No, I’m not Ultralight.

When it comes to gear I think I’m pretty much in the middle of the pack. I’m definitely no Ultralight Gram Weenie because I like to have a few creature comforts, but I am certainly not packing half my body weight either.

I don’t know exactly what my pack weighs, and I don’t know what my base weight is. I feel like I am better off not knowing. The only thing I have to go on is, when I got the ferry from the north island to the South Island of New Zealand they weighed my pack at 8.5kg / 18.5lb – this included 3 days of food, 1 litre of water and my trekking poles, so I don’t think that too bad.

I have tried to buy as little as possible this year – because outdoor gear is expensive, and the stuff I already have still has a lot of life in it yet – but sometimes things just wear out.


In summary…

Big 4  

Sleeping 

Food and water

Electronics

Clothing worn 

Extra clothes

Miscilanious 

Toiletries and first aid

  • Toilet paper
  • Pills
  • Painkillers
  • Toothbrush 
  • Toothpaste 
  • Small selection of plasters 
  • Small pot of Lucas Papaw ointment 
  • Tweezers
  • Safety pins x2
  • Peptobismol
  • Allergy tablets
  • Lip balm
  • Neosporin
  • Doxycycline

In a bit more detail…

The big 4

 

Backpack – Hyperlite Mountain Gear (HMG) 3400 Windrider

I have carried this pack for about 2,800 miles and it is still going strong. I don’t think it is the perfect pack but it does have a lot of good features. 

Things I like:

  • the roll top closure
  • the external mesh pockets, good for drying wet gear
  • easy to reach a water bottle without having to take the pack off
  • the aesthetic and branding
  • durability
  • simplicity
  • HMG have great customer service

Things I don’t like:

  • it isn’t 100% waterproof, although it is pretty close. I always use a trash bag as a liner just to be on the safe side. I like to use a white bag because it is easier to see what’s inside
  • the hip pockets are rubbish, I ended up cutting mine off and using Zpacks hip belt pockets instead. This year I am trying out a ThruPack instead of hip pockets. 
  • it’s very expensive

If money was no object I would get:

There are so many packs out there that I would like to try. If you haven’t tried them all then how do you know which is the best? I would love to try the new Osprey Levity. All the benefits of the Exos but lighter and better looking. It looks like a really awesome pack.


** SORT OF NEW** Shelter – Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1

I have purchased this tent once, but it has been replaced twice under Big Agnes lifetime warranty, and I have to say that their customer service has been amazing. So for the AT I am starting out with a brand new version of the same tent I have used for the last 10,000+ miles of travel.

Things I like:

  • it’s freestanding so I don’t have to worry about where I pitch it. I often don’t bother staking it out.
  • it can be used without the fly, good for stargazing.  
  • side entry 
  • plenty of space for me. Pack usually lives in the vestibule but I have enough room to bring everything inside with me in bad weather 
  • little storage pockets to keep your tent tidy 
  • colour coded poles for a super easy set up 
  • can be fast pitched with the footprint and fly, really useful if you are camping in the rain 
  • it’s very light for a freestanding tent
  • it is bright orange so you can see it easily after you have wandered into the woods for a wee
  • fantastic customer service

Things I don’t like:

  • the fly is always a bit skewed, but I am hoping the new updated version will have addressed this.
  • there are lighter tents available (but they aren’t freestanding) 
  • it is bright orange which makes stealth camping difficult (it’s now available in an olive green colour which wasn’t available at the time I purchased mine). 
  • I am on my third tent. The first one the poles broke. The second one the seals came away from the seams. 

If money were no object I would get:

A fancy cuben fibre Zpacks tent. Maybe a Duplex. I would like to use something lighter weight, but I also don’t want to give up the ease of a free standing tent. Plus, fancy cubes fibre tents come with a fancy price tag!


Sleeping bag – Zpacks 10deg regular, medium sleeping bag

This bag has been with me through 3 thru-hikes and a cycle tour of Australia. It has been in the washing machine and the tumble dryer once. It has a small hole where I caught the fabric in the zip but I repaired it with tenacious tape. I love it. I think it has lasted so well because I always wear sleep clothes and cover up my dirty feet with socks to protect the bag. 

Recently Zpacks replaced my sleeping bag stuff sack free of charge.

