My Current Backpacking Gear List (12.2 lb Base Weight)

This is my current backpacking gear list that I have used since Spring of 2016. I’ve been very satisfied with it so far. It provides the perfect combination of utility, comfort and light weight that I desire for three-season backpacking.

Whenever I make changes to my gear list, I will update this page to keep it current. Feel free to use this as a template for designing your own gear list. If you have any questions about my gear, please ask in the comments below.

The Big Four

Weight: 6.9 lbs, Cost: $1,020


ULA Equipment
Ohm 2.0

Weight: 2 lbs
Cost: $210

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 1
Weight: 2.1 lbs
Cost: $380
Sleeping Bag

Nemo Tango Solo Quilt (30°F)
Weight: 1.8 lbs
Cost: $300
Sleeping Pad

Thermarest NeoAir Trekker
Weight: 1.1 lb
Cost: $130

Clothing Worn

Weight: 4.5 lbs, Cost: $309


Columbia Tech Trek T-Shirt
Weight: 6 oz
Cost: $22

Columbia Silver Ridge Pants
Weight: 12 oz
Cost: $60

Under Armour Boxer Jock
Weight: 3 oz
Cost: $20

Smartwool PHD Outdoor Light
Weight: 2 oz
Cost: $17

Merrell Moab Ventilator Mid
Weight: 2.5 lbs
Cost: $110

Montrail Enduro Sole
Weight: 5 oz
Cost: $40

Outdoor Research Helios
Weight: 3 oz
Cost: $36

3M TEKK Safety Glasses
Weight: 1 oz
Cost: $4

Clothing Packed

Weight: 2 lbs, Cost: $358

Base Top

Terramar Therma-Silk Shirt
Weight: 3.6 oz
Cost: $25
Base Bottom

Terramar Therma-Silk Pant
Weight: 3.4 oz
Cost: $20
Insulated Jacket

Patagonia Nano Puff Vest
Weight: 9 oz
Cost: $149
Rain Jacket

Marmot Precip Jacket
Weight: 11 oz
Cost: $99
Warm Cap

Mtn Hardware Micro Dome
Weight: 1 oz
Cost: $18

Mtn Hardware Powerstretch
Weight: 1.4 oz
Cost: $30
Spare Socks

Smartwool PHD Outdoor Light
Weight: 2 oz
Cost: $17

Cooking & Hydration

Weight: 1.3 lbs, Cost: $219

Cook Stove

Snow Peak LiteMax
Weight: 2 oz
Cost: $60
Cook Pot

Evernew Titanium Non-Stick 900ml
Weight: 4.9 oz
Cost: $56
Pot Cozy

Pot Cozy

Weight: 2 oz
Cost: $10

Evernew Titanium Cup 400ml
Weight: 1.8 oz
Cost: $26

Sea to Summit Teaspoon
Weight: 0.3 oz
Cost: $4
Water Bladder

Platypus Big Zip
3 Liter

Weight: 3.3 oz
Cost: $26
Water Bottle

1 Liter Aquafina Bottle
Weight: 1.5 oz
Cost: $1
Water Filter

Sawyer Mini Filter (Inline)
Weight: 1.8 oz
Cost: $25

Survival & Miscellaneous

Weight: 3 lbs, Cost: $872


Pocket Atlas
Weight: 3 oz
Cost: $30
GPS Receiver

Garmin Oregon
Weight: 7.4 oz
Cost: $550

Silva Forecaster
Weight: 0.5 oz
Cost: $10

Petzl Zipka Headlight
Weight: 2.3 oz
Cost: $30

Swiss Army Classic
Weight: 0.8 oz
Cost: $14
Fire Starter #1

Mini Bic Lighter
Weight: 0.4 oz
Cost: $1
Fire Starter #2

SOL Fire Lite Kit
Weight: 0.6 oz
Cost: $8

SOL Slim Howler
Weight: 0.2 oz
Cost: $2
Signal Mirror

SOL Signal Mirror
Weight: 0.6 oz
Cost: $9

Duct Tape 50″
Weight: 0.8 oz
Cost: $2
First Aid Kit

Adventure Medical 0.3 1st Aid Kit
Weight: 3 oz
Cost: $9

Folding Travel Toothbrush
Weight: 0.7 oz
Cost: $1
Wash Rag

Packtowl Personal Small
Weight: 0.7 oz
Cost: $7

Weight: 5.5 oz
Cost: n/a
Food Sack

Granite Gear Air Zippsack 16L
Weight: 1.6 oz
Cost: $25
Sleep Bag Sack

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil 13L
Weight: 1.3 oz
Cost: $22
Clothing Sack

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil 13L
Weight: 1.3 oz
Cost: $22
Ditty Sack

Granite Gear Air Zippsack 9L
Weight: 1.1 oz
Cost: $20

Granite Gear
Hiker Wallet

Weight: 0.5 oz
Cost: $10
Trekking Poles

Leki Ultralight Trekking Poles
Weight: 1 lb
Cost: $100


Weight: 15.5 lbs


5 Days Food
(2 lbs per day)

Weight: 10.0 lbs

2 Liters
Weight: 4.4 lbs

Small Canister
(4 oz fuel)

Weight: 7 oz

Advil, Tylenol PM, Immodium AD, Bennadryl
Weight: 0.5 oz

(0.8 fl oz)

Weight: 1 oz

(1 fl oz)

Weight: 1.5 oz
Lip Balm

(0.35 fl oz)

Weight: 0.5 oz
Insect Repellent

Lemon Eucalyptus (1.0 fl oz)
Weight: 1.5 oz
Toilet Paper

Toilet Paper
(1 roll)

Weight: 1 oz
Wet Wipes

5 Wet Ones Singles
Weight: 1 oz
Hand Sanitizer

(1 fl oz)

Weight: 1.5 oz

Rubbing Alcohol (1 fl oz)
Weight: 1.5 oz

Weight & Cost Summary

Packed Gear
The Big Four
Clothing Packed
Cooking and Hydration
Survival and Miscellaneous (minus trekking poles)
6.9 lbs
2.0 lbs
1.3 lbs
2.0 lbs

Pack Weight
Base Pack Weight
+ Consumables
Full Pack Weight
12.2 lbs
15.5 lbs
27.6 lbs

+ Worn & Carried Gear
Clothing Worn
Trekking Poles
4.5 lbs
1.0 lbs

Skin-Out Weight
33.1 lbs
Total Cost

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265 Responses to “My Current Backpacking Gear List (12.2 lb Base Weight)”

  1. Beth Reply

    Hey, was hoping to find a review on your site of the Nemo Tango Solo quilt. It really intrigues me. I’d love to read your thoughts or an in-depth review. Thanks for your comprehensive lists!

    • @Beth: Here are my thoughts on the Nemo Tango: It’s very comfortable and roomy and feels just like sleeping in a bed. There is plenty of room to roll around in it and you can stick your arms, legs and feet out the sides to cool down if it’s too hot. Since I hate the confined feeling of a mummy bag I really like this aspect of it. The downsides are that it is a bit on the cold side and I wish they had a similar version with more down that was rated for around 15-20 degrees. I have a pretty high tolerance for cold so I am comfortable using it down to around 30 degrees with sleeping clothes, but I imagine that people who are cold sleepers might find it uncomfortable at temperatures below 40. Also, I wish that it was a bit wider because when you roll around inside sometimes it creates an air gap in the sides between the edge of the quilt and the sleeping pad where cold air can sneak in, especially if you are sleeping on your side. If it were a few inches wider and had some sort of elastic or something around the edges that would cause it to hug the bottom of the sleeping pad (like a fitted sheet) I think it would be better. But, all things considered it is the most comfortable sleeping system that I have used so far. I really do like having a quilt/comforter setup as opposed to a typical sleeping bag. Sierra Designs and Big Agnes offer similar comforter style sleeping systems that anchor to the sleeping pad and provide more room and a more bed-like feel than a traditional mummy, but they still aren’t exactly what I’m looking for.

  2. mark--walks with dolphins Reply

    Ran into some snow on a recent hike and was wondering your recommendation for my hiking shoes.


    • @Marks: When hiking in snow you’ll want to keep your feet from getting too wet and cold and maintain traction. If you are just going to see a few inches of snow every once in a while, normal hiking shoes work fine. But if you will be trudging through deep snow for long periods of time, a high top shoe with a waterproof Goretex liner (like the Merrell Moab GTX Mid) combined with a thick sock, rain pants and possibly even a gaiter will help keep your feet much warmer and dryer. If you will be hiking in hard-packed, icy snow near steep inclines or cliffs where you could possibly slide off (like on the JMT in the early season after a big snow year), you may need to add a traction device to the soles of your shoes (like Kahtoola Microspikes or instep crampons) and carry an Ice Axe so you can self-arrest if you do find yourself in an uncontrollable slide.

  3. mark "walks with dolphins" Reply

    Any idea when we might see more pocket editions for the PCT? I’m planning the J section for next August, 2108.

    • @Mark: I should have more PCT books available next year (2018)

      • mark "walks with dolphins" Reply

        Thanks, Eric, looking forward to it. In the meantime, any suggestions for a good ultralight day pack?

  4. bo Reply

    I was wondering how you do your water? do you filter at water stops or use one of your platypus bottles as a “dirty” bottle and one as clean?

    • @Bo: I’ve done it a couple of ways over the years, but what I’m doing now is carrying a bladder and a water bottle. The bladder gets filled with “dirty” water and the Sawyer filter is inline in the drinking tube, so during the day I just drink from the tube and the water is filtered as it flows through. The bottle stays “clean” so I can use it in camp at night for cooking and drinking. To fill the bottle I squeeze water from the bladder, through the filter, into the bottle.

      • Dave G. Reply

        I noticed you went from a platy “soft” bottle to the big zip. just curious why?

        • @Dave: I like the larger 3 liter capacity of the Big Zip. Sometimes I don’t fill it all the way, but it’s nice to have the extra room just in case.

  5. Heather Darnell Reply

    Wow, I love the way you laid out your items, logically grouped, with photos, price and weight. THANKS for being so information, Erik – you have been one of the biggest success keys to my PCT prep!!

  6. Dave Reply

    I very much appreciate this blog and your exhaustive expertise on hiking and equipment. I’m upgrading my gear after reading this, and much of what I’m buying is based on your recommendations. It does make me wonder, though, when I look at your various lists: do you accept equipment sponsorships or product demos? It doesn’t matter much to me because your reasoning for each is so well laid-out here, but it would be nice to know for some context, why, for instance, it seems like there are less MSR products on your lists than there used to be. Or why, say, so many SOL products? Again, thanks very much for this blog.

    • @Dave: About 80% of the stuff I include in the example gear lists are the things I use myself (which is why they are all pretty similar.) When I need to include something that I don’t use myself I try to pick gear that I know is popular with other hikers and has good reviews on sites like REI or Amazon.

  7. Mark Reply

    Erik, I can’t thank you enough for all the great equipment info you have provided and your patience with all of my questions over the last several months. I just got back from a five day backpacking trip in the Ansel Adams Wilderness — we spent two nights at 1000 Island Lake. It was incredible! And a huge reason it went so smoothly was a direct result of my equipment which I modeled on your lists. I can’t thank you enough for all of your help. Thank you! :)

    I’m not thru hiking, so I’m carrying a lot more luxury items and some fishing gear, but if you’re curious, here’s the Google Sheets version of your Gear Planner 2.0 that I created and have been using:

    Here’s an album of my gear prep photos:

    One major mistake I made was bringing too many Packit Gourmet meals (all of which were excellent!) and not enough snacks and grazing food to eat while hiking — I won’t do that again.

    And here’s an album of photos from our trip:

    Thanks again for all your help, Erik — I sincerely appreciate it. :)

  8. Scott Reply

    Are the replacement insoles for your Moab Ventilators just for comfort or are they necessary to prevent blisters and / or address orthopedic issues?

    I have the Moab’s as well, and I’ve had mixed results with them in the field, but I haven’t tried different insoles yet.

    • @Scott: The most important thing I get from premium insoles is extra shock absorption. I used to get pain in the bottom of my feet from the thin stock insoles and hard mid-sole of the Moabs. That went away when I started using better insoles.

  9. Ned Reply

    I appreciate all the information. I have found it extremely helpful! I thought you had a graphic of how you pack your ohm 2.0 pack. Have you removed it? How do you carry your BA tent in the ohm? Thank you!

  10. Jack Reply


    I compiled a short list of the big 3 items. As you might guess, I believe in, “hope for the best, but prepare for the worst”.

    My Ultralight Gear for a Week’s Outing

    1. Neotrekk external frame backpack – 31 to 39 oz. I have 85 litres of waterproof, comfortable, backpack. It comes with 3 bags (I was given a 4th for free, so I could conceivably have 110 litres), each bag weighs 4 ounces. If I am going just for two days, I just take 2 bags. Presto, now I have a 50 litre pack that weighs less than 2 pounds. $400

    2. Tarptent Rainshadow 2 – 42 oz. The number refers to the model, not the number of people it can accommodate. 42 sq. ft. of room, which means a spacious shelter for 2 and a palace for 1. $289.

    3. Enlightened Equipment Revelation Down Quilt -25 oz. Filled with 850 down. I would rather just open the quilt when I’m in 40-degree weather than be cold in 10-degree weather with a 40-degree bag, or worse, have to purchase 2 bags. $295 (long and wide options. I am 6’ 2” tall and I weigh 230 pounds).

