What if I Had to Buy All New Gear!


“Every sunset brings the promise of a new dawn.”

Rather than do an end of year gear review, what if I were to completely start all over! “What if…” I started 2017 off with absolutely no backpacking gear or clothing, only the knowledge and the experience I have gained from both the gear I have had in the past, and my on-trail experiences up to this point? In this post, I would like to pretend like I had to start all over and create a (near) complete list of gear and clothing that I would buy, all brand new and from what is available at the time of this writing. The gear I will choose will need to be able to get me out at just about anytime of the year, whether it is for an overnight or a thru hike (along the AT) and would need to keep me safe in temps from around 10F and up. I feel like this in itself would say a lot for the items I would now choose. So, follow along and check it out, but first, let me start from the beginning…

In March of 2009 I heard about the lodge on top of Mt LeConte, which later that day lead me to a map in the Sugarland Visitor Center in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. This is where I noticed a green dotted line that ran from one edge of the park to the other… a few days later when doing a bit of research on this line, I realized that it was called the Appalachian Trail, and that it ran much farther than just from one end of the Smokies to the other…

That’s when I was bit by the backpacking bug, and since then I have been on a journey like most others in my situation… Well, sorta… We all “hike our own hike” and find our own way, even if it is down the same, well-worn, beaten path that winds its way almost 2,200 miles and is called the Appalachian Trail… or any other trail for that matter!


One of many signs along the AT, this one is at Newfound Gap.

There has been 2 “problems” that I have encountered since diving into this new hobby called backpacking. The first is that since I live in northeast Mississippi, there aren’t too many trails to hike along, much less to backpack along that is near me. Sure there are a couple of State Parks within an hour or so of me, and yes, they do have a couple of walking trails, but they are nothing like what I have come to dream about. For me, it takes a minimum of a 6 hour drive, one way, to reach the closest section of the Appalachian Trail! That’s a minimum of 300 miles one way… And like others, between work and family, it’s hard for me to break away for any length of time to get in a good hike when it is so far away. Saying that, I generally try to make 5 or more multi-night trips a year. This year I have made 5 drives, which put 4,300 miles on my car, and approximately 70 hours behind the wheel!

The second “problem” is that since the area I live in isn’t necessarily a backpacking, or even an “outdoorsy” area, there are a grand total of zero places for me to acquire real backpacking gear that is near me. The closest REI is 3.5 hours away. For this reason, over the years I have bought nearly 100% of the gear I have now (or have owned in the past), online. For me, I typically have not been able to lay my own hands on gear before purchasing it, so I have had to really lean heavily into online reviews and discussions for information on gear and clothing (and clothing is the worst because of how each item fits). But, this is where my blog has really come into play…

I started (and continue) my blog for a couple of reasons. First, I use it to share my trips with my family and friends, as well as to have a place to simply document all of my hikes. Secondly, I use my blog to document (and share) my progression with gear and clothing. I take my blog very seriously in that I try to accurately recall each trip and document it as closely as I can with words, photo’s and (long) videos. As well (and maybe even more importantly), I strive to provide honest, in-depth, and thought out “gear reviews.” I know that there are other people in the same situations as I am when it comes to purchasing gear online, so I do my very best to include any and all information I feel is relevant and thought-provoking to help understand a piece of gear, both by itself, and as part of a larger, more integrated system. (This is also why my video’s and post’s are so long-winded!)

159-mt-rogers-hike-159Each piece of gear should hold its own, as well as compliment the greater system.

Saying this about gear, over the years since maintaining my blog, there have been a few items I have received for free, or at a discounted price. I am not going to lie, this can be quite controversial. Because of this, each item I have accepted was first considered carefully by me. If it was something that I wouldn’t, or didn’t want to use, I simply did not accept it. The things I did accept fell within a certain weight limit and was something that would replace something I wasn’t already totally happy with. Basically, they were items that I was genuinely interested in, and more than likely I would have eventually gotten around to purchasing anyway. By going with only these items I did not have to force anything in my reviews and was able to provide an honest and well thought out, concise review.

