My Full Backpacking Gear List

my backpacking gear

When it comes to choosing your gear for backpacking, it’s important to find what works for you based on your individual needs, and not necessarily what is used by your friends (or me), or the most popular or award-winning. However, it can be helpful to hear about what works for others.

Considerations before you buy gear

Consider the trifecta of cost vs. weight vs. comfort and where your needs fall within each. For example, if carrying less weight matters, you may need to spend more money on ultralight gear and forgo some comfort items. On the other hand, if comfort is king, your pack will most likely be heavier to carry. If you aren’t in a position to invest a lot of money into backpacking gear, don’t worry. It is possible to find bargains and/or buy used gear to get started. As you gain experience, you can slowly add or replace items if you choose to do so.

My initial approach was to buy the best gear based on what was highly rated. Over time, I realized that I needed to focus more on the weight of every item I carry so I ended up replacing a lot of gear. My goal for the gear I use is to strike a balance between low weight and comfort. I think of it as being “comfort-light”. Everything here has been replaced (sometimes more than once) since I started backpacking. For more info about lightweight gear, see my “How to Lighten the Load of Your Backpack” post.

This is a full list of my backpacking gear. However, I don’t take every item on every trip. What I pack depends on many variables, including the weather, trail conditions, hiking distance, etc.

Backpack

Osprey Aura AG 50 backpack

  • backpack: Osprey Aura 50 AG, small (58 oz) with top lid removed
    I’ve always used Osprey backpacks, progressing from the Osprey Aura 65 to the Osprey Aura AG (anti-gravity) 65 in the first year. After replacing some of my gear with ultralight items and learning to take less gear overall, I downsized to the Osprey Aura AG 50 liter pack. This smaller pack has plenty of space for all of my gear without needing to strap things on the outside (unless I need to take a bear canister, then I carry my tent on the outside). If I need extra capacity, I use the lid, otherwise, I remove it from the pack to save weight.The Osprey Aura is a heavily padded pack with a suspension system that hugs your body. In other words, supremely comfortable. The shoulder straps are thick and cushy to prevent rubbing on my arms and shoulders. The hip belt is constructed with mesh that connects it directly to the lumbar support and transfers the weight of the load to my hips instead of pulling on my shoulders. Overall, I find that the way the pack carries the load provides me with more stability on the trail without moving around on my back.While I would like to be able to use a backpack that weighs less, I’ve tried several ultralight backpacks but find that the comfort of this pack is worth every ounce that it weighs. It doesn’t do much good to have a pack that weighs less if it is too uncomfortable to carry what you take. For more info on what to look for in a backpack, see my Gear Basics: How to Choose a Backpack post.

Rain protection for my backpack: I use two methods for keeping my pack and gear dry, depending on the probability of rain in the forecast.

  • waterproof stuff sack: Schnozzel pump bag
    On every trip, I use a waterproof stuff sack inside my pack for storing my sleeping quilt, puffy jacket and clothing items. Since this stuff sack is also used to blow up my Exped air mattress (see more info below under Sleep System), that makes my waterproof stuff sack a multi-purpose item and saves on pack weight by having more than one use. The Schnozzel pump sack is seam sealed with a roll-down and clasp top opening for keeping gear dry.
  • raincover for backpack: Osprey ultralight rain cover, large (3 oz)
    When it is raining, I like using a rain cover so my pack doesn’t get wet (and heavier with water weight). Since I keep the backpack in my tent, this keeps the inside of my tent drier too. It has elastic cording to pull it tight on your pack regardless of the load or shape. I only take this on trips when there is a chance of rain in the forecast. Otherwise, I leave it at home.

