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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.

My DIY Ultralight pack on the Superior Hiking Trail

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.

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

Comfort Lite

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.

Unpacking at Havasupai Gardens Campground in my Grand Canyon Gear Video

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

Clothing WornItemOunces
TopSahara Shade hoodie7.20
BraAll in Motion wicking Bra2.00
Light layerMountain Hardware KOR Pre shell hoodie4.30
UnderwearPair of Thieves Mens long Boxer briefs2.40
PantsKuhl Pant12.20
Sock 1Darn Tough Quarter Length2.60
Compression SleevesZensah Compression Leg Sleeves1.50
ShoesOboz Sapphire boots30.40
Sun GlovesOutdoor Research Active Ice0.60
HatWandering Pine Trucker Hat2.5
Safety Whistlesmall neck whistle (similar)0.20
Trekking polesLeki Corklite (similar)14.90
CramponsFoot Traction 14.30
CameraiPhone w/ case8.40
Other ClothingItemOunces

Rain TopREI Rain Jacket9.70
Rain BottomRain Skirt2.90
Rain Gloveslatex gloves0.40
Light GlovesBlack Diamond midweight screen tap1.50
UnderwearPair of Thieves Mens long Boxer briefs2.80
Insulating layerEnlightened Equipment Torrid Jacket7.50
Insulating LayerEE Snow Skirt/Doubles as small blanket5.20
Baselayer/Sleep topSmartwool lightweight merino long sleeve (similar)4.60
Baselayer/Sleep bottomKari Traa Merino Wool5.90
Sock 2Darn Tough Quarter Length2.60
Sock 3Injinji toe socks (extra)1.40
Sock 4Darn Tough Knee High (similar)3.00
Socks/sleepAcorn Fleece Socks2.40
Camp ShoesJoy Bee shoes (Crocs)10.00
Warm HatEnlightened Equipment Torrid Hat1.10
MittensEnlightened Equipment Torrid Mittens2.30
Backpack Granite Gear Crown 36038.40
Pack linerNylofume plastic pack liner x 22.00
Water Bottle Holdersuse bungees on pack straps
Stuff sack-clothesuse pump bag-included in pad weight
Food-securityUrsack Almighty Bear + Critter Sack12.30
Food OdorOpsack Loksack scent proof liner1.60
Sleeping & ShelterItemOunces
ShelterNemo Hornet 2 (split the 44.3 oz w/tent buddy)23.30
PadThermarest NXT Rectangle Wide27.20
Sit PadCut Z Lite 2.80
PillowNemo Fillo3.00
Sleeping quiltEE Revelation 10 degree Red21.85
Hydration & CookingItemOunces
Water storageCNOC Vecto 2L + 1L back up BOT2.80
Water BagSawyer mesh storage bag0.50
PurificationSawyer Squeeze Water Filter3.30
WaterNylon/pantyhose pre filter0.20
Cup/potBOT HD by Vargo Outdoors5.50
StoveSnow Peak Gigapower (shared)
CozyDIY Freezer Bag Cozy2.00
UtensilSea to Summit Long Blue spoon0.40
Battery PackAnker w/ (3) cords + wall charger10.20
GarminInReach Mini4.00
GlassesCheap reading glasses2.10
Art BagGranite Gear 1L zip ditty0.60
Watercolor kitArt Tool Kit + Pencil, pen, eraser, brush6.1
JournalMoleskine Watercolor Journal4.40
ToothbrushTiny Toothbrush + cover0.30
WipeKula Cloth0.40
BidetCulo Clean portable bidet
Fem HyMenstrual Cup
Fem HyTampons x 5, panty liner x3, pad x10.80
Massage BallRawlogy Cork Balls (2)3.50
BathViva paper towels/5 squares0.50
TowelUse safety Bandana
TrowelDeuce of Spades0.60
Earplugsx 20.10
10 Essentials/RepairItemOunces
First Aid KitSolo kit 4 days7.10
Personal Blister KitFoot care1.60
Essential stuff sackBirchwood Bass0.30
Safety/Signalling/MultiSafety Bandana1.20
Safety WhistleREI tri power whistle0.70
Emergency water(4) Micropur Tabs0.10
Emergency warmthMylar Survival blanket (similar)1.80
Multi toolSwiss army mini yellow knife w/ scissors0.70
FlashlightNite Core headlamp1.60
MapsGrand Canyon Nat Geo Map3.20
GuideCopies of paper guide or guidebook
ThermometerDigital thermometer1.76
Fire starting kitMatches, Lint + vaseline 6x, candle
Repair KitRepair Tape x3, zip tie, pins, sew0.40
WarmerHand and Body Warmer1.70
Emergency ShelterDisposable Rain poncho1.50
PenMini Sharpie0.20
Rope25 ft Amsteel1.40
Duct tape10ft wrapped around trekking pole
WalletW Cash and carabiner0.80
Business cardsWandering Pine Stickers x 120.40
Water1L CNOC Collapsible Vesica Water Bottle32.00
Water1L CNOC Collapsible Vesica Water Bottle32.00
Food5 days @ 2,500-2,600 cal96.90
ElectrolytesNuun Hydration Tablets2.25
Fuel bottleSnowpeak Fuel -sm can7.10
FootHikeGoo Blister Prevention Foot Balm
Aqua Miraback up water purification (works on viruses)
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
Base WeightItemOunces




minus worn gearLBS27.99

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.

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.

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.

Camping at Bright Angel Campground

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!

Happy Trails!


Related Posts

Grand Canyon Trip Report Part 1 & Part 2

Grand Canyon Tiny Sketchbook instagram reel

What’s In My Field Art Kit and How to Build Your Own

5 day Lightweight Gear List – Border Route Summer Trip

Treat Your Feet – Foot Care on the trail!


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