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I’m still mentally and spiritually unpacking my trip to the North Shore of Lake Superior. It was so beautiful, I’m at a bit of a loss for words, but they will eventually come. So, lucky for you, this will be a two part post!
One of the first things I did when I decided to thru hike the Superior Hiking Trail was make a gear list and start weighing things. My friends told me to think in ounces instead of lbs…and by October of last year, I started putting everything into an excel grid. So, most of the Fall and Winter, I have been working on selling and replacing heavier gear through REI Garage Sales, Thrift Stores, Gear Swaps, and DIY Gear to lighten my load. I started the packing list last September and got to test it out for the first time this weekend. I had about 5-6 lbs of winter gear lobbed in there because I knew it would be cold on the shore, but at 28 lbs with food and water, I feel pretty satisfied with where I ended up.
My goal was to take 10 to 20 lbs off of my normal pack weight. That’s a pretty big swing! I started backpacking with a 45 lb pack, honed it down to 35 and am now around 25 lbs. Almost 3 lbs of that weight came off by simply switching to an Ultralight pack that I made last month.
Narrowing what I choose to bring has taken some discipline, but I found that many of things I thought I would need didn’t even get used this weekend. My list has all of the gear I brought, the weights, pre-trip and post-trip comments. So, without further adieu, here is the
North shore packing list !
Like I said, the weekend was full of overwhelming beauty, but it felt great to get my gear dialed in so I could really focus on enjoying where I was. Practicing my simple shelter set up, unpacking and packing my lighter load each day and having a daily morning routine will help me prepare for the big hike this fall.
Here are a couple of other take aways from the weekend:
- There are still a few things I can cut from my load, highlighted in yellow on the list. Much of it was winter stuff.
- My home made backpack worked AWESOME! Yay! Will practice getting the weight distribution right this summer. The extender got a little floppy if I put heavier items up there unintentionally.
- My Enlightened Equipment Revelation Quilt and Skhoop Skirt were tied as stars of the show! The skirt is too heavy to bring on the SHT, but it was so nice to throw on to keep my legs warm. Mine is an older version of the traditional style, made of down so it packs down small. I’m curious about down pants, but my skirt is pretty boss (plus I look kind of fancy at camp).
- My EE Quilt worked great as an under quilt for my hammock and wrapping up in the morning to enjoy the chilly sunrise on the shore. I also love how light and fluffy it is! Its like an antigravity quilt! It’s my favorite piece of ultralight gear.
- I really should have brought an extra pair of shoes. I forgot my snow boots and the 0-3ft of snow at Crosby Manitou State Park soaked my Altras. I had wet socks 3 seconds into the hike and had to scramble to get everything dry before nightfall. Luckily stuffing them with newspaper from the visitor center and setting them in the sun and wind got them dry in time.
I’m a total sap for Lake Superior. She wrecks me a little every time I spend time on her shores and can’t wait to go back.
How do you make a packing list, do you use a spreadsheet or just wing it? Do you have a favorite piece of gear you can’t live without? Feel free to use my list and I’d love to hear about how you do it. Always learning.
13 thoughts on “Backpacking on the North Shore – Part 1: Testing My New Pack and SHT Packing List!”
You are so amazing and I love following your adventures.
Gosh, thanks. Its definitely a journey. I can’t wait to share the rest of the trip with you!
Excited to see your progress, and definitely interested in your ultra-light pack sewing experience.
Thanks! I would like to make more gear, maybe a tarp but my machine does so poorly on the very light stuff. We’ll see. Now, an ultralight down skirt—that would be something!
I envy you -and your upcoming thru-hike. You’ll have one hell of a good time! 😉
Thanks Mike! It’s a really big deal for me and I’m loving the journey. Happy trails to you!
Do you plan to do it solo, or have you got a group of folks going -just curious. Reading ‘Sharkbait’s’ posts really makes me want to get out for an extended period, and the SHT is sooo close! Tempting 😉
Luckily, I’ve got a couple of partners in crime joining me! The nice thing about the SHT is that you can do it in sections or the whole thing at your own pace. I love that!
Exactly! …and probably best (safer) to have a group… for many reasons!
Nice job on cutting weight! Thanks for the tip on stuffing wet things with newspapers, I bet that will come in handy in the future!
Thanks Anne! I read about the newspaper trick somewhere and had never done it before. I think it’s an old time remedy for drying out your winter boots…but it totally worked! I was about ready to put plastic bags on my feet (which I read in the same place as the newspaper trick and have never done either) for the night if that didn’t work. So glad I didn’t have to.
Timely post! I just revised my winter/early spring backpack gear list. Congrats on the low weight. I keep an google worksheet. I find the winter gear adds so much weight! Here’s my list. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/14V3CcKui6csXBt3P_zcCtaO9-H_YuUbm0XaAacvXt3A/edit?usp=sharing