As well, I never asked anyone, or any company for any gear, I was always contacted first from the companies. I promised the companies I did accept items from that I would provide an honest report of the item, good or bad. However, I have always emailed the companies and discussed details as well. I prefer not to bash a company or an item just because a product did not work for me. Don’t confuse that with a product that failed though… With each piece of gear I have accepted and reviewed though, I have done so with an open mind, and strived to provide an honest review.

(On another note, I also make efforts to never tell anyone else if a piece of gear will work for them or not. One thing I learned from working with Backpackgeartest.org is that I do not know how something will work for anyone except myself. We all have different expectations and needs. For this reason, I tend to express my reviews as how an item performed for me in the conditions I used them in, and how it performed on its own, as well as within the rest of the system. From here I am happy to discuss a piece of gear with my viewers and hopefully can help them reach the best idea possible without them actually using the gear.)

So, what does this all mean? Well, over the years I have purchased more than my fair share of gear, and as I mentioned, a few things have also been provided to me. Sure, there are other hikers out there with a lot more experience than I have, both on the trail and with a more diverse selection of gear. But, that doesn’t take away from my own knowledge and experiences, however, I know what I like, and for the areas and conditions in which I hike in. Due to this, I am more than confident that I am capable of selecting a complete set-up that is light weight, comfortable and keeps me safe while outdoors. In this post, I plan to use one of my previous gear lists as a template, and then completely fill it with items that are on the market today.

Before I get started though, I would like to say that I do prefer to carry a less heavy pack. There are labels to apply to certain pack weights, but I will try to refrain from using them here. Instead, I will say that I would like to keep my pack at a comfortable weight. Whether I am walking down the trail, or hanging out at camp, I want to be smiling!


So, I’ll get started! I am going to use my most recent solo gear list spreadsheet as a template to run though (note, the linked spreadsheet is the actual gear list from that particular hike and does not represent the gear in this post; the following numbered list is the list intended for this post):

