Lightweight Backpacking Gear Checklist

9 Pound Full Comfort Lightweight Backpacking Gear Checklist

A 9 pound pack is all you need to be safe and warm. So, if you want to lower your pack weight but retain all the convenience and comfort of “traditional” backpacking, look no further than this Lightweight Backpacking Gear Checklist.

This Lightweight Backpacking Gear  Checklist is suitable for most backpackers on most 3-season trips in the lower 48 and most trips world-wideIn some instances, you may wish to fine-tune this list to your particular trip needs and/or backpacking style by selecting suitable optional or alternate gear in this list. I’ve also tried to list a number or items available from major retailers like REI, e.g. the excellent and reasonably priced Outdoor Research Helium II Rain Jacket at only 6.4 ounces!

Note: feel like going even lighter? See: 5 Pound Practical Lightweight Backpacking Gear Checklist (link) New
The lightest gear that still makes practical sense. Focused on efficiency while staying warm, dry & safe

9 lb Lightweight Backpacking Gear Checklist – summary with weights

Backpack and Gear Packaging1.9Backpack, stuff sacks, food storage
Sleeping Gear & Tent/Shelter (conventional tent)2.8best high Western Mountains & treeless areas
Opt. sleeping Gear & Shelter  – (hammock)2.8 best East Coast and other wooded areas e.g. AT
Cooking Gear and Water Storage/Treatment0.8Stove, pot, cookware, water “bottles” & purification
Clothing in Pack (not usually worn)2.4Rain jacket, warm jacket, gloves, etc.
“Essential” Gear1.4Maps, SOS device, first aid kit, headlamp, knife, sunscreen…
BASE PACK WEIGHT (BPW)9.3BPW = all items in pack = all items above,
1 Pint of Water1.0Average! amount of water carried in pack
See: The Best Hydration – Drink When Thirsty
Food – for a long weekend – 3 day trip4.53 days x 1.5 lb per day
Fuel0.24 fl-oz alcohol = 3.2 oz wt
Total of Consumables5.7 Water, food, and fuel
TRAIL PACK WEIGHT (BPW + consumables)15.0 For a long weekend – 3 day trip
Clothing Worn and Items Carried (not in pack)4.8Not included in pack weight: clothing worn on the trail, hat, shoes, trekking poles, stuff in pockets, etc.
Also see: Best Ways to Protect from Lyme & Zika
Camera Equipment Gear List (new page) ?Details for Serious Light Backpacking Cameras

Detail of Gear Checklist Items


Pack opt 1Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 (or larger 3400) Southwest Pack 32.0Light, strong, (waterproof, seam sealed bag), great frame/carrying capacity, good pockets.
Pack opt 2ULAOhm 2.0 Pack (32 oz)Do-it-all pack, great value, durable, fits bear can.
Through Hiker Favorite PackOsprey Exos 48 Pack (40 oz)Good price. Larger pack. Fits bear canister. A staple on the AT and PCT
Pack UltralightMountain Laurel Designs 3500ci EXODUS (16 oz) No frame. Almost all Dyneema. Very little mesh. For shorter trips without bear canister
Pack UltralightGossamer Gear Mariposa 60 (29)Big volume, fits bear canister, lots of pockets
Waterproofing for pack2x Gossamer Gear Pack Liner
or a trash compactor bag
(1) liner for sleeping bag and insulating clothes
(1) liner for everything else


For more tents see our Backpacking Tents | Lightweight & Ultralight
Tent (alt)Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 or UL3 Tent 2.2 lb for two peopleOne of the best and lightest backpacking tents. UL3 is exceptionally roomy and light for two people!
 Tent (alt)REI Quarter Dome 2 Tent
2.6 lb for two people
Good value in a lightweight free-standing backpacking tent. Lot’s of vertical room.
Tent/ShelterMountain Laurel Des. Solomid XL [in Silnylon (17 oz)]14.0Extremely versatile shelter for low weight. (use MLD InnerNet for floor & bugs)
Tent/Shelter (alternate)MLD Grace Duo Tarp Silnylon (15) Cuben (7.8)Huge coverage. Low weight. Great ventilation and views.
BivyMLD Superlight Bivy (7.0)Perfect with tarp. When bringing will cowboy camp under stars most nights
Ground clothGossamer Gear Polycryo M (1.6)1.6Not needed with a bivy or shelters with a floor
Stakes8 MSR Groundhog Y-stakes .5oz ea4.0Hold better than skewer stakes. Red easier to find!
Guylines3mm MSR Reflective Utility Cord  2.4mm reflect cord (8×4-ft lines)1.02 to 3mm – all work well – diameter your preference

Sleeping Bag or Quilt and Pad

Sleeping QuiltHammock Gear Burrow Quilt +3014.5Pers fave. Great value! ~1/2 cost of sleeping bag.
Sleeping BagWestern Mountaineering SummerLite Sleeping Bag (19)Conventional +32 F sleeping bag. Light, warm, highest quality, long loft retention.
Sleep Bag (warmer)REI Co-op Magma 15 Sleeping Bag – Men’s & WomensFor those that sleep cold. Good value!
Sleeping PadT-Rest NeoAir X-lite “Women’s”12.1Perfect size for most. Warm. Super comfortable! The best pad for both Men and Women.

Stoves and Cooking Gear

Cookset (std)Jetboil MiniMo Cook System, Jetpower 100 Fuel Canister (20.8)EZ to use, fast, stable, reasonably light, and readily available.
Cookset (light)Trail Designs Toaks 900ml Pot, Sidewinder Ti-Tri, 4fl-oz fuel bottle5.3Lightest, most practical cookset on the market.
TD Kojin Stove stores unburned fuel.
Cookset(cheap)TOAKS 900 ml Ti Pot  or
TOAKS 1.3L Ti Pot
 Light and inexpensive for titanium. Pair these with a canister stove like Olicamp Kinetic Isobutane.
Fuel container Twin Neck Fuel Bottle (1.2 oz) The best! Easy measurement! Secure storage.
IgnitionStandard (not micro) BIC lighter0.2Larger is easier to use with cold hands
MugSnow Peak Ti 450 Cup1.3Eat breakfast & have coffee at same time
Bowl/Mug (alt)Ziplock 16 fl-oz bowl (0.9 oz)Pers fave: “mug” and/or bowl. Cheap & Light!
Mug (alt)Starbucks 16 fl-oz cup (1.6oz)$1 Readily available, inexpensive, reasonably durable
UtensilPlastic spoon with big shovel
or TOAKS Ti long-handled spoon
0.3cut plastic spoon handle cut to fit in pot OR use longhandle spoon to get inside of food pouches
Coffee brewMSR MugMate Coffee Filter (1.0)For using ground coffee (and not Starbuck’s VIA)

Clothing in Pack (not usually worn)

