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Our Border Route Trail trip report just published, so let’s talk about GEAR!
This post features my detailed 5 day packing list, including weights in oz and some of the conditions I considered on this trip. Be sure to also check out the accompanying gear video I shot on our last night of the trek, where I unpack everything that I carried!
No twinkle lights or chair came along on the BRT. I was expecting this hike to be tougher and longer, with less time at camp – the only luxury items I bought were my cork massage ball and a watercolor kit, and even that got pared way down.
Why Weigh Your Gear?
I went through this exercise before my 2018 Superior Hiking Trail Thru hike. My previous trips had me carrying between 35-45 lbs and I knew that was not going to work for me on a 310 mile walk up and down big hill of rocks, roots and mud.
I made my own ultralight backpack to save a bunch of weight, sold some old gear to buy lighter gear, worked really hard on reducing my pack weight, shared some gear with my sister and got everything down to 24 lbs with 4 days of food and 1L of water.
During the following years after that trip, I loosely paid attention to weight, but added some comfort items back in and did not share gear with my trip mates. My pack generally hovered around 30 lbs +/- and I proudly declared myself “Comfort Lite”
I did not make up this term but strongly identify with it. I have included things like twinkle lights, extra cozy cold weather gear, hand warmers, a chair, watercolor kit, hammock, heavy and delicious food, and a big fat cushy sleeping pad…and it never really bothered me to carry any of that stuff. You can check out my comfort lite packing list and watch my video from our last night at camp on Isle Royale here.
This year, after a summer of less hiking and a couple of bikepacking trips under my belt, I wanted to trim down my pack weight. I enjoyed the simplicity of the gear on my bike trips and also didn’t want to haul more than I had to on our challenging Border Route Trail Thru Hike. The concept of hiking 65 miles through the wilderness was a bit sobering to think about. And knowing that I had not been backpacking in 3 months, and certainly not training with a pack on my back motivated me to trim things up. My goal was to get down to a 25 lb pack weight with food and water, and a 15 lb base weight, which some define as “ultralight”.*
Made it! 5 days of food AND STILL brought my little art kit along.
I enjoyed making another fun gear dump video on the last night of camp on the BRT, and hope you will enjoy it too!
Alright! Here’s the list of everything I packed with the weights included.
- August temperatures were low 50’s to mid 70’s with a low chance of rain, meaning that I didn’t need as much cold weather gear.
- Cold soaked calorie dense meals instead of cooking to save on weight and simplify
- I typically weigh 1L of water since I fluctuate from carrying 0-2L over the day.
Strikethroughitems are gear that I love and use, but did not bring on this trip, due to warmer weather, simplification or just wanting to lighten the load. Left them on in case it is helpful to see what I left behind or you want to see what I use in colder weather.
- Please feel free to ask me about any gear in the comments, my notes column did not paste well into this format and made a big ol mess.
5 Day Ultralight Backacking Gear List
|Top||Sahara Shade hoodie||7.20|
|Bra||All in Motion wicking Bra- Target||2.00|
|Light layer||Mountain Hardware KOR Pre shell hoodie||4.30|
|Underwear/Shorts||Pair of Thieves long boxer briefs-Target||2.40|
|Pants||ExOfficio BugsAway Convertible Pant||9.80|
|Sock 1||injinji short crew toe socks||1.50|
|Shoes||Altra Timp 4s- brand new: did not hold up||21.90|
|Sun Gloves||Outdoor Research ActiveIce||0.60|
|Safety Whistle||neck whistle (similar)||0.30|
|Trekking poles||Leki Corklite||14.90|
|Rain jacket||REI Rain Jacket||9.70|
|Rain Pants||Rain Skirt||2.90|
|Rain Gloves||latex gloves||0.40|
|Light Gloves||Black Diamond midweight screen tap||1.50|
|Underwear/Shorts||Pair of Thieves long boxer briefs||2.40|
|Insulating layer||EE Torrid Jacket (puffy)||7.90|
|Baselayer/Sleep top||Smartwool merino short sleeve||4.30|
|Baselayer/Sleep bottom||Kari Traa Merino Wool||5.90|
|Sock 2||Wright Socks Cool Mesh II||1.00|
|Sock 3||Cabelas Bug Socks- wore at camp||2.40|
|Camp Shoes||Joy Bee shoes (Crocs)||10.00|
|Backpack||Granite Gear Crown 38L||30.50|
|Pack liner||Compactor Bag x 2||4.30|
|Water Bottle Holders||X2 DIY sewn strap holders||3.00|
|Stuff sack-clothes||EE lightweight stuff sack||0.70|
|Food-security||Ursack Bear Resistant Bag||8.40|
|Food Odor||Opsack Loksack scent proof liner||1.60|
|Sleeping & Shelter||Item||Ounces|
|Shelter||Nemo Hornet 2||30.00|
|Sit Pad||Cut Z Lite – to add under hips||2.80|
|Pillow||Nemo Fillo (comfy!)||3.50|
|Sleeping quilt||EE Revelation 10 degree Red||21.85|
|Hydration & Cooking||Item||Ounces|
|Water storage||CNOC Vecto 2L||2.80|
|Water Bag||Sawyer mesh storage bag||0.50|
|Purification||Sawyer Squeeze w/ coupler||3.30|
|Water||Nylon/pantyhose pre filter||0.20|
|Ignition||mini bic lighter||0.40|
|Photo||iPhone w/ case||8.40|
|Battery Pack||Anker w/ cord + wall charger||10.10|
|Camera||GoPro w/bracket + bag|
|Garmin||InReach – used everyday||4.00|
|Glasses||Cheap reading glasses||2.10|
