What’s in My Pack: Ruby Throat’s Gear List for 2017

Backpack with Benefits

Twenty years ago, I moved to the mountains and bought my first “real” backpack, an Osprey ISIS with a built-in chair.


Best.  Thing.  Ever.

(Unless you find a set of Flintstones chairs ready-made on a river bank right next to your remote campsite in Olympic National Park.  That might actually BE the best thing ever.)


Just call me Pebbles.

Totally genius!

Totally genius, though, that Osprey chair.  Unless you plan on finishing your 2,000-mile thru-hike, that is.

As much as I love that seven pound pack, she and the chair, are going to have to stay home this time, keeping the home fires burning in the gear closet.

Ta Da!

So I’m excited about my new lightweight pack I just got in the mail—a ULA Circuit.

Ta Da!  Totally orange!

I’m in a Civil War era cemetery in South Carolina for today’s photo shoot.

It’s different.

No chair.

A huge sacrifice, I know.

But I want to finish this thing, so I’m willing to sacrifice my chair for a pack that shaves five pounds off my base weight.  The Circuit weighs 2 pounds, 9 ounces.

I’m not near a scale, so I don’t know my base weight, but I loaded up the Circuit with most of my gear and since everything squeezed in, I decided to share my gear list.

Subject to change, but this isn’t far off from what I normally carry.

Here’s what’s in my pack.


It doesn’t look like much, but the pack is full to the brim.


    • Journal & glasses case
    • Two 1-liter water bottles (to be wrapped with duct tape soon)
    • Sawyer Mini water filter
    • Stuff sack full of goodies:  bear bag cord, headlamp, knife,
    • Tiny stuff sack goodies:  toiletries, first aid kit (mostly Advil, bandaids and tiny bottles of essential oils), lighter, foot balm.  Plus I can use this tiny dry sack as my purse on town days.
    • Dry clothes/jammies:  2 pair socks, tights, tank top, icebreaker wool undies.


    • Hat, gloves, Beloved Buff (wool, of course)
    • Cook set and fuel (long-handled titanium spoon not pictured, but no trail meal happens without the spoon)
    • Klymit sleeping pad
    • Tent stakes
    • Lightheart Gear Solo Tent (this is probably going to change—it’s light and roomy, but not free-standing and not that easy to pitch)
    • Pillow!!!!!
    • Rain pants (for the Whites and when it’s cold) & rain skirt (for the summer months)
    • Patagonia Houdini shell

TOP ROW (L to R)

    • Marmot 15 deg down sleeping bag, wrapped in a turkey-cooking bag for extra protection against the rain.
    • Red food bag…not full, just a place holder for now.
    • Down puffy at the top
    • Two other pads.  The Thermarest Z seat, because….chair!  And a Gossamer Gear Thinlight foam pad (?).  I’m experimenting with this to see if it helps my sleeping pad stay put on top of my slick tent floor.  Anything not to find myself crumpled up in the corner of my tent halfway through the night.


Obviously, my brand new, ultra shiny orange Circuit with my titanium cup hanging Jethro-style off the side. 

My pack needs some dirt.

And a trail name.

I suspect both will be forthcoming in the days ahead.



Decisions, decisions…

Nothing else will fit in my new, smallish pack. 

It’s good that it’s small, because here’s what I know about myself…

I know that whatever size bag I have, I will fill it up.  I know this because I do this with every purse, tote bag, toiletry bag, picnic basket and daypack I own.

I expect there’s more paring down in my future because I don’t think I’ve left room for a full food bag.  

That could be a problem.

So maybe I’ve got a good excuse to invest in that Enlightened Equipment down quilt I’ve had my eye on.

Or lose the Z-seat and kick my chair addiction once and for all.

What do you think?  What’s something in your pack that’s you could totally do without but absolutely won’t leave behind?  Leave a comment and share your naughty little secret.

xoxo from the cemetery in the south…


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Comments 4

  • High Life 2016 Through Hiker : Feb 19th

    1) Forget the Sawyer mini. Get the full size one. It’s only about an ounce heavier and will not clog and last much longer.
    2) A non free- standing tent is fine. My Nemo Veda was perfect for the trail and I could even pitch it on the wood platforms in the north-east.
    3) Forget rain pants. Everyone I know sent theirs back. Your sweat will make you wetter than without them. I guess the skirt makes more sense, but it’s best just to accept that you will get wet and wear clothes that dry fast. I wore nylon gym shorts and a synthetic shirt almost every day.
    4) You only need one sleeping pad. I used a Thermorest Prolite Plus. The NeoAirs are very comfortable, popular and expensive, but I hated them because in a crowded campsite, they are VERY noisy. Imagine a giant potato chip bag rustling all night long.
    5) Dirty Girls are very popular on the trail, but they are not very durable and absolutely let water right through. I liked OR mountain lows.
    Remember, the key to light weight packing is not in the gear, but in your head. I.e. how many pairs of pants do you really need? How many cook pots? In most cases, the answer is ONE! Definitely get the AWOL app for your phone. It’s essential to get the latest trail info especially about water sources.
    Good luck! And just say NO to slack packing!

    • Ruby Throat : Feb 19th

      Hey, High Life! Thanks for reading and for your two cents.
      1. Okay…I’m up for splurging on a regular Sawyer when the mini dies (or when I kill it).
      2. I’ve been at a standstill tent-wise after a bad platform experience in the Whites. Thank you so much for the vote of confidence for the tent that isn’t free-standing (and costs $400 less than the Big Agnes tent that was in the running. Sheesh…$400 is a lot of hostel stays!)
      3. I’m compromising with the rain pants and investing in the Patagonia houdinis…5 ounces. Only because, again….the Whites. My husband lent me his rain pants twice when I was on the verge of hypothermia and I warmed right up, so…they’re in!
      4. I like my OR gaiters, but they’re hot in the summer. I’ll look into the lows.

      What about the Guthook app v. the AWOL app. Any thoughts?

      Thank you, thank you, thank you for your input. High Life rocks!

  • Rachel : Mar 2nd

    The Guthook app goes perfectly with the AWOL guide. I’m doing both, but I think if you’re just choosing one, probably AWOL. Guthook is on-trail information that is constantly updated (ie. current state of a water source, GPS location on the trail, brief description of a shelter). The map for the approach trail is free I believe, so you can see what all it offers. AWOL has detailed town information, small town maps, elevation profiles, water source locations, and shelter locations. Happy hiking!

    • Deane Giordano : Mar 2nd

      Thanks, Rachel. We used AWOL last summer in the Whites and it was great, so it’s definitely going in the bag. I’ll look again at the Guthook app. Good to know they offer a sample. Happy hiking! Ruby Throat


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