    4. Sea-To-Summit Comfort Plus Pad – 21 oz. Not ultralight, but at my advanced age, I will pack a little extra weight to gain a lot more comfort (I also have a Therma-Rest Z Lite Sol, if I wanted to reduce the weight by about 8 oz.) 14 0z.). I bought the pad on sale, these cost ALOT more now. $99

    Total weight = 123 oz. (7.7 pounds) Cost = $1,083

  11. Martha Reply

    Hi Erik,

    I’m so glad I discovered your blog. It is so thorough and helpful. I’m training for a 10 day hike and your site is has so many answers to the questions I had swirling around in my head. I’m both excited and a little nervous especially about water purification. Thanks for sharing this helpful info.

  12. Daniel Reply

    Thanks for the great info and website. In the areas on the PCT that don’t require a bear canister, do you still hang your food? Have you ever had any problems with little critters getting in your pack at night?

    • @Daniel: Truth be told, I’m kind of lazy when it comes to food storage. More often than not, I end up using my food bag as a pillow. So far I haven’t been awoken by a bear gnawing on my head because it smells like peanut butter, but it may happen someday, and then people will say “I told ya so” :P Since I usually keep my food bag close, I have not had many problems with little critters. Even when I slept under an open tarp and cowboy camped they didn’t bother me. Maybe my snoring kept them away? I will hang food on occasion if there are rumors or signs of bear activity in a certain place and I don’t have a canister, but if there is no specific threat then I usually do not bother.

    • James Reply

      Have you considered using a iPhone app in lieu of your gps?

      • @James: I prefer a standalone GPS because the battery life is better than a smartphone. It uses regular AA batteries which are easy to replace and it’s waterproof and less prone to damage from the elements.

  13. Scott Reply

    Erik, any updates to your setup for 2017? I’m still using the ULA CDT, but I’ve added the north face shadow 30+10 backpack as well. It has some nice features and strips down to about 1 lbs. 7 ounces. Doesn’t have the stretchy pocket which I miss, but otherwise is good.

    • James Reply

      Thank you sir, Have you considered a poncho in lieu of a rain jacket and pack cover?

      • @James: I have used ponchos before, but I prefer a rain jacket since it prevents wind-blown rain from blowing underneath and in the arm holes.

        • James Reply

          Do you use any rain protection on the bottom half, or just let it go?

          • @James: I do have some rain pants, but I usually only pack them if I’m expecting a lot of rain. If I was hiking in the Pacific Northwest I’d bring them, but in Califonia I leave them home and just put up with wet legs when it rains occasionally.

  14. Stacey Reply

    my nephew is planning to hike the CO Trail in July. He is not planning to take a stove, I think a poor choice. What are your thoughts?

    • @Stacey: When I first hiked the Colorado Trail in 2010 I didn’t take a stove because I was trying to go very ultralight. I really missed hot food on that trip and have carried a stove ever since. Some people are perfectly happy to eat only cold food, so it’s up to personal preference. But hot coffee in the morning and a hot meal at the end of the day is a big morale booster for me.

    • Woodrow Reply

      I think you always need to bring a stove no matter what

  15. Samuel Kucia Reply

    I was wondering how you hook your sawyer mini up to the platypus drink tube kit? Did you purchase an adapter or cut the tubing and attach the sawyer mini? Thanks for the help.

  16. Heather Reply

    Awesome list. For all the women out there, I also highly recommend this:

  17. Heather Reply

    Eric, this is awesome, thanks. I just ordered your Colorado Trail atlas and am looking forward to reading it – planning a thru-hike of the CT this summer.

    What do you recommend for food storage/bear protection/critter protection on the CT? I’ve been researching the various Ursacks, scent-proof bags, critter-proof chain-mail-type bags, etc. Boggles the mind.

    Another question: I have the same pad as you. I usually roll it up for packing (ends up about the same size as a Nalgene). Does it work ok to fold it – doesn’t invite tears etc?

    • @Heather: I personally don’t use bear canisters except in places where it is required, so I don’t bring one on the Colorado Trail. But I think the Ursack is a good compromise between weight and protection if you want that extra peace of mind.

  18. Zack Reply

    Hi Erik – I asked a foot pain question on ultra long days a while back that you were helpful with. Thanks again.

    I was curious how you would train for longer (30+) mile days. It feels weird to be strapping on a backpack and walking around my neighborhood on Saturday for 14 hours. Is there something else I can do to get some of the same effect?

    • @Zack: The best thing to do is go on longer hikes on actual trails, if there are any near your house. When I need to get in shape I usually just walk on a treadmill or around the neighborhood during the week, and then head out to the hills for day-hikes or overnighters on the weekends.

  19. Lange Reply

    Hello Erik – a quick Ohm + bear canister question: I recall you used to strap your BV500 to the top of your CDT, outside the pack. Do you still do that with your Ohm? I bought an Ohm this year, and will be walking the JMT so bear canister is also in my future. Just wondering if you are able to pack yours inside the Ohm (and if so how do you pack for max comfort?). I live in Australia, and will be ordering my canister to family’s house in California, so won’t actually get to trial pack with the canister until right before my trip unfortunately.

    • @Lange: A bear canister will fit vertically inside the OHM (but not horizontally.) If you put it inside it does not leave a whole lot of room for other stuff. I like to strap it horizontally using the long top strap. It helps to have something soft at the top of your pack (like sleeping bag or clothing bag) for the canister to ride on top of.
      OHM and Bearvault 500

      • Lange Reply

        Thanks Erik – has been a couple long debates about this on some JMT sites (walking it this summer). There are strong opinions that this results in too much weight sitting too high on your pack, which can affect balance (think 7+ days of food rammed into the canister between MTR and Mt Whitney). How do you find load carrying and balance with canister on top? Have to considered (or tried) keeping food in stuff sack in the pack during the day, with something light in the canister (like packed clothes) for better weight distribution while hiking, then swap at night?

        • @Lange: I prefer the weight up top myself, but I have a pretty long torso, so even with the canister on top it still comes to below the top of my head. You could store your sleeping bag or something lighter in the canister during the day and swap it out at night. The only thing is fitting enough food into those canisters is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle sometimes. Transferring food back and forth might be more work than it’s worth, at least for the first couple of days when it’s full. I can’t get seven days of food into a BV500, so I just stuff as much as I can in there and carry a couple extra days worth in my food bag (and eat that stuff first.)

          • Lange

            Hello Erik – just a quick follow up now post-JMT. I ended up packing my sleeping bag in my bearvault and strapping it on top of the Ohm as above, with my food in my pack, which was the most comfortable load carry (esp. when crossing high-flow creeks on narrow logs this year!). Then swapped the food back into the BV at camp. Worked great!

  20. Mark Reply


    Can you share exactly how you strap the BV-500 bear canister to the top of your pack? I have the ULA Ohm 2, and I was able to get my gear squished down enough inside that I can strap the BV-500 to the top of the pack using the single black strap on the top of the pack. But, in this configuration, the bottom of the BV-500 (on its side) sits slightly below the top of internal back frame of the Ohm 2, and the BV-500 pushes my head forward in a way I don’t like. I think I can rearrange my gear in the Ohm 2 so that I take up more of the full height of the pack, then the BV-500 would sit up higher on top of the pack and not run into the back of my head, but I’m not sure how to secure it to the top of the pack in this configuration.

    Thanks, Erik.

    • @Mark: If there is not enough gear inside my pack to fill it up completely I take the sleeping bag out of it’s stuff sack and let it puff up so that it fills out some of the un-used space. If you put it on top of the other gear this can also create a soft “bed” at the top of the pack for the bear canister to ride on. If you’re going to do this you may need a trash bag or rain cover too, since the sleeping bag will be out of it’s stuff sack.

  21. mike Reply

    This is some good info one thing you might like to know because I was light at day frez at night to cut weight but I noticed your quilt is 1lb.8oz
    and that’s a 30 degree rating. REI just got in 2017 the Magma 10 Sleeping Bag it’s 10 degrees 850 down fill and is 1lb.14oz not a bad trad off for the warmth it has. I just got this bag and it’s insane.

  22. David Reply

    Thank you for posting your suggestions. I’m using your list to gear up to hike the NPT (Northville Placid Trail) in upstate NY. Again, Thank you for your help.

  23. Doug Reply

    Hi Erik, I come back every year to see what you have done different to get ideas. Thanks for the updates!

    Wondering if you have a recommendation for shoe inserts, as the Montrail Enduro-sole inserts are not longer available in my size (9M US). I have a pair that are starting to wear out and need replacing.


    • @Doug: Two other good options for insoles are Superfeet and Spencos. Superfeet are really supportive but a little stiff and the Spencos are the opposite, nice and soft but with a little less support.

      • James Reply

        Do you still like your insoles? They seem to have mixed reviews and at $40 I thought I’d ask.

        • @James: Of the three insoles that I have tried (Spencos, Superfeet and Montrails) the Enduro Soles are still my favorite. For me they are perfect middle ground between the squishy Spencos and the hard Superfeet. I like that they conform to the shape of my foot over time. I don’t heat them up like they recommend, I just walk on them normally and they eventually take on the right shape. One shortcoming of the Montrails is the layer of cloth on the top tends to rip and develop holes long before the insoles themselves wear out, but it’s not really noticeable unless you are wearing a really thin sock.

  24. Shoshana Reply

    Hi Eric, I enjoy your site.
    Have you ever used Aqua Mira for water purifying? Used it on JMT and love it, now that is all I use!

    • @Shoshana: I have used Aqua Mira before. As far as chemical purifiers I think it is one of the best. The other one I have used is the MSR Sweetwater Drops.

  25. Shel Reply

    Thank gawd I found your site/this packlist this morning; it’s the middle of a snowy, cold winter here in Alberta and it’s also about the time of year that I start to go stir-crazy due to lack of time on the trail!

    This is also the time of year when I start picking apart my gear list, trying to shave off a few ozs here and there while improving comfort levels. A few items that I’ve started using the last few yrs that you may want to try out on your backcountry travels…

    (1)a lightweight hammock for afternoon naps: while I sleep using a tent/bag, there’s something about stopping after lunch and having a siesta in a hammock. Bot an 11′ poly-d one from Dutchware & with the whoopie slings it weighs in at 13.5oz and packs small. For me the extra weight is totally worth it for the brilliant afternoon zzz’s.

    (2)a Thermarest z-seat sitpad (2.1oz): started carrying last season and use it all the time now–for sitting on logs on the trail/around camp; as extra cushion when sleeping; to stand on when changing out clothes, etc. Very little weight for great comfort, plus it’s closed-cell so it’s not going to `pop’ on you. Really durable & cheap.

    (3)a sea to summit Aeros ultralight pillow: inflatable, packs tiny (2.8oz): in the past it was a ball of clothing in place of a proper pillow, but this has really improved my sleep. Fits right inside the hood of my bag and has a velvety finish so the face doesn’t get clammy.

    (4)camp shoes, Vivobarefoot (8.3oz for the pair): used to not bring any additional footwear (I hike in lighter Salomon boots), but these are lightweight, polymer-based so great for river crossings as well as for letting the feet breathe when sitting around the fire. They dry in minutes.

    Thanks again–site’s great!

  26. Methodman Reply

    On your gear list, is there a way to change pounds and ounces to grams?

  27. Ari Reply

    Great stuff Erik, I wonder what are you going to hike this year?

    Any more books coming out?

  28. Byron Reply

    I see a **lot** of backpacking lists. I think this is the best laid out list I’ve ever seen.
    Excellent work!

  29. jh Reply

    Don’t think you can get the Granite Gear Air Zipsack 16L anymore…..

  30. Marcus Reply

    Hi Erik,

    Thanks for a great website. So much useful info to help backpackers spend their hard earned money in the right places.

    I have a question about shoes. I have a pair or Moab Ventilators low and a pair of Oboz Sawtooth low. Both shoes offer nice breathability and are comfortable to me. The Oboz seems to fit my foot shape better, but the outsole wears quicker and the Merrells hold up well but definitely need a different insole. I’d like to get a mid height shoe for better ankle support because on my last trip I rolled my ankles several times resulting in two falls. My question is do you have any experience with the Oboz Scapegoat mid? It offers breathability and a mid height, but I can’t find it locally to try it on. I’m just wondering how it would compare to the Moab mid. Thanks.

    • @Marcus: I don’t have any experience with the Oboz. I’ve been wearing the Merrells for almost ten years now and love them. The insoles definitely do require upgrading though.

  31. Mark Reply

    Erik, I’ve got a few more questions.

    Do you take the water bladder sack and the little zippered pouch/bag out of the Ohm 2.0 backpack? Or have you found some use for them?

    When you use the BV-500 bear vault, can I assume that you’re packing diagram would have the food sack disappear and the bear vault would be strapped on top of the pack? Do you use that one black strap that’s already on the top of the Ohm 2.0? Or do you have some other method of strapping the BV-500 to the top of the pack?

    Do you really mean “Brillo” pad? Or just a typical scouring pad? The reason I ask is that a Brillo pad is a steel wool scouring pad that is impregnated with soap — I wouldn’t think you’re using one of those to clean your pot with a non-stick surface?

    Also, what do you use the five, 1 quart zip lock bags for?

    Thanks, Erik.

  32. Marcel Reply

    Eric, what are your thoughts on the Nemo Tango Solo Quilt after using it for a season? I love the idea of more roominess and the more efficient design (not sleeping on top of down). But reviews on seem to indicate it’s not very warm.

    • @Marcel: I love it! It is the most comfortable sleeping bag I’ve ever used. If I had one complaint I wish it were a little wider, because sometimes when I’m rolling around or sleeping on my side a little gap will open up between the quilt and pad where cold air can sneak in. I haven’t used it on any really cold nights below 30 degrees yet, but I’ve used it on quite a few nights that were around freezing. With my long underwear, puffy jacket and beanie sleeping in the tent I’m plenty warm. I think choosing the right sleeping pad is an important part of the equation with a sleep system like this. One of the reasons I chose the Thermarest Trekker is because of it’s thickness and insulation properties. I haven’t tried it with any other pads.

