GEAR 2020-02-07T22:58:58-05:00

My gear list has evolved over the years through a lot of trial and error and a desire for a lighter pack. Below I’ve briefly given reviews of gear I’ve used in the past and explained why I replaced those items, followed by descriptions of the items I use now.

My JMT gear list
Gear for the trail
Budget gear
JMT Gear checklist


Big Agnes Copper Spur UL4 (my current campground/beach tent)

I was using an inexpensive tent designed for ‘campground camping’ and decided to get something more reliable/appropriate for backpacking. After tons of research, I decided to buy a Big Agnes Copper Spur. I wanted to buy the UL3 version to use as a 2-person backpacking tent, but the UL4 was on sale for a significantly cheaper price (so of course I bought the UL4…). Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that a six pound tent is far too heavy for backpacking. I used it on some short trips and quickly realized I needed something lighter. It’s a great, high-quality tent, but I now only use it when I stay at campgrounds or camp at the beach.

Copper Spur UL4Copper Spur UL4 on the beach    Big Agnes Copper Spur UL4 camping tent


Tarptent Double Rainbow (no longer own)

After struggling to carry my Copper Spur UL4 on trips, I decided to buy a much lighter tent. I had a hard time deciding whether to get a Tarptent Double Rainbow or a Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo, but ultimately chose the Double Rainbow because it didn’t require trekking poles to set it up, and there were so many positive reviews of the tent online. Although the tent was very easy to set up, I didn’t enjoy using this tent. It was too small for two people to comfortably sit up at the same time (not enough ‘head space’ due to the angle of of the roof), and a lot of water and mud splashed in when it rained (the bathtub floor is very low, especially by the doors). I can see why many people like this tent, but it just didn’t work for me. Perhaps if I lived in a drier climate and hadn’t experienced the spaciousness of the Copper Spur UL4, I could have enjoyed this tent more. I think the Lunar Duo would have better suited me as it has much more ‘head room’.

Tarptent Double Rainbow Review Tarptent Double Rainbow tent for two people

Zpacks Triplex (my current backpacking tent)

After my previous tent experiences, I realized that I wanted a light tent with lots of space and great rain protection (that’s not the easiest thing to find!). I decided to buy the Triplex because it seemed to have all of the characteristics I was looking for (except the price). Having used this tent many times now, I can say that I am satisfied with my choice. It is very light, has plenty of space for two people and gear, and has kept me dry in rain storms. I have experienced some problems setting it up (I had to put micro line locs on the guy lines because the fixed guy lines really limited where I could set up the tent), and it is bit more sheer than I would like, but overall I like it and will continue to use it when I go backpacking.

Zpacks Triplex front viewZpacks Triplex Side View

Zpacks Triplex Review Zpacks Triplex for two people Inside the Zpacks TriplexZpacks Triplex Wind Performance


Kelty 55 liter backpack (no longer own)

I needed a new backpack for backpacking trips after my old one wore out, and settled on a 55L Kelty backpack that I found for a great price online. Although the price was great and the pack looked nice, it was very uncomfortable. The pack didn’t carry the load well, and the hip belt gave me bruises. After just one hour into my first trip with this backpack, I knew I had to sell it and look for something else.

Kelty 55L backpack   Kelty Women's Backpack   Kelty 55L Backpack Review

Gossamer Gear Mariposa (my current backpack)

After a ton of research, I settled on this backpack and love it. It’s very light, and more importantly, it is comfortable (I especially appreciate that the hipbelt doesn’t hurt!). I like that there is a long side pocket on one side (which is where I put my tent) and a large mesh pocket on the front where I can quickly stash items. The hipbelt pockets are quite large too, and there’s a handy pocket on the backpack’s lid. It’s big enough to hold my bear canister (vertically) and all of my gear without being ‘too big’ or having any unnecessary bulky/heavy features. Perhaps someday I will upgrade to the latest version of the pack (I currently have an older version), but I’m really satisfied with what I have and am glad I selected this one.

DSC02018 - Copy (2) DSC02018 - Copy DSC03804 - Copy

Sleeping bag

Kelty Ignite DriDown 20°F (no longer use)

I purchased this sleeping bag because it seemed like the best option for my budget. It’s a warm, well-made sleeping bag (looks good too!) and I experienced no problems with it on any of my trips. However, I realized that I enjoy backpacking much more when I have a lighter pack (particularly on longer trips), so I decided to find a replacement for this sleeping bag. Still, I think this is a nice sleeping bag that could be great for someone on a budget or someone who only takes short trips and doesn’t necessarily need to have a very light pack.

Kelty Lightweight Sleeping BagKelty 20 degree Down sleeping bag

Zpacks 20°F sleeping bag (my current sleeping bag)

I love this sleeping bag. It’s warm, and lofts up more than I expected considering how light it is. I like that it doesn’t have a hood (it feels less constricting) and that it takes up very little space when it is in a stuff sack. I dislike the color (I am beyond sad that they started offering it in blue after I had already bought mine!), and I wish I had gotten mine with a draft tube, but overall I’m really satisfied with this sleeping bag and plan to use it long-term.

