Paul Mags’ Gear List


On Mt. Peale in the La Sals, Utah. Wearing my typical three-season gear.

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.

Hell, sometimes I’ll enjoy some decadent car camping trips, too.

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 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 soloI’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.

Ah..Classic Colorado backpacking terrain!


Paul Mags’ Solo Three-Season Equipment List – April 2018

Pack and accessories: ULA CDT (modified) 19. 00  oz  A sturdy, still-light pack that works well for off-trail pursuits.
  Trash Bag for pack liner .625 oz  
    19.625 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. 
    16.50 oz  
  CCF Pad (cut down)   5.500 oz  
  Jacks R’ Better Sierra Sniveller Quilt w/900 fill  22.000oz  
    27.50 oz  
Kitchen Lexan Spoon   .375 oz  
  Lighter   .500 oz  
  Toothbrush and Floss   .250 oz  
  Ziplock Bag   .125 oz  
  SilNylon  Foodbag   1.000 oz  
    2.250 oz  
Hydration   96 oz Nalgene Cantene 2.625 oz  Great for dry camping so I can get away from the crowds! 🙂
  1 qt Gatorade bottles 1.00  
  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. 
    5.225 oz  
 Clothing in Pack  
  Montbell UL Down Parka with Hood 10.00 oz   I use the hooded version as I am a quilt user. I received this jacket for volunteer work. Truthfully, though the jacket is better made than a similar Uniqlo jacket  I also own, it is not THAT much better  IMO. 🙂
  Point 6 Socks   1.50 oz  
  Discount Dance Supply Ripstop Pants  3.5  oz  Surprinsgly 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.
  Pardox Thermals – top and bottom 12.50 oz  
  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. 
  OR Endeavor Shell Mitts 4.000 oz  These mitts are no longer made. I tried lighter mitts over the years. These heavier ones are the only ones that seem to work. A classic that many people still talk about.
    49.250 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)  
    1.375 oz  
  Heimdall Headlamp 2.0 oz  I’ve grown to love this headlamp. Inexpensive, a good balance of lightness and brightness, the red light is excellent for when I don’t want to wake up people or simply want to preserve my night vision.
  Deuce of Spades Trowel/TP/Ziploc/Sanitizer   2.00  I now use a trowel. Trail maintainers thank you. 😉
      4.00 oz  
 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: 153 oz /  9 lbs  9  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
  Costco 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 1.50 oz  
  Bandanna   1.125 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.
  Altra Superiors   33.00 oz  More robust trail runner for off-trail or scrambling. My feet are very wide now from many years of pounding. These shoes are new(ish) to me since Nov 2017.
  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.
  Chapstick   .250 oz  
  Timex Indiglo Watch   1.125 oz  
  82.00 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. 🙂
  • Maybe I’ll update the equipment list again in 2023.
  • 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. Yeah! Thanks to Garlic and Pickle (and using this method on an AZT section) for showing me the utility of this idea!
  • 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! 😀

14 Replies to “Paul Mags’ Gear List”

  1. I am a pretty new backpacker and am doing sections 20, 21, and 22 of the CT in late July-early August. It would be great if I could ask you a few questions? 1. What average temps can we expect at night? and day? (trying to figure out which bag to take and how many layers) 2. I hate long sleeve shirts and long pants….are they a must or can I get by with only shorts and maybe a long sleeve wicking shirt and a short sleeve for the warmer days? 3. Have you heard whether or not car vandalism is a problem out of the Eddiesville trailhead? and finally 4. Should we be expecting rain every afternoon? Thanks for the info if you get a chance to respond.

    • Hi Jeff! 1. A 20F bag is good for 3-season Colorado backpacking. It gets cool at night and 40F bag might not cut it. 2) I wear long sleeves for sun protection. If you don’t use clothing, you’ll need sun screen. Personally. I don’t like wearing sun screen for long term use. Too sticky feeling esp with the sweat and dirt. Plus it is extra weight I have to carry! YMMV 3) IT is an isolated trail head and should be safe from vandalism. Most thieves are lazy. 🙂 4) T-storms happen almost every afternoon at that time of the year

      Let me know if you have additional questions!

  2. Hey would just like to thank you for posting this checklist.. it has helped me to decide what i need to take with me on my travels. 🙂 I’d have to say that my biggest weight penalty is also a camera, wouldn’t go anywhere without it. I love taking action shots of the great outdoors. 🙂

  3. Hey Paul, just read your article in the CT guidebook and now this list. It’s given me a lot to think about for paring down weight. Thanks!

    One thing for you to consider: if you want a camera somewhere in between a DSLR and a point-and-shoot, consider a micro four-thirds (MFT) camera system. These cameras have matured quite a bit and you can get a kit that rivals or surpasses DSLR quality for at or under 1 lb.

  4. Thanks for posting this helpful list! My husband and I are planning to hike the CT this coming summer. Quick question regarding the ripstop pants. Are they water proof? How did they work out for you?


    • They are water resistant as opposed to water proof. I pump out a lot of heat, so these pants and thermal bottoms work well for three-season conditions. At least for me. If you get colder easier, you may want to wear “real” rain pants.

      Hope that helps!

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