    • Ford Reply

      Hi Eric – I love your site and have used many of your food and gear suggestions, including the Ohm 2.0 pack — what a great pack! I just did a 5 day trip in the sierras (8000 to 10,000 ft) with temps down to low 40s/mid 30s and used the tango solo quilt — I was cold every night in my tent with all my clothes on, so for $350+ am returning it — I am a very hot sleeper in general so I guess for me the tango just does not cut it for warmth. I love the design and the square shape. Fits perfectly with an Exped. Perhaps the double model would work a bit better not letting the cold air in when you turn at night. Also.. used a BV-500 vault strapped to the top of the pack with the single strap no problem. What I would do in future is load all the food in a bear bag or other sack for hiking, and clothes in the can to lessen the slightly top heavyness that comes with strapping it on top. Then swap the contents for storage at night.

      • ford Reply

        oops.. I mean $250+ for the quilt :-)

      • @Ford: Bummer the Tango didn’t work out for you. I also wish it was a bit wider to keep those air gaps closed when turning or side sleeping (and a bit more loft couldn’t hurt either.) I’m OK down in the 30s (with clothes on), but it does start to get a bit nippy around freezing. You might want to check out the Backcountry Beds from Sierra Designs. They have sort of a similar design but are a bit more “buttoned up” so it might keep the warm air in better (they also have a version that is rated for 15 degrees.) Big Agnes also makes some quilt/comforter style sleeping bags that anchor to the pad you might want to check out.

  33. Jack Reply

    Eric, what are your thought on tent material thickness that I posted earlier?? On the example of the MSR tents and others, Just what material thickness is just getting too thin in the effort to reduce tent weight ???

    • @Jack: I have not yet had a tent where the material is too thin. I imagine that for 20 nights a year, any of the fabric options from reputable tent makers would be suitable. I’ve used 1.1 oz silnylon tents a lot and they are more than adequate (darn near bomb-proof.) My Copper Spur feels like it uses slightly thinner material than that and it’s been fine so far. I don’t have any experience with tents made from Cuben Fiber or Spinnaker fabric, but I know people regularly thru-hike long trails with them. I don’t feel that the high cost (and presumed shorter lifespan) of Cuben or Spinnaker justifies the weight reduction, but for some people it is worth it.

  34. Mark Reply

    Erik, I’ve got a few more questions.

    I see that you don’t have any bear spray in your list. I’ve read elsewhere that no backpacker should be without it. I’d be inclined to carry it for sure if I was backpacking in an area that had brown or grizzly bears, but we (i think) have just black bears in the CA Sierras and I have often heard/read that they don’t present the sort of life-threatening risk that grizzly bears present. Thoughts?

    While we’re on bears, I’ve read a lot of very cautious guidance about doing all your cooking (and fish cleaning) a couple hundred yards away from your tent, and putting your bear vault or hanging your food bag a couple hundred yards away from both your tent and your cooking site. What are your thoughts on this issue? I mean, how bear paranoid should I be in the Sierra back country? For example, after cleaning your cooking pot, do you store your dish scrubber away from your tent somewhere? I’ve read guidance of that sort, but I’ve also encountered a big black mama bear and two little cubs while hiking (I thought I was in for it), but the cubs scampered up a tree and disappeared, and the mama bear just kept tearing away at a log and seemed completely unconcerned with my presence even though I was about 25 yards away and I’m sure she saw me. Not sure what to make of this conflicting experience/guidance.

    What do you use the 1.8mm guyline for? Is it just for tent guyline repairs/replacement? Hanging your food bag?

    This is probably a stupid/weird question, but I’ve got an engineering background and with all of your experience, I’m suspicious that you may have a good reason that isn’t obvious to me for just about every detail in your equipment list. Anyway, just curious, is there any reason beyond personal preference that you like the Under Armour boxers with the 9″ inseam rather than the original 6″ inseam? And I completely understand if you’re laughing right now. ;)

    One last general question on clothing. As I work on looking for deals and guying my gear, I’m finding great clothing deals on rain pants, base layers, etc, but for items that are of a different brand than what you have specified. I have a great deal of respect for your experience and I have no doubt you avoid some brands that have not lived up to your expectations. For instance, I found a great deal on Marmot Precip rain pants. Is there any reason you prefer the Sierra Designs Hurricane rain pants over the Precip ones? And how ’bout the Icebreaker wool baselayer items? — are there other wool baselayer brands that you believe would perform equally well?

    Thanks, Erik. Your patient guidance has been tremendously valuable to me. :)

    • @Mark: About the bears. I have a can of bear spray, but it just sits on my shelf. I have never hiked anywhere with Grizzly/Brown Bears yet, but if I did I think I would pack it. I’m pretty comfortable around black bears. In the dozen or so encounters I’ve had they have always just ran away, so I don’t worry about them. Of course they can be dangerous in certain situations, but I am of the opinion that it’s not possible (or worthwhile) to try and minimize the risk of every possible danger while hiking. It takes the fun and adventure out of it for me. I do a lot of things that are text-book irresponsible (such as using my food bag as a pillow and drinking untreated water) that I can’t in good conscious recommend to others, but that is just what I do. In places where the black bears have a reputation for being very bold (like in the Sierras) I do take precautions, like carrying a bear canister and cooking away from camp (I like to cook dinner at the last break of the day and then hike a mile or two past that to set up camp.) But in most other places where bears just exist, that are not “park bears” who have become used to picking on humans, I don’t pay much attention to them.

      I use the guyline for the things you mentioned and just to have a spare piece of string in case a need arises for it.

      I like the boxers with the 9″ leg because they prevent chafing between my thighs (which rub together when I walk.) The shorter ones tend to ride up on me.

      When it comes to clothing I’m not really brand-loyal. It’s more about the specs and the quality and the comfort. If you can find something with similar features and weight that costs less, I would say go for it (especially with something that only gets occasional use like rain paints.) On things that get a lot of daily use and wear and tear (like packs and tents and stuff) I like to stick to the high-end brands because they are better designed and more durable.

      The merino wool stuff is expensive. A couple of years ago I tried out a cheaper brand of merino wool apparel that I found on Amazon (called Minus 33), but I was not happy with it. The sizing was not consistent, the sleeves were inordinantly short on all the shirts no matter what size I ordered, they shrunk a lot in the wash and did not have the same soft, non-scratchy next-to skin feel as the more expensive brands (like Icebreaker or Smartwool.) I think merino wool is one of those things that is just naturally expensive because it comes from sheep and it costs more money to make. If I were on a budget, I think I would rather go with a high quality synthetic material for base layer (which are about 1/3 as expensive) instead of the cheaper, lower-quality wool products.

      • Mark Reply

        Thanks, Erik — great info. :)

  35. Nancy Reply

    An question on your list. BTW love the info and how it’s displayed. Very easy to compare against (and edit) my own list. A couple of questions. In the picture under Cooking and Gear in the upper right there appear to be three sacks. The big blue one looks like a stuff sack but cannot see what the other two are.

    Second question is on the 2 2L platypus bags. My backpack has space for a bladder vertically in the back. It looks like you pack both yours horizontally? Just curious. Thanks again for the superior info!

    • @Nancy: The blue sack is my food bag. The little orange sack is a mesh sack that I use to hold the mug and some little items that go inside it. The black sack is the bag that came with the cookpot. The way I pack it is: I put the cookstove, pack towel, dish scrubber and coffee filter in the mug, that goes into the orange mesh sack, which goes inside the cookpot, that goes inside the pot cozy and then everything goes in the black cookpot sack along with the spoon. This way everything fits into a nice compact package and the little items inside don’t rattle around while I’m walking. The only thing that doesn’t fit is the fuel canister, which I usually throw in the blue sack with the food. I prefer to pack my water bladder horizontally because it doesn’t round-out the back pad as much as when I use the hydration sleeve.

      • Nancy Reply

        Thank you, thank you! I started the PCT this year but tore a tendon and had to leave the trail. Learned a lot from my all-to-brief time on the trail and will continue again next year. Thanks again!

  36. Jack Reply

    I am looking at the different weights and thickness of the materials across several tents. Using the MSR line to make some comparisons, the MSR Hubba NX1 or solo at 2 lbs 7 oz with 20-40D fly and floor, the MSR Freelight 1 at 1 lb 15oz with 10-15D fly and floor, and the MSR Carbon Reflex 1 at 1 lb 7oz with 7-10D fly and floor. All three have similar floor area at around 18 sq ft with similar designs, so the difference in weight is coming from the material thickness of the fly and floor. For good solid rain protections and wear using a tent say 20 individual nights a year, just how thick do you really need the material to be. I really don’t know the difference in feel and wear ability in the different thickness material. This analysis then would apply to several other tents of similar designs which look very similar, but have different weights. Some ultralight materials may just not supply enough weather protection in a bad all nights rain storm. Thanks Eric – Jack

  37. Jack Reply

    Also, One of my tents, a really good one I got in 2012, takes 10 to 12 stakes to really set it up right. That’s just too much hassle setting up and cleaning stakes when you take them out of sandy or muddy conditions. So, I’m now looking for no more than 8. –Jack

  38. Jack Reply

    Hey Eric, That’s some good info. I have 4 tents now and have made up my mind to sell three to friends and realign some things. I agree no more bending over to crawl in out 3 or 4 times for this or that, putting on a heavier shirt as evening comes on, or early morning potie stop. So, good access side entry is now a must. I’ve had both double and single wall and I may get one of each. I had a horrible recent problem during the last storm in the Boundary Waters. Seams leaked but even worse, part from that was condensation in an A frame center peak model. So, your tip matched my experience but I never really figured it out that way. Every breath at 42 degrees and 95% humidity was water on the walls as you could see every breath. I even put a solar blanket on top of my bag and it created condensation on the inside of the cellophane and the bag.

    A reason for the multiple tents may surprise some folks, but its well worth it. You plan a trip well ahead of time. Many time travel expense is involved. If you plan a group event in the late fall which I love, you have no way of knowing what the weather is going to be. Early snow high up, rain, who knows. So, I’ve decide to get an ultra light 1 1/2 man because I like the room at around 1.2 lbs and a heavier 1.8 to 2.5 lbs for full comfort regardless of the weather. Also, definitely agree trekking pole tents make a lot of sense, but I’m going to get a different model than the one I have. If you’re doing a canoe trip who cares about an extra lbs. But if you’re high up at age 72 extra weight brings me to a crawl, so if I can save 1.5 lbs its worth it.

    Those are great tips Eric and I’ll check them out and see what I come up with. Thanks and I’ll be getting back to you. Blessings – Jack

  39. Jack Ambrosiani Reply

    Eric-Thank you for the research you’ve done. Great all round job. I use many of the same you carry. I’m now 72 yrs old and need to lighten up. Already have a couple tents and I need to go lighter. Last tent got too much condensation (Cubin). What are your top 3 picks for solo tent under 2 lbs for 5 day trips in the fall with possible rain and high winds. I’ve looked at Zacks, 6 Moon, SeatoSummit Specialist Duo(Looks interesting), Gossamer-the ONE,Fly Creek HV UV1-2, Solar Photon 2, big Sky Duo 2, … What are your thoughts ?? I want the best all round tent lightweight plus or minus 6 oz when compared to others, but not over 2 Lbs, durable for 5 trips a year, strong weather protection for a couple late fall or winter trips, need very good rain protection. Last trip got hypo, tent had 4 swimming pools in it, 45 deg with 20 to 40 wind gusts for 24 hrs.I stabbed the floor in several areas to drain my internal swimming pool. Trekking keeps this old man young. Blessing – Jack

    • @Jack: There are a lot of options for lightweight tents now and I’ve only tried a fraction of them personally. But, after trying many of the different tent designs over the years I do have some ideas about what I like and don’t like.

      One thing that I have found is that tents which have a peak in the middle (designed for sitting up in) but that do not have much room at the head or foot have condensation problems. Also, tents that have a door in the front are a pain in the ass to get into and out of (especially if the gear vestibule is there too.)

      I prefer a tent that has a peak on one end (above your head while laying down) combined with a side entry door. This narrows the field down considerably when you are looking at sub-2lb tents. The two most interesting models in this category to me right now (although I have not had a chance to try either of them yet) are the Sierra Designs Flashlight 1 and Sierra Designs Tensegrity 1.

      Sierra Designs has been doing a lot of innovative things with their gear recently that I really like. Some of the features that intrigue me about these two tents are:

      - A square-shaped cross-section which provides more headroom than an A-frame or dome-style tent.
      - Ability to use trekking poles or accessory poles for setup
      - Mesh windows that can be left open even when it is raining combined with zip-up window flaps that can be partially or fully closed on one side to protect from blowing rain (while leaving the opposite side open for ventilation.)
      - Large side-entry doors
      - Gear vestibules that do not interfere with getting in and out of the tent
      - Different fabric options for different levels of lightness (The FL and Epic versions are the lightest.)

  40. Mark Reply

    Erik, another question. I read through your older water treatment article and zoomed in on your “COOKING & DRINKING GEAR” picture and it looks like you are using quick disconnect adapters on your drinking tube? Are they the Sawyer SP115 Fast Fill Adapters? Thanks, Erik.

    • @Mark: The quick-connect adapters I use are made by Katadyn but they look the same as the Sawyer ones.

      • Mark Reply

        Erik, I’ve got a bunch of water drinking/filter questions:

        What exactly are you using the quick disconnect adapters for? Is it just so you can easily disconnect and back-flush the filter when you’re in town? And I’m assuming you disconnect the mouthpiece hose and squeeze the bladder to get filtered water for cooking and other things?