Things I like:

  • it is real light 
  • packs down really small 
  • it has worked well even with a lot of condensation 
  • dries quickly 
  • I can put my head inside and pull the drawstring if it’s really, so I don’t miss having a hood at all 

Things I don’t like:

  • the fabric is very delicate and often gets caught in the zip
  • sometimes wish it was a quilt in warmer weather
  • can be crafty around the zipper but you just have to make sure the zip is underneath you (the baffle is well worth the extra 10g)

If money were no object I would get:

I would like to try an Enlightened Equipment quilt. Although I hear Zpacks do quilts now too…but I feel like my sleeping bag is going to last forever. 


Sleeping mat – Thermarest Neoair Xlite womens

Another item that has been with me the whole way. I carried a repair kit for around 9,000 miles before I needed to use it, and it was worth carrying for whole way to have it when I needed it! I managed to repair it quickly and easily. I will be carrying the repair kit again. 

Things I like:

  • it is really light and really small
  • it is really durable (except when you camp on top of really spiky thing in the middle of the outback!). 
  • it is really warm 
  • it’s comfortable 
  • the womens size means it’s not too long like a lot of other pads are

Things I don’t like: 

  • I have to blow it up every night

If I could upgrade I would get:
I wouldn’t! Unless something better gets produces in the future I think this is the best out there.


Sleeping 

 

**NEW** Pillow – Sierra Designs Animas Pillow

Carrying a pillow is not considered ultralight but I have a much better nights sleep with a pillow. My last pillow popped at the seam and I got rid of it somewhere in Australia, so I have found a new one for this season. I have yet to try it out, but it weighs only 2oz and it has a silicon print on the back side to hopefully give it a grip that none of my previous pillows have had. I’m looking forward to testing it!

+ review to follow


Sleep clothes – Sweaty Betty Merino base layers, long sleeve top and leggings. (past season)

Also not considered ultralight, but one of the great pleasures I have on the trail is taking off my hiking clothes at the end of a long day and slipping in to something more comfortable. I have used these ones for the last 8,000 miles. Merino is soft and warm and wearing sleep clothes keeps your sleeping bags cleaner and fresher. It also means you will always have something dry to put on. 

I could probably find something lighter but I like these ones.


Socks – Zpacks possum down socks

I love putting on my clean dry socks at night. It makes me so happy. They don’t have to be fancy socks, any will do. I only got these because I had to make my delivery over $100 to get free delivery, and I had spend a few weeks with cold feet on the last bit of the PCT sobo, so these were calling my name. They are getting on for 18 months old now but they are still fluffy and cosy.


Food and water

 

**NEW** Food bag – Zpacks bear bag kit

Previously I have just used a roll top dry bag and they have always been fine. You of course don’t have to use a bag but I think it’s nice to keep your food separated from the rest of your stuff. I have decided to upgrade to this one for the AT because there are more bears along this trail and I will need to hang my food more than I have done before, which until now has been zero times. This kit comes with a mini carabiner, some paracord and a mini bag to put a rock in so you can throw it over a branch more easily. 

+ review to follow


Water filter – Sawyer squeeze water filter

I love my filter. I am really tempting fate by saying this but…so far I have never been sick. People will hay that they ‘can’t be bothered to squeeze their water’ or ‘it takes too much time to filter water’. Rubbish. It takes about 30 seconds to squeeze a litre water. I prefer to filter because that way you also get rid of any floaties.

I purchased my own filter for my first hike, the one I am using currently is a replacement and has been provided by Sawyer free of charge. I wrote to them to ask if they will support my fundraising for Just a Drop by providing me with a filter, and being the awesome people that they are, they said yes!


Spoon – Sea to Summit long handle spoon

I thought I had lost this and I was really upset. It has been on all my journeys and it’s the open thing I think has the potential to last forever! You can eat everything with a spoon, you can spread things with a spoon and you can use the handle as a knife – it is especially good for cutting cheese.

Also makes a great fly swat.


Stove – Jetboil MicroMo stove

To carry a stove. To not carry a stove. A lot of the time I end up carrying it and not using it, but I like to have one. It can be a lifesaver when it’s cold. I use my Platypus bladder (below) as a hot water bottle. This stove has been with me since 2016 and I like it because it has an igniter and a simmer feature. Jetboils are not good for ‘cooking’ but for heating water they are unbeatable. I don’t bother taking the stand.

I use it for making things like 2 minute noodles, instant mash potato and couscous.


Water storage – 2l Platypus water bladder

You really can’t go wrong with a Platypus. They are super strong and really light and take up hardly any space. As mentioned before, they make a great hot water bottle. I have heard of people using empty ones blown up for a pillow. I am on my second one since the first one developed a hole in Australia.


