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Our Border Route Trail trip report just published, so let’s talk about GEAR!

Overlooking Rose Lake – Border Route Trail

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!

Unlike my ‘comfort lite’ Isle Royale and Pictured Rocks trips, my pack for the Border Route was trimmed down to 5-6 lbs less for the same length of trip.

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.

Weighing my 2016 Isle Royale pack on the island

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.

My DIY Ultralight pack on the Superior Hiking Trail

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.

Our last night on Isle Royale right after filming this gear video – there are twinkle lights and a stool in there somewhere.

Comfort Lite

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.

Ultra Lite

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.

Demonstrating worn AND carried gear at McFarland Campground

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.

Let’s go!

Considerations:

  • 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.
  • Strikethrough items 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

Clothing WornItemOunces
TopSahara Shade hoodie7.20
BraAll in Motion wicking Bra- Target2.00
Light layerMountain Hardware KOR Pre shell hoodie4.30
Underwear/ShortsPair of Thieves long boxer briefs-Target2.40
PantsExOfficio BugsAway Convertible Pant9.80
Sock 1injinji short crew toe socks1.50
Compression SleevesZensah2.00
ShoesAltra Timp 4s- brand new: did not hold up21.90
GaitersAltra Gaiters1.00
Sun GlovesOutdoor Research ActiveIce0.60
HatTrucker Hat2.5
SunglassesKnockaround
Safety Whistleneck whistle (similar)0.30
Trekking polesLeki Corklite 14.90
TOTAL
70.40
Other ClothingItemOunces
SkirtPurple Rain Hiking Skirt
Rain jacketREI Rain Jacket9.70
Rain PantsRain Skirt2.90
Rain Gloveslatex gloves0.40
Light GlovesBlack Diamond midweight screen tap1.50
Underwear/ShortsPair of Thieves long boxer briefs2.40
Insulating layerMelanzana Fleece
Insulating layerEE Torrid Jacket (puffy)7.90
Insulating LayerEE Snow Skirt/Doubles as small blanket
Baselayer/Sleep topSmartwool merino short sleeve4.30
Baselayer/Sleep bottomKari Traa Merino Wool5.90
Sock 2Wright Socks Cool Mesh II1.00
Sock 3Cabelas Bug Socks- wore at camp2.40
BootiesEE Insulated Booties
Socks/sleepChenille Fleece
Camp ShoesJoy Bee shoes (Crocs)10.00
Warm HatEE hooligan
Bandana/BuffBandana1.10
TOTAL
49.50
StorageItemOunces
Backpack Granite Gear Crown 38L30.50
Pack linerCompactor Bag x 24.30
Water Bottle HoldersX2 DIY sewn strap holders3.00
Stuff sack-clothesEE lightweight stuff sack0.70
Food-securityUrsack Bear Resistant Bag8.40
Food OdorOpsack Loksack scent proof liner1.60
TOTAL
48.50
Sleeping & ShelterItemOunces
ShelterNemo Hornet 230.00
PadNemo Switchback15.10
Sit PadCut Z Lite – to add under hips2.80
PillowNemo Fillo (comfy!)3.50
Sleeping quiltEE Revelation 10 degree Red21.85
TOTAL
73.25
Hydration & CookingItemOunces
Water storageCNOC Vecto 2L2.80
Water BagSawyer mesh storage bag0.50
PurificationSawyer Squeeze w/ coupler3.30
WaterNylon/pantyhose pre filter0.20
Cup/potSnowpeak cup
StoveSnow Peak Giga
CozyFreezer Bag Cozy
UtensilBlue spoon0.40
Ignitionmini bic lighter0.40
TOTAL
7.60
Misc/ElectronicsItemOunces
PhotoiPhone w/ case8.40
Battery PackAnker w/ cord + wall charger10.10
Battery PackGoal Zero Flip (smaller)
CameraGoPro w/bracket + bag
GarminInReach – used everyday4.00
LightsTwinkle lights, refresh batteries
Extra batteriesAAA’s (3) (flash light)
GlassesCheap reading glasses2.10
Trash Bag(2) bread bags
ScaleLuggage Scale
KindlePaperwhite
Art BagGranite Gear Hip Wing
Watercolor kitWatercolor Kit+ Pencil, pen, eraser, brush6.3
JournalSmall watercolor paper 8 sheets1.10