For more options see our Best Lightweight Rain Jackets for Hiking and Backpacking
Rain JacketOutdoor Research Helium II (6.4) 6.4Less expensive than many at this weight
Rain Jacket
REI Co-op Rain Jacket, M’s (8.8)
REI Co-op Rain Jacket, W’s (7.6)
 $70 is a fantastic value in a sub 10 oz rain jacket!
A great basic jacket that gets the job done.
RainJacket(alt)Patagonia Storm Racer  (6.0)Light! Minimal. Amazing it’s 3-layer fabric!
Rain PantsOutdoor Research Helium (6.0)Light. Not expensive. Don’t bring some trips.
Rainpants(alt)Rain chaps or rain kilt (2.0 oz)For trips with low probability of rain, or warm rain
Mid-layer topTNF TKA 100 1/4 Zip Pullover  or
Amazon 100wt fleece w zipper
7.9For use as a mid-layer (and as a “windshirt”) Sadly it appears that 100 wt fleece shirts like this are a dying breed. You may still be able to find a few. Otherwise go for a 200 wt one, the Patagonia R1 Hoodie above or a Patagonia R2 garment
Mid-layer topPatagonia R1 Pullover (11.9)Alternative mid-layer if you can’t find 100wt fleece
WindshellPatagonia Houdini Jacket (3.3)If I don’t bring, will layer rainjacket over my fleece
Warm jacket1Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket  (hooded)10.5Stuffed with 900 fill power down! Warmth Important for rest stops and in camp.
Warm jacket2West. Mtn. Flash XR Jacket (11)Water resistant shell and 850+ FP down.
Warm pantsWest. Mtn. Flash Pants (6.5)
Montbell Superior Down Pants 8.4
For colder weather. WM pants light & warm!
Montbell’s a great value in down pants.
For more down jackets and down pants see: Recommended Down Jackets, Pants, and Booties
Warm hatOR Option Balaclava1.8Warmer than hat – great for quilt w/o hood!
Liner glovesDuraGlove ET Charcoal Wool (2.5)2.5Great liner glove – light, warm, durable!
Camp glovesGlacier Glove fingerless fleece (2.0)Dexterity at camp chores or climbing in cold Wx
Rain MittsZPacks Challenger Rain Mitts (1.0)1.0For intermittent use. Expensive.
Rain Mitts(alt)MLD eVENT Rain Mitts (1.2)For intermittent use.
Rain Mitts(alt)Outdoor Research Revel (3.5)For constant use: waterproof, durable, grip palm
Spare socksSmartWool PhD Light Mini  or
Darn Tough 1/4 Sock Light or
DeFeet Wolleators
1.8Will bring to wash & switch between pairs
Sleep socksDeFeet Woolie Boolie (3.0)No day use; sleeping and dry camp only
Sleeping topPatagonia long sleeve Cap LW (3.5)Dry/clean for camp. Only bring in very wet climates
Sleeping bot.Patagonia Capilene LW (3.4 oz)Dry/clean for camp. Only bring in very wet climates
Sleeping (alt)Terramar Thermasilk top & botInexpensive alternative to expensive base layers

Gear Packaging & Food Storage

Bear canisterBear Vault BV500 (41) or Wild-Ideas Weekender (31)(when reg’s require) Wild-Ideas is lighter but pricy. Bear Vault is a better value
Bear can alt.Ursack S29.3 Bear Bag (7.8 oz)1st choice: bear storage req’ed AND Ursack approved
Food storageAloksak OP Sak 12.5″ x 20″ (1.0)control food scent – attract less animal attention
Food storageQuart-sized HD freezer bag0.5For storing organizing ‘todays’ snack food
Stuff sacksFor sleeping bag, clothes, etc.2.0Silnylon: keep gear organized, clean, protected
Map sleeveGallon-sized freezer bag0.5Gallon: fewer map folds & shows more map area
Eyewear casepadded nylon sleeve + Ziplock bag0.4No need for a heavy rigid case. The lightest cheapest sleeve your optometrist gives out is great.
TOTALBackpack and Gear Packaging1.9Lb

Clothing Worn and Items Carried (stuff not in pack)

ShirtRail Riders Adventure Top or
Sahara shirts like these at REI
7.3Pers fave. For hot and/or brushy (not a baselayer)
Shirt (alt)$40 REI Sahara LS Shirt 6.5 
Smartwool PhD Light 1/4-Zip 8.8
Versatile, light, 50 SPF, inexpensive
Wool shirt & baselayer: for cooler weather
PantsRail Riders X-Treme Adventure (16)16.0Pers fave. Very durable, no velcro on pockets!
Pants (alt)REI Sahara convertible pants (14)Ex Officio and many others make similar pants
More on clothing for Lyme/Zika:Best Ways to Protect from Lyme & Zika
Skirt or KiltPurple Rain — Kilt or SkirtFor hot/humid weather. Skirt (women), Kilt (men)
UnderwearExOfficio Give-N-Go Briefs M’s
Patagonia briefs Women’s
2.0Dry fast, will rinse/wash most days
BraPatagonia Active spots braAlison’s favorite
ShoesAltra Lone Peaks (21)
Altra Superior Trail-Running
 18Light. Huge toe room. Comfortable! Superiors lighter. Lone Peaks more protective sole.
Shoes (alt)Inov-8 ROCLITE 295 (20oz)Pers fave. Light, sticky rubber, durable, low heel rise
Shoes (alt)Brooks Cascadia (25 oz)Very popular trail shoe for LW backpackers
Shoes (alt)Lightweight trail running shoesMost non-Goretex trail running shoes that fit well
SocksDarn Tough 1/4 Sock Light
DeFeet Wolleators or
SmartWool PhD Light Mini  or
1.8Light, thin, warm, simple, durable
GaitersDirty Girl gaiters (1.2 oz)I rarely find the need for gaiters
HeadwearOutdoor Research Sun Runner Hat2.5Removable sun cape. Adaptable to most situations
WatchSuunto Core with positive display2.2compass, altimeter, multifunction timepiece. No GPS
Watch/GPSGarmin Fenix GPS/Watch (3 oz)Accurate trip track: GPS, compass, altimeter, time
SunglassesRx and non-Rx (polarized)1.0 for cheap Rx options
GlassesZenni clear Rx glasses (1.0 oz)Great glasses! for $20 or so. But 2-3 week delivery
Camera (alt)Sony RX100 i-v or Sony a6000 or  Sony a6500See Serious Lightweight Backpacking Cameras
GPS/CommIphone &+ Ziplock ba (7.5)
and GAIA GPS maps on iPhone
7.5Primary GPS & map source (not leaving in car!)
GAIA GPS maps on iPhone better than trad. GPS!
Poles bargain$40 Cascade Mtn. Tech Carbon15.2Pers fave. 1/3 price but equal to the best poles
Trek PolesREI Flash Carbon Poles (14.8 oz)
BD Carbon Alpine (18 oz)
Stiff, light, travel-friendly, won’t break off-trail/rough terrain (readily available)

“Essential” Gear (smaller items not included in above)

MAPS11X17 Custom Maps in Ziploc
and GAIA GPS maps on iPhone
2.0Mapped with CalTopo and printed at Kinkos
GAIA GPS maps on iPhone  better than trad. GPS!
ChargingJackery Bolt 6000 mAh batt 6.0
Anker PowerCore 10000 batt 6.5
Charge an iPhone 8+ or Galaxy S7 ~2.5x & a smaller phone like an iPhone 7 ~3.5x.
SOS/TrackerPreferred: inReach SE+ (6.9)6.92-way communication (a big deal!), visible GPS coordinates, and trip tracking+SOS
SOS/Track (alt)SPOT Gen3 (4.8)Disadvantages: only 1-way com, no vis. GPS coord.
GPS & CommIridium 9555 SatPhone (9.7 oz)
or Iridium GO!
Make no mistake: voice communication is still the gold-standard for high risk trips
OpticsROXANT 7×18 monocular (2.0)Light: scouting/route finding, decent, inexpensive
Optics (alt)MINOX BV II 8×25 binoc’s (10.8)Scouting, much better wildlife observation, value
Pen/pencilFisher Space Pen0.2To mark up maps, take notes about trip
ToothbrushGUM 411 Classic Toothbrush0.4Full head. minimal handle (but not cut in 1/2)
ToothpasteTravel size 1/2 full0.7
Toilet paperWhatever is on the roll at home1.0TP only for polish, use found materials first
Soap/sanitizerDr. Bronners0.5Dr. Bronner’s – repackaged into small bottle
Sunscreensmall plastic tube about 1/2 full0.5for face & hands: most of body covered—large hat
Lip balmHigh SPF water resistant types0.2Minimal wt for dedicated lip balm
First Aid KitMeds, wound/injury, foot care3.0See detailed list at bottom
HeadnetSea to Summit Head Net (1.2)Mosquito netting – don’t take on most trips
Insect repell.Sawyer Picaridin lotion 14 hrs!
Pocketable Picaridin 0.5 oz spray
Lyme Zika protection: Picaradin Lotion most effective & long lasting. Unlike DEET it has no odor & won’t melt plastic.
Foot care kitBonnie’s Balm in small balm jar0.5In case of wet feet. Never get blisters.
CompassSuunto M-3D Compass (1.6)1.6Lightest compass with declination adjustment
Knife/scissorsWescott blunt tip school scissors0.9More useful than knife – OK for plane carryon
KnifeGerber L.S.T. Drop Point (1.2 oz)Can cut bread and salami – very light for 2.6″ blade
Knife (alt)Spyderco Ladybug Knife (0.6)2″ blade – one of the lightest functional knives
FirestarterBic Mini Lighter + trash0.2Energy bar wrappers are great fire starter
LightBlack Diamond Ion (1.9 oz)
Black Diamond Spot (3.2 oz)
$15 Energizer Vision HD (3.0 oz)
1.6Ion for a “usual” trips.
Spot headlamp if hiking dawn/dusk or dark
Value $15 Energizer @Amazon, Target, or Walmart
Light (alt)Fenix LD02 w spare battery (1.0)Best mini light available, attach to hat brim with clip
RepairTenacious patch, duct tape, glue 0.2Also consider NeoAir patch kit, and Aquaseal
Finance/IDID, CCs, and cash in snack Ziplock0.2More secure on me than left in car

