Monday, September 22, 2014

Backpacking Gear List (Summer 2014)

Well, I think we've finally done it. After countless hours of research, budgeting almost four months' worth of paychecks (and a few mistakes), we finally have everything we need to go backpacking.

Leave it to us to pick a hobby that requires enough gear to outfit an army. And you can't accumulate gear as you go, buying a little bit here and there. With backpacking, you need everything from the start. Sure, you can make sacrifices, but is it worth it? A pile of blankets will never be as warm as a proper sleeping bag and sleeping pad. Trust me, we've tried.

We are not beginning hikers, but we are beginning backpackers. There is an art to getting everything you need while keeping it light, and more importantly, affordable. We didn't want to go the ultra-cheap route because we wanted our gear to last and we wanted stuff we were excited to use. We also didn't want to go the ultra-expensive route because we are not bazillionaires and hiking is not our only hobby. But using gear lists really helped show the premium lightweight gear versus the great deals that are out there, and we were able to find something in the middle that worked for us.

I'm sure this list will change in the future, once we have been able to trail-test everything several times to see what worked and what didn't. But hopefully someone else will find this useful, just as I found other gear lists useful.

Any additional thoughts about the items follow after the lists. Prices reflect what we actually paid, not the full price. There are a few instances where Phil and I preferred different items, and I included that. Unless noted, assume we both have the same gear. A tip for buying discounted gear at Dick's, REI, or EMS: wait for sales around national holidays. We bought our packs during the REI Labor Day sale and saved $150. I did not include stuff sacks in these lists because I am not a gram weenie.

Pack, Shelter, and Sleep System (The Big 3)

Eureka tent components, sleeping bag and pad, and both packs shown.

Tent: Eureka Sunriver 2P $120 (5 lbs 3 oz total)
Lantern: Stowaway Collapsible Lantern $20 (8 oz)
Groundcloth: Ultrasac 55 gal. Trash Bag $20/box (2 oz)
    Phil's Portion - Main Vestibule and Poles
    My Portion - Stakes, Rainfly, Lantern, and Groundcloth

Sleeping Bag: Teton Trailhead 20 $50 (2.9 lbs)
Sleeping Pad: Therm-a-Rest Z-Lite $40 (14 oz)
Compression Sack for Bag: Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil 15L $33 (3 oz)

My Pack: REI Flash 45 $90 (2 lbs 3 oz)
Phil's Pack: Deuter Aircontact 65+10 $130 (6 lbs)
Pack Liner: trash bag from home $0 (0.5 oz)


PACKS. I felt very strongly about having a lightweight pack, and I didn't want a sleeping bag compartment. Phil didn't want to spend a lot of money and he didn't want something brightly colored. We were lucky to find that Deuter bag at such a good discount.

The guy at REI was shocked that I wanted a 50L pack for overnight camping. He kept insisting that the Flash was a day pack. How much stuff do you need for day hiking?? Maybe for climbing gear, but not for hiking. Everything (excluding the sleeping pad, but that's normal) fits inside my pack without a problem. I'm not quite sure how I'm going to strap the sleeping pad to the outside of my pack yet (the square shape is more than a bit annoying) but I'm sure I can work something out.

Future gear wishlist includes an airmat and a specialist tent. Maybe a camp pillow. And a badass sleeping bag that compresses to the size of a cantaloupe.

A pretty awesome update: While getting this post together, I won an ultralight tent from! I'm super excited to try it out. Not only will we have a much lighter tent to carry, but we'll have a spare tent in case we want to go backpacking with friends. The only downside (and it's not really a downside, the tent was free!) is that we'll have to purchase the accessory tent poles because neither of us carry trekking poles. We can pitch it between two trees without poles, but how often can you find the two perfect trees? You can read SectionHiker's review of the Big Agnes Scout 2P tent here, and see the specs and purchase the tent here.


My setup.

My Setup
Packed away.
    Pot (with two cups): Stanley Adventure Cook Set $25 ( oz)
    Stove: Esbit Titanium Folding Stove $15 (0.4 oz)
    Silicon Handle: Lodge Silicone Hot Handle Holder $5 (3 oz)
    Windscreen: super fancy tin foil and paperclip $0 (0.5 oz)

Phil's Setup
    Pot, Stove, Windscreen: Esbit Solid Fuel Stove and Cookset $30 (7 oz)

Each setup also contains:
    Coozie: homemade $8 for sun shade, enough to make many (1 oz)
    Firestarter: Mini BIC Lighter
    Dishsoap: Hotel bottle with natural dish soap
    Sponge: 1/2 scrubby sponge with sponge part sliced to 1/2 thickness


NOTES. Both stoves use Esbit fuel cubes. We wanted something that was light, easy to restock, and not fussy. Our cooking is going to be simple for a while, either over the fire, boiling water, or no-cook granola bars. The cubes smell a bit like bad fish, but keep them wrapped up in a plastic bag and it's fine. Eventually we'll both switch to Snow Peak Ti mug/pot combos with either hot lips, squishy bowls, or camp cups, but the Ti pots are quite expensive. The biggest requirement for any cooking system (in my eyes) is that it all packs away inside itself.