|Watercolor kit||Watercolor Kit+ Pencil, pen, eraser, brush||6.3|
|Journal||Small watercolor paper 8 sheets||1.10|
|Toothbrush||Tiny Toothbrush + cover||0.30|
|Wipe||Kula Cloth – antimicrobial pee cloth||0.40|
|Fem Hy||Menstrual Cup or Diva Cup||0.70|
|Fem Hy||Tampons x 5, panty liner x3, pad x1||0.80|
|Massage Ball||Cork Ball||1.70|
|Bath||paper towels 5 squares-instead f wipes||0.50|
|Towel||Use safety Bandana|
|Trowel||Deuce of Spades-fancy poop shovel||0.60|
|Headnet||coghlans-better airflow than sea to summit||1.00|
|Pepper Spray||Personal Size||1.10|
|First Aid Kit||Solo kit 4 days||6.70|
|Personal Blister Kit||Foot care||1.60|
|Essential stuffsack||Birchwood Bass||0.30|
|Safety Whistle||REI tri power whistle||0.70|
|Emergency water||(4) Micropur Tabs- back up||0.10|
|Emergency warmth||Mylar Survival blanket||1.80|
|Multi tool||Swiss army tiny knife – scissors||0.70|
|Flash light||UCO Headlamp||3.10|
|Guide||Phone photos of guidebook pages|
|Fire starting kit||Matches, Lint + vaseline 6x, candle||1.20|
|Repair Kit||Repair Tape x3, zip tie, pins, sew||0.40|
|Warmer||Hand and Body Warmer|
|Emergency Shelter||Disposable Rain poncho||1.50|
|Flashlight||Back up penlight|
|Knife||Mora Swedish Fire knife||3.80|
|Rope||25 ft Amsteel||1.40|
|Duct tape||10ft wrapped around trekking pole|
|Wallet||W Cash and carabiner||0.80|
|Business cards||WP Stickers x 12||0.40|
|Water||1L CNOC Collapsible Vesica Water Bottle||36.00|
|Water||1L CNOC Collapsible Vesica Water Bottle||2.11|
|Food||5.5 days @ 2,500-2,600 cal||105.30|
|Electrolytes||Nuun Hydration Tablets||1.30|
|Itch||Anti itch cream||0.40|
|Bug||Sawyer 20% picardin lotion||1.50|
|Foot||HikeGoo Blister Prevention Cream||1.10|
|Toothpaste||Unpaste Toothpaste Tabs x 8||0.30|
|TP||Travel Kleenex-back up||0.50|
|Soap||Dr Bronners in a visine dropper||0.50|
|Hand sanitizer||Honest Co. 2oz Spray Denatured Alcohol||2.00|
|minus worn gear||LBS||25.00*|
New Gear Notes:
I switched to the Nemo Switchback folding closed cell foam pad for this trip to save weight and simplify my rest and sleeping routine.
- so simple, just unfold and refold, no inflating and deflating
- multipurpose: sleep, ground cover for gear, worked great on rest breaks too
- warmer than I expected
- very durable, no worries about puncture
- waterproof/stays dry or you can just shake off the water
- not as cushioned/comfy as an inflatable pad
- tough for side sleepers (I brought a small piece of a Zlite pad for under my hips and it helped a lot without adding much weight)
- R2 temperature rating. Sleeping in summer/50 degrees worked fine
- Tied to the top of my pack, it got hung up in the brush a lot – like wings. Need to figure out how to strap it to the bottom or side next time if hiking through brush.
I’m on my 4th different pair of trail runners this summer…Wore a brand new pair with less than 20 miles on them for the Border Route and I blew em up. They keep falling apart in less than 50-100 miles. Stopped by my local gear shop to get fitted and re assess everything yesterday. A new and hopefully more durable brand of shoes is on the way – will let you know how it all goes, fingers crossed.
Truth: I kind of loathe weighing and analyzing everything in my pack…it starts out sort of fun and challenging, eventually escalates into “analysis paralysis” and then I just have to quit at some point. I have friends that LOVE the personal challenge of honing their pack weights to perfection. There are entire websites and gear companies dedicated to this philosophy. Just wanted to share my experience in case you find yourself wondering why anyone would make their head hurt over this stuff.
*I am also not the authority on Ultralight backpacking by any means and people can get very particular about the definitions and rules…so, please take that into consideration as well.
Aaaand…I also make a point of NOT telling people what to bring or how much their pack should weigh. Where is the joy in that? Carry a watermelon to camp if you want to! We all get to bring what we want and learn along the way.
That being said, I think there are real physical, mental and even spiritual benefits to carrying and living with less. So it can be an extremely valuable exercise to list out, weigh and adjust your gear when you start out backpacking and tune things up periodically as your gear, experience level and other needs change.
As much as I grump about “over analyzing everything” at home… I really appreciate the lighter load on my back and feet, and the mental lightness that comes from simplifying life and gear on the trail.
Hope you had a wonderful season full of adventure and you found this post helpful. Got any good packing tips or favorite gear picks to share? Questions on any of the gear in this post? Shoot me a note in the comments or join the Wandering Pine FB or IG to continue the conversation!
Fun fact: this is my 200th post on Wandering Pine. Thanks so much for for being part of this adventure and for all of your support along the way. I love getting to share these art and adventure stories with you and I hope you enjoy them too!
Border Route Trip video: Wandering Pine Youtube
Border Route Gear/Packing Video: Whats in my pack? 25 lb 5 Day Ultralight Gear list
Another beautiful BWCAW backpacking trail – The Sioux Hustler Trail
Border Route Association – needs volunteers!