I spent months researching backpacking gear. My buddy Austin began his PCT northbound adventure in March, and it wasn’t long into reading his daily posts before I wanted to get into backpacking. Talked Heather into it too! It’s approaching September, and our first trip will be from Pine to the top of the Mogollon Rim (passage 26 of the Arizona Trail) over Labor Day weekend.
I read countless reddit threads and online reviews, shopped around for pricing, sought advice from experienced hikers, and changed my mind about what I wanted more than just a few times. What I found in my research was that there are a TON of different opinions on what gear is best. We selected our gear trying to get the best value (price vs performance) while balancing our attempt to go as lightweight as we thought reasonable.
We initially started with 60+L packs, but then settled on 40L packs. Most of our trips will be 1-3 days, and if we want to maintain a light pack we have to prevent ourselves from having the capacity to pack more than we need! Because Heather and I will be hiking together, we are able to share a tent and sleep system and distribute the weight between our packs. That allows us to save space and carry less total weight between us.
Finally, after buying and returning a half dozen backpacks, I’m very happy with of our gear selection that make the base weights of our packs around 15 lbs. The only way to find out if we made good gear choices is to get out and use the darn stuff. I’ll certainly report back with our findings.
Here is a compilation of sites I found useful in my research:
10 Backpacking Food Mistakes to Avoid
Best Lightweight Quilts & Sleeping Bags
10 Best Ultralight Backpacking Quilts
Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20 Degree vs ZPacks 20 Degree
Best Backpacking Stoves of 2018
8 Excellent Ultralight Backpacking Knives
Retailers & Outlets
BackpackingLight.com Gear Swap
REI and REI Outlet