Good Golly, a Gear List!

All right…the blog to quench several readers’ queries: my gear list.

I’m not sure why this is so, but there is a profound fascination with backpacker gear lists. I love them, you love them, and even non-backpackers are love-curious toward them. 

NOTE: For the sake of complete transparency, I hesitated to post my full gear list and breakdown, as I am embarrassed by how much my pack weighs. Though I’ve made many improvements since first starting backpacking, I am far from being ultra-light (or even just regular light). While I would love ways to shed weight on various items, I have chosen these items (or to replace them) for a reason (most commonly my lack of endless funds). Not every item is set in stone, so a couple of trial runs may inspire a few changes.

So, without further adieu, behold my preliminary gear list: TRT Gear Breakdown


My Osprey Aura 65L is my tried and true, ride-or-die pack. She and I have been through every backpacking experience together (though I lent her to some first-time partners on two treks because she is so darned comfy). However, she is a hulk of a pack, weighing in at 4.44 pounds. I know that there are a plethora of lighter options out there that could help me lose half of the Aura’s weight, but I’ve been loath to invest in a new pack (as they are quite expensive). Since I’ve loved my Aura thus far, I do not intend to replace her this year.

My pack is as big and red as a firetruck, but dang do I love her! (Mount Baldy Wilderness, AZ – July 2021)


On the TRT, Kisha and I will be using my two-person tent, the REI Half Dome SL 2+ (with footprint). This tent weighs 3 pounds and 15 ounces. I have owned this tent for about a year and loved it so far. It served me well on the few outings we’ve had together. It has not yet endured very harsh weather, so I’m hopeful that it will withstand potential storms we could face on the trail.

REI Half Dome SL 2+ (McDowell Mountains, AZ – October 2023)

Between the two of us, Kisha and I could split some of the weight of the tent, or trade off with other common items. Though I have eyed lighter freestanding tents, I cannot justify spending the money (at this time) to save a pound or so. So for now, the Half Dome is on my starting line-up.

Half Dome without the rain fly (Coconino National Forest, AZ – June 2023)


I have recently upgraded my sleep system and am stoked to use some newer gear on the TRT. I finally made the switch from a sleeping bag to a quilt. After simply feeling the Enlightened Equipment Revelation quilt that my friend Kelsey used while camping in Wyoming last summer, I knew I wanted to buy one for myself. And it has been worth every single penny I spent on it. I custom-designed mine, resulting in extra weight, as I went for a lower temperature rating (0 degrees). While I know I will not be subjected to these temperatures on the TRT in June and July, I tend to be a wimp when it comes to evening chills, so I chose to err on the side of caution.

I will pair my quilt with the Nemo Tensor inflatable sleeping pad (with its pump sack). Prior to buying this during a killer REI sale, I had used the Klymit Static-V, with which I was thoroughly impressed. But my first night sleeping on the Tensor (after a 31k trail run) showed me what a world of difference a sleeping pad could make. I had never been so comfortable sleeping outdoors.

In terms of sleep quality, my clutch piece of gear is my Nemo Fillo Pillow Elite. I can already see the eye rolls of many experienced backpackers who would tell me to stuff my extra clothes into a stuff sack and sleep on that. But the Fillo Pillow is 3 ounces that I am willing to carry to achieve a more comfortable night’s sleep.

I’ve never slept so cozily in the wilderness. (feat. EE Revelation, Nemo Tensor, and Fillo Pillow Elite)


This is the category of my gear kit where I will make the most updates before leaving for the TRT. I have been using my Primus classic stove, which was one of my first REI purchases back in 2017, before I had attempted any sort of backpacking. This stove has truly withstood the test of time. Coupled with this stove, I have been using the Stanley cook set, which has also been a solid piece of gear, albeit very clunky. Combined, these pieces of gear weigh 22.4 ounces. Therefore, it’s time for me to try something newer and lighter.

Though this set has served me well, it’s time to lighten up a bit. (Coconino National Forest, AZ – June 2023)

My next gear purchases will be the MSR Pocket Rocket 2 and the TOAKS Titanium 550 milliliter pot. These two, together, will weigh in at 5.2 ounces, saving a total of 17.2 ounces. For any conversion-challenged folks out there, that’s over a pound! Costs $80? Take my REI dividends!

Since we will be backpacking through areas of dense black bear populations, I will be hauling the 2-pound 8-ounce BearVault 500 bear canister. These were mandatory on my first backpacking trip on the High Sierra Trail, and I do appreciate the security it brings in terms of protecting my food against not only bears but also other critters, so it’s become a staple of my backpacking gear kit.

Food for 3 days and 2 nights in the BearVault 500


Nalgenes vs. Smart Water Bottles: The Timeless Rivalry

This one, for me, is a toughie. I, like many other outdoor enthusiasts, have my emotional-support-Nalgene(s) that I hesitate to leave behind. I’m struggling to justify bringing 12.5 ounces of Nalgenes (two of them) when I could bring 2.8 ounces of Smart Water bottles instead. I’m not a fan of single-use plastic water bottles, but I’ve eased my guilty conscience knowing that I will use these ones for an extended period throughout the course of this endeavor. So to save the 9.7 ounces, I will commit to converting to Smart Water bottles for the TRT.

Walking out from desert backpacking with my billion emotional-support-Nalgenes. (Cave Creek, AZ – November 2022)

Water Carry Capacity

In addition, my system will include a couple of CNOC products, which have boomed in popularity amongst backpackers. I plan to take the 2L Vecto water bag and the 1L Vesica collapsible bottle. At the moment, this would put me at a 5L water capacity, which I anticipate I’ll need. The eastern side of the trail is typically dry and exposed, and there is a 16.7-mile section south of Spooner Summit with no reliable water sources.