Shelter

I have two tents that I use for backpacking, based on conditions. For most trips, I use the ultralight Tarptent Aeon Li. For colder weather trips, I use the double-wall Tarptent Moment DW.

backpacking tent: Tarptent Aeon Li

  • ultralight tent: Tarptent Aeon Li (16 oz)
    This is an ultralight single-wall tent made with Dyneema fabric. It can be set up using a trekking pole, or with an additional pole available from Tarptent. After using several other types of tents, this is my top pick for almost every backpacking trip. I love how light it is, and the setup is easy once you learn how to do it. For a one person tent, it’s fairly spacious and has plenty of room inside for storing all of my gear, including my backpack. Vents on both ends of the tent and another at the top help to prevent condensation, and I love being able to open both doors for big views. This tent survived a night of heavy rain (1.5″!) and wind in the Olympics and stayed dry inside.
  • tent stakes: MSR Mini Groundhogs – 6 (1.5 oz)

backpacking tent: Tarptent Moment DW

  • tent: Tarptent Moment DW (2 lbs 5 oz)
    The Tarptent Moment DW is a one person double-wall tent with two doors and two vestibules – great for storing gear outside of the tent while allowing for easy access in and out of the tent on the other side. An optional crossing pole (6 ounces) makes this tent freestanding, and adds four season capability with snow load support. The Moment DW can be purchased with a mesh interior or a partial solid interior. I have both and can swap them out as needed based on conditions. See my full review of the Moment DW tent
  • tent footprint: Gossamer Gear Polycro ground cover (1.8 oz)
    I like using a ground cover to protect the floor of my tent. Polycro is a thin, clear plastic material that is strong and very lightweight. It’s the same material used to insulate windows and can be found at hardware stores. To use, lay it down before setting up your tent, making sure to tuck in the edges so they are fully underneath your tent floor so water can’t pool on it and flow under the tent.

Sleep System

Enlightened Equipment Revelation Quilt

  • sleeping quilt: Enlightened Equipment Revelation (1 lb 6 oz)
    After purchasing three different sleeping bags, I’m now using a sleeping quilt. I was looking for something lighter in weight but still warm. I also wanted more flexibility: something more snug when it’s cold, and looser when it’s not. I really don’t like being confined in a traditional mummy bag. A quilt also has the advantage of being more flexible in terms of how it it used. See my full review of the Revelation Quilt

Exped UL Medium sleeping pad

  • sleeping pad: Exped Synmat UL M (16 oz) and Schnozzel pump bag
    Extremely comfortable, lightweight, and quiet! The Exped Synmat has synthetic insulation and an R-value of 2.9 (updated in 2020). The raised baffles on the sides are perfect for keeping my arms off the ground, and I find that the vertical baffles are more comfortable than pads with horizontal baffles. I don’t feel like I’m falling off the edges. This pad comes with the Schnozzel pump bag for blowing up the air mattress, and it also doubles as a waterproof stuff sack so I used it as a pack liner to pack my quilt, down jacket, and other items that need to stay dry.
  • sleeping pad for cold weather: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xtherm (15 oz)
    With an R-value of 6.9, the Xtherm is the warmest pad available that is also lightweight. After spending too many cold nights on my Exped, I switched to using the Xtherm and haven’t gotten cold while using it yet. I originally bought this pad for winter snow camping and didn’t think I’d get much use out of it otherwise, but now this is my preferred pad whenever the temps dip below 40 degrees overnight.

Pillows: Not everyone needs a pillow to sleep well on backpacking trips, but I do. It especially seems to help if you have neck or back issues. I’ve tried several pillows and have settled on air pillows that are designed with an indented center so you don’t slip off of it. I recommend filling them only part-way to make it conform to the shape of your head better. An air pillow filled to full capacity is hard and tends to make your head roll off of it.

backpacking pillows

  • ultralight pillow (left): Massdrop x Klymit Pillow X, small (1.8 oz)
    This air pillow has an X shape that cradles your head. Since the fabric is slick, I wrap my hiking shirt around the pillow and use the shirt sleeves to tie it to my sleeping pad.
  • ultralight pillow (right): Outdoor Vitals Ultralight Stretch Pillow (2.6 oz)
    The fabric on this air pillow is softer than most and is stretchy so it’s super comfortable.

Kitchen Gear

backpacking stove setup

On backpacking trips, I sometimes struggle with appetite and find it challenging to get enough food in my body to replenish me, so it’s important to have food that I find appetizing and will eat. Due to this, I always cook breakfasts and dinners (sometimes even lunches) using a backpacking stove. I like to cook and make all of my own dehydrated meals, so having a kitchen setup that works for cooking rather than only for boiling water is important to me.