Electronics

 

Head torch – Black Diamond Ion

Great little lightweight torch, nice and bright with a red light. It has been with me for the last 3 trips. Of course you need to carry 2x spare AAA batteries. If this one ever breaks I will get the newer version of this which is waterproof.


Battery pack – Anker powercore 20100 battery pack

I am always worried about running out of power because I use my phone for everything so I carry this monster. Yeah it’s heavy, but I have never run out of power. I am replacing my one for a new one (same model) this year because one of the USB ports doesn’t work and it is past the 18 month warranty.

Also need to carry the USB cable to charge it with.


Wall plug – Anker dual USB

This has been my goto American charger since 2015. I chose it because the prongs fold away and it has 2 USB ports – Important for hiker dense areas where the sockets are like gold dust!


**NEW** Smartphone –  iPhone X

Well, I am pretty excited about this. I have used my iPhone 6 for the last 3 years and it is getting slow and the battery life isn’t great, so after a lot of deliberation I have decided to upgrade to the iPhone X.

I use my phone for everything. Navigation, entertainment, writing my blog, communication with home, camera etc so it is a pretty important item for me. I got a temp job purely to pay for it. I will wait until I get to the States to buy it because it’s cheaper!

I will also carry the USB charging cable and I will use the standard Apple headphones. I would like to try the wireless headphones but concerned about how much extra battery they will use.


**SORT OF NEW** Phone case– Lifeproof Frè case

My phone has been in a Lifeproof case for its whole life. There isn’t a scratch on it. It even went for a ride down the Whanganui river in my pocket and it was completely water tight. So of course I have to get a new one to protect my new phone. They are expensive but worth it, and if you aren’t fussy about the colour you can go for the cheapest one, which is why I got this weird green colour!

Lifeproof also have really good customer service. The waterproof seal for the charging port fell out of my case and I wrote to them asking for a replacement seal. They sent me a complete new case.


Clothing worn

 

Hat – to be confirmed

I have spent the last three thru-hikes wearing a visor. I love a visor because it stops my head getting too hot but still keeps the sun out of my eyes. But, it has absolutely destroyed my hair! So this year I am going to try a cap.


**NEW** Top – Montane long sleeve half zip

I like to wear a long sleeve top while I’m hiking. I don’t like my arms to rub against the straps of the pack and I don’t like wearing suncream because it makes you all sticky and gross. I have gone for the mens version because the shape is more comfortable and the colour is nicer! I find being able to cover and uncover your wrists really helps with temperature regulation – is that weird?

I really want to be one of those hikers who wears a button down shirt with a jazzy pattern from a thrift store, but I am just not cool enough.

Previously I have always worn Sweaty Betty tops but they rather annoyingly have stopped making the top I like 🙁


**NEW** Shorts – Sweaty Betty Contour

I like wearing tight shorts because of fear of the chub rub. Again, I would like to wear those miniature running shorts that the cool crew wear but chafe is not at all funny. Nike have stopped doing the ones I have been wearing, so I have these massively overpriced Sweaty Betty ones instead.


**SORT OF NEW** Sports bra – SportJock Super

Unfortunately I have assets that require a lot of support. As much as I would like to be able to, I can’t get away with no bra or a pretty spaghetti strap. This is just a new version of my old one because the old one has lost all its elastic 🙁

I have never found anything to replace this sports bra yet and believe me I have spent a lot of time looking!


Knickers – Marks & Spencer microfibre bikini

I have been wearing these knickers for years. I have replacement ones occasionally, but the last ones I wore until they literally fell apart. Not sexy in a number of ways but oh so comfortable and oh so practical! They are microfibre with a cotton gusset and they dry super super fast because they are so thin.

I will wear one pair and carry a spare pair in my pack.


**SORT OF NEW** Socks – Darn Tough crew

I will have to buy new ones this year. The last ones made it through two thru hikes and a cycle tour of Australia. Darn Tough provide a lifetime guarantee which is awesome, but it got to a point when I was in Indonesia that I was so sick of carrying stinky socks full of holes around with me, and not knowing when I would be going back to the states to claim my guarantee, I ditched them.

I will have 2 pairs. Wearing one and one in my pack.


Injury prevention – Calf compression sleeves

I will wear these for the first few weeks and then I will probably ditch them. I tend to get mild shin splints when I start out so these really help support my legs while they are getting stronger.

