What Does a California Girl Pack for the Big Three

The last few months I have given this much thought. What do I pack for a trek to an unknown place, with rain that comes and goes, and humidity that’ll curl my hair? Should I cover from head to toe? Or should I brave the elements like a seasoned UPS driver, shorts and a buttoned-up shirt? The endless questions I have in my head. The gear is a no-brainer as this is not my first rodeo. So lets start with the “Big Three.”

The Big Three

The “Big Three” includes the Backpack, Sleeping Bag/Quilt & Tent. I have been an Osprey Consumer for many years. I love the fit, the distribution of weight, and color schemes. Yes, color is very important to women! Although as I morphed over to more thru-hiking, I exchanged my Osprey for a lighter pack, a freestanding tent for a non-freestanding tent, and prefer a quilt over a sleeping bag. Here’s my pick and the reasons why.

My Backpack: Gossamer G4-20 Ultralight 42 Pack

This pack is a bit smaller than I would like, only 42 liters. But the fit is fabulous and has some incredible features. The wide straps are comfortable and padded, and the hip pockets are large enough for a plethora of items. The side pockets and mesh back pocket expand and fit all my immediate needs comfortably. There is no brain but it does include a zippered pocket where I place my headlamp, hat, gloves and first aid kit. I recently tested this pack on a few overnighters and have only one complaint. I wish it was a smidgen larger. However, as I get up in the years, the less I carry, the more miles I can muster out. This pack keeps my extras at a disadvantage but my necessities intact. I will definitely carry less weight and that is the name of the game. Not ultra-ultralight, just lighter.

My Tent: Gossamer The One

I purchased The One last year and used it while hiking the Uinta Highline Trail in Utah. The weather was as expected; rain, sleet, hail, gale-force winds, and snow. This tent is bombproof and sets up quickly. My friend Sally and I were heading over a steep pass when the skies opened up.  It was a flurry of weather that came down on us like a vengeance! In less than two minutes, we both had our tents staked down, set up, and deployed with only moments to spare. It hailed golfball-sized ice for the next hour! I love this tent. It is roomy, has an inside clothesline, I kid you not, and decent ventilation. The vestibule is big enough to cook in and store your gear. I tend to bring everything inside my tent, as I like to pack while still warm inside my shelter. I recently purchased another tent, Gossamer The Two. A girl can never have enough options.

My Quilt: Enlightened Equipment Revelation

This bag has been a game-changer. I am a tosser and turner. It takes me time to get comfortable and my hubby and friends can attest to this. Restless, mover and shaker, that is me. And if that’s not enough, I am a hot sleeper. In the past when I had conventional sleeping bags, halfway through the night, I would unzip the bag, air out my feet, and attempt to cool down. A quilt is a great solution to my trail sleeping disorder. I do not need to worry about being too hot or confined in a mummy-like state. I custom-built my bag as I still wanted a warmer bag, just in case, and I loved the idea of picking out my color scheme. What a concept! There are handy straps to attach the quilt to your pad so your quilt stays attached if you choose to. This has been a great purchase and can’t think of a reason to go back to a mummy bag unless I am sleeping in a snow cave or igloo. This does happen from time to time, so I won’t bash on my winter bag.

In closing, these were fairly easy choices to make for this hike. But it has taken me years to get to where I am with my gear. Lightening the “Big Three” to sub-five pounds costs money and time. Other choices, like clothing, have sent me through a loop. More of that to come on another day. Happy trails and for the record, I am not sponsored by Gossamer, even though I would love to be.

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Comments 1

  • Randy Clark : Mar 29th


    I carried my G4-20 on the SHT in Minnesota and just loved it. Just the right size. The One came through some very hard storms (3) without a scratch. Tough well made tent! Love it!! Good luck on your hike!!!


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