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 data gathering led me to realize this trail was 1000 miles long, stretching across Wisconsin as it followed the terminal moraine from a glacier that has been gone for nearly ten thousand years. 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)
  • Random tarp…I’ve been experimenting with many versions
  • Enlightened Equipment Enigma 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 socks
  • Baseball cap
  • Altra Lone Peak trail running shoes
  • Native sunglasses

Clothing carried

  • Enlightened Equipment Torrid Parka
  • Synthetic long underwear bottoms (occasionally I leave these at home)
  • OR Helium 2 rain jacket or Frogg Toggs (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
  • THRUNITE Ti3 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 6 lbs regardless of where I’m hiking.

Isn’t ultralight expensive?

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


34 Replies to “Gear List”

  1. 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. 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. 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. 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!


  5. 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!

  6. 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. —

  7. 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.

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

  9. 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

  10. 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?

  11. 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.

  12. Lint-

    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

  13. 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.

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

  15. 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!

  16. Hey Lint,
    Tom was talking about you when were were hiking up into The Enchantments in May. After being the heaviest, slowest climber in the group I am definitely adopting some of your techniques and gear choices.

    If you still have the gif image of “Less People More Wilderness” Would you email it to me? I want to make a run of vinyl stickers.


  17. Hey this is awesome sauce. I just saw a segment about you on NPR. My setup is about 40 pounds with water and food, which is a pain when going long distances. You’re inspiring me to make better life choices… and in this case, less is more. :)

    Also interested in your food list!

  18. Thank you for sharing!! I have been hesitant to get back into hiking due to knee injuries and the pain but the lightweight approach is exactly what I needed!! The options have improved so much and I am encouraged by what you are sharing!! Happy trails!!

  19. Thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge Lint. Take care man and I hope to see you out on the trails sometime.

  20. I don’t see a stove on this list. I thought I saw in the video that you carry a heating mechanism that uses sticks and things for cooking.

  21. I have noticed you don’t monetize your website, don’t waste your traffic, you can earn extra bucks every month because you’ve got high quality content.
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  22. I’ve thought about doing that. I’ve noticed a lot of hikers making money off their videos who have a fraction of my experience, and in rare cases are even giving poor advice. There certainly are some hustlers out there who saw a huge gap in the monetization of our culture and have pounced on it. That’s most of the reason I decided to start making videos and explore social media (and may write a book). I decided to offer the knowledge I’ve gained from nearly 30,000 miles of thru hiking in a world where people with one thru hike are suddenly proclaiming themselves to be experts!

    I’ve been thru hiking since 2003, and have never done it for any other reason than my passion for the outdoors. No fanfare, no fame. No selling crap I don’t actually use, or haven’t learned enough about through actual trial and error. I’ve always aligned myself with companies who I respect and choose to use on my own, without any exchange of money. My experience is my most valuable asset, and I’ve always refused to promote products I don’t stand behind.

    You’ll probably see some more affiliate links here and there if I continue to make videos, and I may even turn the ads on. Haven’t fully decided yet. I’m not doing this for the money…I do it for the love of my outdoor experiences. I’ve offered my website to the world for free for many years now, even while watching others regurgitate my info and slapping a price tag on it. It’s ok…I forgive them. I learned most of my skills from other hikers too (although I like to think I actually give them the credit they deserve).

    I’ve even toyed with the idea of setting up one-on-one consulting services, so I can assist others with their gear/footwear/food choices BEFORE they start a trail and have to learn the expensive way. As I’ve expanded my online presence, and have gathered attention from new hikers who otherwise didn’t know who I was, I’ve been flooded with emails asking for help. Answering all those questions takes time…and everyone sells their time. That’s what employment IS. You’re selling yourself! I’m still deciding where I wish to take this, so bear with me while I figure it out…and thanks for the advice! I should probably be making a living off this…lord knows I’ve put in the hours to master my craft.

  23. You’ve been experimenting with the small collapsible umbrella from montbell. Can it keep up with the long one from Gossamer? Thank you for all the wisdom you shared!

  24. They’re both good choices. The one from MontBell is lighter, but not as strong. The one from Gossamer Gear weighs slightly more, but is more durable. It’s a tough call to say which one is “better” since they’re both excellent.

  25. Lint, I second the request for the name (or type) of whatever wood stove you used to carry. It sounds like you may hike no-cook now, but I for one still like a hot meal and would love to know what you’ve found worked well for you in the wood burning category. Many thanks Sir!

  26. Back in the days when I cooked, I used a BushBuddy stove.

    There is a cheap knock-off woodstove out there that’s heavier and mass-produced in China, but I recommend the original (made in Canada) BushBuddy. It fit perfectly into a SnowPeak titanium pot (the 900ml, I believe?) for safe storage in your pack.

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