I initially used a Jetboil Minimo for several years and it worked great. I especially liked the simmer feature with an adjustable flame for cooking in a pot. But the Minimo is a bit heavy and bulky, so I updated my kitchen kit with a new ultralight setup that nests together, takes up less space in my pack, and saves 12 ounces over my old setup (including a separate mug that I no longer use).

For more info on the types of backpacking stoves to consider: Gear Basics: Backpacking Kitchen Gear post.

backpacking stove setup

  • stove: Soto Amicus stove with Piezo igniter (2.8 oz)
    Features that I like about this stove: it’s ultralight; packs down small; has four supports for stability; has a concave burner for better wind resistance.
  • stuff sack for stove: Zpacks wallet/camera stuff sack (0.8 oz)
  • pot: Soto New River pot with lid (5 oz)
    I purchased this pot as a set with the stove. It has a non-slip base so it doesn’t move around on the stove, and the lid has a silicone tab so you don’t need a pot holder to remove the lid when cooking, plus a small opening for steam to escape from.
  • fuel for stove: 1 small canister (weight varies based on how much fuel is left – a full canister weighs 7 oz)
  • ultralight mug/pot: TOAKS LIGHT Titanium 550 ml pot with lid (2.6 oz)
    I use this pot as a mug on backpacking trips. Features that I love: it’s ultralight; has a lid; can be heated on my stove; doesn’t retain odors/tastes like plastic does. Bonus! This pot nests inside my cook pot for packability.
  • soap: Dr. Brommer’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap – unscented (2 oz)
    One soap, two purposes: for the camp kitchen to wash dishes, and in my toiletries kit for sponge baths.
  • mini-dropper bottle for soap: Gossamer Gear mini dropper bottle set
  • towel for washing dishes: camp towel, small – 14″ x 10″ – green  (1 oz)
    I like to reduce the amount of disposable items I use and pack towels are a great way to do so. They are lightweight, dry super fast, and this brand is antimicrobial.
  • spork: Morsel Spork (0.6 oz) not shown
    The silicone edges on this spork make cleaning food out of my pan much easier.
  • stuff sack for kitchen kit: Zpacks Dyneema cooking pot stuff sack, size 1.3L (0.14 oz) not shown

ADDITIONAL KITCHEN GEAR OPTIONS

  • stove: Jetboil Minimo system (14 oz)
    I’ve replaced this stove with my setup listed above. However, I still think the Minimo is a great choice for backpackers. I like to cook, and love the simmer feature of the Minimo. The fuel consumption is minimal (even with simmering meals), so one canister lasts for multiple trips. I’ve used it on over 25 backpacking trips and it’s still working like new. The lid has holes for draining water, and an opening for pouring. The stabilizer clips onto a fuel canister to prevent your pot from falling over. And the plastic cover on the bottom can be used as a bowl at camp. All of these items plus a fuel canister nest inside the pot for carrying in your pack.
  • mug: GSI Outdoors Infinity Backpacker Mug (3.5 oz)
    I’ve replaced this mug with an ultralight version but this is a great low budget option. This is an insulated plastic mug with a cozy that keeps drinks very hot and has a locking lid to prevent spills.

Food Storage

backpacking food storage

  • bear bag: Ursack Major XL Bear Bag (8 oz)
    The Ursack is made with bulletproof Spectra fabric for keeping bears out of your food and is my preferred food storage method. An Ursack doesn’t need to be hung as high as a traditional food bag, and I find that it also keeps rodents out if you close it properly. I tie the Ursack around the trunk of a tree at least 100 feet from my tent. It does not count as a bear canister though, so if that is required where you are going, you’ll need a hard-sided canister.
  • food sack: Zpacks Bear Bagging Kit (3.4 oz)
    This kit includes a large stuff sack made with waterproof Dyneema fabric, a small rock sack, carabiner, and Z-line slick cord.
  • cord for hanging food: BlueWater 3mm NiteLine Utility Cord
    The NiteLine cord is highly visible at night when you point your headlamp near it, making it look like a string of lights.
  • bear canister: Wild Ideas Bearikade Scout (28 oz)
    I frequently backpack in areas where bear canisters are required. Instead of relying on the heavier, bulky canisters available at ranger stations, this carbon fiber bear canister actually fits in my backpack and weighs much, much less. The Scout’s capacity is 500 cubic inches, which can hold up to 5 days of food.
  • bear canister: LIGHTER1 Lil’ Sami Polycarbonate Bear-Resistant Food Canister (28 oz)
    This is the first bear canister that I purchased. One of the smallest bear canisters currently made, it can hold 2-3 days of foods and fits easily into a backpack. Though I’ve never used it this way, the lid to the canister doubles as a lightweight cooking pan, and a lid for the pan is also included in the kit. A metal brace inside the lid adds strength to the plastic canister (and serves as a handle for the pan).

