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.
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.
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.
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.
Water Purification and Storage
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
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
Toiletries and First Aid
Mini tooth brush
Tiny tube of tooth paste
Charger and cords
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.
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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