Backpacking Gear: A List

October 24th, 2010 by

Hiking along the lateral moraine of Kennicott Glacier, near Mount Blackburn, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Hiking along the lateral moraine of Kennicott Glacier, near Mount Blackburn, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Now THAT'S an ultra-light backpacking system. 🙂 Please click on the image above to view a larger version of the photo.

Hey Folks,

OK, here’s a list of my backpacking gear I thought I might put together, and have taken WAY too long to get it online. I would like to preface this post with a comment about gear; backpacking is NOT about gear, and I’m not a big advocate of the all too common push to make it about that.

Backpacking is about being ‘there‘. The gear can help facilitate doing that comfortably, but don’t think that this piece of gear or that piece of gear will magically turn a disastrous trip into a glorious one. And don’t think your pack will suddenly become unbelievably light because you buy an expensive down sleeping bag, and that you’ll now start prancing up over those mountains. Everything is part of a SYSTEM, and learning how to manage that system (including carrying it) is integral to having a good kit.

That said, here it is; hopefully, this list might be useful to someone wanting to look at what gear I use, or what backpacking gear they might want to look into if they’re heading to Alaska. It’s not at all a list of ALL the gear I have/use, but a general list of the gear I typically bring on a trip. That list varies from trip to trip, depending on a number of factors, but it’s rare that I don’t bring at least something close to this:


  1. Mystery Ranch G5000, or
  2. My alternative pack is a Dana Designs Alpine pack.


  1. Mountain Hardwear Skyledge 2, or, depending on the trip, a
  2. Big Agnes Seedhouse SL1, or
  3. Sierra Designs Tiros Assault CD (winter)

Sleeping Pad:

  1. usually a 3/4 length Thermarest (the little yellow ones they no longer make), or
  2. EXPED Downmat 9 (winter)

Sleeping Bag:

  1. Western Mountaineering Ultralite 20degF down bag
  2. Mountain Hardwear Ghost -40degF down bag (winter)
  3. NB: I now use a lightweight cotton bag liner, as well; saves on cleaning those down sleeping bags.

Rain Shell:

  1. REI Shuksan jacket
  2. Arcteryx Alpha SL pant

Insulating Layers:

  1. Patagonia Merino Wool 3 Crew.
  2. Patagonia Merino Wool 2 Bottoms
  3. Patagonia R1 full-zip jacket
  4. Montbell Ex Light Down jacket (or Montbell U.L. Thermawrap jacket)
  5. The North Face fleece (polartec 200 weight) pants (optional)

Hiking clothes:

  1. 1 pair Arcteryx Palisade Pants
  2. 1 Long-sleeve nylon shirt (no particular brand/model) 🙂
  3. 1 pair Patagonia Baggies shorts (optional – if I think I’ll score lucky weather)
  4. 1 polyester or cotton t-shirt (optional)

Socks: Typically, I bring 2 pair of silk liners, and 2 pair of hiking/backpacking socks and 1 pair of thick, warm “camp socks”. That includes what I wear on Day 1. Eg;

  • 2 x REI wool expedition or hiking socks, or similar (expedition trekking) by Smart Wool
  • 2 x Any silk (or similar)  liner socks
  • 1 x Patagonia Ultra Heavyweight Mountaineering socks for camp.


  • For hiking, some kind of lightweight lycra athletic/running short (Nike or similar)
  • 1 x cotton boxers for camp/bedtime.


  1. Depending on terrain, I’ll wear either a pair of the Moran GTX and a pair of Powermatic 200GVs. I’ve also worn, and like, Asolo FSN 95 GTX, Fugitive GTX, Flame GTX, Revenge GTX, etc.
  2. Worn various and sundry other boot models, some fit me well, some don’t. Find what works FOR YOU.

