At the beginning of planning my trip and investigating gear I really, really wanted to be an ultra-lighter. I’m no Ray Jardine, sure, but between J and I surely I could achieve a sub-10 lb base weight, right? Well, I did my best. Then, since I didn’t own a scale, I hefted my pack. It felt good. I knew I wasn’t ultra-light, but it was light enough. So off I went.

After getting home I finally acquired a kitchen scale and weighed all my gear. The setup you see here is the one I came home with (except for the net-tent, I mailed that home before starting Washington, but I wanted to include it here since I carried it for most of California). It turns out that my pack weighed more than 16 lbs, putting me more in the lightweight/midweight category of thru-hikers. Looking over my lists, I can see some easy weight savings to be had – my electronics bag ballooned out of control by the end of the trail, a switch to a NeoAir XLite would have saved 7oz, I could have splurged on a down quilt instead of a synthetic one, I could have carried less clothes… However, if I was really serious about cutting weight I would have stopped carrying at least 2lbs of extra food with every re-supply. In the end, where I had to choose between weight and the possibility of being cold, wet, or hungry, I chose the weight. The way I see it, a good night’s sleep and the calories to make it up the hill make those extra pounds easy to carry.

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The things I carried

Breakdown of items

Clothes worn and carried


4 thoughts on “Gear Lists

  1. Thanks for sharing your list! You took such great images on the trail, so I know you were able to keep your phone powered to some degree. Any advice you are willing to share on charging (solar? other?) would be welcome!

    • Before I left I replaced my regular phone battery with a double size battery. I carried my old battery as a back-up. In the beginning I was hitting towns often enough to keep my phone sufficiently charged for blogging and photos and map usage. Then I hit the Sierras and I was going at least twice as far between charges and taking three times as many pictures, and I had to quit blogging and resort to paper notes to conserve battery. Getting behind on my blog in the Sierras was a setback I never recovered from! I ended up getting a solar panel in Reno which was helpful up until Washington.

      If I could do it again, I would carry a solar panel and an external battery pack through the Sierras (plus my double size battery), and just the external battery pack the rest of the time. Depending on how scenic it was, I could usually make it through at least five days of hiking, with maps/pictures/blogging on a single charge, as long as I kept my phone on airplane mode all the time. Searching for service absolutely destroys charge.

      Another thing to keep in mind is that not all chargers are created equal. I tried out the Solio first, that thing sucked. I ended up carrying a Brown Dog Gadgets Solar charger (5w). At a typical lunch break I could put ~10% of charge back on my phone, but it didn’t work well on my pack for on-the-go charging. It sort of had a warm-up period, and anytime it wasn’t optimally positioned it would need to re-warm-up and it didn’t charge efficiently.

  2. Thanks so much, great info! Funny you mention the Sierras because the main reason I’m asking is that we’re planning to hike the JMT this summer. I’ve been looking at solar panel/backup battery options and there are so many choices I feel like my head is going to explode. I’m hoping to find something that will keep two smartphones going in airplane mode – bonus points if I can keep a small camera charged, too. I’ll read up on the Brown Dog Gadgets charger!

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