Gear List - a work in progress

Now that I’m a desert dweller, my gear list has (again!) evolved a bit. But the beauty of having a well-thought-out gear closet is that I can mix and match my equipment for the trip at hand. Yes, it’s more expensive than having just one of everything, but sheesh! who wants to live like that??!

But I digress.

I recently shared my story of how I saw the ultra-light (get it?!), and I had several folks reach out to ask what my current gear list looks like.

The best way to explain my gear list is to talk about systems. When you first start thinking about how to lighten your pack (without sacrificing comfort!), you start to put your equipment into categories: sleep system, kitchen, hydration, clothing/insulation, tools, luxuries.

It becomes really easy to tweak what you are going to bring when you use that classification system - because it helps you to actively choose what you are going to bring for each and every trip. One of the main reasons people bring too much stuff is that they just carry everything, all the time. I recently went to Big Bend with some good friends of mine (who I’d not gone backpacking with before) and one of the group had just put her ditty bag into her pack without even looking inside. It’s what she always carried - so that’s what she carried. But there was plenty in there that was inappropriate for the desert (ie large wood saw?). So it’s important to know what you have available to you, what you will need for your current trip, and make decisions based on that.

Anyway, my last trip was that 5-day backpacking trip in the backcountry of Big Bend National Park this past January.

Temperatures there are crazy - at altitude (yes, you climb to about 7500’), nighttime temps can be in the 20s, and daytime temperatures can be in the 80s. And sunny, with no shade at all once you are on the desert floor. This creates some complex clothing choices, but when you break it down into functional layers it’s not too bad.


Here is my gear list for that trip, broken down by system:

Katabatic Gear Helios 55L, cuben hybrid (larger, sturdier pack for the bulky/heavy water carries)

Mountain Laurel Designs Duomid, cuben fiber, no inner net (it was January, all the creepy/crawly stuff are still asleep!)
Tyvek ground sheet (normally I would use polycro since it’s lighter and smaller, but in the desert I really worry about punctures and the tyvek gives me SLIGHTLY better protection there)
Enlightened Equipment Enigma quilt, 20*
Exped Downmat UL7 Short (I’m 67” tall, the pad is 60” long - PERFECT!)
Goosefeet gear down booties (literally the best investment I’ve ever made)
Goosefeet gear down pillow case
Big Sky International inflatable pillow

Trail Designs ti-tri caldera cone with 600mL Evernew short/wide pot, modified starlyte stove. 4 oz alcohol is perfect for a trip this short and with limited water supplies (which translates to minimal water heating)
Sawyer black water filter set up in line with a Platypus 1.8L bladder (yep, NOT the squeeze, NOT the mini…but the ultra-secret Sawyer Black! lighter, way faster, slightly bulkier but not by much!)
3 1.5L evernew bladders (when water is a rare find - like the desert - it’s best to have multiple containers for water in case of failure rather than putting ALL your water in 1-2 large containers)
cut off sawyer pouch to use as a dipper to get water out of streams/water holes
single folding spork
empty gatorade bottle (used for coffee in am, gatorade and/or lemonade mix for dinner)
Zpacks food sack

running shorts (built in liner)
Rail Riders Adventure shirt
Nike Pro sports bra
Balega short socks
Altra Lone Peak shoes
Dirty Girl Gaiters

Haglofs LIM down puffy
Westcomb Crest hoody
Blackrock puffy hat
Rab polartec gloves
Patagonia cap 4 hoody
Arcteryx phase 2 tights
Montbell dynamo wind pants

Tools/first aid
bandaids (3)
hydrocolloid bandages (2)
spyderco knife
2 mini bic lighters
Big Dig potty trowel

Locus Gear LT3 trekking poles with GG grips
Euroschirm Swingflex reflective umbrella (best 8 oz you'll ever carry)

Sony a6000 mirrorless camera with 2 lenses
2 spare batteries
Nook e-reader

I did not hurt for comfort, I was not cold, I was not hot, I had plenty to eat and drink, and I was able to make the crazy climbs of Big Bend ahead of all of my friends (who were all about 15 years younger and 20 pounds lighter than me!). I didn't weigh it, because at this point I don't care; I've weighed enough of my packs to get an idea and to know when I'm bringing too much and when I've got what I need. This was a great trip - I didn't want for anything, and everything was used.
Did I forget anything??
thumb_upJanice Regudo-Baloca, Srono, and 1 other

May 21, 2017
Thanks for this list.
Can you provide a link to the 'Sawyer Black' filter, or a product code? On the Sawyer site, I can see a black Mini and Squeeze, but not just a 'Black' ... cheers!
May 21, 2017
May 21, 2017
It's a secret!
there is a squeeze/mini-type filter inside this water bottle:
remove this black filter - it is identical technology to their other filters but it's way faster. Slightly bulkier, but just as light as the mini but even faster flow rate than the squeeze.
May 21, 2017
May 21, 2017
By the will be inline and/or gravity only. There are no threads anywhere, just a nipple on each end for a hose to attach. I'll try to get a photo posted later today.
May 21, 2017
May 20, 2017
Aloha, thanks for posting your gear list. Your systems approach seems well thought out and detailed. I do have a question for you though. I also have ordered a big sky pillow which is backorderd and am thinking about purchasing a goosefeet gear down pillow case. Did you get the large size or the exped ul large size? Also how much fill did you order for it? Mahalo for your consideration. Happy hiking.
May 20, 2017
May 20, 2017
It's the exped UL large side....I was using the exped pillow and it was ok. But the big sky pillow has some nice elasticity to it that I really like!
May 20, 2017
May 21, 2017
BackpackerPT, thanks for replying. I wasn't sure what size to get but it's good to know someone else out there is using the same combo. Now I have no doubts about ordering the wrong size. Mahalo!
May 21, 2017