Gear List

Back in 2003 I was struggling to reclaim control over my life, and figured some wilderness therapy might help. I purchased a copy of Backpacker magazine, and read a short paragraph about a section of the Ice Age Trail. Further information gathering led me to realize this trail was 1000 miles long, stretching across Wisconsin! Without knowing a thing about long distance backpacking, or even that people undertook such voyages, I rustled up a back-breaking traditional hikers load and set off with the intention of clearing my head.

Holy cats, did I learn a LOT!

I learned that all that gear I carried added nothing to my enjoyment of the woods. My knees ached, blisters hobbled me the entire way, and only stubborn determination allowed me to finish the trail. My trip was plagued by mosquitos, terrible food choices, and inappropriate gear. It was a miserable experience…but I loved it. I loved it so much I set my sights on the Appalachian Trail in 2004.

For the AT, I did some research on gear. My baseweight on the IAT was around 35 pounds, but I started the AT with a 22 pound load. This made the hiking much more enjoyable, and I felt incredible. My knees and back didn’t hurt! Blisters never appeared! Hiking was an enjoyable activity, not a drudging death march! But I met other hikers on the AT that year who fully embraced ultralight backpacking and seemed to float down the trail. Their tiny packs amazed me, and I picked their brains for information on how I could shed pack weight as well.

2006 had me at the border of Mexico, staring down the 2665 mile Pacific Crest Trail that would lead me to Canada. This year, my baseweight was only 9 pounds. I had finally broken the 10 pound barrier! I eventually cut the hip belt off my pack since it served no purpose with such a small load. 30 mile days were possible day after day, and I gathered more ultralight tips from the trail veterans.

For 2007 I decided to tackle the Continental Divide Trail. My pack now weighed 8 pounds, and even under the brutal conditions along the CDT, I managed to hike comfortably and safely. Well, I did have a few cold nights, but at 12,000 feet on the exposed divide, it was expected.

My 2008 thru hike of the Colorado Trail, followed by a return to the PCT in 2009 and AT in 2010 had me tinkering with gear, trying new things and continuing to learn. I now feel completely comfortable with my ultralight set-up in nearly any conditions. The ultralight path is an ever changing process, and even with 13 thru hikes under my feet, I still am learning how to “lighten up”.

The gear

  • Mountain Laurel Designs Burn backpack (lined with trash compacter bag)
  • Gossamer Gear SpinnShelter tarp
  • Enlightened Equipment Enigma Elite quilt
  • Gossamer Gear Nightlight torso length sleeping pad
  • Gossamer Gear polycryo groundcloth (medium)
  • Titanium stakes (7)
  • Plastic container for soaking (re-hydrating) food
  • Titanium spoon

Clothing worn

  • Synthetic running shorts
  • Synthetic button up shirt
  • Injinji Trail 2.0 socks
  • Baseball cap
  • Altra Lone Peak 3.0 trail running shoes
  • Native sunglasses
  • Bandana

Clothing carried

  • Mont-Bell Superior Down Parka
  • Synthetic long underwear bottoms (occasionally I leave these at home)
  • OR Helium 2 rain jacket (depending on trail conditions, I sometimes only bring a wind jacket)
  • Mont-Bell  wind pants (only brought for cold weather conditions)
  • Fleece beanie hat
  • Extra Injinji socks (1 pair)

Misc. Gear

  • Laughing Rabbit Photon light
  • Fenix LD 01 flashlight (with spare battery)
  • Tiny dropper bottle of bleach (for rare water treatment)
  • 1 liter plastic water bottle
  • Platypus water bladders (quantity depends on water availability)
  • Bear bag hanging rope (only in bear country)
  • Mylar coated umbrella
  • XL custom bug netting
  • Watch (I cut off the straps and sew it to my backpack shoulder strap)
  • Ziploc ditty bag (toothbrush sans handle, toothpowder, athletic tape, compass, maps, mini Bic lighter)
  • Camp XLA 210 ice axe (only carried for icy conditions)
  • Phone with charger & headphones

This gear list represents what I carry for most of my thru hikes. I’ll often omit warm gear if I anticipate high temperatures (Appalachian Trail) and carry warmer gear for cold weather alpine trips (Continental Divide Trail) but my baseweight hovers around 7 lbs regardless of where I’m hiking.

Isn’t ultralight expensive?

I hear that a lot. Read my take on purchasing ultralight gear..



21 Responses to Gear List

  1. Linda Patrick says:

    This is an outstanding read. I have always wondered about packing for a hike, now I know. I remember your first toothbrush with holes drilled in the handle to lighten up. You’ve come a long way, Grasshopper. Hugs!

  2. Draggin' Tail says:

    Lint….. nice stab at a web site. Keep it up. The web site too, also, as well. ha~!

