What’s in My Pack as I Prepare to Head Out?

Alright! It is time for me to go over all of my gear. This is going to be a lengthy post because I put a good amount of thought into my gear for this hike and I’ll explain why I like a few of my main pieces of gear. Let’s get started.

Backpack: Gossamer Gear Gorilla 40

The Gossamer Gear Gorilla is a lightweight backpack designed to hold 40 liters of gear. There is one main compartment, two side pockets, one large mesh pocket on the back, two hip pockets on the hip belt, and one pocket on the top flap of the backpack. Most of my gear will go in the largest compartment, the main compartment. There are several reasons I like this bag: 1) The bag weighs two pounds, making it very light when compared to other bags that have some sort of frame and a hip belt; 2) Large hip pockets allow me to keep certain items accessible while I am hiking. I can keep food in my hip pockets so that when I get hungry I don’t have to take my bag off just to get a snack; 3) The bag has a capacity of 40 L. This is a relatively low value for a thru-hike, ensuring that I can’t overpack and can keep my setup light.

I wore the backpack on numerous training hikes and found it to be comfortable with my base weight of just over 12 pounds. There is plenty of room for a generous food back to fit inside and water bottles to go on the side pockets. There is one main drawback that I noticed so far and it is a result of another gear choice that I made. I have a foam sleeping bad that needs to be strapped to the outside of my pack. The GG (Gossamer Gear) Gorilla does not have any straps to secure this pad easily so I need to strap it under the main flap that closes the pack. This is not a huge deal but it could become annoying.

Tent: Gossamer Gear The One

This is a non-free-standing, single walled, one person nylon tent that comes in at 22 ounces (for just the tent without the stakes). The tent is supported by trekking poles and the tension created from staking the guylines into the ground. Below is a picture of the pitched tent so you can get an idea of what it looks like.

The tent can be pitched with ten stakes, but if I don’t stake in the tent floor then I can use six stakes and save the weight. There is one entrance into the tent and one vestibule. I find the tent to be quite spacious for a one-person tent and have no issues setting up my sleep system inside. The door can be zipped open and held up with a Velcro loop to help with ventilation as single walled tents can have issues with condensation when the weather is chilly. The tent is all one piece and has no rain fly. The wall of the tent is waterproof, helping the tent be as light as it is. The setup of the tent is simple and once it is fully staked into the ground, the trekking poles that support it do not wobble. On the inside, the tent is tall enough for me to sit upright. There is a pocket on the inside wall of the tent for me to store a few items and there is a drying line strung across the ceiling of the tent as well.

Overall, the tent is light and minimalistic and I look forward to calling it home for the next several months.

Quilt: UGQ Bandit Top Quilt

My quilt has the following specs:

  • 800 fill down
  • 20°F temperature rating
  • 78” length
  • 55” width
  • 23 oz
  • Zippered toe box

I decided to go with a quilt because it saves weight. The quilt lies over top of me when I sleep and does not wrap underneath me like a traditional sleeping bag. Sleeping bags/quilts trap heat when the bag is fully lofted and not when the down is being crushed underneath you while you sleep. By eliminating this part of the bag, a quilt saves weight while providing adequate warmth. The quilt has a zippered toe box, which means that I can take the rectangular quilt and zipper the bottom section of it together so that it wraps closely around my legs and feet when I sleep. Conversely, I can open up the toe box for when the weather is warm. This versatility of a quilt is what makes it the better choice over a sleeping bag, in my eyes.

Sleeping Pad: Big Agnes Insulated AXL Air Sleeping Pad

My mattress for the next few months is going to be the Big Agnes Insulated AXL Air Sleeping Pad. I know that the picture I have posted shows that I have a Z-Lite, but I was recently gifted an AXL so that is what I am going to use. I have always been skeptical of inflatable pads because they are prone to popping but I am going to give it a shot. If I have a failure along the way I’ll be able to go back to my closed cell foam.

