Not-Quite-Ultralight But Light Enough

Humble Beginnings

Around this time in 2014, I knew nothing about backpacking. I was leaving in a week and all I had was a pair of leggings. I was running around trying to find whatever gear I thought I needed. The sleeping bag I picked up from Walmart was heavy and completely worthless in the cold. I carried a hefty Northface jacket, a bowl I never once used, and even a wool blanket (looking back I have no idea what I was thinking haha!)

I crammed it all into a pack that was way too small for my torso and lugged it around in boots that gave me blisters. I had no idea what I was doing but I was doing it. I learned quickly that a blanket that weighs 1 pound off-trail seemingly weighs 5 pounds on-trail. Needless to say, I sent that home in Franklin, NC.


A jacket so bulky it didn’t even fit inside my pack…

Your Typical Gear Overhaul

This past summer (once I decided that 2017 will finally be my year, after No-Money-2015 and Cold-Feet-2016) I started researching and purchasing and testing out gear. I thought I was happy with my gear list… until I wasn’t. I think I caught the Ultralight Bug. It’s appealing to say the least.

After meeting and talking to Neemor who has definitely “been there, done that” with long distance hikes, I got a lot of inspiration and motivation to make major changes to my gear list to try and shed some weight. Now I didn’t quite make it to super UL status but my pack weighs about 5 pounds less than it did and in the end I actually saved myself some money… I call that a win/win!

I won’t go in to the nitty gritty details of what I swapped out for what and how many ounces it saved me etc etc. Instead I’ll just show you what I’ve settled on.

I think I spent more time making my gear video than I did actually finalizing my gear list.

The Big 3

REI Flash 45 with a compactor trash bag liner. Opted out of the pack cover because let’s be honest, most people with a pack cover still use a trash bag inside their pack anyways. I’m just taking away the middle man.

Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20 Degree bag. LOVE THIS SLEEPING BAG SO MUCH. Best gear decision I’ve made.

Nemo Tensor sleeping pad. I’m actually still considering switching back to my foam pad to save myself the few ounces (do I sound like an ultralight-er yet? hah!) but I’m holding onto this guy because yes, he’s obviously a little more comfortable than that thin foam! Not to mention the Nemo sleeping pad fits inside my pack. No more large rectangle of foam getting in the way of everything.

Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 mtnGLO. I picked this tent up for a crazzzy deal at an REI garage sale. I removed the battery pack and the LED lights because I don’t find them all that practical but the tent itself is great.

Clothing & Shoes

Salomon xa pro 3d trail runners
Teva sandals

Layers for cold weather/sleep:

REI long sleeve base layer top
REI light weight base layer leggings
Melanzana microgrid fleece hoodie
Wigwam socks for sleeping
REI puffy jacket

Warm weather hiking:

A pair of old running shorts
Tank top
Darn Toughs
Smartwool underwear
Basic sports bra from Target
Hat I found at Goodwill


Outdoor Research Helium rain jacket
Another pair of Darn Toughs
Another pair of Smartwool underwear
(I may pick up some Frogg Togg rain pants as well)

Going Stoveless

Empty Talenti jar to rehydrate certain foods. I chose a Talenti jar over a peanut butter jar because it gave me a good excuse to buy Talenti, if I’m being honest. Haha!

Long handled spoon

Zpacks food bag and about 40-50 ft of cord to hang

Smartwater bottle with a Sawyer Squeeze

Toiletries/First Aid

Small stuff sack to keep it all together

Comb (I learned my lesson the hard way, haha!) I chose a large, wide tooth comb because my hair gets very, very frizzy otherwise.

Tweezers for ticks and the occasional brow maintenance

Nail Clippers

Toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss. After getting more cavities filled this past month than I would like to admit, I’ll be taking extra good care of my teeth out there…

Small mirror. Weighs virtually nothing and it’ll be nice to have.

