Kenon and I are backpacking King’s Peak this weekend and I am PUMPED! I can’t stop thinking about it, which is what inspired this post. King’s Peak is the highest point in Utah. At 13,528 feet of elevation, it is a 28.8-mile hike to summit.
Two years ago I had no idea what backpacking was or how to pack my gear. I didn’t really have any gear, for that matter! Now I’m getting excited, pulling every piece of gear I own out and deciding whether or not I need to bring it with. I have spent some time trying out different products and finding what works for me. While there will always be something better (gearheads, you know what I mean!) I am quite satisfied with my current setup. These are my top 5 favorite items that are always in my pack for any backpacking adventure.
Tip: Think “light”! Little pieces add up fast and all you are accomplishing is making more weight to drag up a mountain. Choose efficient, lightweight, and compact items.
1. The pack
I have a Deuter ACT Lite 60 + 10 Ultralight pack. Just head on over to Amazon and take a look at this thing. It is designed with a shorter torso to fit a woman’s frame. It fits snug to my back yet is still breathable (thank you Deuter for this technology!). The zip pocket on the bottom is a separate compartment from the main portion for easy access to important items – I mostly keep snacks and extra layers in here. I am a very small, light human and this pack looks massive on me but sits perfectly to prevent injury. It has feature after feature to make backpacking a success.
2. My sleeping bag
My favorite piece of gear that I own is my Big Agnes Sleeping Bag. I wanted the Big Agnes Roxy Ann 15 so badly for all of its features. It is so expensive, though, and I had moved on to cheaper options. But then I just happened to find my perfect Roxy Ann at an REI Garage Sale at a screamin’ discount. Big Agnes makes phenomenal sleeping bags and the Roxy Ann 15 is incredible quality. It has a 650 down-fill, 15 degree rating, and a pocket in the back to keep your sleeping pad in place. Did I mention the pretty colors it comes in? At a 15 degree rating this bagPadrks for fall, spring, and summer camping in most places. For use in the winter add a Sleeping Bag Liner and you are good to go!
3. Sleeping pad
I have a Big Agnes Sleeping Pad to match my Big Agnes Sleeping Bag. Really, though, Kenon and I tried so many different dissapointing sleeping pads before we settled on the ones we have now. I could not find the exact one that I own, it might be out of production since Big Agnes is always improving, but I included a link below to similar options. A good sleeping pad was the most difficult thing for us to find. Visit this REI article to find out more about the different options out there. Kenon eventually compromised on weight and bought something heavier because he is so tall and (shameless compliment) muscular that nothing was ever comfortable. He also chose something with more insulation to keep him warmer during the night. I was just looking for something that was insulated, easy to blow up and easy to decompress.
4. Jet Boil Flash Cooking System
There are so many reasons to love the Jet Boil! I asked Kenon, “What do you like about the Jet Boil?” His reply: “Everything.”
It is convenient, efficient, lightweight, and durable. It is relatively cheap compared to similar systems. All of the pieces (except fuel) are created to pack into itself, like a Russian nesting doll. It stays cool to the touch so there is a minimal risk of burns. I even take it with us when we go regular camping because it heats up water for my morning coffee so much more quickly than anything else. Coffee addicts – you can understand the allure here. The Jet Boil is probably our most lauded piece of gear. We talk it up to everyone who will listen.
We own an Alps Mountaineering: Chaos 2 backpacking tent. This tent is so easy to set up. The thing I am always looking for in a tent is ease of assembly. Kenon and I are often at our campsite for a very short period of time. There are many times where we set up after the sun goes down and tear down before the sun comes up. Setting up the Chaos 2 in the dark is so simple. It is just one contiguous pole, pop it up, clip it in and BOOM! Done. Then you have the option of staking it down or securing it with the extra guyouts.
A bonus about this two-person tent is that it has two points of entry. When Kenon and I lay our sleeping pads out, the small space is cramped. We each have our own door on our side of the tent, though, so that we do not have to climb over each other to get out.
There is one downfall about this tent. It is definitely not an ultralight. It is a little on the heavy side for backpacking gear. When we are ready to purchase a new tent I will look for something with similar features in a lighter-weight model.