Hiking Gear

For six years I've been slowly building up a collection of hiking and camping gear. Christmas gifts helped with much of this, though at times I would venture out and pick up something from a sporting goods store when finances and the wife would allow. I used this gear for a variety of deep woods hikes in the Upper Peninsula and it was far from lightweight. It wasn't until this summer that I started to be concerned about the weight of my pack. I have a nine-day excursion to Isle Royale in a few weeks and I don't want any unnecessary ounces.

For nine days I'm aiming to keep my base pack around 25 pounds. Food and water will easily add 12-15 pounds on that, bringing my starting weight to about 40. Which isn't too bad for a week and a half, I guess. Here's a breakdown of where my gear is at right now.

Packing & Camping

Backpack Scheels Classic 4500 74 oz
Shelter Kelty Scheels Classic 2 Man 66 oz
Sleeping Bag Kelty Dualist 20 49 oz
Compression Sack Alps Compression (S) 10 oz
Pad Klymite X-Lite 6.1 oz
Pack Pillow Klymite X-Pillow 2.6 oz
  Subtotal 12 lbs 15.7 oz

This category has seen a lot of improvement over the last few months. I've shaved off over four pounds by upgrading the bag and pad alone. I'm not in a huge rush on the rest. The pack was a gift from my parents and is really nice, even if it is heavy, and the tent has been with my for a very long time. The inside is smeared with dirt and squashed mosquito blood from dozens of weekend outings. Maybe when some irreparable damage shows up in five years from now I'll look for a lighter pack and tent.

Packed Clothing

Jacket Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer 7.2 oz
Hat Smartwool Balaclava 1.6 oz
Gloves REI Minimalist 3.5 oz
Poncho Outdoor Backpacking Poncho 12.3 oz
Rain Pants Columbia Tall Rebel Roamer 12.2 oz
Shirt Runners World Long Sleve 8 oz
Boxers Underarmour Boxerjocks (2) 5.2 oz
Socks Smart Wool (2) 7.8 oz
Socks (ancient wool socks) 4.2 oz
Sandals Teva Terra Fi Lite 26 oz
Knee Brace Mueller Knee Brace 10 oz
Stuff Sack 8 L Stuff Sack 0.7 oz
  Subtotal 6 lbs 2.7 oz

This gear is newer. I've never worried about a poncho, or the right clothing to last through multiple days of changing weather, or really anything outside of a few extra t-shirts. After a lot of research and questions it looks like most people interested in the weight of their pack will just rotate through a few sets of wool or synthetic clothes, switching out wet for dry, and do laundry every couple of days.

Will a combination of base layer, long sleeve shirt, and mid-layer wool jacket be enough for the cool temperatures of Lake Superior? I sure hope so. It'll definitely last through the other types of backpacking that Arizona has to offer. Phoenix only gets below fifty at night for a short portion of the year and more appealing locations like Payson and Flagstaff do dip below freezing. I remember all too well what a brisk wind, cold drizzle, and freezing temperatures feel like from Michigan.

Cooking & Water

Stove MSR Pocket Rocket 3.9 oz
Fuel IsoPro 8oz 12.2 oz
Cookpot TOAKS 600 ML 2.9 oz
Utensil Light my Fire Spork 0.9 oz
Mug (cheap plastic from Walmart) 1.3 oz
Matches (tbd) 0.4 oz
Filter MSR Miniworks 16 oz
Container 1 L Hydro Flask 16 oz
Sack 12 L Stuff Sack 0.9 oz
Sack 5 L Stuff Sack 0.5 oz
  Subtotal 3 lbs 7oz

A gas stove is a terrifying and wonderful new addition to my gear. For years I would start a little fire from birch bark and twigs just large enough to boil some water in my old teapot, huddling over the meager heat that it offered. Dangling a teapot with one hand and keeping the fire going with the other was standard pre-dinner fare, and it would often take more than ten minutes before I was ready to mix things together.

Many parks do not even allow campfires, or in the case of a state like Arizona, there just isn't any fuel to burn. With the gas and stove it takes less time and I don't have to do anything. I just light it and step back and feel incredibly luxurious.


