I love outdoor gear. I especially love durable gear because I don’t baby my stuff when out on the trails. I prefer to invest in high quality gear that will stick around through seasons and seasons of abuse. For these reasons I’m particularly loyal brands that offer lifetime warranty and honor it, brands like Patagonia, Osprey, and Darn Tough.

I don’t seek out ultra light items because they tend to be a lot more expensive. In addition, I have to be honest with myself, even though I spend plenty of days outdoors it’s rare that I go on multi-day expeditions where each additional oz would count.

The items below took me close to 15 years to collect through many iterations and false starts. Hope this gear list will give you some ideas on what to add to your own gear collection.

Do you really need it new?

Save items from landfill and buy used whenever you can. Poshmark and Facebook Marketplace is my go-to for used outdoor gear. REI Used Gear is a good alternative as well. I borrow and rent whenever I can. If you belong to a local Buy Nothing group, it can be a great resource to borrow one-time items.

Backpacking in Tajikistan. Spot the items on the list.

My Adventure Gear List


Sun Hoody – Something to protect my skin from the sun. I do not like the feel of sunscreen on me. But you know what I love? I love, love the feel of Patqgonia Cool Daily Hoody. So light and soft while being breathable. My only gripe is that it doesn’t have a thumb catch. Mountain Hardwear has a version with a thumb hole but I don’t like the feel of the fabric as much. YMMV.

Patagonia Nano Air Hoody – I love this as my mid-layer, especially for when I’m moving (hiking, cross country skiing, etc) since it’s so breathable. It’s my go-to layer when I don’t want to think about layer too much, know what I mean? You can bet it’s in my travel/hiking pack almost every single time.

Down Puffy – I have a lightweight down puffy that’s packable, Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer and a thicker puffy – Marmot Ama Dablam – for basecamp.

Rain Jacket – I picked up a La Sportiva rain shell at a second hand store many years ago they don’t make them anymore. But if I were in the market, I’d get a Patagonia Granite Crest.

Underwear – something synthetic and quick dry. My pick: ExOfficio

Summer hiking pants – as a shorty (5’1″ on a good day), finding durable, technical pants that are flattering is a constant struggle. My current go-to pants are a pair of Outdoor Research Ferrosi pants… and except for the length (their ‘short’ is still too long for me) they’ve been working out pretty good: stretchy, lightweight, and breathable. Only time will tell how durable they are.

Other Layers – a pair of gloves, a neck gaiter, a beanie, and thermal baselayer (top and bottom) complete my system. I don’t often stray too far from this combination. For sleeping, I’d throw in a comfy, well worn sleeping t-shirt, one of the few comfort items I allow myself along with my Kindle and an inflatable pillow.

From one of our latest backpacking trips.


Garmin InReach Mini – this thing is amazing because it allows me to keep in touch with people anywhere in the world. It does 2 way messaging using SMS, local weather forecast, emergency SOS, and probably others I don’t even know about. If you’re often traveling to areas where even the local cell network can’t reach you (say, trekking in the mountains for example), I highly recommend a satellite device such as this. Subscription is required, but worth it IMO.

Powerbank – for 1-2 night backpacking trips, I take a powerbank with me to keep my phone charged. My phone is my main camera nowadays and also my navigation system so it’s important to keep it charged. My pick: Skullcandy Fat Stash 2 for its size, capacity, and the fact that it has served me well for a number of years.

Foldable Solar Panel – for longer backpacking trips, a foldable solar panel is handy to keep my electronics charged. I’d take a long connecting cable with me as well. It’s important to keep the powerbank cool, thus the long cable so you can keep the panel in the sun while keeping the powerbank somewhere in the shade. You can also attach it to your pack and charge your phone while hiking. Note: I wouldn’t recommend getting a powerbank with a built in panel. The battery will get way too hot. My pick: Flexsolar 40W.

Kindle – my Kindle goes whereever I go. It’s one of my must-have luxury items.

