For the Gear Junkies, as Promised

It’s Not About How Much You Make, But What You Do With What You Make.

As I make and compile four and a half months of food, which I’ll post about next, what I already have is all the gear I’ll need to make it back to Maine. Ahead is a post of most of what I’ll be carrying along with me. I have yet to buy any new gear, so if you’re looking for insight into what’s new, I’m not the read. If you wanna ball out on a budget, keep reading.

I’ve planned for a pair of Topo trail runners every 500ish miles. The Whites chew through soles and souls so I’m eager to get a couple more steps out of them in the southern states. I’ve been wearing Topos for years now, they’re wicked comfortable and they last super long. I usually wear their WP boots in the WMNF, VT and Maine, however I couldn’t turn down my daily wearer when I saw them for $78 and they’re typically $150.

The Cabin

With footwear being worn daily, my other daily users will be my sleep and cook system. My tried-and-true tent is a Nemo Hornet 2P that I’ve had since 2019. That tent is a solid, double wall shelter that when properly guylined doesn’t fill with moisture from River and I. Weighing in at 2 pounds and 5 ounces it’s perfect for the two of us but would be a tight squeeze with two full-sized humans in my opinion. Riv is a sprawler and not a snuggler, he takes about half the length, and half the width, which leaves me with plenty of room and the ability to curl up on my side.

Along the AT in Maine.
Along the AT in Maine

Riv sleeping in the tent off a forest service road in the WMNF.

Sleeping Bag

Being a side sleeper, I found the Big Agnes Torchlight 20 which provides added width with two small zippers running the length of the bag. According to their website, the bag weighs in at two pounds 11 ounces. Starting while it’s still winter, I’ll layer my bag with a Sea to Summit Thermolite Reactor liner which will give me about 15 degrees of added warmth. The internet says it weighs 14 ounces. This may be a good spot to explain how insulation works, when dry. It’s all about the dead air space. The pockets of air that different fabrics create, fill with body heat. The more dead air space, the warmer it will be. On nights that may be a little too cold, I’ll simply stuff my sleeping bag with my extra layers including my puffy. To wear it would flatten half of it, making it rather useless in comparison.

A dog in a sleeping bag just woke up.
River just woke up.

Sleeping Pad

The last piece to conclude my sleep system is my Thermarest Prolite Plus sleeping pad. I love this thing; it’s been able to withstand River getting in and out of bed since 2019 with zero issues. Weighing in at one pound seven ounces, with and R-value of 3.2, it’s just warm enough for my needs and sized right for my 6’1” meat suit. I do fully anticipate needing to replace it at some point on this hike, I didn’t pay full price for it back then and I hope that’s the same situation if there is a next time. I feel a benefit to a partially free-standing tent is the inability to get a good pitch on a rocky surface, making me favor a softer location and prolonging my gear.

Cook System

I don’t plan on cooking any food, just boiling water. My stove is an old, half-broken Jet Boil that a dear friend got for me at the place where we used to work together. It simply doesn’t light with the button, so I just put a lighter to it and I’ll use it until it won’t boil water any longer. My water pot is a Toaks 550mL which is two ounces in weight that was purchased on sale. That’s plenty enough volume to add to oatmeal or soak my noodles. I don’t carry a bowl, I typically drink right from the pot or my water bag and my utensil is nothing worth mentioning. My water bags to start and hopefully finish are the same deal as my stove. They were returned but they weren’t even opened and my partner scored them for us. Same thing with my Katadyne water filter, it was returned unopened and she got it for super cheap. I recently snagged a Swayer Micro and I’ll carry both, as to have a dog and no water filter is a struggle that I’m all set to experience. This setup works for me so we’re rolling with it and will adjust if needed.

A lightweight backpacking pot sits on a backpacking stove. A woman and a dog is in the background.
My partner and our simple but sufficient cook system.


If you’re wondering what all that stuff goes in, I have an olive-colored Granite Gear Crown2 60L that I got on closeout as it was the prior model. It weighs two pounds eight ounces and fits my torso comfortably. I’ve got a few holes in the hip belt, not from critters but from my rescue, Rangeley. She didn’t mean to, I just make wicked good energy bars that she remembered from the trail. She just had to have the last of it, honestly probably ripped the pockets for an empty bag, still love her to pieces.

I don’t use stuff sacs; I line the bottom with a contractor bag and stuff my tent, sleeping bag, pad, and anything else that needs to stay dry in there and close it up. My hygiene supplies and a towel will get tossed in there as I generally only use them in the morning and at night. In the middle, towards my back goes River’s food and my future day’s food separated in gallon bags by the number of calories, as well as my Anker power bank. It’s rather heavy but I got it for all the gadgets instructors and participants needed to charge while I was out in the backcountry instructing. On top of the heavy items, I’ll lay a bag of water and then stuff the day’s layers down in front of it and the spaces around it. That way I keep the bulk of the weight closest to my center of gravity and make my pack feel like an extension of me.

Granite Gear Crown2 60L fits me great!
Granite Gear Crown2 60L fits me great!

