Colorado Trail Gear List

Here is an example of a complete packing list for multi-day hikes, section hikes or thru-hiking The Colorado Trail. This is similar to my own personal gear list, but with a few changes to make it into a better generic starting template for building your own gear list.

The hiking season in Colorado is late-Spring to early-Fall, when the trail is mostly free of snow and temps are between 30°F – 80°F. This gear is intended for use in those conditions. If you will be hiking early or late in the season, you may want to pack a warmer sleeping bag.

I chose the specific gear items in this list because I have used most of them personally, they have good reviews and I think you will like them. Comparable items are often available from other manufacturers that may work just as well (these are just some of my favorites.)

The Big Four

Backpack, shelter, sleeping bag and sleeping pad (aka “the big four”) are the most important pieces of equipment you can buy. Since this is such an important category, I’ve listed three different possible combinations for different styles of packing: ultralight, lightweight and midweight. The weight tallies at the bottom of the page show how minor changes to these four items (without changing anything else) can add up to big changes in pack weight.

That being said, all three of these combinations are still relatively lightweight. They are all designed to keep your total pack weight (with food, water and fuel) under 35 pounds, which is the sweet spot for long-distance backpacking comfort and functionality, in my opinion.

I hope this gives you some ideas for designing your own gear list. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them at the bottom of the page.

Option A: Ultralight

Weight: 4.8 lbs, Cost: $615


Granite Gear
Virga 2

Weight: 1.2 lbs
Cost: $140

Six Moon Designs Skyscape Trekker
Weight: 1.5 lbs
Cost: $235
Sleeping Bag

Sierra Designs Backcountry Quilt 700 30°F
Weight: 1.6 lbs
Cost: $220
Sleeping Pad

Therm-A-Rest Ridgerest SOLite Short
Weight: 9 oz
Cost: $20

Option B: Lightweight

Weight: 6.9 lbs, Cost: $1,040


ULA Equipment
OHM 2.0

Weight: 2 lbs
Cost: $210

Big Agnes
Copper Spur

Weight: 2.1 lbs
Cost: $380
Sleeping Bag

Sierra Designs
Backcountry Bed 800 30°F

Weight: 2 lbs
Cost: $320
Sleeping Pad

NeoAir Xlite Regular

Weight: 12 oz
Cost: $130

Option C: Midweight

Weight: 9.4 lbs, Cost: $938


Osprey Exos 58
Weight: 2.4 lbs
Cost: $220

REI Quarter
Dome 2

Weight: 3.3 lbs
Cost: $349
Sleeping Bag

Marmot Sawtooth 15°F
Weight: 2.5 lbs
Cost: $239
Sleeping Pad

Therm-A-Rest NeoAir Trekker Regular
Weight: 1.2 lbs
Cost: $130

Clothing Worn

Weight: 4 lbs, Cost: $309


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

Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Pants
Weight: 12 oz
Cost: $40

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

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

Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof
Weight: 2 lbs
Cost: $120

Superfeet Green Premium Insoles
Weight: 5 oz
Cost: $50

Outdoor Research Helios
Weight: 3 oz
Cost: $36

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

Clothing Packed

Weight: 3.1 lbs, Cost: $563

Base Top

Icebreaker Lightweight
Wool Shirt

Weight: 7 oz
Cost: $60
Base Bottom

Icebreaker Lightweight
Wool Pant

Weight: 6 oz
Cost: $60
Insulated Jacket

Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket
Weight: 12 oz
Cost: $199
Rain Jacket

Marmot Precip Jacket
Weight: 11 oz
Cost: $99
Rain Pants

Marmot Precip Pant
Weight: 9 oz
Cost: $80
Warm Cap

Mountain Hardware
Micro Dome

Weight: 1 oz
Cost: $18

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

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

Cooking & Hydration

Weight: 1.2 lbs, Cost: $187

Cook Stove

MSR Pocket Rocket 2
Weight: 2.6 oz
Cost: $45
Cook Pot

MSR Titan Kettle
Weight: 4 oz
Cost: $60
Pot Cozy

Pot Cozy

Weight: 2 oz
Cost: $10

GSI Outdoors Cascadian Cup
Weight: 1.7 oz
Cost: $6

Light My Fire Spork
Weight: 0.3 oz
Cost: $3
Water Bladder

Platypus Big Zip
3 Liter

Weight: 6 oz
Cost: $37
Water Bottle

Aquafina Bottle
1 Liter

Weight: 1.5 oz
Cost: $1
Water Filter

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

Survival & Miscellaneous

Weight: 2.9 lbs, Cost: $665


Colorado Trail Pocket Atlas
Weight: 3 oz
Cost: $30
GPS (Optional)

Garmin eTrex Touch 35t
Weight: 5.6 oz
Cost: $350

Brunton TruArc 3 Compass
Weight: 1 oz
Cost: $13

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

Your Smartphone
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 Dry
Sack 13L

