My Life in a 47-Liter Backpack

After months of research, hours of deliberation, and a few trial and errors, it all comes down to this. Here is the gear I will be carrying for the next six months:

The Big Three

1. Backpack: Osprey Aura AG

This has been, by far, the single piece of gear I have gone back and forth the most on. I bought my pack a few years ago when I first started backpacking. She has been with me on all my backpacking trips. She was with me when I tapped out that first trip. She was with me when I hiked six days in a tropical storm. She’s summited mountains with me and crossed streams with me. We’ve bonded and she’s never let me down. If you couldn’t tell, I’m REALLY fond of my backpack. That said, it weighs four pounds. I have not taken this lightly (no pun intended). However, after much debate, I have decided that the best way to proceed, for me, is to start my journey with my beloved Aura AG pack. Later, I may decide to make a change if the pack proves to be too heavy. In which case, I will send her home and proceed with a lighter pack at that time.

My beloved Osprey Aura AG.

2. Tent: Gossamer Gear The One

Originally, I planned to use the Big Agnes Copper Spur Ul1. I really like the design of the tent. I found the set up and break down of the Copper Spur very user friendly. The reason I ultimately chose Gossamer Gear’s The One is based solely on size and weight. The One, with lines, stuff sack, and stakes, weighs in at 29.35 ounces. That’s a whole pound lighter than the Copper Spur. Additionally, it packs down to less than half the size of other single-person backpacking tents. The main reason Gossamer Gear was able to accomplish this is because the tent does not have tent poles; instead, it is supported by your trekking poles. Major weight and space savings! Having since purchased The One, and practiced its setup and breakdown, I am thrilled to be taking it with me. I especially like that the rainfly is built into the tent’s design so less water is likely to enter the tent when setting up or breaking down in inclement weather.

Gossamer Gear The One.

3. Sleep System

Sleeping quilt: Enlightened Equipment Enigma 20 degree.

Sleeping bag or quilt? Decisions, decisions. I also spent awhile debating this one. I already possessed a perfectly suitable sleeping bag, but after borrowing a friend’s sleeping quilt, to see how I’d like it, I quickly realized that a quilt just makes more sense.

Enlightened Equipment Enigma.

Liner: Cocoon CoolMax Mummy Liner.

You’re probably wondering why, if I’m using a quilt, I would also be taking a sleeping bag liner. I have my reasons. First, a liner adds additional warmth; approximately five degrees, in fact. Since I sleep cold, this is important. Second, as spring turns into summer and the temperatures begin to rise, a 20-degree bag may be too warm for my sleeping needs. In which case, I can sleep on top of the quilt and use the liner like a sheet. Because I HAVE to have covers. Third, a liner helps maintain the cleanliness and integrity of your sleeping bag/quilt. Instead of sliding my sweaty, stinky body directly into my quilt and then sleeping in my own filth for six months, I will be able to throw the liner in with my laundry with each visit to a town or hostel.

Sleeping pad: Nemo Tensor.

Like some of the other items I have previously discussed, I already had a perfectly fine sleeping pad and originally planned on taking it with me for this expedition. The Therm-a-Rest ProLite self-inflating sleeping pad sleeps like a dream. Like my pack, I’m really fond of it. However, after researching other sleeping pads and even trying a few out at the nearest REI, I found a new love in the Nemo Tensor. I especially like how small it packs down. Remember, I’m only working with 47 liters, the smaller the gear the more space I have for food.

Cook Set

Toaks Titanium 750m.

MSR PocketRocket Stove.

Sea to Summit Alpha Light Spork, long.

The cook set.

Water Purification and Storage

Platypus Hoser 3L Reservoir.

Platypus Platy Water Bottle, 70 fl.

Sawyer Squeeze.

Up until this hike, I have always used my Katahdin Gravity Filter. Honestly, I still swear by it. It easily catches water, is quick to filter, has great flow, and if you’re up for a cold one, doubles as a great wilderness shower. As much as I love my gravity filter, it takes up a lot of space. So, for this trek, I will be using the famous Sawyer Squeeze.


