Trekkers at heart, or backpackers depending on the traveler circles, we have over the years developed a comprehensive list for our weekend (or weeklong) trips to the mountain.
Here is our list for Spring to Fall seasons, as Winter trek requires additional gear.
Some of these gears are on the high side – it took me a while to realize these were worth it – most of the time anyway. “You get what you pay for” and going cheap is a recipe for problems when you are high up on the mountain, cold and wet. Not that cheap is necessarily going to be bad, but most of the expensive items tend to have a long lifespan and prices become less over the years.
I did a lot of research before I spent money on the Arc’teryx shell but I used it now in winter snowboarding and snowshoeing, as well as under rainy backpacking and windy trips, and I have yet to feel cold. Even used it over several layers in the evenings in the Arctic! Just an example of why we indulged in some expensive items. Other are cheaper items like our tent mat.
We also like the REI brand a lot, usually the best compromise between top features and affordable costs. Again, these are our opinions, and there is such a wide range of products out there, our list might differ from others.
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- Tent: Our tent is a 3-season 2-person tent of about 4 lbs (2 kilos) which has kept us dry and warm, even under the stormy October weather in Yosemite. Roomy enough for two people, we can store a few clothes inside when it’s too cold outside. The side flies allow us to keep the backpacks and shoes dry as well.
- Stove: Since our friends introduced us to Jetboil, there was no turning back. We still have our regular backpacking stove, but this all-gas-stove is better used for winter camping when the Jetboil freezes, or for international travel where you might not find Jetboil-compatible gas canisters. Jetboil on Amazon | REI / Stove on Amazon | REI
- Cooking camp:
- 2 spoons which are long enough to stir in the freeze-dried dinner pouches
- A light single blade folding pocket knife similar
- A Flexible Chopping Mat to cut food and avoid putting it on the ground
- 2 Fold-Flat Bowls that weight nothing, and great for breakfast granola or oatmeal
- 2 insulated cups
- Small kitchen towel to wipe clean and dry
- Filter: We used to carry MSR Hyperflow Water Filter in our backpack, which is great for outdoor trips. But we are now using a smaller water filter for daily use during our world trip. Amazon | REI
- Mattress: We both use Self-inflating Pads, that packed quite well for the given thickness and comfort. Amazon | REI
- Seat mats: We recycled our first sleeping pad, a very thin Foam Pad, by cutting it into 2 pieces. We use them as our insulated seats when we eat and as our side floor liners for our backpack and shoes by the tent entrances. That gives us a clean pad to stand over while entering and exiting the tent.
- Water Hydration Reservoir: I use a larger one as I drink a lot and like a 70L. Oz reservoir. I could use the bigger size, but I prefer side pockets bottles with a wide mouth which use while traveling by plane or bus. Bruno uses a 2L-Reservoir, which has an opened bottom that keeps the bottle standing.
- Lights: 2 headlamps to keep our hands free while cooking at night or hiking to catch the sunrise. Amazon | REI
PATRICIA’s TREKKING GEAR
- Backpack: I love my 60L Backpack! I used to have a smaller size bag but with more external pockets, which was great for stuffing but not streamlined for trekking. Amazon | REI
- Sleeping bag: I am happy with my REI Kilo Plus -5 F which is no longer sold by REI but similar to this sleeping bag. Light, warm and compact, it’s a great backpack bag. I do wish it was wider as I like to sleep in fetal position or leg on the side and I can’t do that in the sleeping bag. But that’s a trade-off for a warm and light backpack. Amazon | REI
- Sleeping bag liner: I am a fan of my mummy Liner. It’s soft and easy to wash. It adds more warmth during fall or winter nights. It is also a great middle layer for spring and summer nights when I don’t zip the sleeping bag because it’s too warm. Plus, it’s a nice pocket liner to have for staying in hostels. Amazon | REI
- For the trail, I wear the trekking boots that I use extensively. It fits well my slightly larger than regular feet width without crushing my toes together. I wear custom-made insole as my arches tend to give in after a long day hauling the backpack, but I like the high volume insoles too. Amazon | REI
- On short day hikes, I like my lighter mountain running shoes Amazon | REI
- At camp, I love these lightweight sandals. I wear them with socks when the evenings are cold. And these are pretty versatile for water activities. Amazon | REI
- Clothes: All are easy to watch and dry quickly, a must when backpacking to avoid staying wet after the long day or after a rain downpour.
