Badger’s Tahoe Rim Trail Gear List
Talking in circles: bad; walking in circles: good. At least this is true when the inside of your circle contains one of the most beautiful lakes in the entire U.S. Earlier this month, I completed a thru-hike of the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT). This was the third consecutive year I’ve made plans to hike the trail, with the first two attempts being upended by fires and a pandemic.
Conventional wisdom says that the best months to thru-hike the TRT is July-September. In recent years, with fires starting in California as early as July, I was unwilling to roll those dice and decided that I’d rather deal with some snow than either inhale smoke or have to throw in the towel for the third year in a row. This decision was rewarded with less crowded trails, fewer bugs, more moderate temperatures (albeit, downright cold at times), and a very pleasant experience overall. I will likely do a recap of the hike at some point, but the purpose of this post is to share with you, the very smart and attractive reader, the contents of my gear.
Badger’s Tahoe Rim Trail Gear List
A bit of a preface before diving in…I gave myself a hard deadline of 8 days to complete this hike with questionable fitness going into it. For this reason, I was a bit more weight conscious than I have been on more recent, leisurely treks (i.e. no whiskey flask). I ended up finishing in a hair over 7 days, feeling surprisingly fresh at the finish, especially since it had been a few years since I had stretched the legs to this extent.
It’s also worth noting that there was still quite a bit of snow on the trail. There were two separate instances of hikers needing to be rescued from Relay Peak around the time of my hike due to the snowy conditions (one a few days before starting, the other happening while we were on trail), which made the gear list a bit more challenging than I was originally anticipating. There was no consensus on the necessity of traction (most agreed that an ice axe was overkill, an opinion I also share). I ended up using spikes for a portion of the trail as the extra 11 ounces seemed like a small penalty for the peace of mind of knowing I could handle whatever lied ahead. More on that below.
Lastly, the featured image of this post isn’t exactly indicative of what I carried (the below list is, however). I decided to swap out some items at the last minute and was far too lazy for the additional photoshoot.
Start date: 6/10/22
Finish date: 6/17/22
Base weight: 12.81 lb
Gossamer Gear Gorilla (23.2 oz)
My pack is the 40-liter version of the Gorilla, Gossamer Gear now sells this as a 50-liter. Regardless, I’ve used the Gorilla for many thousands of miles (including the entirety of the PCT), and this is easily one of my favorite options for any three-season backpacking trip. Since I never had more than 3-days worth of food in my pack, I often times had room to spare, even with a full bag of Spicy Nacho Doritos in my exterior pocket.
Additional Pocket: Shoulder Strap Pocket (1.5 oz)
For quick and easy access to my phone (GPS).
Gossamer Gear The One (21.5 oz, includes stakes, stuff sacs, etc.)
This was my first time using the latest version of The One. Previous editions have featured a bigger footprint to the extent that the tent felt like it could pass for two people. No one would confuse the 2022 edition as a two-person tent. Considering that my goal for this trek was to go on the lighter side, I was very happy to trade the space for weight. I’m 5’11”, 185 lb and still had plenty of space in this tent, especially when considering in the large vestibule.
Only once did I wake up with considerable condensation in my tent, and that was primarily due to a less than ideal campsite (it was late, and I was desperate) with no tree cover. Overall, this tent was a great choice for this hike.
Footprint: Polycro 3.65 oz
Although I saw nights below freezing, never once was I too cold during the evening. Enlightened Equipment’s quilts have come a long way since I first started using them back in 2015- primarily they’re much warmer nowadays (my previous 20-degree Revelation was not nearly as warm). If anything, the temperature issue I ran into more frequently on this hike was being too hot at night, which is a war I’d rather wage with a quilt vs. a sleeping bag.
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite (12 oz)
My go-to sleeping pad for nearly every three-season trip I’ve done for the last six years. Warm, light, and comfortable enough- especially in comparison to closed foam cell pads (for me).
Hoka One One Speedgoat 5 (23.4 oz for the pair, size 12, wide, worn)
This was the first long backpacking trip (>150 miles) that I’ve done not in Altras since the Lone Peak first hit my (very wide) feet back in 2013 (I believe). Needless to say, footwear was the gear category I was most curious about going into this trip. It’s one thing to have a pair of trail runners perform well when day hiking regularly, but when the miles are happening over many consecutive days with significant weight on your back, the game is entirely different.
Verdict: the Speedgoats kick ass, least for me. I ended the trip with only one small hotspot, which I attribute primarily to some long stretches of hiking without breaks (a few barefoot periods throughout the day to let your feet cool off is massively important to prevent blistering). Sore feet are all but an inevitable byproduct when you’re going from the couch to the trail, and I was very pleasantly surprised with how fresh my feet felt by the end of this trip. A+
Active shirt: Patagonia Bandito Shirt (4.9 ounces, worn)
It looks like Patagonia no longer makes this shirt, which is unfortunate because it’s great for backpacking. The polygiene anti-odor treatment for those of us who perspire at unfortunate rates.
Active bottoms: Nike running shorts (4.6 ounces, worn)
You can save 30% on Point6 products with code “point6trek”. Unsure of how long that code will be good for, so please don’t shoot the messenger if it doesn’t work when you read this.
Leggings: IceBreaker Oasis Leggings. (6 ounces)
Probably could’ve done without these, but was happy to have them on the two nights where temps dipped below freezing.