Packed inside the brain will be things like a compass, first aid kit, headlamp, earbuds, sunnies, bug net, dry socks, and the things I need to grab most often that don’t belong in the hip belt. Most of the time, the brain goes inside the bag on top of the heavy stuff. This time, however, River is getting a sleeping pad even though I guarantee a thru-hike will change nothing, and he’ll still prefer the bare tent floor. He’s probably another reason my gear lasts so long, I’m very intentional about what we sleep on, he hates a pad and I stress out that he’s too cold or uncomfortable. The only constant is change.

In one side pocket goes my tent hardware and trekking poles when they’re not being used, and the other pocket holds another bag or bottle of water with my filter attached. The front of the pack has a stretchy pocket where I’ll put my wind/rain layer, camp shoes, a bag of tater chips, and whatever else I deem worthy of carrying. I’m not out there to suffer a lot, only a little, so I do carry some creature comforts. Like a Nemo Fillo Pillow. Same deal, it was returned but it holds air all night and only weighs nine ounces. My hip belt I hope is like any other’s, full of snacks, dog treats, and is adjustable for when those snacks pile up. My goal is to gain weight out on the trail, not loose it.

River in his pack.

Sorry Riv, Can’t Pack the Pizza Bones

Sadly, the company I wanted to purchase a custom-made pack for River through, isn’t in service at the time of this writing. We’ve settled for a Ruffwear Palisades and so far so good! I put it on him every now and again so he can get used to it, but I do feel bad. When we go for a short walk out back you can tell he’s not satisfied and wants more miles. Another thing River dislikes is a blanket/bag, it’s gotta get down into the low 30s before he’ll stay under the covers. Starting so early, he’s carrying a bag. I have an old, 20° that was purchased the same as 99% of my gear, returned in near-perfect condition, and bought for small amounts of dollars at what they dubbed the ‘employee store’. I’m just going to cut the bottom off, take most of the stuffing out, hot glue the cut end of the zipper so the pull tab doesn’t fall off, and then sew along the bottom that I cut. As soon as nights sustain in the upper 40’s that thing is getting sent home. River’s sleeping pad which he never uses is just a Z-lite cut a little more than in half that I stick between the floor and the footprint, which I’ll carry. I’ve never carried a sleeping bag/blanket for him, I’ve always used my puffy and extra layers to cover him if needed. But having both the pad and bag, I’ll be able to cover the bare spot he seeks out. In his pack will also be his water/food bowl, a towel, some freeze-dried food, a leash, a bear bell, our bear hang, and most certainly more snacks and treats. We’re going to snack our way up the trail! I got him a giant tub of Mushers Secret which I’ll break down into smaller units and use sparingly. His paws are already White Mountain tough and using it throughout the day causes dirt and debris to get stuck in the wax in the crevices where it may not have before. Aside from that, River won’t be carrying too much else. I’m currently trying to find the best way to attach his pack to mine as I intend to carry it most of the way. I almost wonder if once it gets warm, we’ll ditch the pack altogether. The other thing we’ll carry for Riv are his glucosamine supplements, I swear by those little brown nuggets.

A dog in a backpacking pack.
The too-warm puffy.

Can’t Forget the Cast Iron!

Some things I’ve mentioned in this post are my puffy, headlamp, and trekking poles to name a few. My puffy was a promo that I received from Marmot for our winter trips, it’s the warmest puffy I’ve ever worn and is almost too warm for doing any movement in. You’ll often see it halfway zipped, or maybe I’m just good at layering? I wish I knew what model it was, either way, it’s going home as soon as the weather permits. My trekking poles I got from the employee store for three dollars. They’re near the end of their life and I fully anticipate having to replace them on the trail. Not looking forward to triple-digit prices. I’ll pack lots of socks; they make great mittens, and in an emergency, toilet paper. There is a saying, and it’s ‘a pound on your feet is equal to five in your pack.’ When my shoes get wet, I use them to pull moisture out of my shoes, into my socks, and then on my pack they go to dry. I own many pairs of Darn Toughs. I currently have a 25-dollar Petzel headlamp, but I’m enticed to buy a rechargeable one. I don’t want to toss all those batteries in the landfill, and I know my Anker will be more than sufficient for charging my phone between towns. I also got River a light for his collar which can also be recharged by the Anker. I also plan to make some sort of hot soak insulator for my meals. I typically just use my puffy but being out there for months, this will be fool/leak proof. Although, I’ve never had a leak, it’s bound to happen.

Number One at Number Two

How could I forget the shit kit?! That thing goes front, top, and center of the stretchy pocket for quick access because I tried to trust a fart and inner me had other ideas. I can’t remember what brand it is, but it was purchased from Garage Grown Gear ages ago and still gets the job done every time.

Have you ever noticed that the people in our lives with the most wealth buy the shittiest toilet paper? It’s not about how much money you make, but what you do with the money you make.

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Comments 2

  • Shocktop : Dec 23rd

    I wish you and River happy trails in the new year!

    • Sage : Jan 2nd

      Thank you so very much! I hope if nothing else we enjoy our time together. Finishing is the bonus!


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