Hydration & Water Filtering

This hydration kit is what I take for filtering water on backpacking trips. It’s compact, simple to use, and very lightweight. I created a DIY setup for filtering water using gravity, without needing to purchase a kit designed specifically for this use. Learn more in my blog post.

Total storage capacity with this system: 5 liters (add another Hydroblu canteen for 7 liters of capacity)
Total weight of this setup: 10 oz.

my ultralight backpacking hydration & filtering system

Essentials & Electronics

I like to carry a few essential and first aid items to stay safe while backpacking. And while backpacking is a great way to unplug, there are a few electronics that can be useful on trips.

backpacking essentials

I carry these essentials in a waterproof ditty bag.

  • headlamp: Princeton Tec Axis rechargeable headlamp (2.7 oz)
    This headlamp has high-power LEDs that are dimmable, a red lamp, and it’s rechargeable using a mini USB cable so there’s no need to carry spare batteries.
  • compass: Suunto MC-2 Pro
  • Personal Locator Device: DeLorme InReach SE (7 oz) no longer available – I recommend the Garmin InReach Mini instead.
    I added the InReach to my backpacking kit for the peace of mind that comes with an SOS device, but also so I could stay in touch with my husband when I’m out backpacking. The InReach SE is a two-way satellite communicator, so you can text back and forth as needed, which could be critical when an emergency requires it. The SOS button contacts emergency responders with your location and message. The device pairs with smartphones for use with the Earthmate app, adding mapping and the ability to type messages on a keyboard instead with the device’s clunky four-direction button. Annual or monthly service plans are required.
  • emergency fire starter: Bic Mini and cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly
  • repair kit: Gear Aid Tenacious Tape
    This tape can be used to repair just about everything. I also take the repair patches that came with my air mattress, and a small amount of duct tape. The orange pole segment is used to repair a tent pole.
  • battery backup: Anker Astro Ei 5200mAh + two connection cords (4.9 oz)
    For recharging my DeLorme InReach, rechargeable headlamp, camera battery, and iPhone.

backpacking essentials

I carry these essentials in my hip belt pocket so I can access them easily while hiking.

  • lip balm with sunscreen
  • multi-tool: Leatherman Squirt PS4 Multi-tool (2 oz)
    This multi-tool includes regular pliers, needle-nose pliers, scissors, 3 screwdrivers, wire cutters, wood/metal file, straight knife and a bottle opener. Of all the tools on it, I use the scissors the most.
  • hex tool for Peak Design camera clip, hair tie
  • stuff sack for mini essentials: Zpacks wallet/camera stuff sack (0.8 oz)
  • Salt Stick electrolytes
    I tend to sweat a lot when hiking, and replacing electrolytes is essential. I like the capsules better than adding a powder mix to water. This product contains the same breakdown of minerals as your sweat: sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium, plus vitamin D.

First Aid

my backpacking first aid gear

This is my basic first aid kit for backpacking. I’ve taken the NOLS Wilderness First Aid certification course twice and it helped me discover what I needed for first aid. I highly recommend that every backpacker take one of these courses.