  1. Backpack: I would definitely stick with the ZPacks Arc Blast. ($385 – 23.5 oz) This has been a truly amazing pack! It’s light weight, fits me comfortably, waterproof and the mesh back keeps my back cooler than other packs. I absolutely love mine, and the newer updated ones have some nice features over the old one that makes them easy to know which one to buy. As for the options on it, I would add 2 hip belt pockets, a lumbar pad and request that it did not have a hydration port (if they will still do this). I would still choose the color green with black accents too!
  2. Pack liner: I have been using the ones from LiteTrail and they are great, however, LiteTrail is no longer around. So, I would likely go with the MLD pack liners. ($5 for 2 – 1.2 oz) I like that these are clear so I can see through them. Also, the backpack itself is essentially waterproof, so these are really a back-up. The ones from LiteTrail, which are similar to these MLD liners have been considerably durable.
  3. Shelter: If I had to choose just one, I would go with the ZPacks Duplex. ($599 – 21 oz) I will admit, I would love to have a modular shelter instead, but ZPacks no longer sells the Hexanet. But, the Duplex is a very sweet set-up. Lots of head room and length, and it will fit 2, but at 45″ it would be a little close. That’s not a problem though as I only share a shelter with my wife or kids, so I don’t mind being close. It’s great that 2 can fit though, and for one person, it is very spacious! Plenty of room to spread out. And while it is a single wall set-up, both doors open up wide and offer great views and plenty of ventilation. And at 21 oz’s it is light enough to carry for either one or 2 people!
  4. Ground Sheet: I prefer to use a ground sheet under all of my shelter floors. It keeps them cleaner, and it helps prolong the life of the floor. There are several options to go with here, but I would go with a polycro UL Ground Cloth from MLD. ($8 – 2.4 oz)
  5. Guylines: I prefer to have guy lines with reflective tracers in them for easy visibility at night (I tend to trip over them…) As suggested by ZPacks, I would tie loops in the ends of the cord, but I would use the Picharpak Workshops 1.1 mm Dyneema reflective cord ($17 – 0.45 oz for 33′) to keep it simple and light.
  6. Stakes: The Duplex tent requires 8 stakes (4 @ the corners, 2 @ the sides, and 2 in the center of each end). Without a doubt I would pick up 6 of Lawson Kline’s 6.5″ Titanium stakes ($12 – 1.68 oz) to use at each end, and 2 of the MSR Carbon Core stakes ($35 for 4 – 0.2 oz each) to use on the 2 sides. As well, I would pick up a ZPacks cuben fiber stake sack ($6 – 0.9 oz) to store them in.
  7. Sleeping Pad: In cool weather I would go with a large Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XLite ($190 – 16 oz). When temperatures dropped below its comfortable range, I would add a torso sized cut down piece of Gossamer Gear 1/4″ Thinlight pad ($39 – about 5 oz after cutting it down) to the TOP of the XLite to increase warmth rating. (As an alternative, I could carry just the Thinlight pad during warm hikes, although that would depend on where I was camping… on a floor in a shelter, nope, otherwise, maybe.)
  8. Sleeping Bag: I would go with 2 quilts for this. For cold weather, I would go with a ZPacks 10F bag in a standard width and a X-long length, standard zipper and no other options ($455 – 24.7 oz). For warmer weather I would go with a Enlightened Equipment 50F Prodigy quilt in a regular length and width, and 10D inside and out ($160 – 12.44 oz).
  9. Pillow: I would start by placing the Exped UL Air Pillow ($49 – 2.1 oz) inside a GooseFeet Gear Down Stuff Sack Pillow ($45 – 2.2 oz) made with 10D and stuffed with 1.5 oz of down fill.
  10. Cook Kit: Choosing just one would be tough, lol! Just assuming I was boiling water on occasion and actually cooking in a cook pot the rest of the time, I would go with the 0.9L Evernew UL titanium ECA252 cook pot ($57 – 4.1 oz) and a Soto OD-1RX Windmaster stove ($75 – 2.3 oz w/ Triflex pot support). I would opt for a Toak’s Titanium Long Handle Spoon w/ Polished Bowl ($11 – 0.65 oz) so that it would work even if I ate from a bag. In cooler weather I would also pack a MLD 475 ml titanium mug ($30 – 1.3 oz) to drink coffee from, and slide it in a cut-down Hikertrash coozie (free w/ any purchase – 1 oz) to keep it from burning my hands, and use a pair of Snow Peak Hot Lips ($7 for 2 – 0.3 oz) to keep it from burning my lips. I would always pack a simple Mini Bic for a back-up fire source ($1 – 0.4 oz) and a MSR Ultralite Microfiber Face towel ($15 – 0.5 oz) to clean up with. Last, but not least, I would use a ZPacks cuben fiber cook pot stuff sack ($15 – 1.2 oz) to contain the kit.
