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Our Grand Canyon trip report just published, so let’s talk about GEAR!
This post features my detailed 5 day packing list, including weights in oz and the weather and water conditions that we needed to consider on this shoulder season trip.
Be sure to check out the gear video from our last night of the trek, where I unpack everything that I carried! These videos are a fun “real-time share-out” from trips including Isle Royale National Park and Border Route and highlight varying levels of comfort, gear and conditions.
Unlike my ‘comfort lite’ Isle Royale and Pictured Rocks trips, and ‘lightweight’ Border Route gear list, my Grand Canyon trip had to be adapted to avoid carrying too much weight on the steep route, but also have the right gear along for snow, big temperature swings, and carrying more water.
Does Pack Weight Really Matter?
I’m not here to tell you how much your pack should weigh or what you should or should not bring on a trip. But, I will tell you that my body and mind have been happier since I started weighing and being more thoughtful about each item that I bring on a trip.
In my early days of backpacking, I would pack what I thought I needed, and then hop on and off of the bathroom scale with and without my pack on to determine weight. From there, I started to look more closely at each item and created and spreadsheet that calculated the weight of worn, packed and consumable gear.
I got serious about this detailed weight 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 couple of pounds, 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. This work showed me how much better my body and mind could feel at the end of the day by lightening my load and keeping track of less gear.
Following my SHT 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 love this term. 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 cushy sleeping pad… You can check out my comfort lite packing list and watch my video from our last night at camp on Isle Royale here.
In 2022, after a summer of less hiking and a couple of bikepacking trips under my belt, I wanted to trim my pack weight back down. I enjoyed the simplicity of the gear on my bikepacking 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 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 smack dab in the middle of what most define as *ultralight and lightweight.
Made it! 5 days of food AND STILL brought my little art kit along.
Grand Canyon Lightweight Gear Considerations:
- March temperatures ranged wildly with a morning temperature of 24 degrees with windchill at the South Rim and a high of 98 degrees in the midday sun at Sumner Wash.
- Our hike included snow, ice, mud, dirt and one dry camp that required carrying in extra water.
- Brought homemade calorie dense meals for 4 days, and reserved Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner at Phantom Ranch to save a little weight and enjoy the Ranch-HIGHLY RECOMMEND!
- I carried 3L of water (1-2L more than I normally do) to stay hydrated in dry conditions.
- I carried half of my tent for the first time, and shared it with a friend. (so it will look smaller than usual in the picture below)
- Weight includes a heavier (12 oz) rodent-proof food bag, required for our one night off corridor.
- I used everything in my pack-the only piece of gear I wish I’d brought was my Sun Umbrella
- I ended up bringing extra socks since I didn’t know how my feet would respond to the downward hike, and ended up liking my Darn Tough Quarter socks best.
- Please feel free to ask me about any gear in the comments, my notes column did not format well.
Alright! Here’s the list of everything I packed with the weights included.
