Lightweight Backpacking Gear List –

Cuben Fiber Tarp
Cuben Fiber Tarp

On April 2nd, I gave a demonstration about lightweight backpacking to a dozen hikers from the NY-NJ Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club in Harriman State Park, just outside of New York City.

Lessons Learned

For this demonstration, I brought along a Gossamer Gear Gorilla backpack packed with a representative 3 season gear list and let each participant wear my pack and hike with it. The participants, split evenly between people who’d never backpacked or had backpacked with much heavier loads, were impressed at the comfort that a lightweight pack and lighter load provide. The most frequent comment regarding the Gorilla besides it’s low weight, was the comfort of the extra wide shoulder pads, standard on Gossamer gear packs, that are designed to distribute weight across the shoulders and prevent painful pressure points.

As part of my demonstration, I also set up camp, explained what all of of the elements of my gear list were for, and how they work together. It was a real eye opener for many of the students, who were simply unaware of the options available beyond the gear carried by their local REI or EMS stores.

Most had never seen a tarp, bivy bag, aqua mira drops, or a Sawyer Water Filter. They didn’t understand the relationship between down fill power, warmth, weight and fill compressibility and had never seriously considered the caloric density  of their trail food. It was an eye opener for all involved.

Another important thing I learned is that many people don’t understand something as fundamental as how to wear a backpack – namely that the hip belt is designed to carry most of the load and not the shoulder straps. Upon reflection, it’s perfectly understandable that people don’t know this: it’s not like backpacks come with manuals or there are backpack fitting specialists or trainers at retail shops.

Lightweight Backpacking Gear List

Here’s the gear list I handed out at the lightweight backpacking gear demonstration and which I subsequently took on a two week, 173 mile hike of the Appalachian Trail from New Jersey, through New York, and up into southern Connecticut. It has a few luxury items on it and some cold weather gear, in case of snow or cold rain, but is representative of the gear I’ve been carrying for the past year


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