This list was originally put together in 2011. Based on some plans I have, and inquiries, perhaps it was time to update the list for solo, three-season, backpacking. This list is not 100% absolute as I will swap in and out gear as need and preferences decide. Sometimes I want to bang out miles. Sometimes I want to enjoy a hot cup of coffee at a site overlooking a lake.
Which trip is better? That’s silly. I like both! 😉
I also apologize for the wonky formatting as the article has gone through different versions of my website. And I am too lazy to rewrite the article completely.
As I’ve said many, many, many times before there is no “best gear,” just gear that fits your own needs, goals, safety and comfort levels.
While on all my trips I tend to go as light as possible, I do take different gear based on the type of trip I am taking.
More time in camp? Solo? A more technical trip? With buddies? Guiding? And so on. Using the same particular set of tools for every job would be silly.
For example, If I am taking significant other on a trip who prefers a more casual pace, I would take the Lunar Duo, a canister stove, perform some more involved camp cooking, and will take a thicker pad.
Different trips do require different tools. At least for me.
I’d hate to take my minimalist solo pack on an overnight winter backpacking trip but don’t see the reason to take something that can haul a rope or ski gear out for a casual summer overnighter in the Indian Peaks either. 🙂
Having said all that, my personal baseline for backpacking is three-season solo trips. Backpacking is my first love, and I feel solo trips are the most intense for me and something I truly need in my life. Three-season (or even early shoulder season) means I can keep it simple.
So, the following is my list of gear for three season solo backpacking. Aimed towards Colorado conditions in late-Spring/early-Summer to mid-September. I tend to go off-trail, scramble, or even bushwhack so the equipment reflects those needs. I also tend not to replace gear unless I absolutely have to due to wear and tear.
As an observation, my base pack weight has been pretty consistent since 2006 (if I do take a heavier camera. Call it a wash with the lighter gear in 2017 vs 2006).
The summary? With my mirrorless camera included, my base pack weight is under 10 lbs for three-season backpacking in typical Colorado conditions when solo. I’ll swap or add-in different gear depending on expected goals, conditions, trip type, or season. The base pack weight can be as little as 8 pounds or as much as 15 lbs depending.
Paul Mags’ Solo Three-Season Equipment List – Oct 2019
|Pack and accessories:||ULA CDT (modified)||19. 00 oz||A sturdy, still-light pack that works well for off-trail pursuits and into deep shoulder season.|
|Trash Bag for pack liner||.625 oz|
|Six Moon Designs Wild Oasis||14.50 oz||Quick and straightforward to set up.|
|6 MSR min-groundhogs||2.00 oz||Better for off-the-beaten-path areas versus thin ti stakes.|
|Z-Lite clone (cut down)||7 oz|
|Katabatic Flex 22||22.000oz|
|Kitchen||Lexan Spoon||.375 oz|
|Toothbrush and Floss||.250 oz|
|Ziplock Bag||.125 oz|
|SilNylon Foodbag||1.000 oz|
|Hydration||96 oz Nalgene Cantene||2.625 oz||Great for dry camping so I can get away from the crowds! 🙂|
|1 qt Powerade bottles||1.00||I like the wider mouth for getting water vs. the Smart water-type bottles.|
|1-liter Platypus||.60 oz||When not in use, easier to stowe versus the sports drink bottle|
|Iodine tabs||1.000 oz||I rarely treat water. When I do, I use chemicals.|
|Clothing in Pack|
|Montbell Superior Down with Hood||10.00 oz||Light, compressible, and surprisingly warm for its weight.|
|Point 6 Socks or similar||1.50 oz|
|Discount Dance Supply Ripstop Pants||3.5 oz||Surprisingly effective wind pants!|
|Generic 100 wt fleece||8.00 oz||My favorite piece of clothing for all four seasons.|
|Montbell Versalite||6.50 oz||New for Spring 2018. If I am going bushwhacking, I’ll take a Montbell Trekker shell that is similar in weight and function to a Marmot Precip.|
|Paradox Thermals top||6.25 oz
| The Paradox top layer provides enough warmth for most uses.