First Aid Kit (detail)

First AidItemOzComments
Pain, fever inflammationNaprosyn (Aleve), Ibuprofen, or Tylenol (fever)0.4In ziplock pill bag available at pharmacies
Foot/blisterGauze + Leukotape Tape0.3For taping over blisters, or pre-blister areas
Foot/blisterTincture of benzoin in micro-bottle0.2For getting tape or Bandaids to REALLY stick!
Wound careBandaids + gel blister covers0.5Assorted sizes – your preference
Wound careAntibact. packets + wound wipes0.4Wound cleansing, infection prevention
Wound care (12) 4×4″ gauze pads + 1 roll gauze Use duct tape to hold in place (from above – Repair Items)
OTC medsBenadryl, Sudafed, Nexium, Imodium, caffeine tablets0.4All in tablet/pill form
Rx medsPersonal Dr’s Rx meds0.4
Pain seriousDr’s Rx Painkiller0.2For serious injury, tooth abscess, etc.
Storage/orgBag Poly 5×8  to hold 1st Aid Kit0.2 Keep size down. Can only put in what can fit in bag.
TOTAL3.0 Oz (included in “Essential” Gear)

Water Storage/Treatment

SeeThe Best Hydration – Drink When Thirsty. This debunks the many myths about hydration and dehydration like “If you are thirsty, it’s already too late” and “If your urine is yellow, you are dehydrated.” This article suggests that Drink When Thirsty is the best and healthiest strategy for hydration during exercise.

BottlesSawyer 64 oz Squeezable Pouch1.5For collecting treating water in camp – dry camps
BottlesSawyer 32 oz Squeezable Pouch1.0Use during the day (note: Platypus doesn’t fit Sawyer)
PurificationSawyer filter (3.0)3.0To drink on the spot – greatly reduces water cary
PurificationChlorine Dioxide tablets0.5For treating 2L bladder in camp

Sleeping Gear and Shelter – Hammock (*best for East Coast and other wooded areas)

In areas with plentiful trees like the East Coast of the US I feel that hammock camping has many advantages. When in the Sierras or other areas with few trees, the opposite is true and I usually camp on the ground using a NeoAir mattress, in a 7 ounce bivy sack, only putting up a tarp when it is actually raining (or sharing a pyramid shelter with my hiking partner). [And I fully realize that some readers will be unconvinced by my enthusiasm for hammock or tarp camping even in areas with lots of good trees. Ground camping is just fine!]

*See:  7 Reasons Why Hammock Tent Camping is Fantastic – How To Get Started

HammockUltralite Backpacker Asym Zip
or Hyperlite Asym Zip
Hennessy most readily available commercial hammock.
HammockDutchware 11 ft Netless Hammock
Dutchware Hammock w bugnet 10
8.01.0 Hexon single layer fabric, with ridgeline
Top quiltHammock Gear Burrow Quilt +3013.0Trimmed vers. (+40 quilt w 2 oz over fill = +30F)
Bottom quiltHammock Gear “Phincubator” +30 14.060″ ver. of “Phoenix 40” with down overfill to get +30. (no need for pad under feet)
 TarpHammock Gear Cuben Fiber Hex
+ Zing-it ridge-line w hardware
 5.6Light, hammock specific tarp, huge protected area
Hammock SuspensionKevlar tree straps
Whoopie Hook Suspension
 3.0Kevlar straps, w Amsteel whooppie hook susp. Talk to Dutchware to ensure you get the right stuff
Stakes4 MSR Groundhog Y-stakes .5oz ea 2.0 Hold better than skewer stakes. Red easier to find!
 Guylines 3mm MSR Reflective Utility Cord  2.4mm reflect cord (8×4-ft lines) 1.0 2 to 3mm – all work well – diameter your preference
 TOTAL 2.8  Lb


This post contains affilate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on the these links, a portion of the sale helps support this site at no additional cost to you. I do not receive compensation from the companies whose products are listed. For product reviews: unless otherwise noted, products are purchased with my own funds. I am never under an obligation to write a review about any product. Finally, this post expresses my own independent opinion.

117 replies
  1. Randy Clark
    Randy Clark says:

    Hi Alan,
    I am getting ready to do a thru hike on the Superior Hiking Trail late August into September. I am older guy and have worn TNF zip off hiking pants for years w/ a MH long sleeve shirt w/ a MH t-shirt. Worn this in our beloved Grand Canyon and on the AT. Thinking of doing something different, your thoughts on Nike type tights and Nike shorts? Trying to be ultralight overall as possible, my big 3 weighs 5 lbs hoping to be around 18-20 w/ 5-6 days of food and “drinking when thirsty”. I wear bike tights shorts to ride my bike so use to the tights, I would wear tights when hiking when needed when not needed just shorts. Can’t wait to go and making up some of your food recipes.
    Thank you Alan for your time,

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Randy, a good Q. I would still go with the nylon pants that you’ve used or the REI Sahara equivalent, etc. These are going to me more wind resistant, less grabby and more durable thru brush, and faster drying (lycra absorbs a bunch of water), and likely more durable overall. Tights are good on the bike because they don’t flap (less wind drag) and they don’t billow out into things like chainrings. But those are not factors on the trail. And finally it has to be really cold like below freezing before I want a pair of tights under my nylon pants. In fact, Alison and I were trekking on the Patagonian Southern Ice Field in January (2nd largest non-Polar ice field in the world) and never wore tights under our nylon pants. In summary, I think convertible nylon pants are the most utilitarian and efficient bottom layer. And that is what matters most. As the saying goes “the lightest gear that does the job [well].” Wishing you a great trek. Warmest, -alan & alison

  2. Phil
    Phil says:

    HI Alan,
    Love your site. It’s been a revelation and I’ve cut over 13 pounds from my base weight. Did some of Roper’s HR last summer and anxious to get out on the SSHR. Anyway, Hammock Gear recommends the “wide” quilt for ground dwellers. I’m moderately slender (5’11”, 163). My current bag is 62″ girth. Do you think the wide quilt is necessary? What do you use? Thanks for everything,

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Phil, good Q. I am 5’8″ and 160 lb. I generally use a quilt that is less than 50″ wide. Although, I am quite used to sleeping in quilts, keeping them above me, and controlling drafts. My best guess is that unless you are a very restless sleeper, you would be fine with the standard 50″ inch width. Hope this helps. Warmest, -alan & alison

    • Phil
      Phil says:

      Thanks Alan,
      I think I will have plenty of “drape” with 50″ I think I would be swimming in 55″. Thanks again, I am eager to get out with my lighter pack. So far I love the SW 3400 I purchased. Simple and comfortable.
      Best to both of you,

  3. Jeff
    Jeff says:

    Quick question on the first aid kit. Do you carry twelve individually wrapped 4×4 sterile gauze pads? Or am I misunderstanding what you mean by: “(12) 4×4″ gauze pads…”


  4. Tony
    Tony says:

    Hi Allen,
    I love your site and constantly come back to look for tips. You have helped me get my base weight to 11 pounds, and dropping!
    I had a question about the Patagonia R1 pullover. I can’t seem to find one that is 7 ounces like you have listed in your 9 pound full comfort chart? Is yours an older model? The listed weight on REI’s web site is 11.9. I’m looking to trade it out for another piece of clothing that is also 11 ounces, so I want to try and find something lighter. I do see the other “off brand” lightweight fleeces that are around 7 ounces. Thanks for all your great research and advice. I tell all my “heavy” hiking friends about your site all the time. Someday they may get it.


