What’s in My Gear Bag?
Preparing for the Colorado Trail has been a blast and I am excited to share what I am carrying with me on my thru-hike. The trip is coming up in under a few weeks, and although I am unsure of my base weight, I think I have my gear dialed in. I’ve taken this fully loaded setup on some grueling hikes, and I am very happy with how everything has come together.
For my pack, I went with the Hyperlite Mountain Gear, 2400 Southwest. The Southwest is a 40L backpack that is virtually waterproof. All of their packs are made from super durable materials, and in particular, this pack weighs in at just over 2 pounds. I’ve always been a “ditch the external frame” type of gal, and I must say that the Southwest is by far the comfiest overnight pack I’ve ever owned. I really enjoy the built-in hip belt, zipper pockets, and large outer storage compartments. Since I’ve had such a pleasant experience with this pack, I decided to also carry the Hyperlite brand for my stuff sack and stackable gear pods. I ended up ordering the large and small storage pods that are specifically designed to fit in the Southwest. The roll-top stuff sack as well as these storage pods help save space while allowing items in my pack to stay organized. The large pod will hold all of my food and the small pod will hold my tent, rope for hanging my food bag, a small medical kit, and an emergency rain poncho. The roll-top stuff sack will hold my 21-degree mummy bag.
For me, this is arguably the most important part of my setup because I like to feel safe, warm, and comfortable. For a shelter, I will be carrying the Nemo Hornet two-person tent as well as the Nemo Switchback sleeping pad. This tent is super lightweight and gives me enough room to sit up and roll around if I need to. I really enjoy that it has two entrance/exit doors, one on each side, which makes it easier for my husband and me to get in and out when we’re backpacking together. The Switchback sleeping pad is a short, closed cell design. It’s not super thick, but it’s lightweight, it helps with insulation, and I really enjoy not having to sleep on the cold, hard ground. Finally, I went with a mummy bag, and have found that the REI Joule 21 is a good fit for me. In regard to being ultralight/packable, it’s not the best on the market, but I am extremely happy with its specs for the price point. It’s warm and comfortable and I enjoy the hood as well as how the zipper is set up on the right side. I am choosing not to carry a pillow, but I am planning on using my day clothes and backpack as a comfortable and smelly replacement.
This section is kind of broad in regards to what my “comfort items” are, but let’s just get right into it. Since I’m going alone, the Garmin inReach Mini is completely necessary for tracking, messaging, SOS, and maps. I like the Mini because it’s lightweight and I am able to use the interface on my smartphone as long as I have the two connected through Bluetooth. I am planning on bringing some CBD vitamin capsules to help with sleep and muscle relaxation, and although they’re not ultralight, I will also be carrying bear spray and a fixed-blade knife for protection and peace of mind. I am also bringing along some generic aluminum trekking poles as well as my trusty old cheapo headlamp. Both are kind of heavy, but they get the job done. I felt it was smart to grab a Rite in the Rain notebook and a pen or two for journaling. Obviously, a toothbrush, toothpaste, toilet paper, and the Vargo – Titanium Dig Dig Tool to bury my poo are completely necessary as well. Finally, I grabbed the cheapest power bank I could find that had the best reviews. It’s kind of heavy in weight, but so far so good. You can find it here.
I’m keeping it rather simple for my travel kitchen. I’ll be carrying the Snow Peak, LiteMax stove as well as the 32-ounce pot from the Snow Peak 1400 Titanium Cookset. Both of these items are durable, lightweight, affordable, and they definitely get the job done when it comes to cooking some sloppy backpacking meals. I’ll be bringing a lightweight plastic coffee mug and the Sea to Summit, Titanium Spork—the long one. Also a lighter to ignite the stove!
I feel that it’s extremely important to have a dirty pair of clothes for hiking and a sacred pair of clothes for camp. It’ll be easier to break these items down into lists so here we go:
- REI Savanna Trail Pants
- Smartwool hiking socks x2
- Patagonia Micro Puff
- Nike, Dry Gear T-shirt
- Cotton beanie, lightweight gloves, baseball cap
- Smartwool Merino 250 Base Layer
- Darn Tough socks
- The North Face fleece leggings (I couldn’t find the exact pair, but here is something similar)
- Generic lightweight fleece (multi-use: for sleep and cold hiking mornings)
To be honest, I’ve never brought bear spray or a large knife on a backpacking trip before. I usually carry a small utility blade, but I decided to get a bigger one for protection purposes. I am certainly slightly afraid of being alone in the woods, but I know I can handle it. My friends and family have expressed concern about me being a solo female hiker. Many people have asked me to carry a gun, and although I’m not entirely against it, I think that having one on me is unnecessary and definitely not worth the extra weight. Since I’ll be hiking during animal scavenger season, the Mace felt important, and although I hope to never have to use either of these items, they are great tools for utility and self-defense.
I know it seems like I’m carrying a lot of clothes BUT sorry not sorry. There are statewide fire bans and I do not plan on having a campfire at all during my trip. No fire = stealthier spot and more safety for the forest. Staying warm and having extra socks are things that I always make a top priority for my comfort and sanity in the backcountry.
Welp, I hope I didn’t miss anything. It’s getting close to my start date! Happy trails y’all.
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