The Big Three

Gear Addiction

There’s a certain thrill in planning this whole adventure. The best part of my day is the time I set aside in the evenings to pull out my notebook with my chicken scratch notes of shelters and resupply points and gear. And don’t even get me started on ordering gear! Sometimes I have to physically force my finger off of the REI app before I spend entire checks… because gear is fun… like really fun. It’s fun to buy, fun to try out, fun to talk about. Unfortunately not many people in your life really get excited like you do, over the awesomeness of 25% off Black Diamond items from the Labor Day sale.

Having been an avid camper before deciding on this trek, I had a lot of gear. After spending hours of researching, it became obvious that most of it was not useful for a thru hike. I had plenty of backpacks but none that were light enough or large enough to hold all of my gear. Luckily I did already have my Eno and am very familiar with setting it up and sleeping in it.

My Big Three

First of all, what is “The Big Three”? This is your pack, shelter, and sleep system.


Osprey Aura 50 (size small)

Weight: 3 lbs 12 oz

Definitely not the most lightweight pack, but it is one of the more popular because of its comfort and antigravity design. So far I love it.


Eno Doublenest Hammock 1 pound 3 oz
Eno Guardian Bug Net 16 oz
Atlas slapstraps 11 oz
Triwonder Rain Fly 15 oz (not pictured- on it’s way)


I recently, (as in, yesterday) switched out my Eno rain fly for a Triwonder rain fly. There was really nothing wrong with my Eno, besides the fact that it has six guy lines… which would mean carrying six stakes. It’s at this point where most people you talk to will sigh or roll their eyes, because really Cassie, it’s not THAT much more weight. Every ounce counts, yo!

I was (and still kind of am) thinking about switching to a Hennessy Hammock. They do weigh less than the Eno set up, but the only thing holding me back (besides trying to save money and working with what I already have), is the integrated bug net. If it’s not buggy, I would rather not mess with a bug net at all. On clear nights when I don’t need my rain fly, there’s nothing I love more than staring up at the stars, with no mesh screen disrupting my view. We shall see.

Sleeping Bag, Pad

Marmot Ion 20       1 lb 12.5 oz


Got a deal on this baby in the REI garage and I LOVE IT. I chose a down bag because of the ability of compression and they are more lightweight than synthetic. Downside is, if it gets wet it’s pretty much useless, and it cannot be washed regularly, must be dry cleaned. However, I’ll be keeping it in a waterproof stuff sack and will not be worried much about cleanliness on the trail.

Therm-a-rest Z lite Sol Sleeping Pad 14 oz (not pictured- on its way)

I chose a closed cell foam sleeping pad because being in a hammock, I don’t feel I’ll need an inflatable pad, plus those are more weight. I’ll mostly need it for insulation to keep the cold air coming from underneath my hammock from freezing me, so I’m thinking I may send it home for warm weather and have my mom send it to me before the Whites.

Where’s the Rest?

I do have most of my gear already bought such as my stove, down jacket, trail runners, etc. As soon as I get some of the smaller things dialed in, I will make a complete gear list. Because who doesn’t love gear lists! (Besides our friends and family who are tired of hearing about ounces and base weights and prices 🙂  )

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Comments 9

  • Mom : Sep 5th

    I could listen you talk gear all day 😛 Good read and keep at that bargain hunting!

    • Matt : Sep 6th

      There are a couple ways you could drop even more weight from your top three. If you are looking at new hammocks check out He has great hammocks that weigh a fraction of the hennessy hammocks and they are 100% made in the US, also if you get the Dutchware Chameleon it is modular so the bug net is removable. Also look into some dyneema tree straps and some of titanium hardware that dutch sells. You could save 8 ounces just on your hammock suspension. I know I’m rambling but you could also go to a down quilt to save weight compared to the Marmot bag. I love your posts keep up the great work!

      • Cassie : Sep 6th

        I will definitely check them out! Thank you for the suggestions 🙂

    • Cassie : Sep 6th

      Bargain hunting pro right here! (when it’s my own money)

  • Sean Martin : Sep 6th

    You need a underquilt. Forget the pad.

    • Cassie : Sep 6th

      I think I’ll stick with what I have. If it doesn’t work out I’ll switch it out.

  • Chris : Sep 9th

    Good call on the pack Cassie. I’m looking at something similar myself. I’m hopefully doing the trail NOBO 2018 starting mid March (hope to be in Maine for July/August). I was toying with the idea of making a hammock/tarp out of an old parachute I have. Are all camps hammock friendly? I’ve only just started researching now.

  • Rhys : Sep 10th

    Definitely get the Hennessy. It’s going to be buggy most of the time.

    Even when it’s not buggy, you’re realistically not going to be chilling in your hammock like when you camp for fun. You’ll be cooking your dinner around your fellow hikers, eating, then sleeping.

    I just finished my hike and used a warbonnet blackbird hammock the whole way, and had dutchware bling for all my timeouts and such. It’s so worth it.

    Enos with slapstraps are kinda uselessly heavy. I’d also recommend an underquilt but they’re pricey. Using a pad (if you can make it work comfortably) is cool because you still have the option to use shelters (or hotel room floors).

    I couldn’t get used to a pad but I hiked with a dude that used one in his hammock the whole way and loved it.

    Feel free to ask any questions you may have

  • Chris Guynn : Oct 4th

    I used a hammock with an integrated bugnet for most of my thru hike and I agree with Rhys. They will weigh less and when you get in your hammock at night even to hangout the bug net is not that big of a deal. If you set your hammock up right when you get in it you will just go to sleep instead of hanging out.

    However, I had a Hennessy and used it for some of my thru hike and it was not comfy at all. Id even go as far to say that my ENO was more comfy. I ended with the Dutchwear Chameleon and it is an amazing hammock that is so much more comfy than the Hennessy in my opinion. If your ENO has the old steel carabiners at least change them for some aluminum ones.

    The pad in the hammock will not be comfy. I have tried it and im sure others have and underquilts just work better for most. You will need under insulation your entire hike. Any temps below 70F will give you a chill on the bottom without an underquilt or pad. Hammock Gear has a new Econ line and you can get one for a decent price.

    A lighter suspension that worked great for me was hummingbird tree strap combo They costs $30 and weigh 2.3oz compared to the ENO ones 11 oz. That would be great weight savings for cheap. Slap straps are great for car camping but I’d leave them at home for your thru hike.

    Feel free to ask me any questions you may have as well. clguynn at gmail


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