    Best Use
    93% recycled polyester/7% spandex
    Fleece Weight
    Back Length
    Back Length (in.)
    11.9 ounces
    Contains recycled materials, Contains materials that meet the bluesign® criteria

  5. ben smith
    ben smith says:

    Alan, thank you so much for all the information you provide at this site. Fantastic. Ive had a lifelong dream of hiking the AT and, God willing, next spring Im headed to Springer. Im needing to regear a bit and keep weight to a minimum. With regard to tents, can a single wall model keep you dry? I will no doubt be facing all kinds of temperature extremes and plenty of wind and rain. Ive always used tents with a fly but would be willing to go to a single if someone with experience could advise. Thank you!

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Ben,
      and apologies for the delayed reply, we were out on a 350 mile trip. Yes, with some caveats a single walled shelter like a SoloMid XL or even a tarp will keep you dry. We recently our used MLD Pyramid Shelter (DouMid XL) in torrential rain and high winds in Patagonia. In fact MLD Pyramid Shelters have been uses in very wet climates all over the world like Alaska, and New Zealand. The caveats are:

      1. In humid conditions, the inside walls of a single walled shelter will condense and you need to be careful not to brush against them or have your down bag contact them for long periods of time. A larger volume shelter, e.g. the larger SoloMid XL vs the standard Solomid and a pitching it with a decent gap along the bottom edge of the shelter will go a long ways to minimizing condensation issues.
      2. Campsite location matters. Unless you get a bathtub floor with the your shelter, you’ll need to select a site that does not have water running through it, or worse pooling up. This is not hard to. But since you are only on a groundsheet, you do need remain aware of potential water runnoff and drainage when you select a campsite.
      3. Camping in the woods (almost all AT locations) will minimize the effects of windblown rain which is a help for all sorts of shelters, tents or single-walled shelters. But beware impacted tent sites that are usually dished from long use (may not be apparent looking at them) and their dirt hard-compacted so that they don’t drain well. Thus, the can end up being shallow bowls of water in large rain events! Note: this is also and issue for tents as well as most bathtub floors that are not new can leak as well if they were ever fully waterproof to begin with.

      If you wanted a single person shelter for the AT, I would likely suggest either the MLD SoloMid XL or one of the TarpTent models, possibly the Notch or even the Double Rainbow. Hope this helps and wishing you a great AT hike. Warmest, -alan & alison

  6. Bryan G
    Bryan G says:

    I have a question, For your pack recommendations you list the HMG 2400 but most of the other packs listed have much larger volumes. For example, the MLD Burn or Prophet is similar in volume to the HMG 2400. Why suggest the Exodus? Is there a secret volume measurement that I am missing?


    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Good Q Bryan. If you follow most of the gear suggestions on this list 2400 should be more than sufficient to store all your gear (unless you need to use a bear canister*). That being said, for most people who are not super experienced ultralight backpackers, I would recommend the HMG 3400 Southwest pack. The only difference between the 2400 and 3400 is a taller extension collar. So for Just 2 oz more than the 2400 you get a lot more flexible in pack capacity in the 3400. In fact, my current pack is a HMG 3400 Southwest with the new larger hip belt pocket (altho the top extension collar is rolled all the way down most of the time). I do this partially because when I guide I sometimes need take gear from a struggling client. In this case the expanded extensions collar is most welcome. Hope this helps, -alan

      *While I can fit a bear canister into and HMG 2400 or a ULA Ohm 2.0 most will likely not be able to do so. I would suggest upgrading to an HMG3400 or a ULA Circuit to accommodate the extra volume that a bear canister entails.

  7. Rud Platt
    Rud Platt says:

    Agreed that it’s highly individualized. I used to use a stuff-sack pillow, but once I lightened my load I realized I didn’t have anything to put in the stuff sack anymore, especially on a cold night. At that point, I added an inflatable pillow and haven’t looked back. I also recently switched to a large Neo Air (ultralight heresy! ) because my arms always fell off of 20-inch pads and introduced a draft. So now I’m up above 11 pounds, but super comfy!

  8. Rud Platt
    Rud Platt says:

    Great list, Alan! I would argue that for true 3-season full comfort most people would also want a pillow (+2 oz) and a 20 degree wide quilt (+7 over yours). But of course that would take the list over 10 pounds.

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Rud, thanks for the comment. I guess that depends on the individual. There are many things that you can use for a pillow. Most often it is my fleece layer in a stuff-sack. As to the quilt, again it depends. I just got back from the Wallowas in E Oregon. It snowed on us and went down into the mid 20s at night. I got by with a 15 oz quilt and a 6 oz uberlite down jacket and just thin nylon pants. Was just fine, not even a bit cold. That would definitely still be within the 9 lb range. But those that run colder might want both a warmer bag and/or jacket. Wishing you a great year of trekking. Warmest, -alan

  9. Hunter Hall
    Hunter Hall says:

    Hey Alan,

    I picked up the CMT carbon poles for $45 AND the BD Alpine Carbon Corks for $125 (sale).

    Which would you keep? I’m going on one of the trips with yourself and Skurka later this fall and there will be lots of off trail.

    I appreciate any thoughts… Thanks!

  10. Jake
    Jake says:

    Excellent information thanks! If I have bad BO even after bathing what would you recommend. I’ve read about alcohol and cotton balls and antibacterial wipes, but haven’t tried either.

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Jake, good Q. We wash crotch and pits once a day with Dr. Bronner’s. Practicing good LNT of course. We also try and wash shirts midday concentrating on the armpit area with a bit of Dr. Bronner’s. That keeps smell down to normal, “smell like a human” levels, which is about the most one can hope for. So, I would suggest you try this first.

      After that, you could bring a small travel size, unscented solid deodorant. Possibly even repackaging jsut the solids into small container. Hope this helps. Warmest, -alan

      • Tom Rayl
        Tom Rayl says:

        Look up “Thai deodorant stone” on Amazon or some such. Essentially a block of some kind of salt (NOT table salt!). Probably cut size down. Wet stone & wipe pits (& crotch). No odor and absolutely KILLS any BO. Hard solid and lasts forever.

  11. Mark
    Mark says:

    Hey Alan,

    Thanks for all the really useful information. Would you mind to give me the exact dimensions of your top and under quilt mentioned in the hammock section above?

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Good Q Mark. Been a while since I orders so not sure the exact dimensions but I am 5’8″ and 160 lb so usually get by in most sleeping gear with specs a bit below regular. Per the post, the under quilt is a Phincubator (length between a Phoenix and Incubator) at 60″ long, guessing I likely took a few inches off the width as well. At these dim’s it works fine for me. But when it’s cold you need to make sure the UQ is correctly positioned. For the Burrow I likely took ~2″ of the length and width of a regular dim’ one. I am a fairly quiet sleeper and good at keeping my quilt in position. Hope this helps. Warmest, -alan

  12. Gio
    Gio says:

    Hi Alan,
    really like your website; tons of useful information from gear list to food recipes. All very informative and based on experience! i was hoping you could give me some advice as far as quilts are concerned: i am hiking the JMT in September and was wondering if i should go with a 30 degree or 20 degree quilt from Hammock Gear?

  13. Scott
    Scott says:

    I was bummed that REI discontinued their 1/4 zip fleece that you previously had on your lists. At 7 oz, that was a perfect backpacking item that I never leave behind

    Have you found anything comparable?