Zpacks 20 degree tall regular sleeping bag Zpacks 20 degree sleeping bag on the John Muir Trail

Sleeping pad

Big Agnes Insulated Q-Core Sleeping Pad – Regular (no longer use)

I bought this sleeping pad because it was thick (3.5 inches!) and had a good R-value (5). However, I realized it was much bigger than I needed, and at 27 ounces, it was also too heavy. I can’t say there was anything particularly wrong with this pad (except its weight), though I expected it to be more comfortable considering how thick it is (I never really felt like it was any more comfortable than other options). I decided to replace it to lighten my pack.

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm – Regular (my current sleeping pad)

I purchased this sleeping pad because it seemed to have the perfect combination of weight (15 oz.) and warmth (R value= 5.7). I’ve never had any problems with it leaking or tearing, and it’s comfortable (I prefer this over my Big Agnes pad), seems to insulate me well, and is the perfect size for me and my sleeping bag. I’m really glad I chose this one!


Thermarest Compressible Pillow (medium) (no longer use)

I used to use clothing in a stuff sack as my pillow, but decided it was too uncomfortable. I decided to buy this pillow because it had good reviews and was one of the cheapest available options. The foam in this pillow expands quite a bit, and I found it to be reasonably comfortable. However, its size when packed wasn’t very small, and at 9.8 ounces, it was simply too heavy so I decided to replace it.

Thermarest pillow reviewThermarest pillow folded

Big Sky Dream Sleeper (my current backpacking pillow)

I read many positive reviews of this pillow on Backpackinglight (BPL), so I decided to give it a try. Although a bit expensive, it ended up being exactly the pillow I was looking for. It’s very light (3.6 oz. with the pillowcase, 1.4oz. without), and has a curve in the center which cradles my head comfortably. I was worried that it would be a bit uncomfortable because it is an inflatable pillow, but surprisingly, I actually like that this pillow is inflatable because I can adjust the firmness (I like mine slightly deflated to make it the right combination of ‘soft yet supportive’). Although I still have my Thermarest pillow, I always use this one now, even when weight isn’t an issue (‘car camping’, flights, etc.).

Best ultralight pillow for backpacking Big Sky Dream Sleeper rolled up DSC01222 - Copy

Hiking shoes/Trail runners

Merrell Women’s Siren Sport Hiking Shoe (my current day-hiking shoe)

I have been using this hiking shoe model for years. They’re comfortable, provide great underfoot protection, and have very good traction even on wet and rocky surfaces. I’m not sure what I’ll do if they’re ever discontinued and part of me just wants to buy a bunch of them and stash them away ‘just in case.’ With that said, I tend to only use them on day hikes nowadays because they take forever to dry after getting wet. I learned the hard way that I needed to find a different shoe that dries more quickly for extended trips where rain is a possibility.

Hiking shoes in the autumn leaves merrell Merrell Siren Sport

Brooks Cascadia 9 (my current trail runner for backpacking trips)

I bought this particular trail runner for backpacking because I heard it was a very popular model among PCT thru-hikers, and I really like it. They dry faster than my Merrells and have always been very comfortable. However, my current pair is getting worn out and I’m not sure if I can rely on them lasting through my whole JMT hike in July. Brooks Cascadia 9s are no longer available, so I’m still deciding whether to get Brooks Cascadia 11,  Pearl Izumi Trail M2  or Altra Lone Peak 2.5 as a replacement.

Brooks Cascadia 9 for backpacking women's Brooks Cascadia 9 Brooks Cascadia 9 review


Biore Aqua Watery Essence SPF50 (my daily-use sunscreen)

This is the sunscreen I use in my daily life, and is my favorite sunscreen that I have ever tried. It is very smooth and doesn’t leave any stickiness, shininess, or white residue. I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s completely unlike any other sunscreen I’ve come across, and I hope it is never discontinued. I really wanted this to work for when I go hiking because I was using Bullfrog as my ‘sports sunscreen’, which tended to ball up and peel off. Unfortunately it isn’t waterproof (at all…), so I had to search for an alternative.

Sawyer Stay-put Sunscreen SPF30 (my current hiking/backpacking/sports sunscreen)

I eventually tried this sunscreen, and I really like this option for days when I’m hiking and need something water-resistant. It’s long-lasting, effective, and doesn’t leave any strange residues, so it meets my standard! I’m glad I finally found a ‘sports’ sunscreen that I like.

Gear I added

Over time, I learned the importance of reducing my baseweight and leaving unnecessary items at home. There are numerous items, however, that I added to my gear list to make hiking a more comfortable experience:

Patagonia Houdini Wind Jacket

I never used to wear wind jackets when hiking, but am very glad I decided to try this one. Sometimes I’m too hot/cold with my other clothing options, and quite often it’s my Patagonia Houdini that makes my temperature ‘just right’. I don’t like hiking in my rain jacket unless it is raining, so I don’t feel like having a wind jacket is ‘redundant’ for me. It makes me feel so comfortable while hiking, so I don’t mind the few extra ounces in this case.
Patagonia Houdini for backpacking women's Patagonia Houdini red houdini4

Suntactics sCharger-5 Portable Solar Charger

It works well on trails with lots of sunlight. When access to sunlight has been interrupted, I like that it automatically re-starts charging my phone/camera/etc.

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Leatherman CS Multi-Tool

The scissors have been helpful numerous times, and I’m glad I added it to my pack.










Aquamira Water Purification Tablets

I use a Sawyer mini to purify water, and now also bring these tablets as a back up.





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