!! These are not the actual ones I am using – it was just a better picture – the ones I am using are significantly cheaper than the ones pictured.


**NEW** Shoes – Altra Lone Peak 3.5 trail runners

Last year I wore the 3s, now they have brought out the 3.5s. I know these shoes work for me and I am hoping they are just a straight forward upgrade. I couldn’t find the 3s anywhere in my size otherwise I would have bought them.

Altras are one of the most popular shoes (well on the PCT they are). Nice wide toe box, good cushioning and don’t be scared of zero drop – I barely noticed the difference.

I will probably go through 2-3 pairs.


**SORT OF NEW** Trekking poles – Black Diamond trail

I got rid of my trekking poles in Australia while I was cycle touring. I didn’t need them and it felt silly to be lugging them about on my bike. They were ok but a bit battered after falling over in New Zealand so often. So these are just a replacement.

I like to hike with poles, it really helps you joint shine you’re going downhill, and I would have probably fallen twice as often without them!


Gaiters – to be confirmed

In the past I have used Dirty Girl gaiters, early in New Zealand my gaiters disintegrated after being wet for days on end. I went without them. It was ok. I haven’t yet decided if I want to replace them yet.


Extra clothes 

 

waterproof jacket

Waterproofs – ARC’TERYX Waterproof jacket

Ugh. Waterproof coats. I have never found a really good one. Unless you want to spent a small fortune or you want something that’s heavy and made for mountaineering, you get stuck with mediocre waterproof that keeps you semi dry.

They are really good for keeping out the wind and as an extra layer of insulation.

If the rain gets too much I might try out an umbrella.


Waterproofs – Berghaus Paclite Waterproof trousers

I have carried these with me for all my trips. They have been great for keeping the wind out and keeping me warm. I’m not sure how much waterproofing is left in them now! I am sure there are better options out there but these will do for now.


** SORT OF NEW** Puffy – Berghaus Ilam down jacket (past season)

I love this jacket. No longer make this exact one which is sad. This is my second one because I know some awesome people and I got lucky. My old one lasted me for three thru-hikes before the zip broke and it got really gross. Now I get to start out with a brand new one!


Puffy – Patagonia nano puff vest

Well, they call me Puff Puff for a reason. I like to carry this for insulation while I am hiking. It is synthetic so it will still perform if it gets wet, unlike down. I could get away with out it but I have always been grateful of it when I have needed it.

I have always thought they should make a puffy vest with insulation in the front and a thin back, because your back is protected by your backpack, and low and behold, they have made one! I couldn’t justify the cost this time around, and maybe if I wait they will make it in a nicer colour.


buff

Buff – Buff

Buffs are great. I think even the ultralight people have room for a buff. Hat, balaclava, neck warmer, pillow case, blindfold – really useful when you’re in a hostel!


Warm gloves – Moutain Equipment touch screen

They are warm fleecy gloves. Good for keeping your hands warm. They are supposed to work with a touch screen. They don’t. These ones have been with me a while. No reason to replace these, they work.


Waterproof glove – Montane Minimus Mitt

The problem with gloves – if they get wet they are pretty useless. I have carried these with me for all trips. The waterproofing isn’t great, but it is better than nothing. They also add an extra layer of protection from the cold. Mine have a couple of tenacious tape repair patches on.


Hat – Mountain Hardwear Micro Dome

Not the best looking hat in the world but it has kept my head warm since 2015 and I have no reason to replace it. Good for cold nights as my sleeping bad doesn’t have a hood. Layer it up with a Buff and your head will be toasty.


Camp shoes – Vivobarefoot Ultra

These also have been with me for the whole journey, they are looking a little battered now but still going. They are so light and perfect for river crossings. Although I have got used to having wet feet and just walking through the rivers without taking my shoes off now. But these are so good for camp in the evening to give your feet a chance to breathe and dry out.

I am actually undecided as to whether they are going to come with me on the AT.


Miscilanious

sea to summit bug head net

Bug net – Sea to Summit bug head net

This is teeny tiny and ultralight and it can really save your sanity. Nothing worse than a bug floating around your ears.


leathermean style cs

**SORT OF NEW** Multi tool – Leatherman CS

So my last Leatherman, which was perfect and half the size of this one broke. Ok, maybe it wasn’t so perfect, the scissors broke. It turns out they have stopped making that one – probably because of the scissor problem – but Leatherman replaced it with this one under their 25 year warranty. It is the smallest available Leatherman multi-tool.


thrupack

**NEW** Snack pocket – Thrupack summit bum

So I am trying this out for the AT and doing away with the hip belt pockets. It is basically a bum bag / fanny pack (whatever you call it where you come from) and holds 3 litres of stuff – that’s a lot of room for jelly snakes.

