The Inevitable Gear Lists! Part 1: THE BIG 3

My start date is racing toward me maniacally like a crowd at the Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake. The brain is all over the place, obviously, because who pulls that kind of imagery out of nowhere? So, in an effort to organize my thoughts, I am organizing my gear. And sharing it all with you.


Please keep in mind, the following posts are just for information purposes. I am not sponsored by, nor do I work for any gear companies. I like what I like. The large majority of my gear has been battled-tested over several hundred miles in various terrain and weather. This is not an ultralight kit. This is what works for me. I’ll go a little into why I made some choices, too.

THE BIG 3 (shelter, pack, sleep system)

My home away from home!

SHELTER: Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2

Why I chose it/Why I like it: My former baby hiker self picked up this shelter because of the brand reputation, the price, and the color. Yep, it’s that bright orange. Easy to see should I wander off trail. I like it because it’s super roomy with the double vestibules, and has plenty of places to hang gear to dry. My favorite part about it is the quick fly setup feature, which allows me to put the footprint and fly up first, and then crawl in and hang the tent if it’s raining. The only modification I’ve made is replacing the stakes with MSR Ground Hogs, which I just find easier to get in and out of the ground.

PACK: Osprey Ariel 65L

Why I chose it/Why I like it: Plainly put, of all the packs I tried, this one fit the best. Her name is Meg, and I just couldn’t imagine hiking without her. Yes, I know she’s not lightweight, but she carries my gear like a dream. I have slender hips for my frame, and the hip belt fits just right, without any slipping. On her, I have added a shoulder strap phone pouch by Chicken Tramper Gear, and on the other shoulder, I have a Bison Bottle Bandit carabiner that holds my water bottle.

Me & Meg, just like peas & carrots. Back when she was sporting a true hiker trash beer coozy/phone holder. She’s a classier lady these days.

SLEEP SYSTEM: Therm-a-Rest XTherm Max, Enlightened Equipment 10˚ Revelation Quilt, Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow.

Why I chose it/Why I like it: Out of all of my gear, this is the one area that is constantly evolving. I’m a side sleeper, a flip-flopper, and I have claustrophobic feet. It’s a challenge. I started out with the ubiquitous yellow Xlite. I did not care for a mummy-shaped pad, and definitely needed something wider.

Then I moved to the Big Agnes Insulated AXL. Super comfy, but nowhere near warm enough for me, and I tend to sleep warm. So I went back to Therm-a-Rest for the XTherm.

My only complaint about it is that it isn’t available in a shorter size. I’m only 5’6″, when inflated, it easily fits my 6’3″ teenager. If it makes it all the way to Katahdin with me, I’ll wander over to YouTube University and shorten it myself, but I don’t have the funds to experiment on a pad that costly.

As for my quilt….you will quickly learn that I am a HUGE fan of Enlightened Equipment. I already have a 30˚ Revelation Apex that I love, so going back for a cold-weather quilt was a no-brainer. I love the customization, and EE has simply amazing customer service. They are always super quick and thorough answering my seemingly endless questions about their products and, when I broke a snap during my LASH, were willing to ship a replacement snap and the tool to repair it so I didn’t have to get off trail to have it repaired. Great company.

So that’s part one of my gear list! Part Two: Clothing, Shoes, and Rain Gear will follow shortly.

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Comments 1

  • Darrell Barrett : Feb 1st

    I did the Cotswold Way in Ovt. Will be doing the AT this year.


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