Hiking Shoe-                      Altra, Lone Peak

Camp Shoe-                        Zero Shoes, Z‑Trail

Socks-                                  Darn Tough, Micro Crew Cushion Socks (x3)

Gaiters-                               Dirty Girl

Underwear-                        ExOfficio, Give‑N‑Go Sport Mesh (x2)

Bra-                                      Patagonia, Barely Bra Sports Bra (x2)

Camp bottom-                   NorthFace, Arise and Align

Camp top-                          Under Armour, UA Speed Stride

Gloves-                                Zpacks, PossumDown Gloves

Hat-                                     Smartwool, NTS Merino 150 Beanie

Base layer top-                  REI Co‑op, Lightweight Base Layer Tights

Base layer bottom-           REI Co‑op, Lightweight Base Layer Crew Top

Mid layer top-                   REI Co‑op, Active Pursuits Quarter‑Zip

Hiking pant-                     The North Face, Aphrodite 2.0 Pants

Hiking short-                    Patagonia, Strider Shorts

Hiking top-                        Kari Traa, Tikse T‑Shirt

Jacket-                                Patagonia, Mirco Puff Hoody

Rain pant-                         Columbia, Storm Surge

Rain jacket-                      REI Co‑op, Drypoint GTX Jacket

The whole wardrobe.

Toiletries and First Aid

Toilet paper

Baby wipes

Nail clippers

Hand Sanitizer

Mini tooth brush

Tiny tube of tooth paste


KT Tape

Vitamin I

Pepto Bismol



Luxury Items

Cell phone

Charger and cords

Anker, PowerCore 10,000

Portable keyboard

Journal & Pen

All the above luxury items are essentially for the purpose of blogging from the trail, though the cell phone does also serve as my source for music, audiobooks, and you know, the just-in-case-of-emergency.


Because sometimes I read books.

All the Other Stuff

Zpacks, Medium Stuff Sack

Constructed from Dyneema Composite Fabric, Zpacks makes the lightest stuff sacks around.

Zpacks, Pillow Dry Bag

Back in January, I did a short backpacking trip along the Florida Trail. For those of you who are not familiar, the Florida Trail is a 1,300-mile National Scenic Trail that essentially runs the entire length of Florida and into the panhandle. While on this particular backpacking trip, I met a Florida Trail thru-hiker from England named Will. I had the pleasure of sharing a campsite with Will and in our conversation, I mentioned my intentions of thru-hiking the AT. Having noticed that I had a lot of stuff for a short backpacking trip he did a sort of shake down of my pack. One of the things he suggested was that I attempt to sleep without a pillow on my thru-hike and that if it turns out I really miss it then I can have someone from home mail me my camp pillow. Great suggestion, Will. So, instead, I found this awesome dry bag made by Zpacks that doubles as a pillow. They even have micro fleece sewn into it so you have a soft, pillow-like spot to plop your head on.

Zpacks, Bear Bagging Kit

Zpacks Bear Bagging Kit is the tits! No, seriously, all of their products are well crafted and thoroughly thought out. Also, Zpacks is a Florida company and I always support buying local. The Bear Bagging Kit includes  a large top-roll bag made with Zpack’s famous ultralight material, a rock sack for throwing over a tree limb, 50 feet of cord, and a mini carabiner. Total weight 3.4 ounces.

Zpacks Bear Bagging Kit.

Black Diamond Spot Headlamp

TheTentLab The Deuce #2 UL


Gear Aid, Tenacious Tape

And there you have it ladies and gents, all of my gear. I would love your feedback on my list as well as welcome any questions. Happy trails!


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Comments 20

  • Kevin DeFord : Apr 7th

    Awesome start. Are you taking any food, emergency protein bars or gels with you ?

    • Jess : Apr 7th

      Hey, Kevin! I will definitely have food with me. I will carry 3-5 days worth of food at a time depending on where my next resupply is.

  • Carla : Apr 7th

    You are amazing!! Are you doing this alone??
    Love you tons beautiful lady 😘

    • Jessica Luty : Apr 7th

      Hey Carla! Yes, this is a solo venture of mine. I’m really looking forward to the growth opportunity!