  • antiseptic towlettes for cleaning wounds
  • first aid tape
  • stretch bandage
  • moleskin
  • tweezers
  • antibiotic ointment
  • syringe for cleaning wounds
  • disposable gloves
  • gauze pads
  • assorted bandages
  • Second Skin burn gel
  • semi-transparent bandage for large wounds
  • Wilderness first aid pocket guide
  • mini plastic bags for first aid pharmacy: Ezy Dose Pill Pouches
    Instead of purchasing various pills in travel packets, I use these tiny plastic bags to customize what I take based on medications from my home supplies.

Toiletries & Bathroom Kit

You don’t have to be dirty and smelly on a backpacking trip. Say goodbye to at least some of the funk by carrying a few toiletry items, and be prepared for using the bathroom in the backcountry with a simple bathroom kit. Instead of bringing everything that I use at home, I only take a few essential toiletry items on backpacking trips. To save pack weight and bulk, repackage toiletry items into small containers such as tubs and dropper bottles and only bring the amount that you need for each trip.

After hiking each day, I take sponge baths in my tent to wipe off sweat and dirt, as well as sunscreen and insect repellent. This not only keeps my skin in good condition and reduces chafing and rashes, it also helps to keep my sleeping quilt clean. Accumulated build up of skin oils and dirt can impact the warmth of insulated gear, not to mention that it’s nice to sleep  a clean bag each night.

backpacking toiletries

My toiletry kit, shown above:

Bathroom Kit

I carry a separate kit for using the bathroom in the backcountry so I’ll have everything I need when it’s time to dig a cat hole. I always pack out all toilet paper by using an odor proof plastic bag, concealing the contents with a pet waste bag. And I use a portable bidet cap on top of a water bottle to stay fresh and clean, which also greatly reduces the amount of toilet paper needed.

backpacking bathroom kit

  • trowel: Deuce of Spades trowel (0.6 oz)
    Super lightweight and easy to use.
  • odor-proof bag: Loksak Opsak, 11″ x 9″
    An odor-proof bag is the best way to pack out used toilet paper. I keep one in my bathroom kit, and place a color plastic doggie bag inside it so it conceals the contents and keeps the Opsak clean. Also helpful for carrying out doggie poo.
  • bidet attachment for water bottle: Culo Clean (0.7 oz)
    There’s nothing like a strong spray of water to keep you feeling clean and refreshed on an overnight trip. This portable bidet is small and lightweight, and for going #2, it makes toilet paper almost not necessary. I use it every time I need to pee too… then my pee cloth is just used to dry off and stays cleaner.
  • hand sanitizer: All Good Hand Sanitizer  (not shown)
    This brand of hand sanitizer doesn’t leave a sticky residue after use.
  • stuff sack for bathroom kit: Poop-moji Pouch (0.3 oz)
    Used for my trowel, toilet paper, wipes, hand sanitizer and an odor-proof bag for carrying out used toilet paper.
  • toilet paper or wipes (always carried out after use)
  • pee cloth: Kula Cloth (0.5 oz) not shown
    Instead of using tp for peeing, I like using a bidet to spray water and use the pee cloth for drying off. I keep it on the outside of my pack and it dries super fast, with no smell (this cloth is antimicrobial).

Camera Equipment

One of the main reasons I backpack is to spend time in scenic locations in the wilderness. In order to capture some of that beauty, camera gear is one of the few items that I’m willing to carry extra weight for. I use a Sony full frame mirrorless camera with interchangeable lenses that I can choose according to what I plan to photograph.