My legs put out a lot of heat, so the very light MilSurpls Polartec layers work for my three-season use.
|Fleece Socks||1.50 oz||Part of my snivel gear!|
|Exp. Wt. Polypro Balaclava||1.750 oz||A four-season mainstay|
|Military Surplus Wool Glove Liners||1.625 oz||Another four-season mainstay.|
|XL Nitrile household gloves||2.50 oz|
|First Aid Kit|
|Vitamin I||1.00 oz|
|4 4×4 Gauze Pads||.375 oz|
|5 Band-aids||< .125 oz|
|Ziplock||< .125 oz|
|(Duct tape, bandannas, etc. work as first aid items as well)|
|Nitecore NU25||1.0 oz||I prefer USB headlamps now. This model is what the cool kids use, and I finally bought one. Bright, light, and red-mode settings. Add a different band to get the 1oz weight.|
|Deuce of Spades Trowel/TP/Ziploc/Sanitizer||2.00||I now use a trowel. Trail maintainers thank you. 😉|
|Camera and accessories:|
|Canon G3X with batteries||26.00 oz||My largest weight and cost penalty by far! But I enjoy taking photos. And this camera makes for an excellent quiver of one.|
|Z-Packs Multipack||2.00 oz||Easy, compact, and versatile way to carry my camera and let it be accessible|
|Total weight of camera and accessories: 28.00 oz|
|TOTAL BASE PACK WEIGHT:||151 oz / 9 lbs 7 oz||If I cheated and dropped the camera, I’d be under eight pounds. 😉 But since I attach the camera, I count it as part of the weight.|
|Equipment “On Self”||PolyCotton Shirt||6.125 oz||I actually prefer poly-cotton blend shirts as I think they breathe better versus “real” hiking shirts|
|UBTech Travel Pants||10.00 oz||I prefer pants for the routes I now typically backpack. These were Costco specials for less than $20. I liked them so much, I have three pairs.|
|Point 6 Socks or similar||1.50 oz|
|Boonie Style Hat||3.625 oz|
|P-51 Can Opener aka “John Wayne,” Swiss Army Classic, Photon Light combo||1 oz||Good for EDC. Makes a quick and dirty toolkit off and on the trail.|
|Komperdell Trekking Poles (similar to linked item)||17 oz||I am too harsh on carbon poles (trust me!) esp off trail; other poles are too heavy. These are Goldilocks Poles for me and just right. I prefer adjustable poles. Baskets removed, but prefer using straps.|
|Salamon X Ultra 3||26.00 oz||More robust trail shoe for off-trail or scrambling.|
|Compass||1.125 oz||Basic compass does the trick|
|Nemesis Safety Glasses||1.00 oz||Safety glasses are my preferred sunglasses: Light, inexpensive, durable, flexible.|
|Samsung Galaxy S6||5.00||Again, keeping myself honest. I don’t like to keep it in the car. And now keep guides, notes, and some maps on it.|
|Timex Indiglo Watch||1.125 oz|
- All weights were originally gauged with a digital scale accurate to 1/8 (.125) oz.
- I carry a zip lock with my ID, cash, Debit and Credit cards in my wallet
- I always have some sort of print map or maps.
- Once I wear out the quilt, pack, and shelter, I’ll probably go lighter. As long new gear performs the same, of course. I am not going to buy new gear for the sake of buying new gear. 🙂
- For many solo hikes, I typically go stoveless. More than the weights savings, it is the KISS principle I love. The weight savings is probably negligible as I do have to buy more (not all) non-dried food, but resupply and eating now has a minimal futz factor. I successfully went stoveless on the GDT as one example. Long days in grizzly country meant I enjoyed eating around 7 PM and them hiking to 9 or even 10 PM.
- During shoulder season, with a partner, trip goals, time of the year, etc. I may take different stoves, packs, or shelter.
- If I am hiking on-trail only at the height of summer, I will hike in shorts. Happens less often than previous years.
- Depending on the trip, all my solo gear can weigh up to 15 lbs or as little as 8 lbs (if I don’t take the good camera and just use my phone)
- Which is why there are different tools for different jobs! 😀