Gear: Everything Else


This is a comprehensive list of our gear that is not described in the other three Gear articles: Binoculars, Clothing, and The Big Three. For unique or obscure items we provide our rationale and the model.

We care a lot about keeping our pack weight as light as possible but even more about being comfortable. We weigh everything and obsess over every ounce. Our base pack weight varies from 11 to 13 pounds per person, depending on the trip. Lightweight hikers use the term base pack weight to describe the pack and the gear inside it; it does not include food, water, binoculars, hiking poles, or the base layer of clothing we always wear while hiking. This is heavier than what ultra-light hikers carry, but is substantially lighter than most novice backpacker’s loads. This selection has served us well for thousands of miles in a wide variety of 3-season conditions.

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Maps, guidebook (if appropriate to the route), route notes, bird list, paper for notes, pencil.
2 pairs of binoculars.
Amy's Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z-Poles. I don't need adjustable length poles to set up a shelter so fixed length suffices. The Z-Poles are very light, and they they collapse to be shorter than any other model I've seen. Two advantages of the small collapsed size: 1) I can pack them inside my pack when flying; 2) Using a #2 Nite Ize S-Biner and some shock cord I can quickly and effectively stash them on my pack shoulder strap when I need my hands during rock-scrambles or when inside restaurants and shops.Amazon,
Umbrella, on a trip when we expect significant rain. Gossamer Gear's Liteflex Hiking Umbrella is light, durable, field repairable, and is the umbrella of choice for long distance hikers. It also can provide significant shade on sunny days.GossamerGear
2x 1 liter soda bottle. Any bottle will do; SmartWater brand is popular because it is light, but we often use bottles with a wider cap.
2 liter Platypus Platy bottles. Quantity varies as needed for water capacity.Amazon,
Wild Ideas Bearikade bear can (if appropriate to route). This brand has by far the most volume per ounce but is also the most expensive. Our food selection is optimized for compactness and we can use Expedition size can for two people for a 5 day trip.Wild Ideas


11 stuff sacks of varying sizes, including one large enough to inflate pads. Used to organize ditties, food and clothing. Home-made from 1.1 oz silnyon or .74 oz Dyneema. Silnylon,
Trash Compactor Bag (18 gallon, 2.5 mil) for Amy's pack, to keep the sleeping bag and down jackets absolutely waterproof. Silnylon/dyneema stuff sacks and the dyneema HMG Pack are waterproof when brand new, but they become porous over time. In prolonged rainy weather plastic bags are the only thing I trust. Amazon
Sea to Summit 13L (size Large) Ultra-Sil Dry Sack. Jim carries the tent in his pack, which is often wet when packed. He puts the gear he wants to keep dry in the dry bag. He also carries the NeoAir pads and a food bag, but those can get wet so do not need to fit into the dry sack.Amazon,
~10x quart ziplocks for maps, iphone, and organizing things in ditty bags.Amazon
~5x 4"x6" and ~5x 2"x3" ziplocks for organizing things in first aid and repair kit.Amazon
We repackage all liquids, creams, and pastes into the smallest container possible dropper bottles, pill containers, and plastic jars.US Plastic


Sony DSC-W830 camera with 16 gig SD card and battery + spare battery + spare SD card.Amazon
Garmin (formerly DeLorme) InReach SE. We started carrying a satellite based messenger when the retired head of North Wales Search and Rescue, told us "with the electronics available today it is a selfish act to travel in the wilderness without a means to communicate, because our SAR volunteers risk their lives to find you if you don't return on time." The InReach SE satellite-based 2-way text message device is more effective than the SPOT (which we used to carry) and more modestly priced than a satellite phone.Amazon,
USB wall plug + cables for recharging camera, iPhone, Delorme InReach. Only on trips with resupply stops.
Jackery mini battery. We carry one or two of these if resupply stops are more than 3 or 4 days apart.Amazon


Glasses, sunglasses, reading glasses in home-made silnylon cases.
Home-made silnylon wallets + contents (credit, ATM and medical cards, money, NPS Senior Pass); passports when necessary.
#1 Nite Ize S-Biners and Z-Line 1.2mm Dyneema Cord which we use to attach many objects to our pants or packs, including iPhone, InReach, wallets, glasses cases.Z-Line Cord
Toothbrush & cover, toothpaste, comb, dental floss, earplugs, sunscreen, lip balm, hair ties, lighter, wet wipes, Kleenex pocket packs, 2x spoons.
Gehwol Foot Cream Extra, repackaged into a small plastic jar. Jim often has problems with cracked dry fingers when we are backpacking; this is the only cream that prevents his finger rot. Great on the feet too, especially in wet weather.Gehwol's
2x Fenix LD02 flashlights with Lithium batteries. This model is very popular with long distance hikers as it hits a sweet spot for weigh, brightness, and longevity.Amazon
Bodyglide Anti-Chafe Balm repackaged into a tiny pill container. Great stuff that prevents blisters between toes and chafing in other places where skin rubs on skin.Amazon,
AquaMira water treatment, repackaged into smaller dropper bottles, with two mixing caps. Filters are popular, but we've tried all the best models and eventually they develop biofilm that makes them ineffective. This chlorine dioxide method is reliable, light-weight, easy, and tasteless. The large capacity 2 oz per bottle package, usually available at Amazon, is a bargain. When possible we double the time and halve the dose.Amazon,
2x Ultralite Packtowl, ~12x18". Economical approach is to cut a single 25x54" towel into ~6 small towels. Amazon,
Spyderco Ladybug 3 knife. A great high quality stainless blade that holds an edge well. Relatively large blade for a knife that weighs less than an ounce.Amazon,
Deuce of Spades potty trowel. Hands down the best trowel. Less than an ounce with an edge that's sharp enough to cut through the topsoil, unlike the plastic trowels.Amazon,