In the past, I’ve filled up to and subsequently carried six liters of water, which was ultimately overkill. Each liter costs 2.2 pounds, so carrying extra can be a killer. However, I consume water profusely, so I am a habitual water over-packer. Of all my treks, there has been one time when I ran out (within two miles of the trailhead). All that being said, I will contemplate adding another Smart Water bottle to my kit when we stop to resupply (before Spooner Summit).

Filtration System

All this water would be nothing without my Sawyer water filter. I have used Sawyer for as long as I’ve backpacked, and I absolutely love it. My biggest qualm was the rigid plastic bags they came with, which I have replaced with my CNOC. I will test my hydration system on imminent backpacking trial runs to assess its efficiency.


After reading tons of blogs, watching tons of vlogs, and listening to tons of podcasts, I am aware that clothing is an area where many backpackers tend to overdo it, costing them dearly on the scale. I am no exception to this trend. With that in mind, I know full well that I am bringing what feels like a lot, while also feeling like nothing at all.

Over the years, I’ve certainly learned to pare down my backpacking wardrobe. On my first trip, I brought the following clothes:

  • Daytime: convertible hiking pants/shorts, tank top, flannel (that was eaten on the first night), hiking socks
  • Nighttime: thermal leggings, thermal long sleeve, sleeping socks
  • Weather: rain jacket, zip-up fleece
  • Extras: workout leggings, running shorts, compression shorts, hiking tee, 2 spare socks 

In addition to realizing how much excess I had, lessons from previous forays have taught me what works for me and what doesn’t. I’d like to try a few more options and combinations during upcoming outings. Then I will have a clearer picture of what clothes will make it into my pack. But at this moment, I still have some indecisions to work through.

Wardrobe Update

For now, my wardrobe will entail the following (I linked my current, yet tentative, line-up):

One of my favorite hiking outfits! Sun Hoodie: Mountain Hardware, Hiking Shorts: The Trek


After taking the NOLS Wilderness First Aid course through REI (which I highly recommend to anyone recreating outdoors), I took a critical look at my first aid kit. I went on a subsequent spree to buy supplies to stock it more strategically, only to find that my new kit weighed well over a pound. Since then, I have trimmed it back down without abandoning the essentials, such as medications, sanitizers, and band-aids. I found that multiple items can serve multiple purposes if push came to shove, so I was able to eliminate a few redundancies. Ultimately, I want to ensure that I bring what will keep me and my party safe while we’re out there.

One upgrade I’m making to my toiletries will be replacing my original trowel (I don’t even remember where I got it from years ago) with the Bogler trowel, saving me over 4 ounces. Another change I’ve made this past year is adding a Kula cloth: a total game-changer, ladies, I assure you. Finally, I’m going to ditch an item I’ve brought on every backpacking expedition ever: deodorant. In the end, I know I’m going to be disgusting and dirty while I’m out there, so I’m going to do my best to embrace the funk. 


Obviously, I will have my phone during this excursion. I will be consulting the Far Out app to aid with navigation (in conjunction with my NatGeo TRT map) and assess resources and conditions along the trail. In addition, I will have a headlamp and my Garmin InReach mini (so I can text my mom every night that I’m alive and have not eaten by bears). That means that I will need to charge these items. My current power bank seems heavy (10.4 oz), so I’m searching for a potentially lighter option. I’ve been looking at Nitecore and Anker, but I’m not sure which one I’ll go with. (If you have suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments!) I will also have cables to charge all this equipment when we go into town.


Despite stressing about my base weight, I have a few miscellaneous nonessentials that I plan to bring. First and foremost, a small notebook and pen. I love writing while I’m in the wilderness. I enjoy writing during the evenings to reflect on the trials and tribulations of the trail that day.

Next, I will likely bring headphones (wired so I don’t have to worry about charging them). I won’t use them daily, but I’ll appreciate music or audiobooks, especially during tough climbs or when I’m anxious.

Finally, I just might bring a small ocarina (2 oz.) that I impulse bought at a Renaissance Fair and have been trying (and failing) to learn how to play. So far, my best tune is the Star Wars theme. If I can build a mini repertoire of songs, I may find myself playing some melodies amongst the trees. We will see.


Weighed my pack for a multi-day trip in Channel Islands National Park (including food and water).

So at the moment, with my planned upgrades and updates, my pack weighs in at a total of 24.27 pounds. This does not include consumables such as food, water, or fuel (though consumables like medications and toothpaste are included in this number because I weighed my kits with those inside). 

As stated earlier, I hesitated to post my gear list because I felt ashamed of how heavy my pack is. It’s similar to the shame I feel for how heavy I am as a person. When I see the packs that other hikers have with their ultra-light base weights, I think of the experience of seeing other women who are thin and light. And just like I ask myself, “Why isn’t my backpack as light as theirs?” I also ask, “Why isn’t my body as light as theirs?” While both of these questions breed multitudinous answers, I remind myself of the dangers of the comparison game. 

My pack, in spite of its weight, has brought me happiness through the experiences I’ve shared with it. Just as my body has done. So rather than focusing on shedding the ounces from my pack or the pounds from my body, I hope to shed the insecurities that I feel about weight.

Yeah, my pack won’t be the lightest. No, I won’t be the fastest. But that doesn’t matter in the long run (pun intended). I am determined to push myself and expand the boundaries of my comfort zone. I won’t let weight interfere with that.

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