5 Day Lightweight Backpacking Gear List | Cold Weather Gear + 3L Water
|Top||Sahara Shade hoodie||7.20|
|Bra||All in Motion wicking Bra||2.00|
|Light layer||Mountain Hardware KOR Pre shell hoodie||4.30|
|Underwear||Pair of Thieves Mens long Boxer briefs||2.40|
|Sock 1||Darn Tough Quarter Length||2.60|
|Compression Sleeves||Zensah Compression Leg Sleeves||1.50|
|Shoes||Oboz Sapphire boots||30.40|
|Sun Gloves||Outdoor Research Active Ice||0.60|
|Hat||Wandering Pine Trucker Hat||2.5|
|Safety Whistle||small neck whistle (similar)||0.20|
|Trekking poles||Leki Corklite (similar)||14.90|
|Camera||iPhone w/ case||8.40|
|Rain Top||REI Rain Jacket||9.70|
|Rain Bottom||Rain Skirt||2.90|
|Rain Gloves||latex gloves||0.40|
|Light Gloves||Black Diamond midweight screen tap||1.50|
|Underwear||Pair of Thieves Mens long Boxer briefs||2.80|
|Insulating layer||Enlightened Equipment Torrid Jacket||7.50|
|Insulating Layer||EE Snow Skirt/Doubles as small blanket||5.20|
|Baselayer/Sleep top||Smartwool lightweight merino long sleeve (similar)||4.60|
|Baselayer/Sleep bottom||Kari Traa Merino Wool||5.90|
|Sock 2||Darn Tough Quarter Length||2.60|
|Sock 3||Injinji toe socks (extra)||1.40|
|Sock 4||Darn Tough Knee High (similar)||3.00|
|Socks/sleep||Acorn Fleece Socks||2.40|
|Camp Shoes||Joy Bee shoes (Crocs)||10.00|
|Warm Hat||Enlightened Equipment Torrid Hat||1.10|
|Mittens||Enlightened Equipment Torrid Mittens||2.30|
|Backpack||Granite Gear Crown 360||38.40|
|Pack liner||Nylofume plastic pack liner x 2||2.00|
|Water Bottle Holders||use bungees on pack straps|
|Stuff sack-clothes||use pump bag-included in pad weight|
|Food-security||Ursack Almighty Bear + Critter Sack||12.30|
|Food Odor||Opsack Loksack scent proof liner||1.60|
|Sleeping & Shelter||Item||Ounces|
|Shelter||Nemo Hornet 2 (split the 44.3 oz w/tent buddy)||23.30|
|Pad||Thermarest NXT Rectangle Wide||27.20|
|Sit Pad||Cut Z Lite||2.80|
|Sleeping quilt||EE Revelation 10 degree Red||21.85|
|Hydration & Cooking||Item||Ounces|
|Water storage||CNOC Vecto 2L + 1L back up BOT||2.80|
|Water Bag||Sawyer mesh storage bag||0.50|
|Purification||Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter||3.30|
|Water||Nylon/pantyhose pre filter||0.20|
|Cup/pot||BOT HD by Vargo Outdoors||5.50|
|Stove||Snow Peak Gigapower (shared)|
|Cozy||DIY Freezer Bag Cozy||2.00|
|Utensil||Sea to Summit Long Blue spoon||0.40|
|Battery Pack||Anker w/ (3) cords + wall charger||10.20|
|Glasses||Cheap reading glasses||2.10|
|Art Bag||Granite Gear 1L zip ditty||0.60|
|Watercolor kit||Art Tool Kit + Pencil, pen, eraser, brush||6.1|
|Journal||Moleskine Watercolor Journal||4.40|
|Toothbrush||Tiny Toothbrush + cover||0.30|
|Bidet||Culo Clean portable bidet|
|Fem Hy||Menstrual Cup|
|Fem Hy||Tampons x 5, panty liner x3, pad x1||0.80|
|Massage Ball||Rawlogy Cork Balls (2)||3.50|
|Bath||Viva paper towels/5 squares||0.50|
|Towel||Use safety Bandana|
|Trowel||Deuce of Spades||0.60|
|First Aid Kit||Solo kit 4 days||7.10|
|Personal Blister Kit||Foot care||1.60|
|Essential stuff sack||Birchwood Bass||0.30|
|Safety Whistle||REI tri power whistle||0.70|
|Emergency water||(4) Micropur Tabs||0.10|
|Emergency warmth||Mylar Survival blanket (similar)||1.80|
|Multi tool||Swiss army mini yellow knife w/ scissors||0.70|
|Flashlight||Nite Core headlamp||1.60|
|Maps||Grand Canyon Nat Geo Map||3.20|
|Guide||Copies of paper guide or guidebook|
|Fire starting kit||Matches, Lint + vaseline 6x, candle|
|Repair Kit||Repair Tape x3, zip tie, pins, sew||0.40|
|Warmer||Hand and Body Warmer||1.70|
|Emergency Shelter||Disposable Rain poncho||1.50|
|Rope||25 ft Amsteel||1.40|
|Duct tape||10ft wrapped around trekking pole|
|Wallet||W Cash and carabiner||0.80|
|Business cards||Wandering Pine Stickers x 12||0.40|
|Water||1L CNOC Collapsible Vesica Water Bottle||32.00|
|Water||1L CNOC Collapsible Vesica Water Bottle||32.00|
|Food||5 days @ 2,500-2,600 cal||96.90|
|Electrolytes||Nuun Hydration Tablets||2.25|
|Fuel bottle||Snowpeak Fuel -sm can||7.10|
|Foot||HikeGoo Blister Prevention Foot Balm|
|Aqua Mira||back up water purification (works on viruses)|
|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||27.99|
Photo from an earlier gear-testing trip to Tettegouche State Park
New Gear Notes
- Granite Gear Crown 360 Backpack
- I have used Granite Gear backpacks for a few years on many trips. At 2 lbs 6.4 oz, this pack is lightweight, durable, thoughtfully designed and the newest undyed version has updated strap/accessory features and is a great canvas to paint on! You can read more about my Artpack and the supplies I used to customize it in this post.