  11. Rain Gear: I would use a MLD cuben fiber Poncho ($175 – 5 oz) to cover my body and my pack, a ZPacks Cuben Fiber Rain kilt ($59 – 1.9 oz) to cover my upper legs, and the MLD LightSnow Gaiters ($55 – 2.5 oz) to cover my lower legs (I would actually wear these gaiters any time while hiking). I would also carry a Swing LiteFlex Silver Umbrella ($45 – 8.1 oz) for sun and rain protection.
  12. Packed Clothes: Besides 1 extra pair of socks and underwear, I would only carry extra clothes when it is cool or cold. These will be extra insulating pieces to wear while at camp, or other times if needed. In warm or cool weather, I would carry an extra pair of Smartwool UltraLite Mini socks ($14 – 1.3 oz). In cold weather I would carry an extra pair of Smartwool Medium Weight Crew socks ($21 – 2 oz) and a pair of GooseFeet Gear down socks ($65 – 2.4 oz). For any trip more than 3 days long, I would carry one extra pair of UA Original Series 9″ Boxerjocks ($20 – 2.5 oz). For cooler weather I would carry a pair of Patagonia Lightweight Long Bottoms ($49 – 3.4 oz), while in cold weather I would carry a pair of custom GooseFeet Gear down pants (price and weight varies – mine were $160 and 6.2 oz with 3.5 oz of down fill). Up top I would use a custom GooseFeet Gear Down Anorak (price and weight varies – mine was $310 and 7.7 oz). For my hands in cool weather I would carry a pair of OR PL 150 Sensor gloves ($31 – 1.7 oz) as a base layer. In cold weather I would add a pair of Enlightened Equipment Stronghold mittens ($55 – 2.25 oz) w/ 4 oz Climashield Apex as an insulating layer and the MLD eVENT Rain Mitts ($45 – 1.5 oz) as a top layer. In cold weather I would also use an Original Buff ($20 -1.3 oz) for neck and face warmth, and the Black Rock Gear Original Down Beanie ($70 – 0.9 oz) on my noggin!
  13. Ditty Bag: This is a very personal option and everyone’s will vary. I would stick with what I am currently carrying, which can be viewed on my spreadsheet here and comes in at 8.78 oz (at the time of this writing). The cost of all items included is likely around $80 or so, however, that is because items such as ibuprofen, zip ties, batteries, fire starters, etc… are bought in bulk. The “big-ticket” items are things such as the ditty bag itself, the fire steel, and Loksaks…
  14. Food Bag: I would go with a rectangular shaped ZPacks Blast food bag with a roll top closure ($39 – 1.4 oz) lined with a cut down MLD pack liner listed above (already purchased – 0.8 oz). I would use Lawson Kline’s reflective UltraGlide Bear Bagging line ($15 for 50′ hank – 1.7 oz) and secure the bag to the line with a ZPacks Mini-D carabiner ($1.75 – 0.1 oz).
  15. Water Filter: I would pick up a Sawyer Mini water filter ($20 – 2 oz) and carry the Sawyer 64 oz Squeezable Bag ($10 for 2 – 1.4 oz). I would also carry a cut-down Smartwater bottle ($1 – 0.4 oz) to scoop water from puddles, and use two 20 oz Gatorade bottles ($1 each – 1.3 oz each) to drink from while hiking.
  16. Headlamp: I would pick up a ZebraLight H52w headlamp ($64) and then DIY a headband from an elastic strap ($2) and shove a Lithium AA battery inside the lamp (~$9 for 4). The total weight is 2 oz.
  17. Other miscellaneous items: I would carry a Deuce of Spades Potty Trowel ($20 – 0.6 oz) to dig cat holes when necessary, and about 2 oz of toilet paper and a small bottle of Germ-X ($1 – 2 oz) inside a Ziplock bag. I would also carry a Therm-A-Rest Z Seat ($15 – 2 oz) for a little extra cushion and warmth on those cold, hard logs. I would carry a phone for photos (currently an iPhone 6s w/ case and screen protector – 5.6 oz) and an Anker 6400 mAh battery charger ($21 at time of writing – 4.8 oz) with a small USB to lightening/micro USB cord ($10.50 at time of writing – 0.3 oz). I would also carry the supplied Apple ear buds (0.37 oz) with my phone to listen to music and movies. As part of my worn/carried weight, I would use a pair of Locus Gear CP3 trekking poles (~ $125 – 10.6 oz/pair). I would also carry a Photon Micro Light II key chain light ($12 – 0.21 oz) and a Storm Safety Whistle ($6.50 – 0.45 oz) on a small loop of cord in my pants cargo pocket.
  18. Worn clothes: Items I would always wear include the above mentioned UA 9″ Boxerjock underwear ($20 – 2.5 oz) and the Columbia Silver Ridge II Convertible Pants w/ Belt ($60 – 12.2 oz). If temperatures were warm, I would remove the legs from the pants and would use the Mountain Hard Wear Wicked Lite T Shirt ($35 – 4.2 oz) and the above mentioned Smartwool UltraLite Mini Socks ($14 – 1.3 oz). I would also wear the ZPacks Trucker Hat (not available at this time – 1.8 oz). If temps were cool I would leave the pants legs attached and wear the Patagonia Capilene Lightweight Long Sleeve Crew shirt ($49 – 3.5 oz), then layer the ZPacks Wind Shell Jacket ($115 – 1.95 oz) over it as needed. As temperatures continued to drop I would wear the above mentioned Smartwool medium weight crew socks ($21 – 2 oz) and add in the Patagonia Capilene Thermal Weight Zip Neck Hoody ($119 – 7.7 oz) over the Capilene lightweight long sleeve shirt.