        Do you just cut the drinking hose length right in the middle for the inline filter?

        Are you just filling the bladders in an unfiltered water source and then letting the inline filter do its work while you’re drinking?

        Do you ever put powdered water flavorings in the bladder, or do you only use those in your cup?

        I saw that the ULA Ohm2 has an internal sleeve for a bladder, but your packing diagram seems to show that you don’t put your drinking bladder in it. Can you explain why?

        The Ohm2 also has those yellow bungees on both the shoulder straps for water bottles. Do you use those for anything else since you’re not carrying a bottle?

        Thanks, Erik.

        • @Mark: I use disconnects so the filter can be easily removed and back-flushed, eliminated (the disconnects are arranged so that if you remove the filter there is a male and female connector left on each end of the line so it can be connected back together sans filter) or replaced. After a while the filters get clogged up and no amount of back flushing can fix them. That way it’s easy to pop it off and put a new one in. I fill the bladder with untreated water and suck it through the line and filter as I go. You can put the filter anywhere along the line. I like to put it so that it is just inside the top of the pack before the exit port. I never put drink mixes in water bladders, but sometimes carry a plastic 1 liter Aquafina bottle for mixing drinks in. I don’t use the bladder sleeve in the ULA pack because when it has a full bladder inside it distorts the back-pad (making it rounded and bulgy.) It feels uncomfortable and takes away from the volume inside the pack making it harder to fit stuff in there. I prefer just to lay the bladder horizontally inside the pack. I have used the water bottle bungees on the shoulder pads in the past to hold an umbrella, but aside from that I haven’t found a good use for them. I usually remove them.

          • Mark

            Erik, great info, as usual — thank you. :)

  41. Mark Reply

    Erik, I’ve got a few more questions for you.

    Do you always put the rain fly on your tent? It feels like kind of a stupid question, but I just wondered if you risked it often, sometimes, or not at all. I love the idea of settling in to sleep all warm in the tent and being able to look up through the screening at the stars. But I hate the idea of having to wake up in the middle of the night and rush out of the tent to put the rain fly on in the dark/rain. So I can understand always putting it on to avoid that risk, and unexpected showers do sometimes develop quickly in the Sierras. Also, I’m not sure if you give up any warmth in the tent without the rain fly? I wouldn’t think so as I understand warmth comes almost entirely from clothing and your sleeping system, but just wanted to ask.

    Additionally, I was curious about how you pack your tent if it’s raining or still wet after a rain. We camp a lot, and packing a wet tent is a big no-no, and if you had to, you unpacked it again as soon as possible to dry it out before repacking it.

    Lastly, I notice you don’t have any kind of trowel in your equipment list. What do you use to dig a hole when it comes time to answer the call of nature?

    Thanks, Erik. :)

    • @Mark: I like to leave the fly off on nice summer evenings, especially if it’s warm out and there is a nice breeze. I don’t mind getting up in the middle of the night to throw the fly on if it starts raining, since I’m not a very sound sleeper and I’m usually already halfway awake anyway. Having the fly on does feel warmer to me because it blocks the wind and (I think) helps to trap some body-heat that escapes through clothing and quilt. It could be partially psychological too – it feels more cozy and protected and home-like inside the tent with the fly on.

      I usually pack my tent in the exterior front mesh pocket of my pack, inside the stuff sack. If it starts raining I flip the stuff sack upside down (so water can’t come into the opening and collect inside.) After a wet night I shake out the wet tent and pack it loose (not in the stuff sack) in the mesh pocket so it can start to air out while I walk, then drape it over a bush later on a break to allow it to dry completely.

      I use the tip of a trekking pole to dig cat holes.

      • Mark Reply

        Erik, great info! Your wet tent packing/drying strategy makes a lot of sense. Thank you.

  42. Mark Reply

    Erik, Thank you, so much, for this wonderful blog and your willingness to answer our questions. It’s been 20 years since I last backpacked and, even then, I didn’t really know what I was doing. I’m 47 now and want start backpacking regularly, and I’m slowly acquiring my gear based on your equipment list. A question about 3 season clothing warmth in my particular case. I’m 6’2″ and I weigh 140 lbs. I’m a little concerned about bringing just an insulated vest and not a full insulated jacket. Do you have any insight into whether a guy as slim as I am will be warm enough (in the coldest typical 3-season weather) with just the Thermasilk top, the Patagonia vest, and the Marmot rain jacket? I’ll be doing the bulk of my hiking in the CA Sierra Nevadas. Thank you for your help. :)

    • @Mark: The combination of silk base layer, vest and rain jacket is what I pack in the summer months, but when it gets a bit colder in the spring and fall I like to swap out the base layer for merino wool and the vest for a jacket with sleeves. I think a good “one size fits all” solution for three-season hiking would be a lightweight merino wool baselayer, puffy jacket and rain jacket (plus always carry gloves and an insulated hat to keep warmth from escaping through your extremities.) The piece of clothing that will make the biggest difference for warmth will be your puffy jacket. You can add quite a bit of extra warmth here without a whole lot of extra weight. The jacket I use is the Montbell UL Thermawrap (9 oz) which is on the lighter end of the spectrum, but you can get something a bit heavier like the Patagonia Nano Puff (12 oz) or another one that is even warmer if you like. There are a ton of these types of jackets available in different weights these days. Since you are thinner than I am, you might be more comfortable with a slightly heavier jacket. As far as insulation material goes, I prefer synthetic in a jacket instead of down, because if the jacket gets wet it will retain warmth better.

      • Mark Reply

        Thank you, Erik — much appreciated!

  43. kevin coyle Reply


    First thing, thank you very much for this site. As a newbie to backpacking your list and guidance have really helped me a lot. I am attempting to lighten the clothing packed portion of my gear. Currently of colder hikes in November, I pack a set of polypro light base layer and a heavier Polartec set of thermals. I only wear those layers in camp and not when hiking, I would get too hot even in upper 30s temps. One your list you mention that you pack the silk set of base layer and then if it is colder you also pack the wool base layers. Do you wear both of those in camp or partials when hiking? I am thinking about packuing a set of the lighter merino wool base layer instead of my Polartec stuff for camp along with my polypro base layer.
    I purchased a Enlightened Equipment quilt this past winter, so that might cut down on the need for the heavier Polartec items.
    Thank you again,


    • @Kevin: I don’t usually carry two sets of baselayers at one time, but I do choose which baselayer weight to pack based on expected temperatures. So in the summer it’s usually going to be silk, late spring and early fall will be the lightweight wool and early spring, late fall and sometimes winter will be mid-weight wool.

  44. Celliott Reply

    Thanks for all the info! I am a former backpacker now looking to get back into the game after a near 20 year hiatus. Have you had quite a bit of experience with the jetboil line of stoves? I see you dont use one and I did see you mentioned the narrow container as a drawback. Any other major drawbacks? I am primarily looking for ease of use and compact packing. 3-5 day overnights in MT would be typical trip for me.

    • @celliott: I have a Jetboil but I don’t use it much. It is very efficient and cooks and boils water fast. It’s a little heavier and has more pieces than I think is necessary. Just seems over-engineered to me. I’m not a big fan of the narrow container if you plan to put food inside the cup because it’s harder to get a spoon in there and to clean later. If you just want to use it to boil water and then dump it into a freeze dried meal or Ziploc meal it works fine.

  45. Steve Reply

    Hey Erik,

    Any regrets on the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 1 thus far? Would you recommend it for a JMT thru-hike and is it still better than the Fly Creek series in your opinion?

    I do like having space so the FC UL2 is still an option for me. But I love the design of the CS UL1. Based on my findings it still seems like there is ample room without it feeling like a coffin.

    • Steve Reply

      Also, related – ever feel the need to use a footprint? Either the one BA makes or a home-made version.

      • @Steve: I’ve never felt the need to use a footprint with tents that already have a floor. I do use the footprint occasionally on warm summer days in the “fast fly” configuration and leave the inner tent at home. I don’t think it’s necessary to double up on tent floors. The floor may eventually develop some little pinholes if pitched on top of lots of sharp rocks or sticks, but they can be patched with tape or even ignored and not a lot of water is going to seep inside unless you are right in a puddle.

    • @Steve: I love the Copper Spur so far. I like it much better than the Fly Creek because it has lots of head room (the top of the Fly Creek is pretty narrow) and because the door is on the side. I’ve had it in rain and no leaks whatsoever so far. Blocks wind well. Quick and easy to pitch. Has just enough room for me and my gear, but not so much extra room that I slide around inside. think it’s an excellent shelter for the JMT.

    • Celia Reply

      I have both the Copper Spur UL1 and the Fly Creek UL2, and have used each a couple of times. The CS is fully free-standing and sets up in a flash. Its one vent seems to vent it well enough, although I did get ice crystals inside at 12 degrees. I find it legitimately for one person, with very little extra space for gear…which is why I migrated to the Fly Creek UL2. You COULD use it without stakes…but not really. And fully set up, it takes 11. No vents needed because the body above the bathtub floor is all net. There is room for gear, and for one person, the door at the head does not bother me. I’m wondering if the Copper Spur UL2 might not be the perfect meld, although I am not fond of the brilliant orange of that model.

  46. jerry Reply

    thanks for all the great info and tips you have shared the info has been so helpful for the trip i am going to go on next month
    i am going to hike a 60 mile section of the OHT highlands trail here is their website
    and thanks again for the info

  47. Marissa Reply

    Hey there Erik,

    I have been using your site for the past year now on gear for hiking. You are amazing!!! Anyway, I am hiking the Lost Coast trail in three weeks and was hoping to get some advice from you.
    1. What kind of repellent would you suggest for deer ticks?
    2. Would you advice gaiters for us unfortunate souls who get bad poison oak and want to avoid sand in socks and ticks on body?
    3. Any other information about the Lost Coast hike and things to make sure to bring would be much appreciated.
    YOU ROCK and I look forward to hearing from you!!
    Thanks, again, for such an amazing site to refer to. ;)

    • @Marissa: Thanks for your kind words. I’m not sure what repellents are best for ticks. I do more hiking in mosquito-country than tick-country usually. DEET is nasty stuff, but I think it may be the most effective. I use a natural bug repellant (lemon eucalyptus oil) for mosquitoes, but I do not think that is effective against ticks. Whatever repellent you use, try to be careful where you sit (like not in tall grass) and check yourself every evening for ticks and remove them promptly if you find any. Gaiters would be a good idea for keeping the rocks out of your shoes and your legs away from the poison oak. I haven’t hiked the Lost Cost so I don’t know much about it. Hope you have fun though!

  48. Chrystal Reply

    This is obviously a novice question, and maybe others could answer, but how do you hook your Sawyer Mini up to your Platypus hose like that? Also how do you get water into your bladders easy enough without an extra hard container to fill them with? I have the worst time with trying to fill the bag in shallow streams.

    • @Chrystal: You just cut the drinking tube in half and stick the tubes onto the ends of the Sawyer filter. If you want to get fancy, you can buy quick-disconnect connections for hydration tubes which let you easily remove the Sawyer for back-flushing or replacement. To get water out of a really shallow stream you will need a hard container to transfer it to the water bladder. If I am not carrying a plastic water bottle I will use my mug or cook pot for that. There is a small chance of cross-contamination that way, so you would want to remember to wash out the transfer container or boil some water in it when you get to camp before drinking out of it. You could also carry around a container specifically for that purpose (like if you cut the bottom off of an Aquafina bottle.)

  49. shelley mann-lev Reply

    I am choosing between the OR Helium II rain jacket or the Marmot Precip or Nano. The Helium ii is so much lighter. Is it adequate for the JMT in September?

    • @shelley mann-lev: In my experience the OR Helium II (and other similar ultralight rain jackets) work good when they are new, but after a while they start to lose their waterproofness. It should work fine for one JMT hike, but I would not count on getting several years worth of regular use out of it.

  50. Andrew Reply

    planning on the Colorado Trail next July. I’ve been using a tarp and bug bivy out east with a light (30 degree) quilt. What sleeping set up do you like for the CT? I haven’t been able to track down any night temperatures from the actual trail.

    • @Andrew: When I’m camping in Colorado in the mid summer (like July and Aug) I usually carry a 30 degree bag. In late spring and early fall (June, September) I like to take my Marmot Helium 15 degree. It gets pretty chilly up there even in the summer, since it’s high altitude. But it’s usually above freezing.

  51. rick chavez Reply

    Have you tried a kevlar bear bag yet? I am tiered
    of carrying a bear barrel and getting older.

    • @Rick Chavez: I assume you are referring to the Ursack bear bags? I think they are a great idea and I had one, but I never really used it. Because in places where bear canisters are not required by law I typically don’t want to carry the extra weight, and in areas where they are, the Ursack isn’t approved. I guess it depends on what your main concern is. If you are worried about bears, the Ursack is a great piece of equipment. If you are worried about by Rangers, it’s just extra weight.

  52. Perry Perrister Reply


    Gearing up for 10 backpacking trip, my first, so thank you for having this site and sharing your knowledge.

    In your gear listing, you list Moab shoes, which have shank and insole/moisture control and then also purchased a seperate insole.

    Is it just simply more cushion or required? I recently purchased Keen Liberty Ridge for upcoming trip seems to be a complete shoe

    • @Perry Perrister: The insole that comes with the Merrell Moabs is very flimsy and flattens out quickly, so I always replace them with a premium insole for extra support and padding. The insoles are expensive, but they typically outlast the shoes.

  53. Thank you Erik! My girlfriend and I have recently started backpacking and are really enjoying it so far. This is a super comprehensive list of gear to pack for different variables. I’ve actually blogged about our first experiences with backpacking on my own site, and would love to get your (or your readers’) thoughts on things I can work on!