Campshoe or River crossing shoe:

  1. Crocs Trailbreaker model, or
  2. Home-modified regular crocs (add a short cord to help fasten more securely).

Dinner stuff:

  • Either MSR Simmerlite (w/ 1 REI 0.9l Ti Ware pot), or
  • Jetboil, w/ appropriate fuel/canister/s
  • Antigravitygear 3-cup insulated bowl
  • REI insulated mug
  • Lexan knife, fork and spoon
  • Some kind of Gerber lightweight sharp knife (which I currently have no idea where it is)


  • 1 wool beanie (or, my ever faithful, near legendary, Lowe Alpine Mountain Cap
  • 1 pair of OR PL 400 gloves
  • 1 cotton baseball cap
  • 1 pair sunglasses (no particular brand – I found most the glasses I own), attached via croakies
  • 1 cotton bandana
  • 1 small pack towel (optional)
  • 1 Integral Designs sylnylon  8’x10′ tarp and MSR Groundhog stakes
  • 1 Leki Makalu trekking pole (I use one pole, not the pair)
  • 1 REI Duck’s Back Rain Cover 100L (rain cover for my pack)
  • 1 Bear Vault BV500 (Bear resistant food canister)

More sundries:

  • Iridium 9500 satellite phone
  • 1 x BLS medical kit (assorted whatnots to keep you alive)
  • 1 x small first aid kit (assorted whatnots to keep me alive)
  • 1 x small roll of duct tape
  • Depending on time of year, a Petzl Tikka Plus headlamp (much of the Alaskan summer I don’t carry a headlamp)
  • 1 Nalgene water bottle
  • 1 canister of Counter Assault Bear Spray
  • 2 x some kinda small 2-way radios
  • U-Dig-It Stainless Steel trowel and roll of toilet paper
  • 1 x Silva compass
  • 1 x leatherman tool (or similar)
  • Nat Geo/USGS topo map/s
  • Decent book to read (my next one = “The Voice of the Earth”, by Theodore Roszak)

Camera Gear:

  • 1 x camera body (either a Nikon D300s or D2x) w/ attached Arca-Swiss QR plate
  • various lenses – depends of the trip (could be anything from 12mm to 500mm)
  • Singh Ray GND filters, HOYA polarizer
  • Gitzo G1058 tripod, and a small ballhead, w/ Arca-Swiss QR system
  • SanDisk CF cards
  • spare camera batteries
  • Nikon Trailbreaker binocs


  • 1 x Thermarest pad chair kit, usually referred to as ‘the throne’

I think that covers it all. I’ll have to check next trip, but it seems about right. Next up, is how the heck does all this fit in a pack? 🙂



Backpacking gear; packing up camp in the morning. Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Backpacking gear; packing up camp in the morning, at Hidden Creek. Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

If you like it, share it!

    7 Responses to “Backpacking Gear: A List”

    1. Ron Niebrugge Says:

      Great list Carl! How about bug dope?

    2. Carl Says:

      Hey Ron,

      Thanks. Very rarely .. I bring bug dope on the rafting trip to the refuge, and that’s about it. But I usually head out to places I know (or have a good guess) that bugs won’t be a problem.

      And the big caveat here is

      Lots of people on the trips bring bug dope, and use it. I’m pretty lucky, I guess, and they rarely bother me, unless they’re really bad. But on average, I would say most folks bring and use at least a little bug spray. Good call.




    3. Chuck Swinehart Says:

      1 REI 0.9l Ti Ware pot….what’s up with this???? I thought you liked “Little T” and the tight fitting lid.

    4. Ron Niebrugge Says:

      Hi Carl,

      Yeah, I rarely notice the bugs either – I guess we are fortunate that way – seems like others will start complaining about them before I even notice them. Good list!

    5. Carl Says:

      Hey Chuck

      ha ha .. yeah, I looooove “Little T”. Best piece of gear in Alaska all summer, 2010. … NOT!!! 🙂

      Hey Ron – Thanks. We should go hiking together. 🙂



    6. Carl Says:

      Hey Folks

      Add a Western Mountaineering Lynx, GWS to the list. My -10deg bag for cold weather, but not insanely cold. Rockin’ bag.



    7. kevin Lim Says:

      Great backpacking list. I really enjoy reading on it, but I think if I’ll bring that all in my backpack my backpack will be going heavy. But interesting and a very nice tips and it’s all for your safety too.

    I'd love to hear from you - please leave a reply;

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