- Thermarest Neo Air XTherm NXT Max Sleeping Pad
- Upgraded my pad since I am a cold sleeper. The updated Thermarest design is quieter than its predecessor, 3″ thick, has a toasty 7.3 R value, is easy to pump up with the included stuff sack and downright luxurious in a wide width rectangle. I opted for a bigger and warmer pad because I am a side sleeper, don’t like being cold at night and wanted to make sure I got good sleep to aid in recovery each night. I slept wonderfully on this pad. It’s a keeper.
- Nitecore UL headlamp
- My last headlamp finally died. The nitecore is lightweight at 1.5 oz 400 lumens, rechargeable and has a claimed battery life of 45 hours on the lowest setting . I like the light weight strap and was very happy with the red light feature which is recommended in the dark sky preserve of the Grand Canyon.
- BOT HD Titanium Bottle Pot
- A great piece of backpacking gear is one that has multiple uses. I have been meaning to upgrade my small camp mug for a while now since I like to have a big warm beverage along with my meals. I have carried a talenti jar to cold soak and make breakfast shakes…and wished I had a container that held my fuel and stove…and hey, why not have another 1L water container along in case you need it? I have used this bottle/cookpot/multipurpose container for all of the above and even sewed a sweet lil cozy to keep my big mug of tea warm. The only downside is that I think it takes a little longer to boil water in a tall pot vs. a wide pot…but the joy of drinking a big multipurpose mug of tea makes it worth it.
- Oboz Sapphire Hiking Boots
- After destroying my feet in multiple ways I switched over to trail runners before my Superior Hiking Trail Thru Hike. Its been hit and miss with the durability of these shoes, but my feet have been happier for the most part. Switched back to hiking boots for this trip due to rocky terrain, unpredictable weather including snow, wearing crampons, and winter/spring conditions. I bought these boots a month before the trip, had very little break in period, added an engo patch to the annoying heel seam that most hiking boots have…and they performed very well for me. I got some sore pinky toes on the hike down, but that was probably due to the socks I was wearing. Will put these boots to good use in winter and cold weather hiking.
- Enlightened Equipment Torrid Mittens
- This is my second pair of these mittens. I lost my beloved Torrid mittens a few years ago, and was too cheap and stubborn to buy another pair! A week before the trip, the forecast was still erratic and I wanted to have a warm lightweight solution for my hands, so I ordered a pair. I wore them when it was cold and used them while painting in the morning (they have a flip top finger opening). At 2.3 oz, they were a lightweight warm layer that I will use for painting outside and keep better track of this time around!
- Kuhl Free Flex Roll up Pant
- Kuhl sent me these pants to test out a few months ago. They have been comfy lightweight hiking pants, made of slightly stretchy fabric, have a soft waistband, and stayed cool in the heat of the day. The roll-up legs are just right for stream crossings and cooling off when its hot and the pockets are generously sized for carrying snacks, a map, phone and anything else you need to have handy. I got a tiny tear in the knee somehow on this trip that I can repair, but these pants might not be durable enough for climbing, scrambling or sharp surfaces. Further testing required.
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.
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 are gearing up for 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? Drop me a note in the comments or join the Wandering Pine FB or IG to continue the conversation!
Grand Canyon Tiny Sketchbook instagram reel
5 day Lightweight Gear List – Border Route Summer Trip
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