  54. Brent The Orange Reply

    @Eriktheblack: Is it a good idea to wear a black shirt with the heating and sun exposure? Is it just to justify your namesake? I would think that you’d want to have a light color and then if you’re cold, you just add a layer. But if you’re too hot in a t-shirt then you wouldn’t want to go shirtless. Thanks

    • @Brent The Orange: That’s how I got the name ;) I have heard the arguments about light vs. dark clothing for heat. Personally, I can’t tell the difference. But, black looks better and hides dirt and sweat stains better.

  55. Michael Clayville Reply

    Erik, I noticed you switched from the Merrell Moab low hikers to the mid hikers. Why is that? Also, do you have an opinion on the Moab Waterproof vs the Ventilator? Very similar shoe except for the waterproofing. Any thoughts?

    • @Michael Clayville: I switched to the mids because last year while hiking in Colorado I started getting some ankle pain that I never got before. I don’t know if it’s just because I’m getting older, but I figured the mid-height shoes might help with that. Since I’ve been using the mids it hasn’t returned. I’ve used both the waterproof and ventilator versions. They are the same shoes except for the waterproof liner. The waterproof liner makes your feet sweat more, so I would not use them unless you are hiking somewhere that is very cool and rainy. If you are hiking in warm weather with only occasional rain, go for the Ventilators.

  56. Nick Reply

    What retainer strap do you use with your sunglasses?
    Thanks Erik!

  57. John Reply

    Hi Eric: Got your books, love your stuff!! May I ask:

    I am looking to purchase a Garmin gps for the PCT only. I noticed you pack one with you. Do you use it for the compass and gps reading only or do you use maps? What best maps do you download for its use. What other functions do you use this model for that others don’t provide?

    • @John: I use my GPS primarily for logging tracks and waypoints to use for making my books. The GPS I use came preloaded with some basic 100k topo maps from Garmin. I always carry paper topographic maps of the area for more detail and to use in case the GPS fails. I can find my location on the map by comparing landmarks that appear on both the paper maps and the gps maps, or using the GPS to find my current coordinates and the UTM grid on the paper maps to see where that is.

  58. Todd Reply

    Erik, Great list this year. I think you’re doing the hiking world an excellent service with your advice. I especially like that this year you’ve listed your “skin out” weight. The ultralight hiking community seems to think if you wear it or carry it in your pants pockets it doesn’t count against your weight and won’t cause you to use more energy. This is contrary to physics…an ounce is an ounce and to carry that ounce over a mountain takes work. In my view, “skin out” weight is the best and most realistic assessment of weight.

  59. Doug Reply

    Hi Erik,
    First, thanks for the updated list. I always check your packing list out to see what you are doing.

    A year or so ago, based on your packing list recommendation, I bought a pair of the SmartWool UL running socks, and I immediately fell in love with them, to the point where I wear them every day to work and play. They regulate heat/cold better than any other sock I have worn. I am wondering what the rational was to going to the ‘lite’ socks instead of the ‘ultralight’ versions?


    • @Doug: I like the light version a little better when carrying a full pack just for the extra padding.

  60. Mig Whitt Reply

    Hi Eric, I have the same tent as you. Did you trade out your tent stakes for an ultra-lite version. I want to trade out so shall I go with a MSR Tent stake or Tripas Titanium or ? Thanks.

    • @Mig Whitt: I have some titanium needle stakes I could swap out, but I have not done that. I’m still using the stock Big Agnes stakes. I like how durable they are. I only pack four stakes though. When I’m using the tent in screen mode I put em in the four corners. When in storm mode with the fly I use two for the fly, and then two for the head and foot. Keeps it anchored nicely. No need for all the stakes that come with it.

  61. Scott Reply

    Have you ever tried hammock camping? I thought of it as a fad, but recently I have been reading that hammock sleeping can be more comfortable that sleeping in a tent on the ground. Though I love camping, I normally have trouble sleeping in a tent. Just wanted to get your thoughts.

    • @Scott: I have not tried hammock camping myself. There are not enough trees here in the west to do that. But I know some people back east love it.

  62. Chris Reply

    Hi Eric. Excellent tips. Great photos and a really well laid out gear list!

    Noticed, you are using Granite Gear Air Zipsacks for some of your gear as well as for your food bag. How waterproof or water resistant are the zip sacks ? Also, do you use a pack liner or cover for inclement weather.

    • @Chris: The Zippsacks are water resistant but not waterproof. I never have a problem with water getting inside. I do not use a pack liner or cover. I keep things like clothing and sleeping bag in waterproof dry sacks. Food in the zipsack is also usually individual packaged in ziploc baggies, so that’s an extra layer of protection.

  63. Jay Reply

    Hi Erik. Thanks for keeping this website up over the years. It’s been a great source of info for me for a while. I planned to hike the CT in 2015, but an unexpected move to Europe delayed this. Looks like it will be summer of ’17. I have a short window. One month. Do you think it is doable in 4 weeks without destroying myself. I am short, thin, and in generally good shape, though I haven’t hiked much this past year with the move and new job. Your thoughts?

    • @Jay: If you want to finish the Colorado Trail in four weeks you will need to average 120 miles a week. So if you hike six days a week at 20 miles a day, and take one rest day per week, you should finish just in time. There are some sections that are steep and high altitude, so 20 miles a day will not be easy (but it’s totally doable.) If that is all the time you have, I would spend a lot of time in the gym on the stair climber or doing local hikes if they are available between now and then to get in shape. Good luck!

  64. Mig Whitt Reply

    Eric, What are you putting in the pockets on each side, not the hip pockets but the regular ones. I put my Copper Spur tent poles in one side. Are you using your Copper Spur rain fly and the footprint?

    • @Mig Whitt: I use the side pockets for various stuff that I may need easy access to throughout the day (like snacks, maps, etc.) Or if I’m carrying a water bottle I will throw it in there. I use the rain fly but do not pack the separate footprint for the tent.

  65. Wazo Reply

    Great guide. I’ve sent it to several friends for referencing.

    One question. Why would you pick the Therm-A-Rest Neoair Trekker over the NeoAir XTherm? The XTherm has a much higher R value (3 vs. 5.7). The XTherm is $50 more but weighs 3 ounces less and has a slightly smaller packed size. I have used my XTherm in temps down to 15 degrees with sustained howling winds coupled with a Kelty Ignite 20 EN bag (no longer made but similar to a Kelty Cosmic Down ) and was happy as a clam. It is also the most comfortable pad I’ve ever owned. I am using it on my AT thru hike right now and loving it. The one downside is that it is noisy. Since I mostly avoid shelters, it really does not matter. I can sleep through anything except visits by shelter mice.

    • @Wazo: The reason I prefer the Trekker over the Xtherm is just because it is rectangular. I toss and turn a lot and alternate between sleeping on my back, side and stomach. I don’t like the narrow mummy shaped pads because I find that parts of my body like shoulders and knees hang off a lot. They are a good choice for people who sleep on their back though, and weigh less since they don’t have all that extra material in the corners.

  66. Mark Baker Reply

    Hi Erik

    I’m going to do the long range traverse in Gros Morne National Park, NL, Canada in late June.

    Looking on going with your water system exactly. I like using the tubes for drinking while hiking.

    Did you do a review of your water system anywhere that I can check out?

  67. Brando Reply

    Thanks for the gear breakdown! Just curious why you changed tents from the fly creek to the copper spur?

    • @Brando: I prefer the Copper Spur over the Fly Creek because it has more head room and the door is one the side.

  68. Bruce Reply

    Hey Erik!
    Amazing list, as usual :)

    Question; what do you bring in your wallet?
    I was thinking just an ID, CC, and a few bucks.

    • @Bruce: That’s about it. Also health insurance card and list of phone numbers.

  69. Erik,

    This is a really well organized and presented list! As a fellow backpacking blogger hoping to post my own gear list on my site soon, I’m bookmarking this for later reference :)

  70. Gary Reply

    is the FOOD SACK: Granite Gear Air Zippsack (16L) Waterproof?

    • @Gary: The GG Air Zipsack is not waterproof but it’s water resistant. If you submerge it, water will come in through the seams and the zipper. But I carry it inside my pack in the rain (with no pack cover) and have I left it out in a light drizzle and water does not make it’s way inside.

  71. John Reply

    Hi Erik, First of all, thanks for your valuable info. A couple years ago, after an excruciating overnight with my gear from a few decades ago,I found your site and after a spending spree that stretched out over some period of time (this stuff ain’t cheap) I am happily trucking along feeling almost like I’m not carrying nuthin’! Shaving off around 18 lbs is very cool since I’m no spring chicken and I don’t get a chance to get out too often.. and I could be in a bit better shape. That being said, I went with a lot of your recommendations such as ULA (I went with the OHM 2.0) and the Lightheart Gear SoLong. Really love the pack and, although I know what you mean about the condensation with your head being near the wall of the tent and all, I like how light it is and how easy it is to pitch. The other thing I wanted to mention was the sleeping bag. After reading a lot of reviews and looking for something to accommodate my needs, I went with Western Mountaineering’s Alpinlite. It’s rated at 20 degrees and weighs only a couple or three ounces more than the NEMO Tango Solo. It feels a bit roomier to me than other mummy-type sleeping bags, packs down nice and small, and it keeps me roasty-toasty well into the fall up here in the Whites of NH. After seeing a previous comment I thought perhaps it might be worthy of consideration for anyone seeking a little more warmth.

  72. Scott Racop Reply

    I’m a little surprised to see you switch away from the CDT. Was yours getting worn out? I’ve had the CDT for a couple of years now and really like it. Have you seen the thermarest Max SV pads? They air up and exhale very fast. Some comments so far about the roll tops not sealing up good, but that might be a usage issue. Also they are square and have ‘rails’ on the sides. The Xlite and Trekker are the only models offered so far. I have the Xlite large and it is my primary. I have the neoair camper large that I might go to in future if my back gets any worse. Weighs 2 lbs, but I’ve lightened all my other gear so I could probably take the extra pound to have better comfort. Let me know if you think the Trekker is better than the Xlite.

    • @Scott Racop: I still have my ULA CDT and it’s holding up well. I still use it for shorter hikes (like 3 day trips.) The main reason I switched to the OHM for longer hikes is for this blog. A lot of people have started using my personal gear list as a starting point to model their own gear lists and I feel that the OHM (with it’s larger capacity and better suspension) is a better beginner pack for most people. So far I like the OHM. It has more room than I know what to do with (my gear only takes up about 3/4 of the available space), but the suspension really does help with the carrying comfort. Plus, if I need to add a bear canister or a bunch of extra water or food for a long haul it will be able to handle it.

  73. Teet Reply

    Hi Erik,

    I’m new to backpacking and just stumbled across your site. Thanks for the detailed information – it helps a lot! I am planning on solo hiking PCT Southern California section, Campo to Walker pass this May. Just ordered your PCT Atlas :) As I’m trying to get my gear etc. I have some questions maybe you can help me with …

    I really would like to have Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 2 tent. But I just can’t find any way to buy it from Europe. Dont they have any dealers in Europe? Maybe I can buy from San Diego REI on my way to Campo? Do you know any great online shopping site in Europe?

    What you think of Osprey Kestrel 58 vs Osprey Exos 48? Are they too heavy and what about size?

    Is there any bears in this section? Should I have a bear canister?

    Thank you!


    • @Teet: Not sure about retailers that ship to Europe. Maybe Amazon? If you can’t get it shipped to you, you can probably find the Big Agnes Copper Spur at either REI or Adventure 16 in San Diego. Osprey Packs are very popular among thru-hikers who tend toward the heavier end of the gear spectrum. They are high quality packs and as long as you don’t fill it up with too much heavy gear it should work fine. Personally, I think 4 lbs is too heavy for a pack. I would not carry one myself when there are so many lighter options available.

  74. Linda May Reply

    How much water do you carry with you on the southern portions of the PCT for desert hiking with long stretches between water sources?

    • @Linda May: Right now Southern California is in the middle of a prolonged drought, so water is harder to find on the PCT than it has been for a long time. Some of the water sources that were previously abundant during the thru-hiking season have dried up, making the long stretches between water sources even longer in some cases. The amount of water people use varies from one person to the next, so I can only speak from my own experience. When I am hiking in hot weather like the So Cal deserts I like to drink 1 liter of water for every five miles of hiking. In addition, I drink another two liters for dry camping. 1 liter for cooking and drinking before bed, and another liter to drink throughout the night.

      If I had to hike a 30 mile stretch where I knew there was no water, there are two ways I could do it:

      #1: Leave early in the morning carrying 8 liters of water, hike 20 miles (drink 4 liters), camp (drink 2 liters), hike 10 more miles (drink 2 liters) to the water source.
      #2: Leave early in the morning carrying 6 liters of water, hike 30 miles (drink 6 liters) and camp at the water source.

      In the first scenario I would have to carry more water weight, but it would be a shorter, easier day of hiking. In the second scenario I would have a long, hard day of hiking, but I would not have to carry as much weight. Either way, I would recommend packing enough water bottles and/or bladders to hold at least 8 liters of water for hiking the southern part of the PCT. You may not always need to fill up to max capacity, but there will be sections where you will need it (and perhaps more.)

  75. Dixdak Reply

    After I fabricated a pot cozy, I had a leftover piece of the sun reflector. I used a cheap closed cell foam one from Walmart. It was less than 0.75 oz. I took it on our trip to Isle Royale thinking it would be a dry spot to sit on in the damp forest. It worked fine for that purpose and several others. It was handy to put muddy boots on it in the tent. I put it under my air matress and it seemed to make a big difference in eliminating cold spots under me. I also believe it can be curled up into a tube shape with a length of light elastic cord to be used for a stove wind screen.