  14. Russ
    Russ says:

    Hi Alan, I’m curious why you state that the fuel canisters are not recyclable, I recycle my empties all the time? Thanks for the great list.

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Yup Russ, that’s a bit dated. There are recycling tools as well as devices to transfer fuel from near spent canisters to another canister. There are few cautions, caveats and downsides tho. That being said, that comment on canisters will need revisions to bring it up to date. Warmest, -alan

  15. Jeff
    Jeff says:

    Alan, I have a question about the Dr. Bronner’s soap. It is part of your standard kit, but I see many other gear lists posted where soap is specifically excluded. One person even stated that camp soap is the number one item left behind in hiker boxes on long trails. Can you cover what you are using it for? (wow, that sounds silly). What I mean is, are you using it for: hands only before prepping food? After bio-breaks because purell isn’t enough? Washing cookware? Critical area personal hygiene (nether regions to prevent chafe)? General personal hygiene like face, body, hair? Washing clothes?

    Thank you for all the work you put into these pages. I was lucky enough to find your site as I was just getting into backpacking. I am (hopefully) acquiring the right gear the first time without risk of having to buy it again later.

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Good Q Jeff. Dr. Bronner’s soap is mostly is mostly for pit, and crotch (face?) washing and general cleanliness and personal hygiene. The soap is biodegradable and used sparingly. This is done well away from any water source using a cooking pot to transfer water from steams and/or lakes. It is true that quite a few thru hikers don’t wash or use soap, and they smell and look it. But smell and grunginess aside, in my experience not washing can lead to skin infections, boils, rashes, “monkey-butt” and other less than optimal health issues — some quite uncomfortable and/or debilitating. Personal washing in key areas goes a long way to prevent this. The soap can alos be used to wash pit, crotch and underwear areas of clothing when the stench becomes too much. Again they are washed in our cooking pot away from water sources. As to cookware, we wash it by hand with plain water away from streams and do not use soap. Hope this helps, -alan

  16. Cas
    Cas says:

    Hi Alan. So I am learning how to downsize my pack and gear, but I have a question regarding clothing with your list. Are you just wearing one set of clothes with layers you can add or do you take another set (pants, shirt, undergarment)?

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Sorry Cas, this comment seems to have slipped under the radar while I was in the backcountry. Apologies!

      A: Just one set of clothes as listed, only extras are hiking socks. Per the quote “never take more clothes than you can wear at one time.” Alison and I do wash clothes midday most days. All the best, -alan

  17. Heather Seibel
    Heather Seibel says:

    Hi Alan, thanks for such a great site! I’m just getting into overnight back packing. I had a question about the sawyer filter. How do you determine a spot is ok to filter from? I’ll be hiking in the Uintas and know there are lakes and rivers in the areas I’ll be, but nervous about filtering my water!! A fellow hiker is bringing a gallon to start with but that seems like a lot to carry.

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Heather, good Q. Really the deal with filtering is to find clear water with not a lot silt suspended in it. That way your are far less likely to clog the filter. Lake water is almost always good. And stream water is usually good if its running clear to the eye. It is especially good if you collect it from slower pools along the shore where any sediment/silt has settled out. This is also a good way to filter water from a stream or river that has some sediment.

      As to water amounts, water sources are frequent in the Unitas and filtering opportunities should abound. For more on Hydration see “The Best Hydration – Drink When Thirsty.” Have a great hike. The Unitas are lovely! Warmest, -alan

  18. Mary Bond
    Mary Bond says:

    The closest thing I have to a trail name is “Not a Hiker”….. But on the CT last summer, I met a couple who told me about your site. Tons of info!! Thanks!! I wish I had gotten some contact info from them, as they were most encouraging and willing to share ideas on my first big hike. Near as I can remember their names were Jim and Ann. Spent a lovely afternoon out of the rain in the yurt near Lake City. As we hopscotched on the trail with them over the next few days, was always great to see their faces!!

  19. Guus
    Guus says:

    Hi Alan,

    I’m really getting tempted to aim for the Supermid (finances allowing) than combine it with one of their ultralight Bivy’s and perhaps later on get the bug net for when more than one will use the ‘Mid.and weight could be spread over 2 or more backpacks. Still, the Trailstar looks very tempting … mmmhhh .. :D

    • Guus
      Guus says:

      Just wondering Alan, do you have any experience with MSR’s Twin Sisters (no, but you do the neighbours twin sisters? :))
      How would it compare to the ‘Mids?

  20. Guus
    Guus says:

    Hi Alan,

    Thank you for the great source of information!

    There are 2 things I’d like to ask you if you do not mind.
    -The Trailstar. How does it hold up vs the pyramid tents? It seems like it should do the same as it is practically the same tent. Yet it seems, reading reviews, that it is somewhat flimsy. I honestly like the look of the tent and really considering dropping a tent, seeing the MSR Hubba Hubba (or 1 person) makes that a hard choice at the moment.
    Got the Leki Sherpa XL poles, so stability or height should hopefully not be an issue. :)

    -Do you have an international store for the StarLyte burner? Or something similar? Like the idea of the burner but somewhat doubt I can get them to ship internationally, but again can not seem to find any other source for such burners.

    Keep on walkin!

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Guss, glad you find the site helpful. As to the trailstar vs mid no absolute right A here. Depends on the person’s likes, the weather, and the size of their pocketbook. For me: I either carry a tarp (like the Grace Duo) if the Wx is generally going to be good and I am camping with good tree cover. And I take a mid when I expecting serious Wx and/or high wind and/or I am camping in unprotected areas. The advantage of the mid is ton’s more room in bad Wx. More living area, more place for gear and more room to dry (or semi-dry) gear. Life is just a heck of a lot more pleasant if you are stuck in it for a while. If I had pick just one shelter for two people with would be a Doumid XL or Supermid [Can’t remember the last time I used a real tent]. In fact Alison and I are taking a supermid to Iceland for the next 8 days.

      As to the stove, if you google DIY sites my guess is that you could make your own Zelph-like stove. All it is an Al can with some fire-resistant filler material. [and it actually works better without any metal grid over it.]

      Have a great year hiking. Warmest, -alan

  21. Jay Kerr
    Jay Kerr says:

    Hi Alan,

    Considering that I used to carry 80-pound loads while skiing into the Alaska Range on mountaineering trips, my current 16.7-pound base weight is not to shabby. I’m 68 this year, and each summer I do an 8 – 10 day trip with my daughter and other broke-down old climbing partners. This summer we’re doing an off-trail circumnavigation of the Mt. Darwin massif in SEKI.

    My current gear list includes a SilNylon Duomid as a solo shelter, with an MLD Superlight bivi for bug protection and cowboy camping, a EE Revelation 20° quilt, and a ULA Catalyst pack. I’m struggling to get more weight off, and am even going stoveless this year to save so weight. I’ll keep tweeking, and hope to get at least another couple of pounds off. You site is my inspiration to keep shedding the ounces.

    The last time I skied into the Alaska Range I carried a 70 pound load on my back, and pulled a 40-pound sled-load over a 125 mile approach. I can live with a 16-pound base weight, but would love to see sub-10. Thanks for the awesome resource!

    Jay Kerr

  22. Conner
    Conner says:

    I’m not sure this is the best spot for this, but I have to ask as I am in the market and have browsed through most of the comments and your recommended gear. I am sure you have been asked this somewhere, so I apologize if this has already been asked. Have you tried out any zpacks tents or tarps? I just ask as I have been seriously considering the duplex based on my want of a fully enclosed tent with a bit of extra room, (northwoods of WI, lots of bugs) and some prior experience with a solo plus (a bit of a pain to set up properly, though all around ok). Thank you for your time.



    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Nothing really wrong with the Z-packs Duplex. Plenty of people love and use them. And the extra room of a 2p shelter for one person is a good idea.

