Backpacking gear is a very personal thing, some want to go "ultra light" while others carry more weight for creature comfort when they camp, although they pay for every ounce of "comfort" on the way to the next campsite. I have tried to hit a happy medium, neither ultra light, nor ridiculously heavy. My base weight, before food and water is approximately 24 pounds, and I expect the heaviest I will be when loaded to the max with food will be approximately 35-40 pounds, although that will obviously shrink as I eat my food. I am carrying a bit more in the way of electronics because of my desire to write extensively, take quality photographs and be able to communicate my daily position to those who support my WildLink fundraising effort.
Every decision on specific pieces of equipment was based upon weight versus cost versus my experience with the reliability of each individual piece of gear. Countless hours of research, talking to other backpackers in person and online, and way too much money went into formulating my final equipment list. It is right for me, but the next person would differ, and they would be just as right...for them.
The two most common questions I get from folks about equipment concern personal safety.
Am I taking a gun? No, emphatically, no. The question shocks and surprises me, for I would not even consider it necessary, or desirable. I am a visitor in the woods, most of the wildlife is going to be more scared of me than I of them. For the record, there has never been a mountain lion attack/death reported on the JMT. And the bears? Well, as long as my food is properly stored they should not be a problem. I will probably have more problems with the smaller animals, marmots and such, who think my lunch looks interesting. So, no - no firearms. Some will disagree, but that is my position.
What if I have an emergency? Am I taking a phone? Yes, but only for those rare instances when I might get a bit of coverage (there are a couple of places, including Mt. Whitney summit). At those times it will be fun to communicate with friends and loved ones. Most of the time it will be a bit of useless weight in the bag. That said, I am carrying a satelite tracker and messenger which will allow those who are interested to know where I am along the way, and in the case of an emergency would allow me to signal for assistance. And yes, I have been trained in Wilderness First Aid, so I can handle the normal small things that may happen.
For those who are interested here is a list of my major pieces of equipment:
- Osprey AG 65 backpack
- Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 tent w/ footprint
- Sierra Designs Mobile Mummy 800 sleeping bag w/ foam sleeping pad
- Black Diamond Distance Z trekking poles
- MSR Pocket Rocket stove w/ handheld Piezo Igniter
- Snow Peak Titanium Mini Solo cookset
- Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter
- One extra pair socks, ExOfficio underwear, Merino wool shirt, fleece vest, gloves, stocking cap
- Marmot rain shell & rain pants
- Teva water shoes
- Benchmade 556 Mini-Griptillian Knife
- Black Diamond headlamp
- First Aid kit, compass, mirror, whistle, waterproof matches, duct tape, maps, sunscreen
- Delorme inReach Explorer Satellite Messenger
- Electronics include iPad Mini, iPhone 6, Logitech mini keyboard, Olympus TG-3 Digital Camera, mini tripod and Suntactics solar charger
© 2015 James McGregor Gibson