My Pack

For those interested in my current primary gear (the big items and my favorites), here is a quick rundown of my kit for most trips except extreme cold.  Note that all of these items were reviewed and can be found on my Gear Review page (or will be soon in the case of newer items).

Pack:  ULA Ohm 2.0

By far my favorite backpack, and tied for favorite piece of gear (with the Caldera Ti Tri below).  Outstanding comfort, weight, and durability.

Tent: Tarptent Stratospire I

Still just in the early stages of testing this baby but so far I love it!

Sleeping Bag:  Feathered Friends Osprey UL 30

Well worth the high price tag – it’s like sleeping in a warm cloud.

Sleeping Pad:  Nemo Astro Air Insulated Lite

A little heavier than some air mattresses, but unbelievably comfy.

Stove: Caldera Ti-Tri Sidewinder with Inferno

My other favorite piece of gear – versatile and light, and just plain fun to use.


I don’t like to classify myself into a “box” of ultra, lightweight or other backpacker.  I have managed to reduce my pack base weight from the 30-40 lb range in the 80’s and early 90’s to mid teens today.  This is primarily through reducing the amount of gear (unnecessary and redundant items) and paying more money for better gear (the easy weight reduction except for wallet pain).  However, the low base weight has allowed me to add winter gear, more food for longer trips, and luxuries like a trail chair to ease lower back pain as I age.  I call my style, if I have to classify it at all, as “comfortably light”.

I use an electronic gear list (Microsoft Excel) so I can mess around with what I am bringing and dial in the weight without packing and repacking gear. It’s fun to play with as a trip gets close then print the list for easy packing.  Here are my master spreadsheet and a few I have generated for specific trips:

Gear Checklist – Master as of January 2017

Shining Rock Wilderness NC – Sept 2016 – 4 days/3 nights

Mammoth Cave KY – Nov 2016 – 2 days/1 night

Feel free to use this spreadsheet yourself if you want…it has its flaws but seems to allow me to plan down to within 0.5 lbs for a trip without repacking and weighing etc. The key to it is accurate weights of each of your items in grams.  If you type a “Y” in the packing column it will copy your gear list for the trip over on the right and leave out items that are staying behind.  Much easier for me to pack from.  There is also a chart page that breaks down weight by category, and a food list that I only use for week or more trips where I want to ensure the calorie count is OK.  Are you still reading this? Can you say fellow Excel nerd?

Backpacking reviews, trips, and random thoughts