Bottle for Hydration Mix:
In addition to water, both Chris and Mac carry a separate bottle with a hydration packet added to replace electrolytes lost through sweat. Hands down, we believe the best bottles for this are made by Platypus
. For this purpose, we carry the Platypus 0.5 litre size, but they come in a variety of sizes. They weigh virtually nothing and are amazingly durable.
Tents bring with them a lot of weight, that is why we always buy ultralight tents. Additionally, we believe it is easier to find level ground for a tent if we use separate one person tents. To go as light as possible, while still using a walled, free standing tent, our go to is the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1
(one person). We’ve used these tents for a couple of years now and, with a small packed size and a weight of 2 lbs., 8 oz for the full system, they are hard to beat.
A quality sleeping bag for backpacking is pretty darn important. Also important is weight. To handle both, we love Western Mountaineering
. They are extremely well constructed, amazingly light weight, warrant temperature rating given, and stuff to an incredibly small size. For colder climates, we use the Western Mountaineering TerraLite: Down 25 Degree Bag, while for warmer trips we use the Western Mountaineering Everlite: Down 45 Degree Bag. Trust us, the
se bags do not disappoint.
We both use the NEMO Equipment Fillo Pillow
and we love them. They have a comfortable fabric top, are inflatable for desired firmness, are incredibly light weight, and stuff into their own attached stuff sack, packing down to less than a soda can in size.
To us, a good sleeping pad is a must for a good night’s sleep on the trail. We each have two sleeping pads – one for warm weather and one for cold – because the higher the insulation rating of a pad, the heavier it is to carry. For warm weather, there is no need to carry the additional weight of a cold weather pad, so we use the NEMO Astro Lite Sleeping Pad
. It is very light, very small to pack, and provides an excellent night’s sleep. In cold weather, we carry the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir All Season Sleep Pad
. Although noticeably heavier than the NEMO due to its insulation factor (and a bit noisy), the pad strikes a great balance between weight and warmth.
For us, backpacking is not about the food. We love to cook and eat well at home, but preparing meals on the trail comes with a significant weight penalty. As such, we carry lightweight dehydrated food and a water boiling system. When conditions are forecast to be less than optimal, we believe the MSR Windburner Personal Stove System
is the best for handling wind and precipitation. It weighs only 15.5 oz and packs into one unit just a little bigger than a soda can. Otherwise, we bring along our Snow Peak GigaPower Lite Max
and Snow Peak Titanium Trek 1400 Cook Set
. This system weighs in at a mere 9.8 oz and takes less space because we store our fuel canisters inside the cook set. For light weight backpacking, we think either of these is a great way to go.
Cooking & Eating: B
ecause we rehydrate our food with boiling water, we have no need of bulky pots and pans. To keep things simple and light, for eating we use the GSI Outdoors Collapsible Fair Share Mug
. The large mug is silicone and very heat resistant, has a lid so you can steep your food when rehydrating, a solid folding handle, and collapses to almost flat. For a drinking mug, we use the Sea to Summit X-Mug Collapsible Mug
, which collapses to wafer thin. Finally, for an eating utensil we use the incredibly light Snow Peak Titanium Spork
. That’s it! The three together are very light weight and all three pack together in one quart size zip lock bag for carrying!
Food protection is important not only when dealing with bears, but also rodents. When hard sided bear protection is required, we like the Bearvault BV 450 Bear Resistant Food Canister.
It is substantially lighter than most hard sided bear containers and fits comfortably in a backpack, while holding enough food and toiletries for up to a five night backpacking trip. It also makes a reasonable seat for camp. When hard sided bear protection is not required, we also use the Ursack Allmitey
. This soft-sided bear and rodent protection is approved for most
areas requiring bear food protection, saves almost one pound over the Bearvault 450, can be hung form a tree or tied to it, and holds more than enough food and toiletries for up to a five night backpacking trip.
Let’s face it, sitting on the ground, a bear vault, or a log is not exactly comfortable. In many instances, we will take the weight penalty to carry a camp chair. This is particularly true with the recently released Helinox Chair Zero
. It weighs only 1.1 lbs and packs down to a very small size. The chair is amazing! Other chairs we use when we don’t mind extra weight are the Helinox Chair One Mini Camp Chair
(2lbs) and the Helinox Sunset Chair
(3 lbs, 4 oz). With these larger chairs you do get more comfort, but the penalty is weight and less room in your pack. That said, they are fantastic chairs.
Ultralight Down Jackets:
A jacket is a must for most backpacking trips, but they are heavy and bulky. Because we always seek the lightest solution that meets our backpacking needs, finding the right jacket was important to us: Enter the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer
down jacket. It weighs only 8.3 oz for a men’s large, has an 800-fill goose down fill, and has served us very well during the four years we have used them. We can’t say enough good things about this jacket!
Headlamps (Emergency Use):
Headlamps are a must for backpacking. Chris carries the Black Diamond Spot 350 Headlamp
and Mac carries the Petzl ACTIK Headlamp
. Both are light weight, powerful, and have a variety of beams as well as red light so you won’t disturb your neighbors.
Equipment does occasionally break while on the trail. Carrying a multi-tool
, as well as some tie wraps and a strong tape such as Tenacious Tape, can be instrumental in solving the problem. For backpacking, we each carry the ultra light Gerber Dime Mini Multi-Tool. Despite its small size and limited number of tools, it has the basic tools needed to fix most problems.
Ditty bags are a great way to organize gear in your pack. We carry the Granite Gear Tough Sack 2L and 5L for backpacking
. The 2L size has enough room to store first aid, a multi-tool, a battery back-up, tie-wraps and some tape. The 5L bag is large enough to carry the extra clothes we need for up to a 5 night backpacking trip. The bags come in a variety of sizes, are ultralight, and coated for water resistance.