So, I think that just about covers the entire gear list. There may be a few small things I forgot to mention, but none that I can think of at the moment. I did not mention a camera to shoot video since I have been going back and forth on this lately. I can always use my phone, but I have always preferred a camera for video since it takes up so much room on a phone. I dunno… this I would have to think about more. I also did not mention a watch. I have worn the Suunto Core and it has been fine, but as of late, I have simply been wearing my Webbem Traveler Watch everywhere I go, even while hiking! I have gotten to where I don’t pay much attention to the watch all that much since the Appalachian Trial (where I do most of my hiking) is so well-marked. Saying that, after reading a recent post by Andrew Skurka I have been interested in the Suunto Ambit 3 watch… Other than this I also did not mention maps as they will vary from trail to trail, although, my choice of “maps” for the AT has been the Mapdana Elevation Profile maps, about $4 each and 1.7 oz. I also did not mention shoes… currently I am using Inov-8 Roclite 243’s in warm weather and Inov-8 Roclite 315’s in cold weather. And far as I can tell, neither of these are options to buy any longer… Since both of these pairs are starting to wear out, at this point I would have to do more research on shoes to figure out which ones I would want to go with from here on out…


Many of the items listed above are items I already use so I know they will work, however, there are a few that I have no experience with, such as the Soto Windmaster stove, the ZPacks Duplex, the Locus Gear CP3 poles, and a few other items. I decided on these items based on trusted reviews and overwhelming user responses, both online and in person. A few items I have not used, but have had in hand at one time or another (namely the ZPacks Duplex and wind shell, and the Locus Gear CP3 poles, among others). As well, some items are essentially identical to items I am already using, but are no longer available. For example, the Toak’s long handle polished bowl spoon is very similar to my REI long handle TiWare spoon (note, I like these because of the long handle to reach deep in bags, and the polished bowl feels more like a normal spoon). On the flip side of the coin, some items have merely been “updated” since I purchased mine, such as the ZPacks cuben fiber rain kilt, which I bought in early 2011.

As for weights, when possible, I quoted the listed weights on the actual product website. Obviously these will vary due to inaccurate listings, clothing that is different sizes, and of course due to modifications once in hand. On a couple of items I did not list the given weight because I know I would not use it in its supplied state, such as the ZebraLight and the cut down Smartwater bottle. For these items I listed my current weights since I own them already. I also listed each items MSRP from the actual product website for each item when possible, but of course many of the items above can be found elsewhere, and at a lesser price point. I also did not include the cost of shipping for any of the items since many items could be bought together which would reduce cost’s, or from completely different sites which may even offer free shipping!

When selecting the items listed above, my priorities were based on the overall quality of the gear, the comfort the gear provided, how safe it was, and last (but not least), how much it cost. Price was not last because I am “rich” but because I prefer to use gear that I know works, and will last me a looong time, so I don’t mind paying for what something is actually worth to me. And as I mentioned above I am trying to refrain from weight labels, not that weight is a non issue, because it is a very important consideration, but with my past experiences, and the gear available today, it is pretty easy to have a pack weight that isn’t overwhelming.

The goal of this post was to figure out what gear and clothing I would completely start all over with today (for use in conditions and locations I am generally in, which is the Southeast), but rather than having 5 of these, 7 of those and 70 of this item, to only have 1 of everything. The only items that I would have more than 1 of would be sleeping bags and some clothing options, which would be dictated by the temperature. In my opinion, this would make choices simpler, less expensive and with more of a minimalist mindset.


So, I’ve done the fun part, running (or clicking) around filling my shopping carts with a bunch of new and exciting gear! Now it’s time to checkout though… after adding up all the listed costs above (assuming I got it correct), I came up with a grand total of $4,303.75! Yeah, I know what you are saying… that is a lot of money, and it is, however, I can look at it 2 ways:

  1. As a weekend hiker, this gear would cover me on just about any of my hikes that I would go on throughout the year. (Other things that may be required on some hikes may be Microspikes for icy conditions, and possibly some other more specific items for specific conditions – as I mentioned above, this is a “near” complete list.) But, assuming that I didn’t decide to buy gear later down the line just to try something new out, I would not need to buy hardly any other gear for years on end. In fact, the only for sure additional cost would be in fuel and food, which I would have to spend on each hike no matter what.
  2. The second way to look at it is as a “thru-hiker.” I don’t have that opportunity as of now, but if I did, I would feel very confident in these selections to carry with me on a long hike. And being that most thru hikers generally take about 5 months to hike the long trails, this would break down to about $860.75 a month, which is cheaper than my rent and utilities a month, or $28.69 a day. I couldn’t imagine trying to stay somewhere new everyday for 5 months, for less than $30 a day, and with a view!

