Backpacking Gear We Use (1st Edition)

It’s no secret that hikers in the backpacking community love sharing their own personal gear lists. We are no exception.

One thing I’d like to make clear right from the jump is that we are not the most ultralight backpacking couple on the planet, so you may notice some pieces of gear and gasp in horror when you realize how much weight we could be saving. You’re absolutely right! I’ll wait for your generous donation to obtain that spiffy new wallet-eating Zpacks tent and backpack. Much obliged.

…And then we woke up.

So, here’s a list of what we currently carry on the trail, starting with our sleep system:

When choosing the object in which we’d be counting sheep and allowing our swollen feet to rest up, we decided that we wanted something not ridiculously heavy, but also roomy enough to be able to store our bodies and backpacks. After much debating and researching, we went with the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3. This tent is a breeze to set up and take down, is fairly lightweight, and can fit everything we need it to comfortably. We love it and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it!

Getting a good night’s rest is extremely important when backpacking, as is staying warm. With that said, I had my eye on a quilt from Enlightened Equipment for quite some time. Eventually, I pulled the trigger on a Conundrum Sleeping Bag. I need something to keep my toes toasty, so I declined choosing a fully-opened quilt. This bag is super comfortable, lightweight, and keeps me warmer than a polar bear’s toenails. Sorry, OutKast, I tried.

Bailey is rocking a Summer sleeping bag at the moment and she absolutely cannot stomach the thought of being mummified, so she needed something with a lot of wiggle room in the leg area of the bag. This ended up being the Nemo Viola. She tends to toss and turn throughout the night, so this ended up working out really well. It also has “thermo gills” (say what?!) to trap and release heat, which means she’s basically neatly-packaged bear food. How would you like your human meatstick, Mr. Smokey?

For our sleeping pads, I went with the ever popular yet insanely noisy Thermarest NeoAir Xlite. It’s a very comfortable pad that I can strap my sleeping bag to, but it sounds like someone stomping on a bag of chips when I turn at night. Bailey, on the other hand, chose the thug life and went with a non-inflatable pad. She’s using the Thermarest Z Lite Sol, which is actually far more comfy than I ever expected. Also, no noise, which is worth, like, 10,000 bonus points. Seriously, the NeoAir is disturbing.

Since we’re listing backpacking gear, it might be of some benefit if we had actually purchased backpacks. Good news… we did. We could have gone with much lighter packs than the ones we chose. Bad news… we didn’t. Instead, we opted for the beasts of the backpacking world: the Osprey Atmos 65 and the Osprey Aura 50. Amazing packs if you need to carry a heavy load, or if you just want to see how close you can get to becoming an actual camel. A little on the heavy side when compared to the new ultralight brands out there, but we still love our packs:

Your feet while backpacking are like golden nuggets of hikerdom. If you don’t take care of them properly, you will regret it. Imagine Michael Jordan playing basketball. Now, imagine Michael Jordan playing basketball without arms. That tongue isn’t saving him, bet your ass on that. Also, I just realized those two words should never be that close together. Oh well. What was my point? Oh right…

The point is that we’re currently using a combination of Darn Tough, Fits, and Smartwool socks. I use a pair of Injinji sock-liners at the moment as well. On top of our socks, we’re both wearing Altras. I use the Altra Lone Peak 3.5s and Bailey has the Altra Superior 3.5s. These are zero-drop shoes, which may take some getting used to for some, but I found them to be like crack for my feet. They weigh much less than my old Merrell Moab standbys and have a huge amount of room in the toe box. Some hikers might like the idea of wearing boots on the trail, but we like the idea of our footwear weighing less than our backpacks.

We’ve now entered the section of the article that centers around the thing I like to do best: Eat. And you can’t eat while backpacking without the proper cooking kit. Well, you could cold soak everything like Darwin, but that dude also hikes like 30 miles in one day, so we’ll leave him to his own maddening methods and stick to having a hot meal in the evenings. It’s all about morale, son! Which is why we use a JetBoil Fluxring Pot, combined with an MSR Pocket Rocket 2. With these two items, we can boil water for the two of us quicker on the trail than we can at home. This is not an exaggeration. Yes, we need an open flame stove in the kitchen, so what? You’re missing the point. We can have dinner finished and trash packed away in around 20 minutes from start to finish, because we also eat like starving animals.

Speaking of trash, this is the point where I remind all my fellow hikers and future hikers to:

Leave No Trace!

Yes, I know you’ve probably heard this a thousand times, but it needs to be repeated constantly. During our most recent backpacking trip, we couldn’t help but notice the amount of garbage people had left behind. Unacceptable. Get your stuff together, put it in a backpack, sell it on EBay, just get it together. And please, keep it off the trail and out of campsites.

In fact, we should probably just leave the article on this note, as it’s the one thing you really need to walk away with. If nature becomes a landfill, our future would-be hikers will be out of luck. No one wants that.

We’ll be detailing more of our gear in the future, so stay tuned.

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