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 found a pretty great excel format on Improbable but Possible’s blog. 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
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.