I had pretty good success last year with the gear setup I had, but the one big issue I had (like many other backpackers) was my overall weight. Even hiking into the backcountry 4-6 miles was a struggle at times – not super bad, but my pack was a $65 Mountaintop 65L Outdoor Hiking Backpack. I liked the storage capacity, compartments, straps and it was relatively comfortable, but somewhat heavy and not very breathable. I knew going into this year I wanted a lighter backpack, but more importantly for me, I wanted one that was more comfortable and more breathable. I was happy with 65L capacity, so after doing some research I settled on the Osprey Men’s Atmos AG 65 Backpack (Large). I haven’t had a chance to test it on a backpacking trip yet – it’s been a long, snowy winter in the Cascades, but hope to do a test trip up in the local Chuckanut Mountains soon.
Putting the pack on, I was instantly amazed at how comfortable it felt and how the hip belt pads hugged my hips – empty, the pack stayed on my back without even clipping the belt. I anxiously filled the pack with my gear, and even with 22 pounds of stuff it still felt great. I am super-excited to get out with this pack!
The next big upgrade was my sleeping bag – I picked up the Enlightened Equipment Revelation 850DT 20° Quilt which is over 2 pounds lighter than my previous sleeping bag (which was the TETON Sports Tracker +5F Ultralight Mummy Sleeping Bag – a comfortable bag, and packed small, but at 4.1 pounds pretty darn heavy). It’s amazing to me how light this new bag is – yes, it’s a 20 degree bag, but I’m planning on using a closed foam pad as well as my inflatable, so combined I should be alright on colder evenings.
Overall I feel like I have a pretty solid setup for 1 or 2 night backcountry trips – for anything longer than that I’d ideally like to drop 3-5 pounds, in order to accommodate more food. I actually like bringing my bear can on these trips – it’s heavy, but it’s great to keep little critters out (I’m not too worried about bears, but it keeps them out too). I’ll probably pick up an Ursack at some point though, depending on where I plan on hiking this summer.
Here is the rest of my setup (items with a star are items that I’m looking to upgrade):