    Anyhoo…. glad to see you’ve worked out some sponsors. We ended up getting about $4,200 in sponsorship for our 2010 AT Thru while raising a little over $16,000 in donations to Water For People. Sherpa is in Park City, Utah liftin’ butts at a ski lift at Deer Valley Resort…… he’s applied for a hiking trail guide job in Alaska this summer. The kid clocked in at over 70 mph on the hill last month. CWAZY! I’m sellin’ my place here in the heartless land of the midwest and hoping to land a place in Grand Junction, CO. Raise some grapes and peaches and get the ole’ lady out on the JMT. If these 58 year old knees hold out I may just PCT before I pass. Glad to have met ya and keep postiin’ me or a mail drop may just pop in on you some day. ~forever pull that cap down over your eyes and head on out to those western skies~ draggin’ tail

  3. Pi says:

    Thought you’d at least mention the flextrek backpack here. ;-)

    Glad to see you’ve a site listing all these quality gears. When next I go hiking, my gear list will almost exactly match, nunatak, mld, rail riders, tholos, bush buddy are all great favorites of mine. Have you seen the latest neo-air? It’s lighter than my fav foam pad. I might have to switch to inflatable. If only I had the hot-air to fill it…


  4. RP says:

    Hi there. I would really enjoy seeing the list of food you bring along.

  5. AJ says:

    I second the food list request.

  6. Lint says:

    I’ll have a food list up soon, and will also begin posting gear review videos.

  7. Debbie says:

    You most definitely DON’T suck! I watched you on my local PBS station tonight. I’m completely jealous of all the amazing places you have been/seen. I’m sure you have plenty of stories to tell, you’ve got lots of useful information to share and you’re not bad to look at so I guess that means we’ll be seeing you soon on the Discovery Channel! :) Perhaps you can share (on your website) where you might be hiking in the future so adventure seekers like me can join you for a leg of your journey. I’d love to capture some great photographs from your vantage point and maybe take a few photos of you in action to add to your new website!

    Don’t get dead!


  8. Lint says:

    I’m leaving May 2nd from the Mexican border for a hike on the Continental Divide Trail, which stretches nearly 3000 miles to Canada. I’ll be posting updates on my website along the way. And I’ll do my best not to get dead!

  9. LiteTrail says:

    Hi Lint, trying to contact you by your website contact form re sponsorship, but it no worky. Can you get in touch with me so I can get you some details? Thanks, J.W. —

  10. Lillian says:

    It’s nearly impossible to find well-informed people about this topic, but you seem like you know what you’re talking about!

    Take a look at my blog post …

  11. Jim Stiles says:

    About Gear List and Spinn Shelter

    I bought a Spinn Twinn last year and found out the hard way that it was not waterproof. Seems they got a bad batch of spinnaker cloth? Anyway, Gossamer Gear has removed shelters from their gear selection on their web site.

    They were very apologetic, and refunded my purchase price. They even offered me a free backpack, an offer I appreciated, but declined.

    So you might consider including alternative shelter sources on your list, in parentheses since you have a shelter that works and are not about to change. I have purchased a ZPacks Hexamid and it seems to be very water repellent.

    Thanks for the great site.

  12. Robert Boscacci says:

    Great stuff. Thanks for the insight.

  13. Johni says:

    Wheres the food list?! …..also …. what kind of winter (preferably 4 season) ultralight gear would u recommend???? .

  14. Rob says:

    Hi Lint – I would be interested in seeing your customised bug net. Any photos? I used a Oware tarp and MLD Ultralight bivy bag for a year or two. Now moved to Zpacks Hexamid – move room, bug free and lighter in cuben fiber. Likewise, used the MLD Burn pack, now Zpacks Arc Blast small. A tip to cut your weight further, Zpacks Cuben Rain jacket. I wear shorts like you. Hate hiking in longs or rain pants. It gets pretty wet here in NZ (I guess like Washington) so I got Joe at Zpacks to cut off the legs of their cuben rain pants to just above the knee – now I have rain shorts – the “bees knees”. I have added your site to my blog – you can see that at

  15. Eric Larson says:

    Hello Lint,
    I see that you heartily endorse the mountain laurel backpacks and other gear for which it appears you are sponsored by. The question I have is, are your gear endorsements biased due to your financial or free gear relationship with these sponsors? Would you really be willing to throw down your sponsored gear in favor of superior gear for which you have must pay out of pocket for?

  16. Lint says:

    I’m not really “sponsored” by these companies, I’m more of an ambassador. After buying their gear for years, I eventually became friends with the manufacturers, and they would occasionally send me free gear to test. When I had this website created, I had links to my favorite companies listed so folks could find the gear I may of showed them on trail. I don’t get paid by ANY of these companies, and with most I only get a “prodeal”, which is 50% off retail. But I paid full retail for years, and still do when a new product comes out that I want to try.

  17. Enduro says:


    I see your rockin the EE quilt these days. A change for you. Bought one for for my LASH this year Campo to Reds. Love the weight, size (I have the wide version, and the company. Those guys are the best. Ive seen many of the EE quilts on trail. Best value around. Once again I thank you for showing me the way to ultra-lite distance hiking. We’ve met breifly a few times and your wisdom is appreciated. Oh– no stove this year. Love making and DH my own meals. Rehydrating is tooo easy and I eat my meals. Thanks. Keep on keeping on the CDT. Enduro

  18. Lint says:

    Love my EE quilt. The vertical baffles are a GAME CHANGER! And glad to hear you’re experimenting with stoveless “cooking”. Such a weight saver.

  19. Plant says:

    Love your site. I’m so glad we crossed paths.

  20. Michael Sweet says:

    I’m curious about your bug net. Description is XL custom. Is it something you made? Any details you could share about it?

  21. SAC says:

    It’s a bug net that fits over his head and torso with elastic at the bottom. Add an open umbrella underneath and presto bug free respite!

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