I have seen a few people using these and I know they are popular with the ultralight crowd (probably because they can’t fit everything in their tiny bags). I like that you can still have something attached to you when you take your bag off.

This small company is run by a hiker friend – Skunk Ape – who I met on the PCT in 2015. I write to him to ask him if he would like me as an ambassador, he said yes and sent me a Summit Bum, with comfy strap, for free.

I will let you know how I get on with it.

+ review to follow


zpacks wallet

**SORT OF NEW** Wallet – Zpacks zip pouch 

I will be carrying my Mastercard and Visa and driving licence and I like to have something to store them in. I like this little cube fibre pouch  and it replaces the one I lost in Indonesia.

Ultralight people carry their money in a ziplock.


Pedro mini tripod

**NEW** Mini tripod – Pedco Ultra II

I have read some really good reviews about this little thing. I am hoping to take some more videos on this trip so a little tripod will be really useful. And you can strap it to things and hold it like a grip so it is easier to film yourself.

+ review to follow


tripod adaptor

**NEW** Smartphone tripod adaptor – xshot

I have actually had a bit of a nightmare with this. I saw this little adaptor recommended on the AT facebook group and I though it looked pretty good. Went to order it of the website and they have taken my money, but I haven’t had a delivery, their phone number is disconnected and there is no response from their email or facebook page. So it looks like they have gone out of business. Luckily I paid via PayPal so I have raised a dispute with them and hopefully I will get my money back.

I found it on Amazon and ordered from there. Whether I will receive the delivery in time I don’t know!

+ review to follow – if I ever get one!


zpacks sewing kit

Repairs – Zpacks sewing kit

Curved needle, really strong thread, weighs 10g. What’s not to like.


Repairs – Tenacious tape

Perfect for repairing down jackets, sleeping bags, rucksacks, stuff sacks. I always have a bit of tenacious tape with me. I will probably also carry a small bit of duck tape.


Repairs – Thermarest repair patch

You probably won’t need it but if you do you’ll really pleased you have it!


Trowel – The Deuce

This is the best trowel out there. At 17g there is absolutely no excuse for anyone not to carry a trowel and adhere to the principals of Leave No Trace.


Bandana

Any old bandana will do, I like to have it on the strap of my pack to wipe my face / nose on. But it is also useful for lots of things, makeshift bandage, extra filter for gross water, cover up from the sun, towel…


Toiletries and first aid

Toilet paper – for obvious reasons – plus some moist toilet wipes because sometimes you need a bit of help. Kept in a ziplock with another ziplock for the waste paper.

Pills – I take a contraceptive pill which stops my periods completely, one thing I just don’t want to have to deal with on the trail.

Painkillers – Aleve is my painkiller of choice and I like Aleve PM – the night time ones – which help you sleep.

Toothbrush – I don’t bother cutting it in half – and a travel sized toothpaste.

Small selection of plasters  – This will help most things, anything more serious use your bandana until you can get to a medical centre.

Small pot of Lucas Papaw ointment – I used this in Australia and it is really good for chafe, or sores or rashes etc. A tiny amount will go a long way.

Tweezers – purely for the chin hair.

Safety pins x2 – always useful to have a couple of safety pins.

A couple of Peptobismol tablets – feeling sick is horrible, these settle the stomach

Allergy tablets – I don’t carry insect repellant or deet because it’s evil stuff that melts your clothes. Instead if I get bitten I take an antihistamine to stop the itching.

Lip balm – absolutely essential. Makes you feel less dehydrated and helps me sleep at night.

Neosporin – antiseptic cream, good for keeping infections away from open wounds.

Doxycycline – my doctor gave me a prescription of this because I am worried about being bitten by a tick and getting Lyme disease. Doxycycline is the antibiotic used to treat Lyme disease.


 

 

DISCLAIMER: none of these links are affiliate links, they are just there to make your life easier. Most links will take you straight to the brand, but I recommend shopping around to get the best price for things. I get a lot of stuff from Amazon because they are often the cheapest and offer easy, free returns. In the UK I like Ultralight Outdoor Gear and Cotswold Outdoor

Everything has been purchased with my own money with the exception of the Sawyer squeeze and the Thrupack, which have been gifted to me. 

 

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