A couple extra hair ties

Hand sanitizer

TP and Trowel for obvious reasons

My first aid kit is probably lacking but I figure I’m always relatively close to town/civilization if anything serious happened. So right now I’ve got a few bandaids, some Goody’s powder, 2 safety pins, a lighter, and chapstick.

Electronics and other misc.

AWOL guidebook. I opted for the book itself over any type of phone app because I like having a physical copy in my hands, it doesn’t get more reliable than that. I’m going to split it in half though and send the other half to Harper’s Ferry.

Journal and pen. Definitely a luxury item. I’m still trying to find a lighter one.

Canon 6D with a 50mm. This is where I actually added weight to my gear list. I wasn’t originally going to bring my DSLR but man, I think I would really regret not having it with me. I plan to focus on stepping out of my comfort zone and photographing people and sharing their stories.

iPhone 7 and cord

Anker portable battery pack to keep things charged. Especially since I’ll be using my phone for music.


SD card-to-phone reader

Canon battery charger and a couple extra SD cards

Dual port charging block 

A book to read. Actually thinking about leaving this at home and just focusing on writing during any downtime on trail. We’ll see.

Black Diamond Spot headlamp

Zpacks zip wallet

Prescription sunglasses, case, and cleaning cloth. Just another downside of wearing glasses…

Small pocket knife

Zpacks front pouch. LOVE THIS THING. I’ll be bring the long strap for it too so I can easily turn it into a purse for town/toting my camera around with me instead of leaving it somewhere.

Black Diamond Ergo trekking pole. Came as 2 but I’m only bringing one to keep my other hand free for photos (and snacks).

Final Base Weight: About 15 lbs

My 2+ lb camera killed my base weight but I’m reminding myself that it’s so worth it. I’m happy with where my gear list is right now and if I decide to shed some more things along the way then that’s even better! I think one of the great parts about the trail is acclimating and adjusting and learning to let go of things that (figuratively and quite literally) weigh you down.

So that’s about it!
9 days until I leave and I can hardly wait.
Hopefully that’s long enough for all the snow to melt though, haha!

Happy hiking,

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Comments 7

  • Traci H. : Mar 18th

    That was the coolest gear video ever!!! Well worth the time 🙂

    • Kylie Torrence : Mar 18th

      Thank you!! I appreciate that 😀

      • John Phillips : Mar 19th

        suggestion you should carry two separate charging blocks , I was reading a Nother blog a Nother hikers said that it takes twice as long with one charging block..before you leave try charging everything on two blocks and then try one sometime you will be limited on time, I will be reading your blog threw out I will be traveling next year on the trail hopefully. I am presently working in the oil field for North Dakota wish you luck keep the writing up!!!

  • John Phillips : Mar 19th ,,, One more thing look up pine needle tea,,, after all there should not be a shortage of them .

  • Meghan : Mar 19th

    I noticed there was not mention of hiking pants. Are you wearing leggings only?

    • Kylie Torrence : Mar 20th

      I never liked hiking pants for some reason, haha. I’ll be wearing shorts mainly. And wearing my baselayer leggings if it’s too cold. Of course with this cold snap/winter storm that happened I’ll probably get a pair of Frogg Togg pants to keep me dry and such until I’m certain that only warmer weather is on the way 😛

  • Jacob Auwater : Mar 20th

    Wow, 15 pounds seems light for all that gear! Well done! I purchased a EE quilt last year, and love it. It’s their synthetic which uses Climashield Apex which is the best synthetic in my opinion. I currently purchased a bag using Primaloft Fusion, which is American made Primaloft Gold which is said to be a better synthetic, but not so far IMHO. Zpacks is great, can’t go wrong there. I’ve been going back, and forth on my pad as well. The night we were all at the red barn I slept with no pad. Because when I went to set it up I front a hole that the patch repair couldn’t fix. Froze allll night, and the next. Since then I’ve hit the woods a few times. Each time since my Thermarest Z Lite has made the trip. No worries about it popping. Just awkward pack. Anyway, good choices! One week away!!!


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