  76. Larry Reply

    Hey Eric – love your website and it’s saved me a lot of weight over the years. Question on isobutane fuel – is there any significant weight difference between the various brands? I understand the fuel ratio difference issues in cold weather but before I buy, weigh, empty, and reweigh a dozen different brands I thought I’d see if you’ve already done that.

    Thanks again.

    • @Larry: I have not tried weighing different brands of fuel canisters, but if there is a difference it would be due to the weight of the can and not the fuel, since the weight listed on the can is the net weight of the fuel. If you do find that there is a big difference between brands I would be interested to know your findings.

  77. Jeff Reply

    Erik: I love your all your information — so useful! Quick question: You only hike in one shirt? No backup? Do you wash it at all on the trial…how quickly does your tech shirt dry? Whats the “stink” factor? Thanks!

    • @Jeff: I just carry the one shirt. I don’t wash it on the trail but on longer hikes I will wash it once a week or whenever I got into town to resupply. The synthetic shirt I’m using now stinks more than the merino wool ones I used to wear (natural fabrics like wool and silk have natural anti-microbial properties which keep the stink down.) But it is less expensive and more durable. I got tired of paying $60 for wool t-shirts and having to replace them so often. The synthetic ones require less care and are cheaper to replace.

      • Scott Reply

        I found exofficio makes some great synthetic t-shirts that don’t absorb the stink. I found I could not use the merino wool shirts due to irritation of my skin. I can wear the exofficio shirts and sweat for three days and no problems. They are so comfortable with a honeycomb design that I love to sleep in them at home. Thought I’d mention them as an alternative. Love your site Erik.

  78. Bret Reply

    Thanks Eric. Also have you ever tried trail runners? What do you like about Moab’s to justify the extra 10oz or so?

    My previous shoes were 40oz tanks and I wore runners last year for the first time which were real nice, but soles wore fast on my pair.. Leaning to runners again, but with more durable soles although I’ve not ruled out light “hiking shoes”.

    I’m a newb trying to find that right balance between light and practical. :) I have never liked boots anyhow.

    • @Bret: I have used trail runners and I still do sometimes for day hikes or short hikes. They work fine, but wear quickly. I found that I only get about 400-500 miles out of a pair of runners compared to 800-1,000 out of the Merells. Also when I have to carry heavier weights (like lots of water or food) the extra padding of the Merrells is easier on my feet.

  79. Christian Reply

    Hi Eric.
    Great gear list. Thank you for sharing.
    I have one question. A lot of hikers are complaining about the inside dimensions of the Copper Spur UL1 tent. (I think everyone knows that the dimensions listed for this tent are grommet to grommet. This is an industry standard.) Looks like you are over 6′ tall and I’m guessing you are using a long size bag. How this tent fits you? I’m 6’2″ and I’m looking for a new tent. Thank you!

    • @Christian: I am only 6′ tall so I use a regular length bag and sleeping pad. The Copper Spur provides a snug fit, but there is enough room inside for my liking. I slide my sleeping pad all the way to the head of the tent and then arrange my gear around the sides and foot of the pad to keep me sort of “anchored” in place. I’m a fitful sleeper, so if there is too much room inside a tent I end up sliding off my sleeping pad during the night. I put my empty backpack underneath the sleeping pad and boots and stove outside in the vestibule.

  80. Sarah Egan Reply

    Hi Eric! This is an awesome list! Thanks to updating it! I was wondering IF you had a hiking partner and IF your partner is a girl, what her list is?? I’m hiking the PCT for the first time NEXT year and have been trying to find info on gear girls have preferred, especially for those cold Sierra night, any specific clothes, bags, etc as I sleep on the very cold side :). Haven’t found any blogs or sites so far so thought I would see if you know anyone?? TIA!

    • @Sarah Egan: I don’t have a hiking partner right now, but I have had several female hiking partners in the past. Usually women do get colder men. You may want to look for a sleeping bag in the 0 – 15 degree temperature range. You can also bump up the weight of your base-layer clothing (lightweight or midweight instead of microweight.) Girls tend to have higher body fat than guys do and burn fat slower, which means you may not need to pack and eat as much food as a guy, at least for the first month or two. That will free up some space in your pack for slightly heavier clothing, sleeping bag, etc. There are some female-specific sleeping bags and packs (which are just shaped so they are wider in the hips and narrower in the shoulders) that you may find more comfortable. I’m no expert on female hiking, but those are a few things off the top of my head. The best way you can figure out what works for you is to do lots of shakedown hikes and overnights prior to your trip so you can test out your gear and make adjustments before you hit the trail. The biggest mistake PCT hikers make is spending the whole year prior daydreaming and buying gear and then hitting the trail completely green in the spring. That makes the learning curve very steep. You can still do it, and learn as you go, but it’s just going to make it that much more difficult. I think it’s better to try and get things dialed in as much as possible before you go. Good luck!

    • mike Reply

      Hi Sarah, I just noticed your post on Erik’s blog. Someone recommended to me a book titled “Pacific Crest Trail Handbook by Jackie McDonnell (trail name = Yogi). She offers quite a bit of PCT “woman centered” gear recommendations. The books is also packed with tons of helpful advice. Hope that helps with your PCT logistics planning.

  81. Bret Reply

    Why did you change pot from Titan to Evernew?
    Why did you change vest from MontBell to Patagonia?
    (Patagonia seems a bit heavier). Thanks.

    • @Bret: I changed to the Evernew pot because it has a non-stick coating which makes it easier to clean. Aside from that it is not much different than other titanium pots I’ve used. I still have my Montbell vest but I changed it because I have become a bit… um… girthier… over the last few years and the Montbell fits very snugly now ;) Since the Montbell UL Thermawrap Vest is no longer available in the same design as when I bought it five years ago (it has since been replaced by the Montbell Sport vest which I am not a fan of because it has stretch material on the sides instead of insulation) I decided to try the Patagonia. I actually like the Patagonia vest better, and it is a more comfortable “American” fit compared to the slim Japanese fit of the Montbell.

  82. Randy Reply

    How do you feel about the door of the copper spur? I’ve seen some negative reviews involving the “hinge” side being the bottom so it needs to be opened completely to enter /exit.

    • @Randy: The door is a little wierd. I would prefer that it hinged on the side and also that the bathtub floor was not so tall, so it would be easier to hang halfway out of the tent in warm weather and for cooking. But it’s OK.

  83. Jeff Johnson Reply

    Thanks Erik. I appreciate it. JJ

  84. Jeff Johnson Reply

    Hi Erik. Hope you are well. Another question on the Nemo Tango Comforter. How small can you crunch it down? What size compression sack do you use? Thanks and enjoy. Jeff (aka JJ)

  85. J Reply

    Eric, thanks!

    I will go to the PCT at 16. You Are Selecting a sleeping bag with NEMO tango solo?

    I worry a lot of sleeping choices.

    I want light sleeping bag…

    • @J: Most PCT thru-hikers carry a sleeping bag rated around 20 degrees F. The Nemo Tango Solo is rated for 30 degrees F., so it might be a little cold in the northern parts of the trail in late summer/early fall. If I were to thru-hike the PCT again I would carry the Tango through California and Oregon and swap it out for my 15 degree Marmot Helium when I got to Washington. If you are looking for a single bag to use for the entire hike, I would recommend something a bit warmer than the Tango (unless you are a very fast hiker and plan to complete the trail before the end of August.)

      • Ron Geur Reply

        Erik, thanks again for your responses, greatly appreciated. I was wondering if you are sold on the quilt design, why not go for a warmer quilt up North as opposed to the Helium, and if so, do you have any warmer (15-20 degree) quilts you might recommend?

        • @Ron Guer: I used the quilt this spring and summer and I really like it for the comfort factor. My favorite thing is that it locks in place around my sleeping pad. It’s been warm enough for spring and summer camping. I don’t think I would push it into the fall because I can feel cool air making it’s way in under the sides. I don’t think I would like a quilt for colder weather for that reason. I like that my mummy bag is completely sealed on all sides and keeps my body heat in.

  86. Ron Geur Reply

    Eric, thanks for the tips very helpful. I am wondering if the quilt fits as well with the narrower (20in) wide Thermarest Trekker as opposed to the recommended wider (25in) pad for the Nemo Tango. If one were willing to sacrifice a little weight, would there be a better fit with a wider pad?

    • @Ron: Actually, it fits perfect on the 20″ pad and I think it might actually be a little worse with the wider one. When they designed it for the 25″ pad I think they may have forgotten to account for the extra volume of a person inside. When lying under the quilt (especially on my side) there is just enough material on the sides to tuck under the pad. If I were using the 25″ pad it seems like there would be gaps on the sides for cold air to get in. (Would probably work fine for a more slender person though.) There is something else I did to prevent gaps on the sides: There are two attachment points halfway down each side of the quilt. I tied a piece of 1/8″ shock cord between them, which goes underneath the sleeping pad and keeps the sides of the quilt anchored to the pad when moving around.

      • Mark Reply

        Erik, I got my Nemo Tango today and tried it out with the Thermarest Trekker regular (72″x20″) pad. I’m 6’2″ and weigh 140 lbs, and I like to change sleeping positions a lot (like you), but I end up sleeping more on my stomach. I found that if I scoot up to the top of the pad while on my stomach, I have sufficient room for my head, and while my toes hang off the bottom edge of the pad a bit, the Tango foot box seems like it would still keep them sufficiently warm. What bothered me more than the length was that my arms always slide off the sides of the pad while on my stomach. There’s plenty of quilt to go between my arms and the tent floor, but I worry that I would wake up with cold arms without them benifiting from the pad insulation. I’m considering exchanging the Trekker regular for the large (72″x25″) but it’s more expensive and 5 oz heavier. Can you provide me with your advice/experience on/with the above? Thank you, Erik.

        • @Mark: My arms do the same thing with the narrow pad and it does feel kind of weird having them hang off the sides, especially since the pad is so thick and they end up at a lower level than your body. I wear my thermal shirt to bed (and sometimes my jacket if it’s cold) so I haven’t had a problem with cold arms too much, even when they are laying on the tent floor (as long as the quilt is over the top.) Sometimes when I am laying on my stomach I will fold my arms up inside the hood around my head instead of letting them hang. But I do agree that the longer, wider pad does seem like it would be more comfortable. I haven’t tried it that way, but my main concern with the larger pad is that it will stretch the quilt that much tighter and there will be less room underneath and less overhang on the sides. It might open up gaps when you are moving around where cold air can sneak in between the pad and quilt. I have that problem now sometimes even with the narrow 20″ pad. I wish the Tango was a few inches wider than it is. If you try the larger pad please let me know how you like it.

          • Mark

            Erik, thanks for the reply. I spent some more time in the sleeping system and I feel like I can be plenty comfortable with the regular size Trekker pad. I’m not convinced that 2.5″ of additional width on either side would make that much of a difference with the “arms on the ground” issue, or at least not enough to justify the additional weight and expense. And I think you’re right that it would probably create quilt coverage issues. I found that if I barely tuck the tips of my thumbs and index fingers under my legs when I’m on my stomach, my arms don’t slide off. But I also found that there’s plenty of quilt to wrap under my hands/arms when they’re hanging off the pad to insulate them from the ground. So I think I’m sticking with what I’ve got. :) Thanks for your help/advice.

  87. Tim H Reply

    Good to know. At 62 still hiking and packing, but struggling with shoe choices. May try your inserts for better support. Thanks for the info!

  88. Tim H Reply

    Did you switch from the low cut Moab Ventilator to the mid-cut for any particular reason?

    • @Tim H: Yes, last year when I was hiking the Colorado Trail one of my ankles became really swollen and stayed that way for about a week afterward. I never got it checked out so I don’t know exactly what the problem was, but my theory was that since the trail traversed along the sides of steep hills a lot of the time (and it was not really cut in flat… more at a slight downward angle) my feet had to bend sideways at the ankle a lot to keep my body vertical. It was the uphill ankle that got swollen on the outside. The other one was fine. I never had that problem before, but then again I am getting older and starting to fall apart more ;) I decided to give the mid-cut shoes a try this year to see if they will provide a bit more ankle support.

  89. Bret Reply

    I have similar REI QD1 and the pole structures do have more vertical walls and interior volume.

    Looking forward to hearing if you like the traditional tent and if carrying poles is worth it.

  90. Charlie Brown Reply

    Thanks for this list Erik. It has been most useful. Example,I all but purchased an Atmos 50 AG at 69 oz as compared to the ULA Circuit that I ordered @ 41 oz. The people at ULA were great to work with. I just turned 62 and am planing a section trip on the AT this spring with my 20 year old grandson. My first backpacking trip was with a homemade pack frame made out of pine, glue, chord and canvas. My last trip was probably 20 years ago with an external frame and canvascanvas pack weighing about 6 pounds.
    Thanks for the help.

  91. Ray H Reply

    Hi Eric,
    I attended a PTC Hiking Basics class and found out about your website.

    I cannot find any review on the ZPacks on your website. I’d be interested in your review of it.
    I’m looking at an Arc Haul. My longest hike would be the JMT or sections of the PTC.

    • @Ray H: I’ve never used the ZPacks Arc Haul… but based on it’s design, size and materials it looks similar to other lightweight mid-size backpacks like the ULA OHM. It claims to have a max load capacity of 40 lbs which should be adequate for hiking the JMT or PCT (if you pack lightweight low-volume gear like I do.)