  • Bruce Hall : Apr 8th

    Personally, I despise the Sawyer bags. Check this out; Their bags are more flexible and I think durable. Also, the HydroBlu water filter ( is smaller and lighter than the Sawyer. It promises 5,000 filtrations as opposed to the Sawyer 10,000 (as if you will ever filter that much).
    Good luck. Your list looks very thorough and well thought out. Your decision on the sleeping liner is dead-on. I have the EE Revelation 20 and I love it.

    • Jessica Luty : Apr 8th

      Thank you for your input, Bruce. I will look into your suggested water filter.

  • Kira : Apr 8th

    What’re your plans for flip-flopping? My boyfriend Garrett and I will be out there going SOBO from Port Clinton, PA hopefully a week from Thursday!

  • Jessica Luty : Apr 8th

    Hi Kira! I’m excited to hear you’re also flip flopping. I am starting at Springer, hiking NoBo to Harpers Ferry then jumping to Maine and hiking SoBo. Happy hiking!

  • Ash Walker : Apr 8th

    Good on ya!
    Just happened upon you this afternoon; I’ll enjoy your hike vicariously, and stop by pretty often.
    Ashley in NM

    • Jessica Luty : Apr 8th

      Thanks, Ashley! Any interest in doing the trail yourself some day?

  • Denise : Apr 8th

    Good luck on your hike! It will truly be the adventure of a lifetime. BTW – love your author “bio” at the bottom of the article.

    – Librarian GAME ’06

    • Jessica Luty : Apr 8th

      Thank you for the well wishes, Denise. I’m looking forward to the journey.

  • Rowan : Apr 9th

    I look at all this awesome stuff, and then I get a horrible feeling in my wallet… I spent a lot of time looking at that incredibly fancy zpacks bear bag, and then my heart told me I could not justify that amount of money, when a sock filled with rocks, some paracord and a drybag would do. BUT. It’s a great wishlist!

  • Abe : Apr 16th

    Happy trails hon. I’ll miss seeing you at your previous employer. Keep in touch, you got my #

  • Jo haggard : Sep 22nd

    Hey, your list looks great. I noticed no mention of a femme kit. I assume you get a monthly menstrual cycle and hope you have planned accordingly?

  • Kelcie : Jul 12th

    Hi Jessica,
    Just a few questions for you…
    1. Does all of the gear listed above fit into your Osprey Aura 60L?
    2. I don’t see any food listed here or in the pictures. Is this something that also fits in your bag? Do you prepare food packs for each day or are you stopping to get food along the way?
    3. Are all the luxury and extra items also in your bag? I’m usually carrying a 75-80L with everything listed above (minus luxury items and extras) but with about 5 days of food and snacks, a big book, and a hammock.
    4. Do you use a footprint? I find it unnecessary but for the more expensive tents, I can see the benefits. If so, which one do you use?
    Thanks in advance and for your tried and true tips! Very inspirational in getting the pack as light as possible.
    Best, K

  • Jess : Jul 14th

    Hi K, I’m surprised to see anyone reading my blog from over a year ago. How did you happen upon it?

    To answer your questions:

    All the above gear did fit into my pack as well as 5+ days of food. As I hiked the AT i actually let go of quite a few of the items such as the kindle and i got rid of some of the clothes. I mostly resullplied in trail towns with the occasional box of food mailed to places i heard were tough to resupply in. Im surprised to hear youd need a bigger bag to carry similar items. May i suggest getting the Kindle version of the big book? Or an app for recovery literature on your phone instead? I did use a foot print, it was made out of polycyro.

    I hope that helps.

    • Lauren : Sep 23rd

      Found it on Pinterest!

  • TLSH : Jul 25th

    I want to validate your pants choice… the Aphrodite pants rock! They dry in a skinny minute, are light in hot weather, snag resistant, and the gathers on the sides are kinda flattering! Love them!

  • Cheryl James : Aug 18th

    It’s funny, you and I have almost the same setup. I went with The Two from Gossamer Gear tent and their 50L pack. Love both. Plus my Enlightened quilt is the bomb.


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