Repair Kit: Homemade Z-pole PVC repair sleeve; spare Z-Pole tip; NeoAir patches; needles&thread; 1.2 mm Z-Line cord, Tenacious Tape; eyeglass screws; Gorilla Super Glue; Gorilla Tape wrapped around a straw; electrical tape wrapped around the Aqua Mira caps.
Uncle Bill's Sliver Gripper Tweezers.Amazon
Leukotape. 18" wrapped around lip balm and another 18" around Sliver Gripper tube. This is the best performing brand of adhesive tape. Used occasionally on feet to prevent blisters.Amazon
Povidone iodine in tiny dropper bottle. We carry this as backup water treatment and for wound disinfection.Amazon
Clotrimazole anti-fungal cream repackaged into pill container. Daily use prevents rotting skin between toes on long wet trips.Amazon
2x2" sterile pads, blister pads, alcohol wipes, butterfly bandaids, nail scisors.
Assorted over-the-counter and prescription medications; drug instructions.
2017-10-19T18:38:43-07:00Oct 19, 2017|Gear|


  1. Karen Oct 25, 2017 at 8:57 pm - Reply

    Did I miss TP on this list, or are you rock/leaf people? Or other secrets?

  2. Amy&James Oct 25, 2017 at 9:15 pm - Reply

    Karen, no, we are not rock/leaf people. That’s one of many things that puts us in the “light” category and not the “ultralight” category. It’s on the list as Kleenex Pocket Packs instead of TP.

    Thanks for your comments and glad you find it worth reading.

  3. Emily Dec 27, 2017 at 7:43 pm - Reply

    Hi Amy and James,
    Thanks for the great trip reports and info! Always a pleasure to read!
    I’m curious what your thoughts are on carrying the Liteflex umbrella for a SWCP thru-hike (in regards to wind, cliffs, etc). Did you also value the trekking poles for that particular trip? Thanks!
    Best wishes,

    • Amy&James Dec 27, 2017 at 7:52 pm - Reply

      We carried umbrellas on that trip and were very happy we had them. We had only a few days with heavy rain that lasted for many hours. We had many days with intermittent often light showers, and the umbrellas were great for that. There were times when it was too windy to deploy umbrellas, but those Chrome Domes are pretty sturdy and held up well in moderate wind.

      We weren’t carrying poles back then, and Jim still doesn’t. I recommend poles for that hike.

      Good luck

  4. John Miller Feb 6, 2018 at 6:06 pm - Reply

    What!? No stove? How can you have a hot; coffee, tea or chocolate???

  5. David Jordan Aug 5, 2018 at 10:57 am - Reply

    Hi Amy & James,
    Great blog, really helpful to see how others approach a trip, gear etc.. My wife Lisa and I are UK-based and are doing the GTA in stages. Have also hiked in the US, inc the PCT. Appreciate all the information you share here.
    Fascinated to learn that you don’t check your packs in on airlines. We’ve been checking ours assuming sharp items such as pole tips, tiny pocket knife and nail scissors wouldn’t be accepted at security for cabin luggage. Have you ever had an issue with this?
    Thanks in advance.
    David & Lisa (Kendal, UK)

    • Amy&James Sep 22, 2018 at 5:59 pm - Reply

      Sorry about the delayed response; we were on a long hike on your side of the pond.

      We’ve taken dozens of flights without checking bags. We carry an aluminum table knife instead of a pocket knife; it’s good for cutting cheese but not sharp enough to effectively cut bread.

      I once had poles confiscated (at Heathrow). They were packed in an external pocket where they were visible. Subsequently I switched to the Black Diamond Z Poles which fit inside the pack and security inspectors have never objected.

      We did have nail scissors confiscated once, on an internal flight in Australia. We’ve flown with similar scissors many times without a problem. We have since switched to carrying nail clippers and a pair of cheap dull tipped utility scissors like the kind six year olds use in school. The dull tipped scissors are good for opening plastic wrap on food that is vacuum packed, cutting electrical tape when making repairs, etc.

      Much to our surprise, with the exception of the nail scissors we have never had the packs opened for inspection.

      I feel pretty confident now that we will not get stopped for the things on our current gear list. Hopefully you’ll have the same good fortune.

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