  92. Mike Reply

    Erik, I see that you have 2 different base/thermal layers for both normal and cold conditions and saw what you actually wear on your hikes. Do you only wear the base layers at night sleeping or do you wear them under your hiking clothes. How would you layer for temps in the upper 20′s to low 30′s for the lows? Going on my first backpacking trip at Eagle Rock Loop in a couple of weeks and the temperatures are dipping a little lower then originally thought. So I will have to stretch my 30 degree marmot sleeping bag with a liner also. I currently own the Patagonia mid-weight long sleeve top and bottoms. What are your thoughts? Thanks

    • @Mike: In warm weather (temps above 50) I usually just wear my silk base layer as pajamas, but might throw them on if it gets chilly. In cool weather (temps above 30) I usually pack the lightweight wool top and lightweight wool pants (with either the vest or puffy jacket.) In cold weather (temps under 30)I pack the mid-weight wool top and lightweight wool pants with the jacket (or vest and jacket combined.) I don’t usually double up on base-layers because that would be pretty heavy. I just go up to the next weight depending on how cold it is.

  93. JF Reply

    Hi Eric.
    I’m noticing that you bring a small Silva compass/thermometer combo. This is a pretty minimal setup. I’ve recently weighed my mirror compass and found out that it weighs almost 3 ounces which I find pretty heavy. I’m wondering if you miss using a full fledged compass. I must admit that I rarely ever use my compass except to turn my map towards the north when I consult it. Do you ever wish you had a full compass. I’m also supposing that you simply add the magnetic declination to your reading. Am I correct?

    • @JF: I also rarely use a compass anymore, except for orienting my map. Since I carry a GPS it’s mostly there for backup.

  94. Jeff Johnson Reply

    Hi Eric,
    Thanks for the updated list. I really get a lot out of them. I’m curious why you choose the Nemo Tango over the Siren? I’m considering this as my next bag/quilt option for the 2016 season.
    Jeff. Portland, OR

    • @Jeff Johnson: I chose the Tango over the Siren because it is totally rectangular so the foot sleeve will fit over the bottom of my rectangular sleeping pad. Also, the hood/top-sleeve part of the Tango is removable, so in the warmer summer months you can leave it at home to save weight which makes it very similar to the Siren.

      • Jeff Reply

        Thanks Eric. I appreciate the input and will take a better look at the Tango.

  95. Larry Hefling Reply


    Thank you very much for this write up – absolutely the best I’ve seen on the net. 5 of my work buddies plan on a Chicago Basin hike from the Durango/Silverton train this summer and are learning a lot from your site. I also have several of your products already.

    Thanks again,


  96. Gary Reply

    @Eric: Did you go away from the Jetboil because of weight or efficiency?

    • @Gary: I prefer the screw-on canister stove and titanium pot combo because it weighs less and I like the shape of a low-wide pot for cooking, eating out of and cleaning (compared to the tall narrow cup of the Jetboil.)

      • Gary Reply

        Got it. I have both but the jetboil in the miniomo version. I like the snow peak set because it’s half the weight. Thanks.

  97. Tiffany Reply

    Greetings Erik,

    I am a novice backpacker but researching how to pack, so THANK YOU FOR THIS! But, I have a strange question. Do you pack soap? Toiletries are heavy and take up space so I was looking for tips on soap (body and dish), deodorant, I (use powder shampoo),conditioner, etc…. Thank you!!

    • @Tiffany: I do not pack soap or dish detergent. I only use water for washing my dishes (and my body when a nice creek or lake happens to be available.) I do pack Purrell Hand Sanitizer for keeping my hands clean and germ free.

  98. Patrick Morgan Reply


    Would really like to know why you ditched the Lightheart Gear tent? I’ve had mine for a few years now (your recommendation) and couldn’t be happier with it.

    One major switch I made in 2015, which I wish I had made MUCH sooner, was hiking in a kilt (Mountain Hardware Elkommando)! A complete game changer for me at 50. Give one a try and you’ll never go back to pants/shorts etc.

    • @Patrick Morgan: I used the Lightheart Gear Solong 6 for three years and liked it quite a bit. My only real complaint was that the peak of the tent was in the middle (and I prefer it to be at the head). I had a few problems with condensation dripping onto my face and feet since the head and foot of the tent were not very tall. I got the Big Agnes more out of curiosity than necessity. These last few years I have been watching the weight of traditional free-standing shelters come down and since it was only a couple ounces more I figured I’d give it a shot.

      • Doug Reply

        Hi Erik and Patrick,

        I have a lightheart Duo tent that I have used for the last 3 years. It is a great tent, but I have the same complaint about the condensation. In colder temps, condensation builds up and the area above your head starts to sag down from it. You can get up and readjust, but it’s a pain. I just ordered a Nemo Hornet 2P that has a higher sidewall and is still around 2lbs, which is about the weight of the Duo. I am using this weekend for the first time in light snow. The 1P is smaller and lighter, but I like having a little extra room. The Copper spur was in my cart for a while before I found the Nemo. I am 5’7 and about 185.

  99. Henry Mohan Reply

    How do you wash your utensils, etc. I see no dish pan? The last one I had was my helmet in Viet Nam.

    • @Henry: I pour a little bit of water (about 1-2 ounces) in the bottom of my cook pot and cup and use the brillo pad to dislodge any food particles, swirl the dirty water around to catch the chunks and toss it, then dry the pot and cup with the little piece of pack towel I use for a dish rag. Works good (as long as I remember to do it right after eating before the food has a chance to dry to the pan.)

  100. Gary Reply

    Is this updated gear list also updating the PCT gear list that you have? I see a Helium II Rain jacket on the PCT list that is pretty light but then you have a the Precip that is heavier on your 2016 list. Is it safe to say you went up on weight for quality? eg the rain jacket?

    • @Gary: I switched to the Marmot Precip rain jacket in hopes that it will be more durable. I have tried two ultralight rain jackets in the past five years. The first was a Marmot Mica and the second was the Outdoor Research Helium II. Both worked well in the beginning, but after about two seasons the waterproof qualities of the fabric began to deteriorate and water started getting inside. Since those ultralight rain jackets are so expensive to replace, I thought I would try the Marmot Precip (which is a very popular entry-level rain jacket.). It is twice as heavy and half as expensive. My hope is that it will last me longer than two years.

      • Gary Reply

        Great. That is what I have.

  101. Raff Reply

    Hi Erik,
    i’m really considering buying the Agnes tent myself. But i read in the comment section of an online trader that it was not suitable for snow or rain because it’s appearantly not 100% waterproof. He said while camping in the snow water came through the ground layer of the tent.

    Actually i find it hard to believe that a tent this expensive could have such flaws, but i thought i’ll just ask about your experiences with the tent. Did you ever slept on snow/ in the rain with it and got wet?

    Thanks for your time =)

    • Raff: I just got the Big Agnes tent recently, so I haven’t tested it out yet, except in my backyard. According to the Big Agnes website the floor is “ultralight silicone treated nylon rip-stop with a 1200mm waterproof polyurethane coating.” The 1200mm designation, I assume, refers to the hydrastatic head (hh) rating of the fabric. This means it can hold a column of water 1200mm high before the pressure becomes too great and water begins to seep through the pores of the fabric. Since the Copper Spur is a lightweight 3-season shelter I don’t think they intended it to be pitched on top of snow. It is possible that the pressure from the weight of everything inside the tent pushing the floor directly onto wet snow could cause water to make it’s way inside. When I camp in snow I try to find a place (like in a grove of trees) where there is little or no snow on the ground, or dig down through the snow and pitch the tent on the ground, or else make a bed of dry natural materials (like pine duff) for the tent to sit on top of. They also sell a separate footprint for the tent, which I’m sure would increase the water resistance of the floor.

      • Raff Reply

        Wow thanks for the fast response!
        Do you also use the BigAgnes Footprint?
        And how often did you find yourself in a snowy environment during one PCT Truhike?

        I’m very interested in the experiences people made during the PCT =)

        • @Raff: I didn’t buy the footprint. I think the floor will be OK for the kind of conditions I plan to use it in. I don’t do a ton of bad weather hiking (if I can avoid it.) When I thru-hiked the PCT in 2007 we got hit by some pretty good snow in Washington around the end of September. I was among the last group to make it to Monument 78 that year. Most of the hikers who were further back had to re-route to a different point along the Canadian border to finish. Luckily we were near the end when the storm hit, so only had to hike in the snow for a couple days. I remember it was about 12 degrees the last night on the trail. That was the only real snow of the trip though. If you can get to Canada early enough you may never see any snow at all. But I have seen pictures from hikers who were still out in October (and even November) and they needed snowshoes and winter gear. It gets pretty cold, pretty quick up there once fall starts.

    • Scott Reply

      Raff another tent to consider is the northface O2. It’s only a couple of ounces more and I think has more room inside. I replaced the stakes with MSR Carbon stakes (same weight as the Agnes tent with these stakes substituted). You can often find it for sale around $220. I used it 4 times last season in hot weather and cooler weather with heavy rain. It did real well in the rain. I am able to put my pack inside with me and still fit a large neoair xlite pad in it as well. Its ends vault up instead of down which creates extra space. For over nighters I can use a daypack since it packs so small.

    • Jeff Reply


      I bought the Big Agnes Copper Spur before a 45 mile hike in South Carolina in October. One day/night we got DUMPED on and I was completely dry inside. The tent performed very well in light wind with slightly higher gusts and downpours. The abundant ventilation dried the tent/fly quickly.

      • kelly Reply

        Hi there! My husband and I are older hikers just in the last 4 years getting into longer distance hikes. We really love our big agnes cooper spur 3 as it is very waterproof. It has seen us through 5 days and nights or rain on the Berg Lake Trail as well as some very wet Wells Grey 3 night hikes. the only problem we have is condensation, so we often need to leave the tent zipper open a bit on both sides or we will be damp in our tent. It was not a cheap tent and we wish that there was more space to put our packs under cover with it, but overall, we have been very happy with its performance over the last 4 years. Happy hiking!

  102. Erick Reply

    I have a Ursack 29 white which has passed the testing for Grisly and Black bear proof. Just like the BV500, and all the other Bear Canisters. Yosemite has not given its ok yet. When empty its 8oz. with an OPSAK to keep food waterproof and smell proof. I am hoping they approve it before this season. If not would it be practical to use while in Yosemite and then mail it home as a resupply. Or use the smaller BV will the Ursack to cut weight. What have you heard about that sack?

    Right now I use in Texas when I am out to protect my food from Raccoons and other critters.

  103. Gary Reply

    Looking at your new packing list for 2016 and see a few differences the gear under the PCT page. I don’t see the date on the PCT gear list so just wondering if you have two different list.

    • @Gary: The PCT gear list on this site is similar to my own, but is intended to show a theoretical example of the kinds of gear a person could pack for a long hike on the PCT, not necessarily what I do myself. It was published last year (2015.)

      • Gary Reply

        Thanks Erik. I’m basically copying all of the gear you are using because I think it makes sense. So, I was just looking at the differences. Thanks again for helping me as a rookie out.

  104. Thanks for sharing. I hiked the PCT last year and started with the Sawyer Mini, also inline. But many hiker switched later to the Sawyer Squeeze because the Mini clogged up to often and the flow rate was suboptimal. I hiked for many years with Platypus water bladder but on the PCT i’ve learned its better to go for Smart water bottles. You basically see how much water you have left without opening your backpack.

    • @Mike: I’ve gone back and forth on the bottles vs. hydration bladder debate quite a bit myself over the years. You are right that one of the benefits of bottles is that you can quickly see how much water you have left. One downside I have found with bottles is that I don’t drink as much or as often as I should (because the bottles are out of sight and out of mind.) With a hydration tube I can just sip as I hike.

      • Scott Reply

        I have been using the flat half and 1 liter platypus bottles. I notice after about a season of use they start to develop a plastic taste with the water. I’ve been using them about one season and then replacing them. I’ve noticed the ice mountain water bottles you get at the gas station don’t have the taste, and they have very little plastic in their bottles, i.e. less weight. So with Erik’s advice I’ve been going back and forth. I like the lay flat aspect of the platy bottles.

  105. Watertank Reply

    Ahh, it’s so refreshing to see a gear list where cutting weight isn’t the primary focus! My gear list is constantly evolving, from a low baseweight of under 10 lbs, (ridiculous for a guy who weighs 225 and wears size XL everything), to my current more reasonable baseweight of around 15-18 lbs. Erik, since you wear a size 13 shoe (and I’m guessing you are closer to a Clydesdale than a Shetland Pony), how many miles do you get out of your Moab Ventilators? While they fit me great, I’ve had had two pairs’ midsoles crush and break down completely in less than 80 miles. Your thoughts?

    • @Watertank: I’ve been hiking in Moabs for about ten years now and I usually get around 800+ miles out of a pair. The thing that always wears out for me eventually is the Vibram outsole (the tread wears down until it’s completely slick.) One thing I always do is replace the stock insoles with Montrail Enduro Soles, which have a plastic heel cup and thicker, more supportive foam. This might be helping to absorb my weight (which is also over 200 lbs) and protect the midsole? Or maybe (and I really hope this is not the case) Merrell have begun to cut corners in their manufacturing process to save money, as so many other shoe manufacturers have in recent years.

      • Watertank Reply

        Thanks for the quick response! I thought I had finally found some shoes that were going to work, but I can’t be replacing them every 100 miles! The way the Moab Ventilators broke down, with the entire midsoles crushing to less than 1/2″ thickness, makes me think I’m going to have start looking all over for the ideal shoe again. Maybe I’ll have to go back to boots, with a solid rubber or polyurethane midsole, as much as I realize how much boots slow me down.

      • John Rummel Reply

        Eric, I just got a pair of the Merrell Moabs due to your website and so far like them a lot. I’m coming from traditional boots (I’ve been a Saloman fan for years) and have to adjust to the less robust ankle support, but I love the comfort so far. How have you found them in warm conditions? Do they allow your feet to breathe or do you find that your socks and feet get drenched with sweat? How about water corssings? Do you switch into sandals or do you slosh through with the Moabs?