Map Nat Geo Topo 3 oz
Light Petzl Tikka Plus 2.7 oz
First Aid Medical Kit .7 3.7 oz
Knife (generic jacknife) 4 oz
Cord Paracord 30' 2.3 oz
Body Wash Sea to Summit Body Wash 0.7 oz
Laundry Sea to Summit Laundry 0.5 oz
Meds Excedrin 0.5 oz
Foot Powder Gold Bond 1.4 oz
Cloth REI Cloth 0.8 oz
Towel REI Towel 9.6 oz
Chapstick (generic chapstick) 0.5 oz
Toothbrush (generic travel toothbrush) 0.5 oz
Sack 8 L Stuff Sack 0.7 oz
  Subtotal 1 lb 14.9 oz

This is the basic list of hygeine-related things with nothing too ground-breaking in it. Soap could be bundled into a single entry (using the same stuff to wash both me and my laundry) but the Sea to Summit stuff is so light it's not worth fretting over. I plan on swimming in Lake Superior near every night so I'm okay with a heavy, absorbant towel. Other than that, standard fare.

Luxury Items

Camera Olympus XZ-2 12.6 oz
Camera Case USA Gear Camera Case 1.8 oz
Kindle Kindle Paperwhite 11.9 oz
Travel Journal (cheap half-journal from Wal-Mart) 3.3 oz
Alarm Clock Casio PQ-13 2.2 oz
  Subtotal 1 lb 15.8 oz

There are a few interesting things here (like the Kindle) that I'm bringing along just because. If I'm on the Minong Trail for a few days and don't see any one at the camp, or if I'm just feeling antisocial, I'd rather bring along a few books to help pass the time. One of my weaknesses is an impatience - I don't like to waste daylight. I'd rather hike from sun up to sun down. Reading a book on a Lake Superior beach will hopefully slow me down a bit and give my body a chance to recover.

Another thing to point out is what's not on this list. I'm not bringing my GPS. Nor am I bringing a phone. I don't want to be contacted or accessible during this trip. I don't want to be obsessively checking my GPS to track my distance. Instead, I want to rely on a physical map and my rudimentary route-finding skills. Plus, it'll be nice to not worry about battery life.

Worn Clothing

Base Layer Terramer Silk Baselayer 6.8 oz
Shirt Runner's World Long Sleve 8 oz
Pants Scheels Convertible 15 oz
Belt Bison Last Chance 3.8 oz
Underwear Ex-Officio Boxer Briefs 3.2 oz
Socks (ancient wool socks) 4.2 oz
Boots Vasque Breeze Boots 58.4 oz
Hat REI Boonie Hat 2.5 oz
Trekking Poles Komperdell Carbon Vario 4 31 oz
  Subtotal 8 lbs 4.9 oz

Even though this isn't packed gear, and shouldn't count towards my weight, there are some good pieces here I wanted to include. My pants have lasted a solid four years already and have yet to tear or show signs of wear. And my boots, for how heavy and old they are getting, is one of my favorite pieces of gear.

Trekking Poles are new. I had hoped to do some experimenting with them before hauling them along and had considered them a worthless accessory that only scratches up the trail. After talking to a few experienced hikers I began to realize that they may have strong benefits, especially for distributing the weight of a backpack. I've only used them once so far with mixed results. Hopefully they'll worth the hassle of bringing along.


Packing & Camping   12 lbs 15.7 oz
Packed Clothing   6 lbs 2.7 oz
Cooking & Water   3 lbs 7oz
Miscellaneous   1 lb 14.9 oz
Luxury Items   1 lb 15.8 oz
  Base Weight 26 lbs 8.1 oz
Food 9 days of food 10 lbs
Water 1 liter 2 lbs 3 oz
  Total Weight 38 lbs 11.1 oz

Will this be enough? I sure hope so. Food is a bit light, though I've done a few trials and don't really need more than a pound a day. I aim for a very high calorie to weight ratio and have yet to feel hungry at the end of a hike. On my last backpack I tried eating 2500 calories on the second date and felt disgustingly overstuffed at the end of the day. I don't mind going a little hungry here and there, especially if the trip has potential resupply stations (Windigo is right in the middle of my planned route).

40 lbs is still quite a bit. There are some items that I don't want to let go of quite yet and some gear that I should upgrade. For a week and a half this could work. Hopefully. When I get back I'll probably have a much better idea of what did and didn't work out.