StoolREI flex lite air chair
TOTAL
32.00
Personal/HygeineItemOunces
ToothbrushTiny Toothbrush + cover0.30
WipeKula Cloth – antimicrobial pee cloth0.40
BidetCulo Clean0.70
Fem HyMenstrual Cup or Diva Cup0.70
Fem HyTampons x 5, panty liner x3, pad x10.80
Massage BallCork Ball1.70
Bathpaper towels 5 squares-instead f wipes0.50
TowelUse safety Bandana
TrowelDeuce of Spades-fancy poop shovel0.60
Earplugsx 20.10
Headnetcoghlans-better airflow than sea to summit1.00
Pepper SprayPersonal Size1.10
TOTAL
7.90
10 Essentials/RepairItemOunces
First Aid KitSolo kit 4 days6.70
Personal Blister KitFoot care1.60
Essential stuffsackBirchwood Bass0.30
SignallingMirror1.10
Safety/Signalling/MultiSafety Bandana1.20
Safety WhistleREI tri power whistle0.70
Emergency water(4) Micropur Tabs- back up0.10
Emergency warmthMylar Survival blanket1.80
Multi toolSwiss army tiny knife – scissors0.70
Flash lightUCO Headlamp3.10
CompassBasic Compass1.30
MapsBRT Maps1.30
GuidePhone photos of guidebook pages
ThermometerKey chain
Fire starting kitMatches, Lint + vaseline 6x, candle1.20
Repair KitRepair Tape x3, zip tie, pins, sew0.40
WarmerHand and Body Warmer
Emergency ShelterDisposable Rain poncho1.50
PenMini Sharpie0.20
FlashlightBack up penlight
KnifeMora Swedish Fire knife3.80
Rope25 ft Amsteel1.40
Duct tape10ft wrapped around trekking pole
TOTAL
28.40
MiscelaneousItemOunces
WalletW Cash and carabiner0.80
Business cardsWP Stickers x 120.40
TOTAL
1.20
ConsumablesItemOunces
Water1L CNOC Collapsible Vesica Water Bottle36.00
Water1L CNOC Collapsible Vesica Water Bottle2.11
Food5.5 days @ 2,500-2,600 cal105.30
ElectrolytesNuun Hydration Tablets1.30
Fuel bottleSnowpeak Fuel -sm can
ItchAnti itch cream 0.40
BugSawyer 20% picardin lotion1.50
SunSunscreen0.70
FootHikeGoo Blister Prevention Cream1.10
Chemical PurificationAqua Mira Drops- needed on Isle Royale
ToothpasteUnpaste Toothpaste Tabs x 80.30
TPTravel Kleenex-back up0.50
SoapDr Bronners in a visine dropper0.50
Hand sanitizerHonest Co. 2oz Spray Denatured Alcohol2.00
TOTALOZ151.71
TOTALLBS9.48
Base WeightItemOunces
BASE WEIGHT*OZ 248.35

Lbs15.52



CONSUMABLESOZ151.71

LBS9.48


CARRIED WEIGHT
400.06
minus worn gearLBS25.00*
24.7lb final weight. Can’t figure out what is rounding up here and not that worried about it.

New Gear Notes:

Sleeping Pad

I switched to the Nemo Switchback folding closed cell foam pad for this trip to save weight and simplify my rest and sleeping routine.

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 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.

Footwear

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.

Final Thoughts

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!

Happy Trails!

~WP

Airing everything out after our wet, stinky dirty trip.

Resources:

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!

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2 thoughts on “What’s in my Pack? 25 lb 5 Day Ultralight Gear List

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this! This and your trip report are very helpful as I prepare for an October BRT thru-hike. I’m curious – are you planning to post/share more about the food you packed? I’d love to hear what worked/didn’t work. Thanks so much for all you do!

    1. Hi Breanne-
      Thanks for reading and taking the time to write. October will be a beautiful time of year and hopefully the brush will die back a bit.

      My plan is to write about food shortly. I packed and ate a little differently on this trip and am happy to share what worked and what didn’t.

      Stay tuned and feel free to subscribe to my newsletter if you want to be notified of new posts

      Happy trails!

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