Footwear: Salomon XA Pro 3D Trail-Running Shoes

Choosing footwear is difficult because I can read as much as I would like online, but at the end of the day I need to find shoes that feel good on my feet. I was deciding between wearing Altra Lone Peaks (the shoes that I wear trail running) and the 3D Trail Runners. I am a big fan of my Altras but I wanted something with a bit more support for my feet. The arches in my feet are fairly weak and my Salomon hiking shoes (they are the hiking shoe version of the XA Pro 3D Trail Runners) never gave me any problems during my years of hiking in them. I decided not to change what has always worked for me and go with the Salomons. The trail runners are not waterproof and will be able to dry faster on as a result. I will see how these shoes do for the first few weeks and hopefully I will be going through a few pairs before the summer is over.


I keep my clothing pretty simple, and as someone who does not get cold too easily, I think this should be enough. If I find that I need another layer, I can always pick something up along the way. The hat and gloves will probably get sent home once the weather is warm enough.


I have an MSR Pocket Rocket that has worked just fine for the last three years. I bring a small lighter and fuel canister along with a titanium pot to boil water and make dinner in. The step is very simplistic and could be lighter if I switched to an alcohol stove, but I have never experimented with it and I like the setup I have. I don’t eat a warm breakfast typically because I like to get moving quickly in the morning. This means that I really only use my stove to cook dinner each evening. I would consider dropping this to save weight if I find that I am not craving warm meals, but I have to wait until I am out on the trail to see how I feel about that.


I will have my phone, external battery, Garmin Fenix 5, headlamp, and SPOT Gen3 with me. The SPOT takes AAA batteries as does my headlamp. However, my headlamp is also rechargeable. I have cables to charge my phone, watch, external battery, and headlamp along with a wall block that has two USB ports. I was thinking of bringing my kindle but decided against it to start. If I want it I will just have my parents send it out to me.


I am bringing a toothbrush, floss, toothpaste, Chapstick, trowel, toilet paper, and Purel.

Water Purification

I have a Sawyer Squeeze and a soft water bottle to push the water through the filter. I’ll have the capacity to hold three to four liters of water at most.

What Else?

  • Trekking poles that I use to walk and to support my tent.
  • Stuff sacks to organize my equipment and store my food.
  • Rope to hang a bear line.
  • First aid kit with extra batteries, medicine, and some other health-related things (Band-Aids and things of that nature).
  • Journal and guidebook so that I don’t get lost and have somewhere to record my journey.

Well, that was quite a mouthful, but hopefully you were able to get something out of it and understand why I chose certain pieces of equipment. The beauty of backpacking is that gear setups are different for every hiker. I like to keep my gear simple and functional so that every piece of gear has a purpose and I am not bogged down by carrying things that do not add value to my hike.

I can’t believe the trail is less than two weeks away and I could not be more excited to get out there and start heading north 🙂

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Comments 6

  • brad : Mar 1st

    Would be helpful if you could tell us more concerning total weight. Yes, you said base weight of 12 lbs, but from all
    you included, am wondering what your total pack weight came out to Thank you.

  • FM : Mar 6th

    Closed cell foam pads are comfortable enough for the younger crowd and a more affordable and preferable option if they don’t mind the bulk. Older you get though, the less appealing they become. They are murder on my hips in hard floor shelters, even when doubled over. I still do use them when I know I’ll be tenting or cowboy camping over a pine straw or leaf bedded forest floor.

    • Scott Benerofe : Mar 6th

      I totally agree. I actually need to update this post because yesterday I was gifted a Big Agnes AXL. I have used my Z-Lite for years, but it is probably a good time for an upgrade.

      • FM : Mar 6th

        I have a Big Agnes Oak Street Air pad with an elusive leak. Nothing worse on the hips than no padding at all. ; )

        • Nick : Mar 17th

          I have a Big Agnes air pad which leaks all over, degraded too fast like my BA seed house flaking off its DWR. Frustrated to pay so much for so little use!


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