It's funny how strongly we both feel about our separate set ups. I really love mine and dislike Phil's, and Phil really loves his and dislikes mine. But hey, whatever works!

The All-Inclusive Ditty Bag

Ditty Bag: homemade $3
Utensil: Light My Fire Spork $3 (because it doesn't fit inside the stoves)

Hand Sanitizer: CVS Brand 1 oz Pocket Spray
Travel toothbrush and a straw-pack of toothpaste tucked inside $2
Toilet paper in snack-sized ziploc
Lady Hygiene: Summer's Eve Travel Wipes $3
Deodorant: scooped into small tubs
Bug Spray: We have Sawyer Maxi-Deet, but I prefer this. Also this
Sunscreen: Banana Boat Sport Spray $2

2 butterfly closures
1 fabric BandAid, for the stupid easy stuff
1 sterile non-stick pad
1 roll athletic tape
wound irrigation syringe (most pharmacies will give you a couple without the needle for free, just ask)
- Medications (in pill packs):
          2 dipenhydramine (anti-histamine)
          4 lopermaride (anti-diarrhea) - Found it at Target for the cheapest.
          10 ibuprofen (anti-inflammatory)
          6 Tums (trail farts are a thing)
          2 emergency aspirin
- Creams (in straw packs):
          Burn and Sting Relief
          Benadryl Itch Relief
          Bacitracin Antibiotic Cream

Water Treatment: Sawyer Inline Mini Filter $25 (2 oz)
Repair: duct tape rolled onto wooden skewer
Temperature: MCR Mylar Blanket
Light: Tasco 250 Lumen Tactical Flashlight $20 for 3
Tinder: cotton balls coated in vaseline (can also be used for first aid)
Husky multitool
50' paracord
 - Epic Altoids Survival Kit
          razor blade
          knot-tying guide
          Mini fishing kit: 3 hooks, 3 sinkers, 15 ft fishing line (all in a straw pack)
          Needle and 15 ft heavy duty thread
          Backup Water Purification: 5 packs MSR Aquatabs
          Backup Light: Pico Zipper Flashlight
          Backup Fire Starter: Firesteel, with plastic top sawed off
          Another Backup Fire Starter: 4 storm matches in sealed straws, with striker
          emergency whistle
          large nail
          another fabric BandAid
          pocket cable saw
          button compass
          extra hair tie and two bobby pins
          3 safety pins
          pair of ear plugs

Expanded view of Altoids survival kit.
Altoids survival kit all packed up.

DITTY BAG. My ditty bag is 8 x 3.5 x 3.5, and it cost me about $6 to make two bags with enough ripstop nylon leftover to make two more bags. I started with an 11.5 x 14 piece of ripstop. Make sure to melt all cut edges of the nylon with a lighter to prevent fraying. They turned out really nice!

When day hiking everything goes into the ditty bag, but for backpacking it will be easier to keep the non-smellable things in the lid pocket of our packs, like the toilet paper and sanitizer (for obvious reasons) but also the flashlight, water filter, rope, and survival stuff. Then the ditty bag can go whole-hog into the bear bag at night to keep the smellables (first aid kit and soap) away from critters.

FIRST AID KIT. Amounts listed are for a 1-2 day trip, for one person. I keep it in a freezer quart-sized ziploc, which is bigger and sturdier than needed but will keep everything dry, and the bag can come in handy for more uses than storage.

BANDAGES. The athletic tape is heavy and bulky, but it can be use to stabilize a strain (mostly ankles or wrists) or as a bandage when the sticky sides are pressed together. It's clean, and you can make a bandage out of any shape. I still carry a few bandages because they are nearly weightless and can come in handy. If you've ever had a large scrape or burn, you know that nonstick bandages are a godsend.

LIGHT. These flashlights are heavy, but bright and sturdy and the batteries last a long time. Good if you need to pitch camp or hike in the dark. Will blind you for a midnight pee trip, though. Eventually I want to get a headlamp that includes a red LED that won't wreck your night vision or disturb other campers, but this isn't a priority.

SOAP. I really like the idea of using Doc Bronner's All-In-One soap for everything (toothpaste, dish soap, laundry detergent, shampoo, etc), but probably won't buy it until we are doing trips long enough for me to want to wash my hair. I'll put it in eye dropper bottles.

1 comment:

  1. Backpacking is a great way to enjoy life, particularly for people who are into nature. I really like your gear; everything is essentially portable, which is perfect for hiking trips. Anyway, thanks for sharing your experience with us. I’m pretty sure a lot of people could use your survival kit as a reference. All the best!

    Garrett Frazier @ Greg Grainger Adventures