But, in the end, I know there are folks would not want to spend this much, while others may even spend more. This is fine, and spending less (or more) is completely possible. But, with my own experiences with many of these items already, they are what I would want with me while on the trail, and I definitely feel that they are worth it to me.

So to begin wrapping this post up, I would like to categorize the items above into 3 distinct area’s, based on expected temperatures for a given hike. Depending on the expected temperature ranges, I would pick from the items listed above and carry certain items. (Note that the temperatures listed below are expected night-time temperatures.) These weights are also referred to as “Base Pack Weight” (BPW).

  • Warm weather (50F – 70F): 150.9 oz, or 9.43 lbs. This weight includes everything from #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 13, 14, 15, & 16. For #7 this weight includes the XLite pad only. For #8 this weight includes the 50F Prodigy quilt. For #10 I do not bring the mug, coozie or hot lips in warm weather. For #11 I carry everything, however, the gaiters are listed as worn/carried weight. For #12 this weight only includes the extra mini socks and underwear. For #17, the trekking poles are listed as worn/carried weight. (Note that if I did carry the Thinlight pad instead of the XLite, this weight would then be 139.78 oz, or 8.74 lbs.)
  • Cool weather (35F – 50F): 179.09 oz, or 11.19 lbs. This weight includes everything from #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 13, 14, 15, & 16. For # 7 this weight includes the XLite pad only. For #8 this weight includes the ZPacks 10F bag. For #11 I carry everything, however, the gaiters are listed as worn/carried weight. For #12 this weight includes the medium weight crew socks, underwear, long bottoms, anorak, gloves & beanie. For #17, the trekking poles are listed as worn/carried weight.
  • Cold weather (~10F – 35F): 192.84 oz, or 12.05 lbs. This weight includes everything from #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 13, 14, 15 & 16. For #8 this weight includes the ZPacks 10F bag. For # 11 I carry everything, however, the gaiters are listed as worn/carried weight. For # 12 this weight includes everything except the mini socks and lightweight long bottoms Also, in #12 the Buff and the beanie are listed as worn/carried weight. For #17, the trekking poles are listed as worn/carried weight.

Next, I’ll list the items I would carry or wear in each of the above expected temperature ranges. These are items I would either wear or carry while hiking.

  • Warm weather: 30.9 oz, or 1.93 lbs. This weight includes the gaiters from #11 and the trekking poles from #17. From #18 this weight includes the underwear, the pants (with the legs removed), the Wicked Lite T-shirt, mini socks and the ZPacks trucker hat.
  • Cool weather: 36.4 oz, or 2.28 lbs. This weight includes the gaiters from #11 and the trekking poles from #17. From #18 this weight includes the underwear, the pants, the Patagonia long sleeve crew shirt, the ZPacks wind jacket and the ZPacks trucker hat.
  • Cold weather: 45.2 oz, or 2.82 lbs. This weight includes the gaiters form #11, the Buff and the down beanie from #12, and the trekking poles from #17. From #18, this weight includes the underwear, the pants, the Patagonia long sleeve crew shirt and the Thermal weight Zip Neck Hoody, the mid weight crew length socks, and the ZPacks wind jacket.

(Note that the above worn/carried item weights do not reflect the weight of shoes or a watch. As I mentioned above, the particular shoes I now wear (but are beginning to wear out) are no longer made, so I can’t say which ones I would go with now. As for the watch, I would likely wear one, but at this point in time, which one is not as big of an issue for me.)