my hiking camera gear

  • camera: Sony a7RII Mirrorless Digital Camera Body (22 oz)
    This is a full frame mirrorless camera with a 42 megapixel sensor, so it’s capable of taking high quality images in varying conditions, including night sky photography.
  • camera lens: Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 (18 oz)
    After using only prime lenses for a full year, I wanted a lens with some zoom capability so I chose this lens since it has a moderate wide angle at 28mm and can zoom in slightly to 75mm while not being as heavy as other full frame lenses available for my camera.
  • camera lens: Sony FE 28mm f/2 lens (7 oz) This wide angle lens is what I (used to) take on most of my trips. For longer or more difficult trips where every ounce matters, this is my lens of choice. Otherwise, I like the Tamron lens listed above for more focal length options.
  • camera lens: Samyang AF/FE 18mm f/2.8 lens (5 oz) This is a super wide lens that I use for night sky and star photography.
  • camera strap: PeakDesign Slide Lite Camera Strap (2 oz)
    This strap is more comfortable than standard camera straps and is easily adjustable with quick-adjustor handles. After dropping my previous camera in a creek on a backpacking trip, now I make a habit of keeping the strap around my neck while I’m hiking, even when it’s clipped into the camera clip on my backpack strap.
  • extra camera batteries: Sony NP-FW50 battery (2 oz)
    I always take at least one extra camera battery with me, two if the trip is longer than three days.
  • camera attachment: PeakDesign Capture 3.0 Camera Clip (3 oz)
    This camera clip attaches to the straps on a backpack to keep your camera easily accessible.
  • waterproof camera cover: PeakDesign Shell, small (2.4 oz)
    This cover can be used on the camera while you carry it on a backpack strap. I also use it for protecting the camera when storing it in my tent.
  • tripod: Sirui T-024SK Carbon Fiber Tripod (2.2 lbs)
    I don’t take this tripod on every trip, but if I’m planning to do night sky photography, it’s a must to take. This is one of the lightest full size tripods available. I especially like the high quality ball head as well as the ease of setup and making adjustments to the height of the tripod legs.
  • tripod: Pedco Ultrapod II with an Arca plate add-on (4.2 oz)
    This tripod is easy to use, ultralight and supports the weight of my camera. It sits fairly low to the ground and isn’t as useful as a regular tripod, but at the low weight, is better than nothing.

Clothing & Footwear

Since every ounce counts when carrying a loaded backpack, I take as few clothing items as possible, relying on layering techniques instead of bringing extra items for each day.

Layering clothing for hiking & backpacking

These are a few of my favorite clothing items for hiking, although I have many others that I also use, these are the items that I use the most.

  • Women’s Butterlicious Long Sleeve Half-Zip
    Super soft against the skin, this synthetic top feels good to wear day after day.
  • Icebreaker merino wool short sleeve top
    Great for warm weather hiking, this top has airy mesh panels for ventilation.
  • Prana Halle Straight Pants
    My favorite hiking pants! The fabric is super stretchy, the fit is slim, and they look just as good in the city as in the backcountry.
  • Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Socks
    Socks are one of the few things that are good to have in multiples for backpacking. I like to take three pair: two are for hiking, and one pair is for sleeping. Darn Tough socks are extremely durable. I’ve yet to get a hole in any of these, but if I do, they have a lifetime warranty.
  • Patagonia Women’s Barely Bra
    Yay! A sports bra that doesn’t bind, create a uniboob, or pull your arm out of its socket to get it off. The fabric is soft, wicks well, and doesn’t feel restrictive the way most bras do.
  • Patagonia Womens Active Mesh Boy Shorts Underwear
    I only take one extra pair of underwear on backpacking trips. It’s simple to wash them at camp and they dry fast so you always have a clean pair to wear. These are so comfortable, plus combined with the bra, they make a great backcountry bikini!
  • Icebreaker Merino Wool Oasis Crew Long Underwear Top
    I wear this soft merino wool top for sleeping, and if it’s really cold while hanging around at camp at night, it can be worn as an extra layer.
  • Columbia OmniHeat leggings
    Synthetic leggings lined with silver dots to reflect body heat, these are my favorite base layer pants for sleeping in (or wearing under hiking pants in cold weather).

Layering clothing for hiking & backpacking

  • Outdoor Vitals Loktek Jacket
    This unisex synthetic jacket is feature-packed at a low price: it has an adjustable hood, pit zips, hand pockets, thumbholes, and a DWR finish to resist rain. This is my jacket of choice for day hikes.
  • Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer
    This hooded down jacket is extremely lightweight, provides a lot of warmth, and layers well with an outer shell due it’s trim shape. This jacket goes with me on every backpacking trip.
  • Columbia Glacial Half Zip Fleece Top
    I only take this fleece top on super cold weather trips or hikes in the winter.
  • NW Alpine Spider Hoody
    Made with Polartec grid fleece, this top will keep you toasty warm in cold weather. Features include a hood, thumb loops, and a chest pocket.