Gloves: Minus33 Merino Glove Liner (1.6 oz)
Long sleeve: Montbell Merino Hooded Long Sleeve (7.7 oz)
I used a Montbell long sleeve hooded merino shirt that I can’t seem to find on their site. I treat this as a mid-layer even though it’s really a base-layer.
Rain jacket: Montbell’s Versalite Rain Jacket (6.4 oz)
It’s lightweight (6.4 oz), features a pair of zippered hand pockets, and has been my go-to rain jacket for the last few years.
Wind pants: Montbell Tachyon (1.9 oz)
The fact that these <2 oz pants have been used as much as they have and have yet to wear any holes is a modern day miracle. Also, one of my days on trail it rained for six consecutive hours, with sustained 15mph winds, and sustained temperatures in the upper 40s (i.e. cold as shit), and these pants over my shorts were enough to keep me at a moderately comfortable temperature- though I did have to keep moving the entire time to maintain warmth.
Puffy: Rab Zero G Down Jacket (11 oz)
No two ways about it, this is an incredible down jacket. Only eleven ounces, using 1000-fill responsibly sourced down makes this jacket suitable deep into the shoulder seasons if not even winter weather. The downside here is the price tag. I personally would not pay this much for any jacket (this piece was donated for gear testing purposes), but if you’ve got a budget for a top-end down puffy, this is it.
And The Other Stuff
Trekking poles: Leki Makalu Lite Cor-Tec Trekking Poles (17 oz)
Trekking poles is the one item where I’m not overly weight-conscious. I’ve seen enough carbon fiber poles snap in my day to be perfectly happy to use aluminum. These poles are going on 500 miles strong and still in like-new condition.
Traction: Kathoola Microspikes (11 ounces)
I did the first half of this trip (Tahoe Meadows > Echo Lake) without spikes, and the latter half (Echo Lake > Tahoe Meadows) with. My buddy Alex, who lives outside of Reno, joined me for this second leg and was able to bring me some supplies- spikes included. Microspikes were certainly not necessary for this hike, but there were a couple of short sections I was happy to have them, and one very small snow bank where I didn’t have them and wish I had. If you’re going to hike in early season (what that means will vary year to year) and don’t have a lot of snow hiking experience, I would encourage you to bring spikes. A relatively small weight penalty for something that can at the very least help you maintain faster speeds on the longer stretches with snow.
Water Filter: Platypus QuickDraw (3.6 ounces)
Went with the QuickDraw primarily just to test something new (have used the Squeeze and BeFree for almost all of my trips in the last 5 years). I was a tad reluctant due to the reviews on REI’s website, but honestly this worked great. A solid flow rate, easy to use, and I especially like the oversized hook on the Platypus reservoir which allows you to retrieve water without putting your hand in the water source (cold water on your hands on a cold morning isn’t fun). I will continue to use this on forthcoming trips to test how long it can maintain its flow rate- so far I’ve only used this for ~15 days which is unfair to compare against the Squeeze’s longevity.
Portable Battery: Anker PowerCore 26,800 mAh (14 oz)
Way overkill for this hike, but I wanted to ensure that I had enough battery to charge my Apple Watch fully each night as I was logging my track on Strava.
Food Storage: LopSak OpSak 28″ x 20″ (4.5 oz)
I honestly didn’t know LopSak made odor-proof bags that could double as body bags. Should’ve looked closer at the sizing before buying, because these were excessively big and made for a very awkward fit inside my Ursack. These are the ones I meant to get.
Bear Storage: Ursack Major (7.6 oz)
I used this only for the first leg of my trip (Tahoe Meadows > Echo Lake), opting to sleep with my OpSak-contained food for the latter half. Starting at Echo Lake on day 4, we were able to hike to the northern edge of Desolation Wilderness, away from the highest probability of bear encounters, stealth camped well off trail and cooked / ate dinner away from our camp to minimize our likelihood of meeting Yogi overnight. No issues whatsoever. That said, if you don’t have a well-formulated plan to hike through Desolation, I would certainly encourage you to use a bear canister as this is a section where black bears are very accustomed to people and trying to swipe their food.
Headlamp: Black Diamond Spot (3.2 oz)
Hiking during summer solstice is a time when a headlamp is essentially an afterthought. I’m not sure I turned this on once the entire trip.
Stove: Snow Peak LiteMax Stove (1.9 oz)
Have been using this stove for more than 3,000 miles and it’s still going strong.
Pot: Vargo Bot 700 (4.8 oz)
My go-to pot since this features a screw-right lid, making it perfect for cold soaking and/or an additional 700ml of water storage.
Water storage: Two 1.5L SmartWater bottles (3.7 oz)
Bug head net: Sea to Summit Head Net with Insect Shield (1.3 oz)
Didn’t use this once.
- One ZPacks large rectangular dry bag for clothes (1.2 oz)
- One Sea to Summit 8L Ultra-Sil dry bag for sleeping bag (1.1 oz)
First Aid Stuff: (13 oz)
- Hand Sanitizer
- Sawyer Picaridin Packets (3)
- Ibuprofen (4 pills)
- Immodium (4 pills)
- Benedryl (4 pills)
- Various supplements
- Toothbrush & toothpaste
- Swiss Army Knife
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I believe that’s it. If you’re curious to learn more about this hike, we’ll be posting a complete rundown on Backpacker Radio on 7/11/22.
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