So, I think that pretty much wraps everything up. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, if I were to completely start over with all new gear and clothing, but with the knowledge and experience that I have come to possess over the years, these are the items that I would go with for my own backpacking needs. For me, these pieces strike a good balance between safety, performance, comfort and weight. The nice thing though is that these pieces would really cut back on having multiple pieces of essentially the same pieces of gear… And if I got my math right, the roughly $4,300 is a lot less money than I have spent over the years to come to this conclusion! (Really, I have easily spent twice that, maybe close to 3 times that… and I know that there are many others that have spent even far more than that!)

Well, that is my list, what would be your do-over list?

Thanks for stopping by!


Disclaimer: This post reflects my own thoughts. I am not being paid in any form, from anyone, to mention any of the above products. These are the products I would gladly spend my hard-earned money on, the companies I would happily put my money into, and I would be extremely happy with the outcome.

Note: This is a list of gear that I would use for my own personal trips. As I mentioned, in certain given circumstances, there may be additional items I would need to get that may not be listed above. This can only be decided by watching the weather conditions, and knowing the area I would be in. This list is only meant to be a guide to get started. Please do your own research before going outdoors for your own safety.

12/19/16: Edit to add cuben fiber stuff sack for cook kit. Cost and weights have been updated.

About Stick

My blog is essentially a record of my hiking career. Through it, I, and others, can see how I have evolved from a heavy weight backpacker, to a smarter, more efficient, lightweight backpacker. Through the use of video, still photos, and of course writing, one can see my progression, as well as check out some of the places I hike, and not to mention some cool, lightweight gear options. For me, my blog is a journal, but for others, I hope that it is an interactive learning tool to aid them in their own progression towards lightweight backpacking.
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12 Responses to What if I Had to Buy All New Gear!

  1. Brandon Essary says:

    Hey just ran across your blog awesome article. I noticed you said your from northeast Ms. I live in Booneville and work in Corinth are you anywhere close? Me and my wife just recently got into backpacking this past summer we have done all the Sipsey so far also the walls of Jericho and of course the short local stuff like tishomingo. Any ways awesome blog you and yours have a merry Christmas!


    • Stick says:


      Wow, your name sounds familiar… I actually live and work in Corinth. Small world! And it has been a while, but I have done some of Sipsey, although never the Walls of Jericho. I have heard good things about that place though…

      Anyway, it’s great to hear from you, and hope that you and yours is having a very Merry Christmas as well!



  2. Don Proctor says:

    Great post! I’ve done the same thing over the years. Looked at all the cra…uh…gear I have and thought, what if I’d done a LOT more research and made better/different choices after figuring out how to go lightweight without to much sacrificing of comfort. I think I’ve finally done that and many of your choices I now have. Still need others, but maybe I’ll get them, maybe not. One purchase I made which I now love was getting in on a Kickstarter campaign for a now product called “Sprongs” (Dutch has them on his site). They’re a combo long spoon/fork set that can be turned into a pair of tongs. Of course you can take them separately, but the beauty of them is not only their versatility, but the fact that TOGETHER they weigh the same as the Toaks long spoon (which I also have). 🙂

    I also carry a 5×7 Trip Tarp to use as a sun shade/ rain cover when I get to camp because my rain “jacket” is a Packa. Since that doubles as a pack cover, taking it off once in camp to set up my hammock and tarp isn’t practical. So, I setup the small tarp as a rain cover, set my pack under it while still wearing the Packa to set up my hammock tarp. Although this has worked it’s a bit of a pain setting up two tarps. I just recently bought the SwingLite umbrella, so I may switch to a more traditional rain jacket since the umbrella can keep my pack straps relatively dry. I also use Zpacks rain kilt to cover my hiking kilt. The kilt is a bit heavy, but soooo worth it comfort wise in desert and summer.

    On a different note, where in MS are you? I ask because my Mom’s kinfolk are all from the Columbus area and I was stationed there in the mid 70’s.


