle option, where you just toss it out and buy a new one at a resupply when one gets nasty. Still not sure what will accompany me on the trail.
Hiking Boots – Unknown Vasque Hiking Boot
I have long been a Vasque fan, and have owned easily a dozen pairs of their boots. This pair is ok – not too heavy, but still offering me some ankle support. But they are old and need to be replaced pretty much as soon as I find a replacement. I am just undecided on whether I want to stick with “hiking boots” or if I want to try the lighter trail shoes. More testing required before that decision is made.
Camp Shoes – Holey Crocks
Yep, I own a pair (two actually, but the other does not have holes so does not count here.) Yep, they are ugly. Yep, they are the most comfortable after-hiking shoes I have ever found. And they are lightweight, waterproof, float, and can be strapped to the outside of the pack, if needed. And since fashion is not one of my fortes (just ask my sister…), these WILL be in my pack. So there.
Socks – Lots of them…
I have not found a specific sock that I am in love with, and am enjoying trying the different brands and styles and lengths. I am sure I will settle on one or two, but for now, I have a box full of socks to pick from. Not really. I have like 4 pairs.
These are a new addition to my gear closet. Following surgery, my physical therapist recommended I start using dual hiking poles when taking day trips in my local area. She said it would help ease the stress placed on my still-recovering knee muscles. I have used them a few times, and can already see the benefit. Just wish she would have written a prescription for them so health insurance would actually pay for something.
Headlamp – Energizer
This is a Wally World special, bought as a quick solution to some nighttime motorcycle maintenance I was trying to perform. It worked perfectly for that, using three AAA batteries. It has a red light, and three different brightness settings for the white light, but it is a bit heavy compared to other headlamps out there. Again, since it is only a weight issue, I will consider this category filled for now… unless someone wants to donate the funds for a new Petzl. Please. My knees will thank you for every once saved.
This is just a starting point. Obviously there are some key components missing or undecided, and a few items that could be upgraded to something newer and lighter. This list was something I created more for me than for you, so I know what I have and what I need. I just decided to post it here to feed your curiosity.
I would love to hear your thoughts on any gear you have taken with you or have any direct feedback on. Please use the comment box below or the Contact Me page up top.
Until next time, remember to “Spin the Compass.”