        • @John Rummel: The Moabs (as long as your are referring to the Ventilator version) breathe well in heat. I don’t usually have any problems with feet sweating wearing thin smartwool socks. Sometimes in extreme heat I will wear Wrightsocks instead. I like the traction and foot protection that shoes offer when crossing creeks, so I just slosh across. As long as it’s a sunny day they usually don’t take too long to dry.

  106. Bill Reply

    Wow. Outstanding. I appreciate the food tab. I think I need to take this list and whittle it down to essentials and affordable. Don’t get me wrong, if I were you and I would follow your lead – but since I’m not I need to approach this more conservatively.

  107. Leslie Reply

    Erik, we are doing the TRT this summer. My friends keep asking if I am bringing a bear container. I was not planning on it, I was planning on suspending my food at night. Your thoughts? Are containers necessary?

    • @Leslie: Bear canisters aren’t required on the Tahoe Rim Trail, so I don’t carry one. There are black bears out there (like in many places), but they don’t have the same reputation for being as much of a nuisance as the “park bears” in certain areas like Yosemite and Sequoia/Kings Canyon. You could hang your food, or if you wanted a little more security (without the weight of a bear canister), an Ursack Bear-Resistant Food Sack is another option (that only weighs 8 ounces.)

  108. Gary Reply

    Wondering if the bag will do good using the thermaret neo extherm at the JMT mid Aug through mid Sept?

    • @Gary: I haven’t tried it yet but I expect it will. Those are the same kinds of conditions I intend to use it for.

  109. PaulW Reply

    Great write-up as always. Thank you!
    I notice you have a fair bit of electronics. How do you stayed powered on a long trip? I imagine carrying a bunch of spare batteries would be too heavy. Do you have any trouble finding places to charge up?
    BTW, for those concerned about noise from a Neo-Air, I find once I toss my bag on top, I can’t even hear the crinkling.

    • @PaulW: When I’m doing my research trips for my books I actually carry a bunch of AA lithium batteries for the GPS (which is a pain in the butt and expensive.) But if I’m hiking just for fun I can make a single set last for 5+ days by keeping the GPS turned off most of the time and only turning it on briefly when I need it to check my location or record a waypoint.

      If I keep the phone in airplane mode, remember to turn it off at night and only use it as a camera I can make a single battery last five days. If I listen to a lot of music or audiobooks, then I will need the spare battery too. As long as I go into town every 5-7 days to resupply I can usually keep everything charged up and running.

      I also have this 5000mah Battery Pack/Solar Charger for longer trips in remote areas or heavy usage. But I haven’t used it very much, since it’s easier and lighter just to carry the one extra phone battery.

  110. James Reply

    Went with the Marmot Helium on your recommendation late last year – haven’t taken it out yet. Curious to know why you switched from it.

    • @James: I switched to the quilt because it’s roomier and feels more like sleeping in a bed. I can toss and turn and roll over onto my side or stomach inside of it (since the quilt is anchored to the sleeping pad by the top and bottom pockets) without getting all twisted up or sliding off the pad like with a mummy bag. I do still have my mummy bags for colder temperatures though.

      • JR Reply

        The quilt looks great, but was wondering if you had any comparison data versus the Sierra Designs back country bed? I use your info almost exclusively and have had great success hiking over the last 18 months based on your suggestions. Thanks for all your efforts!

        • @JR: I haven’t had a chance to try the Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed. But from looking at it online I like the design of the Nemo Tango better. Here’s why:

          The Nemo Tango anchors to the sleeping pad at both the head and foot, so you can move around inside the bag all you want and it will not shift at all. I think this is a benefit because when I roll onto my side or stomach in a mummy bag that is sitting on top of a sleeping pad, the slick nylon of the bag slides right off the pad and I end up on the floor! This is much worse with the new inflatable sleeping pads (like the Neo Air and Exped) than the older self-inflating or closed-cell foam pads because of the slippery material the pads are now made of (plus it’s further to the ground since they are taller.)

          I also like that the Nemo Tango does not have a bottom. This will be good for temperature regulation in the warmer summer months since you can throw an arm or a leg out anywhere on either side of the bag. You can even remove the hood part and leave it at home to save weight and use the rest just like a blanket. With the Backcountry Bed, you are encased on all sides like a mummy bag and the only places to get any airflow is up by the chest where it folds down and the little foot vent.

  111. Gary Reply

    @Erik. That sleeping bag looks really cool. What is the lowest temp that you would take it down to?

    • @Gary: I only got the quilt recently, but I tried it out in my backyard at 30 degrees (inside the tent wearing silk long johns, vest and beanie) and I was comfortable.

  112. Andrea Reply

    Very well done! I appreciate all the detail and pictures. Very helpful. Thanks!

  113. Susan Reply

    Great list. Nice to see you back. I notice people backing away from UL BP gear and techniques as you are in this list. I’m sure comfort is the reason. Plus, being realistic about comfort items that always find their way into the bag. Still yet it would be nice to see an UL list with the pros and cons between the gear choices by category. I would find this more informative.

    • @Susan: True. My pack this year weighs about the same as what I carried on the PCT in 2007. After finishing that trail I wanted to really explore ultralight backpacking and see how light I could go. At one point I got my base weight down to around 8 lbs, and then slowly started moving back up. I still believe in the value of packing as light as possible, especially when you have to hike big miles for many months at a time. But, these days I am so involved with running the business of Blackwoods Press that my hikes are limited to around six weeks at a stretch, and I rarely hike more than 20 miles per day. So, I figure I can get away with carrying a bit more weight… for now.

  114. mike Reply

    Eric, I’m planning to do a snow backpack trip into Lassen Volcanic Park next month. What type of shelter system would you recommend for winter, snowy conditions? I have a BA Platnium UL2 that I love but I’m concerned about it’s performance in a winter alpine environment. Any thoughts on a winter appropriate shelter system? Nice update to your equipment list. Very helpful and useful information. Tks!

    • @Mike: I don’t have a lot of experience camping in serious winter conditions (when there may be be a lot of snow falling on top of the tent.) If that’s going to be the case you need to worry about a shelters ability to shed snow and/or support the weight and you get into the pros and cons of 4-season tents, which I don’t know much about.

      I have done a decent amount of camping when there is snow on the ground, less than a foot of snowfall overnight, and temps between 5-30 degrees (usually in the early spring and late fall.) In those conditions, I don’t find that shelter matters as much as having warm enough clothing and a good sleeping bag.

      As long as it blocks the wind and prevents your clothes and bag from getting wet it will work. I have even camped in the snow with just a tarp. Just dig down and pitch your shelter on the ground instead of on top of the snow (or if it’s really gross, muddy or icey make a little bed of pine duff or boughs for it to sit on.)

      Maybe somebody with more winter camping experience than me can weigh in on this one.

      • Ben Reply

        In my experience, four season tents are in fact built for snow & meant to be carried by a pack mule. They’re heavy. I’ve used three season, free standing dome tents all year round, including -10° in Glacier National Park in February. I’d say, staying dry is most important. Proper clothing & sleeping gear (insulation) also. Find a good book on winter camping. There are different techniques for setting up a tent in the snow. I have the Copper Spur UL 2. One option I love is an additional light weight tarp (tyvekk) strung up between trees above my tent. Luxury by the ounce!

  115. TomS Reply

    I was very interested in your comment about the backpack. I understand your feelings about comfort over weight. I have thought in the back of my mind that my previous pack was more comfortable, and carried better than my present ultra-light pack. I will have to look into this one! Thanks

  116. TomB Reply

    As always, a great and informative list, Eric.
    I’m planning to finally solo hike the JMT this year (37 year dream), if I can get a permit.
    A few questions:
    Bear Cannister: BV500 or Bearikade Expedition?
    Based on your packing system, would you put the Cannister in the same place as your current food location, or a little higher, since it adds weight?
    Any opinions on the Tarptent Rainbow or LHG SoLong 6? I’m a tall guy and like my space.
    Any reason you switched your pad from the ExPed UL7?
    I got your JMT atlas about 4 years ago. Have you made any substantial changes to it?
    Last, based on current snowfall, what do you think will be the optimal time frame for the JMT?
    As always, thanks for your info and what you do for other hikers.

    • @TomB:

      I use a BV500 because it has ridges on the side which allow it to be strapped horizontally to the top of my pack (instead of putting it inside). That’s how I like to pack it.

      I bought a Tarptent Rainbow when they first came out around ten years ago. My impression then was that it was an excellent shelter, but it was difficult to get the ridge pole into the tight yellow sleeve at the top, making it hard to pitch quickly (the design may have been updated since then.) The Rainbow is 88″ long and the Solong is 100″ long (so you get an extra foot of floor length with the Solong.) But the curved Rainbow roof provides more vertical head and foot space than the slanted Solong roof. Hard to say which is better, but those are a few things to consider.

      My Exped UL7 developed a slow leak at the valve which can’t be patched. Exped uses a different type of valve than Thermarest (a little flappy-do thingy instead of the screw type). That type of valve seems less air-tight and more prone to failure to me. I believe the Trekker has a warmer insulation value too (which is important since my quilt does not have a bottom.)

      The 2nd Edition John Muir Trail Atlas was published in January of 2015. It features better maps, more info and an improved page layout. It’s a better book overall, but the original 1st Edition will still work for hiking the JMT if you don’t want to upgrade. The trail hasn’t really changed significantly.

      I’m not sure exactly what the snow conditions are like right now in the Sierras. But here in Southern California we’ve been getting lots of rain and snow, so I’m guessing it might be a lot. The traditional date recommended for entering the Sierras (“Ray Day”, named after Ray Jardine) is June 15th. If snow is higher than normal it would be later.

      • Norm Reply

        I am an older guy getting back into hiking/backpacking. Great list and wonderfully illustrated. Really like the pack organization diagram.
        I live near Lake Tahoe and so far the Sierra is having a greater than average snow fall. Should put a good dent in the extended drought. Here a good website to track the snow levels. It is on track to duplicate the 205/2006 winter.
        It may certainly affect early access to the high country in the Sierra this spring.

  117. Drew Reply

    Hey Erik, great info as always.
    I had just about resolved to buy the Neoair Xlite this spring, which I believe I’ve seen on some of your other gear lists. I’m interested in why you prefer the Trekker, which I think is a bit heavier?


    • @Drew: I prefer the Trekker because it’s rectangular. I like to roll around a lot and sleep on my back, side and stomach. I have an Xlite too, but it’s cut so narrow that I’m always rolling off of it.

  118. gebert Reply

    Thanks Erik. I purchased an Ohm for last season and loved it. I also got a Tarptent Stratospire 1. I am not totally sold on it so far though. I was only able to take one trip, but I couldn’t really get the inner to sit flat on the ground. I need to see if I can do some adjusting or retrofitting. What caused you to change to the Big Agnes?

    • Gebert: I used my last tent (Lightheart Gear Solong 6) for three years and liked it a lot. My only real complaint was that the peak of the tent was in the middle (and I prefer it to be at the head). I had a few problems with condensation dripping onto my face and feet since the head and foot of the tent were not very tall. I got the Big Agnes more out of curiosity than necessity. These last few years I have been watching the weight of traditional free-standing shelters come down and since it was only a couple ounces more I figured I’d give it a shot. I’ll update this post after I’ve been able to use it some more.

      • gebert Reply

        thanks erik. yeah… when i was shopping for a new tent last year i did also note how much the weights of ‘tradtional’ tents have come down. but in the end, i decided to go for less weight. and in that regard you have inspired me. and for that my knees and i thank you greatly. i don’t regret it at all. i just need to iron out some kinks.

        • robert Reply

          Great site Eric. This helps me a lot.
          I have a LH solo also. Run into the same problems with condensation at my feet in the morning. It has me looking for another option.

      • Ben Reply

        I’ve had and used the Copper Spur UL 2 for a few years and love it! Only issue I have is that the rain fly seems to absorb water. I’m 6′-4″ 200 lbs & the tent fits well!

  119. Megan Reply

    Nice! I like how you set up the photos. I have the same NeoAir. Haven’t officially tried it out, but it felt great on the living room floor!

  120. John Reply

    Thanks Erik, great gear list. Like the organization and even more importantly the individual item info. Really appreciate the packing diagram too.

  121. DougB Reply

    I was orignially looking at the NeoAir, but it had a crinkling sound that would have driven my wife crazy. I ended up with the REI Flash. I think it’s +1oz, and a little cheaper. A great alternative to the NeoAir if you’re sensitive to sound.

    REI also has a nice down vest or jacket that’s very economical. It’s their new REI Co-op line.

    Nice list. I’ll be reviewing and modifying for our upcoming canoe trip. While weight won’t be critical, it will still be a big consideration.


    • andy Reply

      I have used a neoAir dozens of times and it stopped crackling after about 10 uses. I also recommend Gossamer Gear carbon pole. They are only 8 oz per pair, but a little fragile.
      Cuben fabric makes the best tent and rain gear- It does not get wet being very hydrophobic, and it is lighter than silnylon, though expensive.

    • Scott Reply

      I have used the neoair for a couple of years now. It does not make the crinkling sound once fully inflated. I think the sound is due to the insulating material or barrier inside the pad. I believe it’s the best combination of weight and comfort out there.

  122. Eric Reply

    Thanks for sharing your list! This article is really well done, and the graphics you included give it a professional touch.

    • Richard Reply

      Not really on subject, but I have enjoyed your lists and have followed your suggestions for a few years and thought you might have some thoughts on a lightweight knee brace for IT Band problems.