Layering clothing for hiking & backpacking

  • Outdoor Research Helium II Rain Jacket
    At just over 5 ounces, this is one of the lightest rain jackets available and it goes with me on every backpacking and hiking trip, regardless of the forecast. It’s also great for protection from high winds.
  • Outdoor Research Helium Rain Pants
    These rain pants feature 2.5 layer Pertex-Shield+ fabric, have ankle zippers, an elastic waist, and they stuff into the back pocket for storing in your pack. I only take these rain pants if there is rain in the forecast.
  • Mountain Hardwear Super Chockstone Hooded Jacket
    I wear this soft shell jacket while day hiking in cool weather, but don’t take it on backpacking trips. This jacket is more breathable than a rain jacket but won’t cause overheating as easily as an insulated jacket.

Gloves: I always take a light pair of gloves on every backpacking trip regardless of weather. It’s not uncommon for it to be much colder at night or in the morning, especially when taking photos of the stars at night. I like gloves with sensors so you can use them with a touchscreen without taking them off.

Hats: I tend to rely on the hoods on jackets and like to wear a trucker hat to keep the sun out of my eyes, but having a beanie is great for keeping my head warm at night when I’m sleeping since my quilt doesn’t have a hood.

Footwear

Altra Olympus trail running shoes

I’m a complete convert to trail running shoes over hiking boots, and I’m not a runner. My feet used to get overheated and sore easily on hikes, with my toes squished in the typical toe box of a boot. Most trail running shoes use mesh on the top and sides of the shoe, and have a wider toe box to give your feet a more natural alignment when hiking. I find that the zero drop feature has relieved the pain I used to feel in the balls of my feet. Zero drop means that the toes and the heel are at the same height, with no “drop” for the toes. I even wear them when crossing streams. The mesh allows the water to drain out, and the shoes dry quickly. Bonus: there’s no need for camp shoes since these are so comfy to wear. I loosen the laces for wearing around camp and to make them easier to slip on and off. So, after wearing these on a few hikes, I retired my hiking boots.

  • Altra Olympus Trail Running Shoes
    These are my favorite hiking shoes. Olympus zero drop trail runners have a high stack height… perfect for keeping your feet from tiring on long trail days, especially on rocky trails.
  • Altra Lone Peak RSM Trail Running Shoes
    For cold and rainy weather, I switch out mesh trail runners for a waterproof version in a mid-height shoe.

Additional Gear

  • backpacking chair: Helinox Chair Zero (16 oz)
    While a chair is considered a luxury item for some people, it’s definitely worth carrying to prevent back and hip issues. This chair is ultralight, easy to setup, and comfortable. It’s also a great way to carry gear back and forth to a camp kitchen. I keep my chair in the tent vestibule overnight and place my water containers and filtering gear in it to keep them off the ground.
  • sit seat: Therm-a-Rest Z Seat Pad (2 oz)
    One of the most versatile item in my pack is this seat pad. Besides using it to sit on for breaks when day hiking, I also use it as a doormat outside my tent door to protect my knees as I get in and out of my tent. When it’s cold, I place it silver-side up in my backpacking chair and it reflect body heat to keep me warm. When it’s super cold, I place it under my torso when I sleep for radiant heat. And if you need to fan a campfire to get it going, or a wind screen for your stove, the seat pad works for those purposes too. One more potential use is as a sling support if you get injured. All for just two ounces!
  • trekking poles: Leki Cressida Cor-Tec Women’s Trekking Poles
    I always hike with trekking poles, no matter the trail. They help to reduce strain on your lower body by distributing some of the work to your upper body, and provide stability on trail while ascending or descending or when crossing streams. Most people find that they help reduce strain on their knees on downhill sections. I also use one of my trekking poles to setup my Aeon Li tent.

 

I Heart Backpacking: How to Get Started

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links for some items, which means that I make a small commission if a purchase is made. This does not change the price of the item. I am not sponsored by any gear companies and the items listed here are owned by me and unless otherwise stated, are purchased with my own funds. All gear reviews are honest and not paid for by any company. Thank you for supporting this blog!