This is Badger’s Current Gear List
Because I get this question on a fairly regular basis, it seemed more efficient just to publish a state of the union of what’s in my pack.
I must preface this by stating I am not a gear expert. Even after thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail and the dozens of shorter trips since, I’m still discovering improvements with my getup. While some strive for the perfect pack, I’m happy with good enough- and my current system is just that.
That said, what I carry today is lightyears ahead of what I carried during my thru-hike (version 1 and version 2). My clothes and sleeping bag are warmer and more comfortable, my tent is bigger, all the while I’ve shaved several pounds (yes, plural) without sacrificing on durability (and if anything, it’s improved). The biggest upgrades have come from my tent and sleeping bag- which account for 2 lbs. 7 ounces in saved weight alone.
The obvious and lone downside of these upgrades is of course cost. High end gear is anything but cheap (although there are smart ways to save money).
Full disclosure: Some of the items in my pack were either purchased at a prodeal discount or donated. These are identified at the end of the post. Another tip for saving money- create (or write for) The Best Hiking and Outdoor Blog in the Universe.
Tent, Sleep System, Pack, and More
If you’ve got a heavier / larger pack, I would recommend the Gregory z65 (not 55). The new model is both lighter and larger (with an extra pocket) than the previous, and it comes with a rain cover. I haven’t tested the Gregory z55 over long distances (100+ miles) yet so I can’t speak for it’s durability, but Gregory’s customer service is good enough that it shouldn’t be a major concern either way.
If you’re traveling smaller / lighter, I can’t say enough good things about the Mariposa. I was pleasantly surprised when the pack easily handled a large bear canister plus four days of food in the High Sierras.
Sleeping Bag: I now exclusively use Nemo’s Nocturne 15 (down). It’s light (2 lb 11 oz). It compresses nicely (9 x 14.5 in.). And it’s far more comfortable than my previous bag (Eureka Casper 15). It’s expensive, but if you’ve got the means, you won’t go wrong with this bag.
Sleeping Pad: Big Agnes Insulated Air Core. This pad is likely too heavy for the ultralighters, however, sleep quality is not something I’m willing to compromise on and I have yet to try anything that matches its comfort. My previous sleeping pad was also inflatable, however it began losing air a month into my hike. Don’t buy that sleeping pad.
Stove: JetBoil Flash. Fast and easy, although not the lightest option (and certainly not the cheapest).
Hydration bladder: CamelBak 100 oz. This is what I’ve used since day one. CamelBak has great customer service as well.
Water Purification: I alternate between the Sawyer Squeeze and a SteriPEN Adventurer Opti Water Purifier (and bring both if I’m supplying a group). I prefer the SteriPen, however I’ve heard issues with them breaking.
Knife: Before my thru-hike, I walked into my local REI and asked, “what’s the most expensive knife you carry?” I walked out with the Benchmade 580S Barrage. I was afraid of hillbillies and bears (in that order). I now know these fears were misguided, but either way I still enjoy carrying such a badass knife.
Headlamp: Black Diamond Gizmo. It was the cheapest option at REI. Lightweight and works well enough around camp, although it’s too dim to recommend for night hiking.
Footwear: The widest crappy-New Balances I can find. I have yet to discover a high-end trail runner that will cooperate with my Shrek feet. If you are a footwear company and cater to the fat-foot-folk such as myself, let’s talk.
- Trekking poles– Leki Corklites (they were in my car).
- First aid kit– for shorter trips, a few Band-Aids, Neosporin, and some duct tape.
- Toiletries– the only thing worth mentioning is the nifty TOOB brush. I also always backpack with various supplements.
- Misc– SPF + low(er) DEET bug spray.
- Luxuries– iPhone. Whiskey (On a hard Bulleit kick as of late). Journal.
Camp Outer Layer: The biggest upgrade to my clothes of late is my Patagonia Down Sweater. Down doesn’t hold up as well in damper climates (like the AT), so if that’s your move, you may want to consider a fleece (although you will see plenty of people with down on the Trail).
Pants / Shorts: Patagonia Convertible Pants. After much use the shorts portion will start to take on an entirely different color.
Base layer shirt: IceBreaker Tech T Lite. Very pricey- I bought it on REI clearance, but it’s my favorite performance shirt.
Hiking Outer Layer: A brand new edition to the roster is the Stio Basis 21 Merino Hoodie (have yet to test it out on the trail, will be doing so this weekend on Mt. of the Holy Cross). Otherwise I just bring the heavier Patagonia mid-layer and wear my rain jacket if necessary.
Gloves: Fleece GO BADGERS!!!
Bandana: Obviously and always.
White Fluff ball: Pictured below.
Not pictured: IceBreaker Leggings, raging red beard.
Also, I should note that I only carry a fraction of this during warmer months. I typically leave the heavyweight socks, leggings, gloves, and beanie at home if the high / low is above 60 / 40 (respectively).
That’s it! You now know Badger’s current backpacking setup. Feel free to either mimic for your next trip or attack (preferably in the comments below).
If you’re an aspiring thru-hiker, I encourage you to use this template Appalachian Trail gear list. It serves as an excellent starting point.
Prodeals: Patagonia Down Sweater, Gregory z55, IceBreaker Leggings, Patagonia Convertible Pants, Leki Corklites, and Nemo Nocturne 15 sleeping bag.
Donations: Innate Mentor Sacs, Stio Merino Hoodie, Gossamer Gear Mariposa pack.
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