    • Stick says:


      Unfortunately, the only way we can reach the conclusion of what is the “best” for us is by trying numerous pieces of gear… It’s all a learning experience, and I can’t say I have ever had a truly bad situation, although, there have been some times I did learn a good lesson! Saying that, while I don’t own everything on that list, I am still quite happy with the pieces I do have (and obviously, many that I own are on the list). Over time though I completely understand that even these choices could change due to new items on the market, and of course my own goals and needs, as well as what I want to accomplish on a given hike change. This list just represents what I would buy right now if knew what I know now, and I did not have any gear whatsoever, and had the money to lay it all down. I thought it would be a fun post in that I could look back and say, this is what I have learned. Truth be told though, on every hike I go on, the gear list always changes one way or the other… it just depends on that hike!

      And the Sprongs are great! I was in on the Kickstarter too so I have a couple of pair. My daughter actually carried a pair on our recent hike and used them. She never used the tong feature, but she did use both the spoon and the fork.

      Right now I am still carrying/using my GoLite Poncho tarp. It really isn’t bad being only 7 oz, but I would like a cuben one to almost cut that weight in half. When using a piece of cord to cinch it tight a little around my waist, it is actually a pretty nice set-up, especially when used in conjunction with my rain kilt and my tall gaiters. It’s not perfect, but neither has been using a rain jacket… This is just one area though that will continue to change… kind of like my cook kits. For now though, I am happier with the poncho covering my pack and me, especially since I can leave my pack cover behind, and my entire pack stays dry (I like to carry it inside my shelter with me at night).

      As for where I am, that would be the very northeast corner, around Corinth. Also known as the middle of nowhere! lol… 🙂



  3. JR says:

    Very nice list with thoughtful choices. Having used a Duplex tent for the last two years, I can tell you I love it. That said, it is not a four season tent. It is so well ventilated that in cold, windy weather you might as well not be in a tent. Used it for two nights recently down to 14 degrees F and I was misearable, even with a zpacks 10 degree bag. My breath also condensed on the single wall, froze and then snowed on me.
    Thanks for the review!


    • Stick says:


      All of the ZPacks shelters are built with ventilation in mind, that is what I love about my Hexamid and Hexanet. The open space around the edges really does help cut down condensation which is great. Saying that, in the right conditions, all shelters, even tarps, will have condensation under it, and that is where a double wall sorta helps things… While the condensation is still there, there is a inner wall that keeps it at bay for the most part.

      As for temperatures, I don’t mind using these shelters in colder weather (and especially so since they do ventilate so well – it keeps condensation at a minimum). I have cowboy camped in the mid teens and been fine. However, once temps get that low staying warm does require a bit more attention. The coldest I have slept in was 6F + windchill in an open shelter on the AT (which was much breezier than the ZPacks tents!) I used a 15F Marmot bag and stayed relatively warm all night long. It was actually rather enjoyable! 🙂



  4. Great post. I was surprised at the total price of all the gear though. I figured it would come in at half that. I guess I’ve spent a lot more money over the years than I thought!

    Zpacks Duplex is an awesome tent. I solo hike with a dog and there is plenty of room for both of us. It’s baffling to me that I see so many people with “2 man” tents that are over 3lbs.


  5. marlajholmes says:

    Great list and a fun idea to think about. I wouldn’t dispute any of your choices although I’d probably go with Katabatic Gear for the quilt and the ZPacks Solplex instead of the Duplex since I don’t usually share my shelter.


    • Stick says:

      Thanks! And I hear ya about Katabatic. One day I would like to own one, but for me in this list, the ZPacks and the Enlightened Equipment quilts were a better option. As for the shelter, if I am going to carry a single wall set-up, the Duplex is such a sweet option, especially for one! 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by!


      Liked by 1 person

  6. Chris says:

    Would you still wear the MLD poncho in cold weather or would you opt for a traditional rain jacket?


    • Stick says:


      At this point, I would be fine wearing a poncho in cold weather. At a certain point though, it wouldn’t be rain but it would be snow, so I think my wind jacket under the poncho would handle that fine. This is one area though that I have not gotten to use a poncho much. I do know that I like it better than a jacket because it covers me and my pack. I currently have a GoLite Poncho Tarp that I carry and if I use it in rain I will use a small piece of elastic cord and a mitten hook to cinch it up around my waist and below the pack. This does help cut down on the poncho flopping in the wind and catching on things, although, it is not perfect. So, for now, to answer your question, yes, I would wear the poncho in the cold weather.



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