- For socks, I only swear by SmartWool and wear a combination of liners first to prevent blisters, and thicker hiking socks over them. Coolmax is another type I like a lot, especially for summer socks
- 2 briefs
- 1 sports bra
- 2 short-sleeves T-Shirts – with spandex for a bit of a stretching material
- 2 long-sleeves T-Shirts, one with neck zipper for the day, and one without for the night (and potential next day backup)
- 1 long-sleeves Shirt – I wear this shirt when it’s hot and sunny. The long sleeves prevent sunburn, and I keep it unbuttoned to let the breeze keep me cool. I tend to prefer Polyester over nylon for outdoor activities, but it’s more a personal taste of the texture rather than a technical choice. Amazon | REI
- 1 convertible hiking pants. The zipper lays under the knees, transforming these pants in Capri length for hotter days and is an acceptable option in some conservative countries
- 1 Zip Fleece Pullover with neck zipper. Amazon | REI
- 1 Soft Shell Jacket: good for slightly cold days, and a functional layer for colder days under a waterproof jacket. Amazon | REI
- 1 Down Jacket, packable and light. I used it in addition to the soft-shell when it’s freezing Amazon | REI
- 1 Waterproof Jacket – This jacket might be a bit of an overkill but I also use it for snowboarding and winter backcountry activities, so it needed to be sturdy and reliable. So far so good
- 1 swimsuit
- For the night, which can be worn during the day if extra warm layers are required
- 1 T-Shirt for the night, like the day T-Shirt. It allows me to have a clean T-Shirt for the evening, and I can rotate if going on a multi-day trek
- 1 thin Balaclava to wear during the night, to prevent losing heat
- 1 ankle-length Capri Pants – works great as an underlayer on cold days
- 1 fleece pant like this Fleece Pant
- Bandana / Handkerchief to avoid using Kleenex
- Accessories: a sleeping mask (our tent is rather bright), earplugs
- Hiking Poles: I just switched my regular poles to the Carbon Composite Trekking Poles, super light and quite small, which makes them perfect for transportation. Amazon | REI
BRUNO’s BACKPACKING GEAR
- Backpack uses a bigger 95L Backpack, though he many times feels it’s too big. Amazon | REI
- Sleeping Bag: He liked his REI Kilo Plus, a 0 F-degree 750-fill power goose down that barely weighs 2 lbs. No longer available on REI but very similar to this 3-season sleeping bag. Amazon | REI. For our recent world trip, he decided to go for a lighter type of sleeping bag, which opens and can be used as a blanket.
- On the trail, Bruno wears these Trekking Boots for longer treks and overnights when we have to carry heavy bags. Amazon | REI. On short hiking trips or when there is less bouldering expected, he prefers lighter hiking Boots. Amazon | REI
- Off-trail, he has a pair of light sandals though he seems to prefer simple Flip-Flops. Amazon | REI
- 2 convertible hiking pants, one convertible, one regular. Amazon | REI
- 2 pairs of socks, also SmartWool for warmth and comfort
- 2 boxers
- 2 Short Sleeves T-Shirts Amazon | REI
- 2 long Long Sleeves T-Shirts. Amazon | REI
- 1 Zip Fleece Pullover – Men’s. Amazon | REI
- 1 REI Activator Fleece Jacket – Men’s
- 1 Down Hoody Jacket, warm, packable and light. Amazon | REI
- 1 waterproof jacket. Amazon | REI. Not sure what to get? Check out our lightweight waterproof jackets guide!
- 1 water boardshort
- Bandana / Handkerchief to prevent using Kleenex
- For the night:
- 1 Long Sleeve T-Shirt, like the day T-Shirt.
- 1 fleece pant like the Fleece Pant.
We both use these as well:
- Multitowel Lite Large Towels & wash gloves
- Turtle Fur Neck Warmers
- Pairs of thin light gloves
- Turtle Fur Polartec Hats
- Caps: after several trials, I am happy to have found this cap as this is the only one that fits my small (but good looking and smart) head.
- Scarfs. I use it as a light neck protection when it is too warm for the fleece neck warmer, and over my head when it is scorching for additional sun protection. I even wet it with water for extra dampness when it’s scorching hot. This is one of the rare cotton items I take during backpacking, but it serves the purpose of keeping cool, so its property of staying wet is precisely what I am looking for.
- Regarding winter clothes, a list of good skiing essentials is key for a good and safe trip.
- iPhone 6
- Kindle Paperwhite: the backlit screen can be adjusted to the light level and is a great for the bright outdoors or night tent reading
- pocket camera
- GoPro HERO4 SILVER perfect for all our activities, from snowboarding to diving
- JOBY GorillaPod Original (Black/Charcoal) which comes handy to tie up the GoPro to our hiking poles, or stabilize during the camera for more extended exposure and night shots
- Delorme InReach Satellite Communicator to keep track of our tracks and inform friends and family when we are on the road. We used it a bit in the Sierra but have it to thoroughly try it abroad and on more out-of-the-beaten paths.
- Emergency kit: something similar to this package. Make sure you have whistle, emergency blanket x 2, candle, waterproof matches, rope, lighter, compass, safety pins, Sharpy pen, pocket mirror, toe and hand warmers
- Camp bathroom: deodorant, toothpaste, and toothbrush, eye drops to remove dust or help dry eyes from the sun, lip balm, hand cream, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, TP and GSI Sanitation Trowel.
- First aid kit. Amazon | REI Make sure to include sunscreen and mosquito repellent.
- Mosquito Net: Maybe not the first thing you think of when you back, but in case you don’t bring your tent in summer, a mosquito net can make or break your night. Also very handy when traveling in tropical countries! Amazon | REI
- Documents: IDs, $20 cash, Insurance card, US National Park card if relevant, topo map, trail description (also on iPhone)
- Bear country: Long rope and waterproof light dry bag to hang food, or a bear canister BearVault BV500 if required. Bear canisters can be rented in some National Parks and National Forests but because of the pickup time and drop out, we found it was easier to own ours as it allows for a more flexible itinerary. We bought this bear canister as its transparent material makes it easier to find things. We do rent the second one when we go for a more extended trip and need a 2nd canister. Usually, we need to pick up fire permit, so we arrange for the canister at the same time. Amazon | REI
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