      > a bit of a pain to set up properly
      Yup, you nailed the downside. For me, the many guylines that need to be staked out for a Duplex is 1) time consuming and 2) could be an issue in rocky soil that doesn’t take stakes well. Something like a TarpTent is a lot faster and less fussy to pitch. Or even a 4 stakes and you are done pyramid shelter. But if you are not pressed for time and are willing to deal with the Duplex, it is roomy, very light and bug-proof. Best, -alan

  23. Mark
    Mark says:

    Alan, thanks for your thorough commitment to backpacking light. Regarding the clothes you wear and the clothes you pack, you don’t mention that you carry a spare baselayer shirt in the pack. Do you typically carry a spare baselayer shirt (and hiking pants, for that matter) for longer trips? For an 8-day trip in Cedar Mesa/Grand Gulch (southeastern Utah) in late April, I’m wondering about how many spare clothes to carry. Thanks!

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Love Grand Gulch Mark. Done like 4-5 trips in there over the years. No I do not carry a spare baselayer bottom or top on almost any trip–only if I am doing something super wet and cold like packrafting in in Alaska. Definitely not for Grand Gulch. I would likely just take Nylon Pants and shirt with a smooth surface you you can easily slide through brush and get full sun protection. Something like the rail riders pants an shirt would be perfect. Columbia and ExOfficio ones are fine too.

      Have a great trip! Best, -alan

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Great job on cutting weight! Rather than cutting more, I would suggest you focus on conditioning for your trip, planning it well, and then enjoying the Sierras once you are there. All are like better use of you energy. Have a great trip! Best –a

      • Dwayne
        Dwayne says:

        I have permits for South lake to onion Valley in August and North lake to South lake in septemer. I am already increasing my activity level. I am hiking and bicycling. I like bicycling as well as hiking. Thinking about a bike touring trip also. I think an ultralight biking tour would be amazing. Thinking about San Francisco to LA..

        • Alan Dixon
          Alan Dixon says:

          Sounds like a great season Dwane. UL bikepacking would be a great way to extend your fun. Have a great year outdoors. Best, -a

  24. Dwayne
    Dwayne says:

    My base weight is 10 pounds. That includes a bv450 bear can which weighs 2 pounds. Without the bear can I would be at 8 pounds, but I am not willing to go without a bear can in the Sierras. The one place where I could be lighter is my 29 Oz quilt but I like the extra warmth. This is about as low as Iow as I am comfortable with. My pack was 16 pounds last 3 day trip. My pack used to 35 be pounds. It is amazing how nice it is to carry less that half the wieght.

  25. Shuping
    Shuping says:

    I have not brought a bear canister yet. the sack would be my choice for I have no room in my backpack. but many parks require bear canister. what is your suggestion based on your experience? thanks

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      My suggestion is that you adhere to the letter for the reg’s in the areas you plan on backpacking–no wiggle room. As such, e.g. for much of the Sierras you’ll have to carry a bear canister like the Bear Vault BV500 or Wild-Ideas Weekender. And the rangers will check! Hope this helps, -alan

  26. Shuping
    Shuping says:

    how to you keep your battery or power bank charged up in back country? I bought a solar charger. it weights 1.2 lb. it I bring a large capacity power bank, it is going to be heavy. should it be solar charge or spare power bank? I’m a newbie want to learn more. In addition, looks like 1.3 lb (“Essential” Gear (smaller items not included in above) is not part of the 15 lb total weight. did I read this correctly?
    I can’t seem to get the weight of my pack reduced. I came to your site after reading Andrew’s blog.

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      I don’t carry a charger into the backcountry. My iPhone plus a spare battery is enough to get me through at least 10 days hiking. As you point out, solar chargers are heavy and not weight efficient for shorter trips. And as long as you have a battery/phone re-charge opportunity every 7 to 10 days they likely aren’t necessary. You can see more here on my Best Lightweight Backpacking Electronics Gear.

      As to Essential Gear, it is included in the 9 pound base weight, BPW. What is not included is consumables. BASE pack weight is the commonly used measure of pack weight as trips vary in length and people eat different amounts of food, carry different amounts of water, and use different amounts of fuel. Not including those makes it possible to compare pack weights. Hope this helps, -alan

  27. Eric
    Eric says:

    Long time reader and follower of your methods and gear. I have a suggested addition of the 0.7 oz GSI Essential Travel Spoon ( It has a silicone rubber mouth so one doesn’t need to worry about melting it, but it also won’t burn your mouth with hot food! Most importantly and revolutionary to us was its ability to squeegee out the food from cups, bags, and pouches easily. Washing dishes has never been so easy. We got one to try at MEC before a weeklong trip in Banff and immediately bought three more (for the whole family) after getting out of the woods as we literally passed it around for use during meal times it was so superior to the other spoons (titanium and DQ Blizzard) we had. Thanks for the information!

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Looks like a great spoon Eric. I’ll need to get one and try it out. Getting the pot clean would be most excellent–no food wasted and easy clean up.

      And I had to laugh, as I was literally holding a DQ Blizzard spoon in my hand as I read your post. Life is indeed strange. All the best, -a

  28. Julia
    Julia says:

    Thank you so much for this! I’m new to backpacking and I’m trying to figure out what gear I need to buy without going broke. I really appreciate people taking the time to spell all this out for newbies lunge me. :)

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Sandy, an excellent question. A brief response for now but more in a bit. First, take less with you. That’s free. So only bring the gear, food and water that you actually need. That can save a ton of weight for zero cost (or actually a savings on purchased food and gear). See Quick ways to reduce backpack weight. Second, if you are willing to think out of the box a bit there are less expensive options for a “sleeping bag,” backpack, and “tent.” You can get a down quilt for 1/2 the cost of a down bag. It’s lighter and works better than a sleeping bag in my opinion. See Recommended Sleeping Bags & Quilts. As for a backpack the ULA packs are an excellent value for a light pack or you could go with a slightly heavier but less expensive Osprey Pack. See Recommended Lightweight Backpacks. And if you are willing to sleep under a tarp, there are huge cost and weight savings to be had with (in order of cost and weight savings) a Silnyon tarp, Silnyon Pyramid, and TarpTent. See Recommended Tents, Tarps and other Shelters. And finally, while trying not to pay for more than you need, it makes sense to buy good quality gear that is “light enough.” Otherwise, in a year or two you’ll just end up re-buying lighter and better designed gear. Hope this helps, and have a great trip this spring. Best, -a

  29. TylerO
    TylerO says:

    Wow you have really done your homework. When ever I go out and about I have a big clunky pack with stuff thats probably way too heavy. I’ll keep these lists in mind when cycling in new gear. Thank you.

  30. Jacob
    Jacob says:

    Hi Alan, thanks for the list! What is your opinion on the difference between a mid like the MLD duomid with inner tent vs the Zpacks Duplex for 2 people? Here are my objectives:

    1. Single shelter system for 3.5 seasons
    2. Enclosed bug protection
    3. Fit 2 people (both under 5’10”) comfortably
    4. Under 2 lbs total

    My environment is primarily the Sierras, although I would like it to be functional in any US climate, such as the AT.

    My main tent I’m considering is the Zpacks Duplex, but not sure how it performs in 30+ MPH winds and in/on the snow. OTOH the duomid seems like it would be cramped for 2 people.

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Both are good shelters Jacob. And no right answer.

      The ZP has a more complicated setup with more lines to stakeout–could be more problematic in a rocky area. And you can’t take the bug-netting and floor out. The DuoMid [XL version] solves the room problem for two. But it is heavier than the ZP when you add the inner nest (mosquito netting and floor). My wife and I use our Duomid XL about 98% without an inner nest, so for us it is lighter and easier to setup than the ZP. OTOH if you would use the floor and netting most of the time the ZP is likely the better option.

      As to wind resistance, the MLDs have legendary stability in tough environments all over the world. I have used them in some amazing violent storms. I don’t have enough familiarity with the ZP Duplex to say the same. Could be. Could not. I just don’t know. Hope this helps, -alan

      • john xcar smith
        john xcar smith says:

        Jacob and Alan, a Duomid is cramped for two but still doable. The trick is to have lots of discipline in gear useage and no real duplication between two people when possible. As for bug protection, I have a modified CF duomid with a net floor and net door. Total weight right at 20 oz including guylines, and interior hang line. I typically use a poncho when hiking for rain gear, and I also have a CF bathtub floor is I do not want bring a poncho. The only downside is that it is not good on snow now, but that is what my OWARE mids are for.