Weight: 1.3 oz
Cost: $22
Clothing Sack

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Dry
Sack 13L

Weight: 1.3 oz
Cost: $22
Ditty Sack

Granite Gear Air Zippsack (9L)
Weight: 1.1 oz
Cost: $20
Trekking Poles

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

Weight & Cost Summary

Packed Gear
The Big Four (Ultralight)
The Big Four (Lightweight)
The Big Four (Midweight)
Clothing Packed
Cooking and Hydration
Survival and Miscellaneous (minus trekking poles)
4.8 lbs
6.9 lbs
9.4 lbs
3.1 lbs
1.2 lbs
1.9 lbs

Base Pack Weight
11.0 lbs
13.1 lbs
15.6 lbs

+ Consumables
5 Days Food (2.5 lbs per day)
2 Liters Water
Small Isobutane Fuel Canister
Miscellaneous Supplies
12.5 lbs
4.4 lbs
7 oz
10 oz

Full Pack Weight
29.0 lbs
31.1 lbs
33.6 lbs

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

Skin-Out Weight
34.0 lbs
36.1 lbs
38.6 lbs
Total Cost

Have a question or comment about this gear list? Please leave your comments below…

12 Responses to “Colorado Trail Gear List”

  1. kelly Reply

    Eric, my hubby and I love to sleep close, and we have discovered the nemo synthetic double sleeping bag and pad (synthetic because we ladies of a certain age often have hot flashes), a sleeping toque each, as well as the copper spur 3 tent add little to no extra weight and provide comfort, shelter and warmth that we older, average size people enjoy while out on multi day hikes in Mt Robson, Canada. We just divide up the total pack weight. Just a thought for couples :)

  2. Phil Reply

    Eric, I find your site very insightful (no pun intended) and informative. Love your trail diet! Great suggestions. I am doing the West Coast Trail this June. Tried the Exos 58 but the fixed length hip belt was too short for my pudgy 36 waist. I went with the Osprey Aether 60 ($180) with the flexibility of a larger hip belt. This allowed the hip pads to be properly positioned. I love the Aether and I will sacrifice 2.6 lbs for a very comfortable fit and larger carrying capacity. I have the REI Quarter Dome UL1 tent ($165), Enlightened Equipment 30* Prodigy ($200) synthetic quilt and a large Thermarest Neo Xlite ($140). My weight including quilt compression sack and tent footprint is 11.6 lbs.
    Other than the REI tent, I shop online to save state tax and get free shipping. Lot of good sites, like yours, to help my purchase choices.
    Stay frosty!

  3. Gary Reply

    It’s awesome how you managed to make the ultralight the most affordable as well! I have that tent and love it btw. Big fan of GG as well so may have to look into that pack for the long hauls. Thanks!

  4. Gabe B Reply

    Great to see you have the full Collegiate Loop in the Colorado Trail Pocket Guide 2nd Edition. I am doing the Collegiate this year. Last I used the 1st edition for Molas to Salida and it was great. Very accurate and informative. Well done!

  5. Nancy Sorce Reply

    Love this sight to just wish and dream…even tho 75 yrs. old!
    I think I would need a foldable light trowel tho.

  6. Marcel Reply

    Could you elaborate on why you went with waterproof shoes? I thought you were a fan of fast drying non-waterproof. Do you still recommend those for the PCT, whereas the CT is different enough to warrant a different shoe style? Thanks.

    • @Marcel: Yes, the waterproof shoes is because the Colorado Trail has more frequent thundershowers. They are short, but they can dump a lot of rain on you in a short amount of time. I still prefer the Ventilators for the PCT (at least the California part, the waterproof ones would be good for Oregon/Washington.)

  7. Ovi Reply

    Thanks for this Eric. What type of solar panel and/or battery pack do you use to charge your electronics? I don’t see it in the list above.

    • @Ovi: My GPS uses AA batteries so I carry spares of those. And I have one extra battery for my cellphone. As long as I keep the phone in airplane mode and use it only for taking pictures and listening to music/audiobooks in camp in the evening, I can usually get by on two batteries between town stops. I bought a little external battery pack/solar charger like this one a couple of years ago, but never really used it. I’m trying to cut back on the electronic distractions and stop and smell the flowers more.

  8. ida Reply

    Very helpful. May I ask why you wear safety glasses?
    Thanks, ida

    • @Ida: I like the safety glasses because they are lightweight, cheap and disposable. I used to buy regular sunglasses but they were always getting lost or scratched up on the trail. With these I can buy a dozen and replace them as needed.

  9. Sazerac Reply

    Glad to see this update. Your site, along with a select few others, has really helped me consider what I have added to my gear over the past four years as I returned to backpacking.