  31. Chris Finley
    Chris Finley says:

    Practical and thoughtful gear list, thanks!
    How often do you leave the tent’s bug net behind?
    The only tip I have to add would be to print Rite in the Rain 11×17 paper and ditch the Ziploc bag to save 1.4oz. I think they are also easier to use without the plastic.

  32. Scott Dickson
    Scott Dickson says:

    Great work on the site. Thanks for the motivation! Even though I grew up Boy Scouting and earned the Eagle Scout rank, I had never been on a real backpacking trip – until 10 days ago! A friend and I tackled the Eagle Rock Loop in Arkansas (total hike of 30 miles). I’d been reading, studying and preparing for about 3 months; your website is a major resource. Even with older gear technology, I managed a 15.94 lb base pack weight, with additional 4.2 lb food, 7 oz alcohol fuel, and 1/2 liter water. Very comfortable trip! My big 3 (Gregory Z55 @ 57 oz, Hennessy Hammock Expedition with bug net & fly @ 58 oz, and Lafuma Extreme 800/40degree @ 27 oz) total 8.8 pounds. So now looking forward to replacing each of those items.

    If I read your hammock camping gear list correctly, with the longer “Phincubator” underquilt @ 60″, you are no longer using any kind of sleeping pad in the hammock. I currently have a Thermarest NeoAir Xlite that I have used under me in the hammock the total of 3 nights that I’ve slept in it. I was wondering if (for the time being) that would be sufficient in lieu of an underquilt?


    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Dang Scott, I thought I had replied to your lovely post but I don’t see it. Realized when I replied just now to another post. Apologies!

      Anyway, under 16 pounds is most excellent using most of your original gear. That means you were very disciplined to bring ONLY what you need. That is by far the hardest part of going light. Good on you!

      Yes, you are correct. With the Phincubator I get by with no pad under my feet. If I lie stretched all the way out my heels are around or just over the end of the underquilt. But in most positions, it is completely under me. If the NeoAir works for you, i.e. you are comfortable and warm enough, then by definition it works :-). In general people are more comfortable with an underquilt, and pads have a tendency to get mis-aligned or even pop out to the side, and they are hard to re-align without getting out of the hammock,

      But since it works for you, I wouldn’t fret too much about it. All the best, -alan

      • Scott
        Scott says:

        No problems Alan! I figured you were out on another grand adventure. Meanwhile, we are planning another outing around Thanksgiving – a group of five are going to hike sections 5,6 & 7 of the OT (Ouachita National Recreation Trail in Arkansas). This trip will be 45 miles; we are planning for 3 hiking days. Right now, the weather forecast this far out – Rain!

        Since my last post, I have ordered a MLD Exodus in Dyneema (a reduction of 40 oz). I mentioned to Ron your recommendation of his products on your site; he said to tell you thanks. I’ve also obtained a Hennessy Hammock UltraLight Backpacker hammock (a reduction of 17.36 oz). I added a 32 Degree bargain down jacket (addition of 10.02 oz), and then realized that my previous list had my trekking poles included as if I was carrying on my back rather than in my hands (a reduction of 15.50 oz).

        So, for the upcoming OT section hike with these changes, my base pack weight will be 12.00 lbs; 16.61 including consumables.

        Other changes:
        Replaced alcohol stove windscreen made of aluminum foil with a homemade Caldera Cone. Increased fuel efficiency with rolled-top aluminum beer bottle stove. Now need only 3/4 oz to heat 2 cups H2O, instead of 1 oz. Reduces daily fuel need by 1/2 oz, or 1.5 oz for a 3-day trip.
        Lightened homemade first aid kit by 1oz.
        Replaced 1.7 oz knife with 1.09 oz knife
        Replace old heavy stuff sack used for bear hang bag with a lighter sack (reduction 3 oz)
        Will leave the Crocs at home

        Again, thanks for the motivation in the form of your excellent website and thorough documentation. That, along with Mike McClelland’s Ultralight Backpacking Tips, has been educational and thought-provoking.


  33. Charles Minton
    Charles Minton says:

    An excellent list that I have used to update a lot of my equipment. A few things seem off however. My Sawyer filter dried out weighs 3.8 oz and I suspect more when it is used. Also I find it slows down quickly so I would not go out without bringing the back flush syringe. The Mtn Hardware Balacava weighs 2.4oz. I find it interesting that cord for hanging or other bear protection equipment is not included in the weights.
    All in all, though, very helpful!

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Charles and thanks for your comments. As to the weights, there are variations between years, lots and even individual items. Weights are for my equipment on my reasonably accurate scales. I have had great luck using the Sawyer at various sources without needing to back-flush (and I would know since I drink the whole 1 liter directly at the source). Any slowness or clogging would be readily noticeable. Again, there are variations in use, water sources, and the technique used to collect water that would likely account for this. I am very careful to get the most undisturbed and sediment free water I can collect, which includes not disturbing bottom sediments while collecting water. As to the bear related items, since local reg’s, personal preferences, and techniques for (food protection/hanging, and/or personal bear protection like bear spray) vary so greatly I have not gone into detail down to the level that you are alluding to. That is a bit out of the scope of a simple gear list and would likely require it’s own separate article/post.

  34. Leisure McCorkle
    Leisure McCorkle says:

    Fantastic list. I am a Bike Adventurer myself and use a NX-250 Clark Jungle Hammock (it will hang or you can put it on the ground). I have a solution for the tree situation. Very light, and you can use for a couple things besides a hammock stand when no or only one tree is avail. check out See you on the road Leisure and Maximus

  35. Jim Morrison
    Jim Morrison says:

    I compared my list for my next trip with yours. I’m heavy on my sleeping bag (NF high-tail-it 3 season 15 degrees, 32 ounces) also my shelter in REI Camp 9 Tarp, 23 ounces. My thermorest (scout-48″) is 15 ounces. My backpack is REI Flash 50 with the sheet and stay removed: 30 ounces. Somehow lately it all adds up to about 16 pounds. However the last and next trip are up high with no water available so I take 2 L in the Platypus’s = about 4 pounds! Fun to see your list and compare. We do camp up high (Olympic and Cascade Mountains) so I think my heavier sleeping bag may be necessary. And I wonder if anyone has checked the rate of $ per ounce saved! And will someone please invent dehydrated water.

  36. Derek Walker
    Derek Walker says:

    Hi Alan,

    Just curious, do you carry both the DeLorme inReach SE 2-Way Satellite Communicator and one of the SAT phones? Is the SAT phone more for vocal communication while the Delorme is more focused on GPS location, even though it is also a 2 way communicator? Thanks!

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Good Q Derek. I usually bring just the DeLorme inReach SE. It is easily the best value in a Satellite communications device. And will do all you need (and more) for most lower-risk, on-trail trips.

      I would only carry a Sat Phone on bigger, badder trips like getting dropped in the middle of Alaska by bush plane, or a serious technical Alpine climb. And in those cases, I would likely carry the inReach SE as well to do trip-tracking so my Emergency Contact can monitor the trip. Hope this helps, -alan

      • Terence Johnson
        Terence Johnson says:

        A suggestion for those cracks:

        I’m a surgeon and I don’t use very many skin products (sunscreen, lotions, balms, etc.) I just don’t like the feel of most of this stuff on my skin. Of course, I do use a liquid sunscreen in the areas I “have to” cover, and lip balm “when” I must. More pertinently, I wear flip flops through most of the year living in San Diego and my feet get really dry. So I may give Bonnie’s a try, but…

        About a year ago, I tried one of the best things for the cracks in my feet – unrefined 100% shea butter (a man was selling his brand, I assume any brand would do, labeled as at the Del Mar Fair and I thought, “Why not?”). Very helpful stuff! Really does not bother me on my skin at all. It was still difficult, however, to completely get rid of the old cracks. I tried pedicures, where they used callus remover, but I couldn’t keep that up. I tried a porous stone, and good old fashioned muscle, at home, but I couldn’t keep that up.

        Then one day at at a well known bed, bath store I saw one of those electric rotating foot sanders. This particular one was a wet/dry one, so can bring in the shower. I bought the rough and smooth, dry only, refills to use outside the shower as well to really smooth things. In two days, cracks gone! And I mean completely. A little shea butter to keep them soft. I just use the thing 1-2x per week. Lots more snuggling now too as a bonus. No financial interest in this, but since it really changed things for me, when I go backpacking ;), I thought it would be useful to mention it. If you start out with no cracks, you are more likely to keep them that way, so then just bring a little tiny bit of shea. Might not save you while doing the entire PCT, but should be good for 3-7 days. The 4 oz jar I bought has lasted over a year for me and my wife and there’s still a quarter jar left. Been using on dry areas of my hands in the winter too. In case you are interested, again – no financial interest here, the brand of the sander is Amopé, Pedi perfect, wet dry, rechargeable. My wife had a smaller, less powerful but similar one, which she’s since ditched. Again, I’m sure there are various brands out there, or you could just use some wet/dry sandpaper I suppose. But seriously, this thing is effortless.

        All the best you Alan! I refer so many people to your awesome lists. Would be very cool someday if you could do what the BSA High Adventure Altitude Leadership Training folks did and also list really low budget alternatives. They gave me an 11-pound list for about $190 total. Though this included thrift store, Army surplus purchases, some lucky finds and some home surgery on clothing and item (gotta get out that sewing machine), it could really help those on a budget get started.

        Thanks you so very much for your amazing site! I wish you continued success, joy, and an outstanding life.


        • Talia Ferri
          Talia Ferri says:

          Another option is to seal the cracks with Krazy Glue. I’m a doctor, too; this is a non–toxic solution I suggest to patients. As the cracks heal, they push out the glue. This is recommended for orchestral string players whose fingers crack in the winter–haven’t recommended it for large cracks in feet, but may be worth a try.

          • Alan Dixon
            Alan Dixon says:

            Yup Talia, Krazy Glue works great for cracking feet or hands. It’s even on this gear list :-) Best, -alan

  37. Sylvia
    Sylvia says:

    Thanks Alan for all of the great information. I have been backpacking “older school” for years and am looking forward to many more by shedding 15-20 pounds. That outcome will have me skipping along soooo happy out there! Your information succinctly organizes conclusions I had already arrived at, confirms those I was leaning toward, zero’s in on those yet to be pondered and surprised me with a couple of “who wudda thought’s”. HUGE time saver. Now I can fast-forward to supporting the outdoor gear economy : )

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Thanks for the kind words Sylvia! May you have a lighter step in your hikes this year. All the best, -alan

  38. Steve Elder
    Steve Elder says:

    Just wanted to say THANKS for your great site, Alan. I’m just getting back into backpacking after many many years away… riding my mountain bike. I’m driven by a new-found passion for Tenkara fly fishing and a realization that there is so much wilderness here in Colorado I’d like to see while I still can! Your site has been primary in giving me a jumpstart on carrying as lightly as possible for safety and comfort.

  39. Scott
    Scott says:

    Planning a weekend in the smokies this summer at higher elevation. Are you familiar with the campsites near clingman’s dome? The AT runs right by it. The weather sites say the higher elevation can be 10-20 degrees cooler that the lower areas, like Gatlinsburg. So I’m thinking about going out in July or August. Have you had any experience in the smokies in July or August?

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Scott, It’s been many, many years since I camped around Clingman’s dome. It was in March and it was completely frozen and cold as all get out. But guessing that it might still be hot in July and August. As to when… the Smokies are the most visited National Park so July and August are going to be high season and the most crowded. My best guess is that the ideal times to go would be before Memorial Day or after Labor Day. Moderate daytime temps, and nice crisp Wx at night for sleeping. And fewer crowds than high summer! Hope you have a great trip, -alan

      • Scott
        Scott says:

        Ok. I may have to rethink July or August. I’ve been reading several weather sites and they all say even in July and August that the highs are in the 60’s and lows in the 50’s at clingman’s dome. Are the campsites nearby all at lower elevation? I’m going to pickup a map, and hopefully it will have both the campsites and the elevations. We normally take a guy trip in September to the red river gorge in Kentucky, but we are wanting to try something different.

  40. J Har
    J Har says:

    Love this guide! Gearing up for my first multi-night backpacking trip in Yosemite and this will be a huge help. Do you have recommendations on food? Certainly that must add a lot of weight, yes?

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      > Do you have recommendations on food?
      I do. See these two posts on my site. My food page usually ranks #1 or #2 on google for backpacking food
      Best Backpacking Food – simple and nutritious – veggie and omnivore friendly
      and Backpacking Food List – Simple and Nutritious for 7 days which can easily be scaled down to fewer days.

      And yes, you can save weight on food and get better nutrioin at the same time:
      “How much food should I take?

      You can probably save more weight on food than almost anything!

      • My nutritious food weighs about 30% less than a typical backpacker’s food.
      • This could save me as much 5 pounds or more of food on a trip (my 11 pounds of food for a 7-day trip vs. a typical backpacker’s 16 pounds).
        How many pounds of food per day?
      • The short answer is around 1.5 pounds per day for 2-5 day, shorter mileage trips. The majority of the clients I guide for trips up to 5 days seem to get by fine on around 1.5 pounds per day.

      The slightly longer answer is 1.4 to 1.7 pounds per day for most backpackers covering 10 miles a day or less on trails is for trips up to a week long.

  41. Conner
    Conner says:


    It’s been great to look through your lists, very helpful. I was just curious because I am in the market, how do you feel about the petzl e lite vs. the bd ion? I will have my phone as a backup light and never do any night hiking. I am in the process of dialing in my gear for section 2 of the AT and I leave in early June. Thanks!

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Depends on what you want your lamp for. The Petzl is only up to camp chores. It is not a headlamp that I would chose to hike with. But it is smaller and lighter, so if all you need it for is camp use then it’s probably fine. I sometimes end up hiking before first light in the morning or into darkness at night (my choice to make more miles–not an emergency situation). The Ion has a crapload more brilliant beam that is adequate for trail hiking. And the two lithium AAA batteries pack a lot more energy than two wimpy 2032 button cell in the Petzel. My one gripe about the Ion is that it has a wonky switch. I would try one out in the store before buying it. I have used mine for a year and am fine with it, but I have had a few moments of frustration when the switch refused to cooperate for a few min. Hope this helps.

  42. Evan Kramer
    Evan Kramer says:

    I’m curious how your NF TKA 100 wt fleece weighs in at 7.9. I can’t be separated from mine, but it weighs 10.35 now. REI has average weight 9.2, but most other sites selling it have weight at 10+.

    I’m thinking that there must be some variations within the TKA 100 wt universe, but I can’t figure out what it is that makes the difference.

  43. Scott
    Scott says:

    I’ve picked up the north face O2 tent at about 38 ounces. I replaced the stakes with MSR Carbon stakes. It’s performed really well in rain and has plenty of room inside. Just wondered if you’ve checked it out as a budget alternative to some of the big Agnes tents.

    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Scott, 38 oz is very good for a two person, double walled tent. $224 is a good price. Also notice that it is not a freestanding tent but more TarpTent like, with single hoop and then staked out for tension. Curious long it takes you to stake it out and set it up? Thanks, -alan

      • Scott
        Scott says:

        It sets up real fast. I sometimes re-adjust the stakes at the end of my staking out depending on my site. There are line locks so you can pull the tension to however you like. There are two poles that go in the ends that actually vault up and away from the floor of the tent. It’s nice because most tents lose height at the ends but this one doesn’t. Which is nice for me at 6’2″. I have the tent weight down to 36 ounces now with the carbon stakes.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

    Leave a Reply

    Want to join the discussion?
    Feel free to contribute!

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.