Backpacking to Conundrum Hot Spring

Filter and Hydration

Water Purifier – I always bring water purification tablets with me as part of my first aid kit. I find AquaTab tablet to be colorless and odorless. My pick: AquaTab

Epic OG Nalgene Water Filter – I take this with me when I’m traveling solo to countries without potable water or when I’m hiking along frequent water sources – like The Four Pass Loop in Aspen. It’s handy to be able scoop water off a stream and drink out of the built-in replaceable filter. An alternative that a lot of people like because it’s packable and lightweight (but it doesn’t filter out viruses) is Katadyn BeFree.

Backup Water Filters – for when I need to filter lots of water, fast. My pick: Katadyn Water Filter. If I know I’ll be setting up a basecamp and hang out for a bit, it’s nice having a large capacity water filter ideally something you don’t need to spend much time pumping. That’s when gravity water filter comes in handy. My pick: I’d bring a Katadyn Gravity BeFree 3.0L Water Filter.


Tent – After years of using a Kelty 2 person tent we picked up from Big 5, we finally upgraded to Big Agnes Salt Creek SL2. It’s hella fancy. Not only does it have 2 doors, but a vestibule type of thingy which I’m excited about. It’s not the lightest tent. I prefer self-standing tent (so no hiking poles needed for support), and this translates to more weight. Besides, for the amount of backpacking I do (not much, 3-5 times a year?), I don’t need anything ultra light. My pick: Big Agnes Salt Creek SL2

Backpacking Quilt – I switched to using a backpacking quilt over sleeping bag a few years ago and I love it! I had one custom made from Hammock Gear and I thought it was reasonably priced.

Sleeping pad – After years of using cheapo one I picked up from Amazon during an emergency, I finally gave in and got myself a proper pad. Fully blown it provides 4 in of padding. It’s like sleeping on air. My pick: Big Agnes Rapide SL

Inflatable pillow – I have to say that this recent addition to my pack has been quite nice. It packs super small, weighs nothing, and it provides much longer lasting support than the old clothes-in-stuff-sack. I picked mine up cheaply at Amazon. My pick: Packable Pillow


Stove – I bought a jetboil almost 20 years ago – before Jack and I got married – at REI used gear sale. The push button igniter stopped working a long time ago but we still have it and use it every time we go camping. I love it when things made to last actually… well, last. My pick: Jetboil

Jetboil Accessories

Jetboil Pot Support. This attachment allows you to use your backpacking pot on Jetboil stove. Super useful if you want to actually cook beyond just boiling water.

Fuel can stabilizer. Jetboil can feel top heavy especially if you’re using it on uneven ground. This foldable stand attaches to fuel can and helps stabilize the system.

In Wind River Range, Wyoming. Not seen: the thousands of mosquitos gunning for any exposed skin.

Bags and Backpacks

A backpacking pack for overnight and multiday backpacking. Get to your local outdoor supplier and get fitted. I find that just like hiking boots, backpacks are very personal. We’re pretty much an Osprey family because at one point I bought an Osprey travel pack (see below), and 15 years later it’s still going strong after going through so much. My pick: Osprey Aura 50

A travel carry-on – My trusty Osprey pack is the perfect carry-on size, it opens flat, and has a comfortable hip belt. 10+ years of usage and it still looks great. It has come along with me on dozens of trips and hopefully will go on for many more. My pick: Osprey Farpoint 40/Fairview 40

Personal Items

Headlamp – I prefer rechargeable one. My pick: Petzl Tikka Core

Neck Gaiter – useful as part of the quilt sleeping system. Also, the weight-to-warmth ratio of a neck gaiter can’t be beat. My pick: Buff Merino Neck Gaiter

Wagbag/Poop Bag – As more people are drawn to outdoor experience, burying your poop isn’t sustainable anymore. Beautiful places are being loved to death. I now bring a wag bag on all of my backpacking trips. After trying different brands, my pick is Restop2.

Bear proof container – Many outdoor center will have them available to rent. My pick: BV425, smallest bear can you can get, enough for 1-2 night backpacking.

– The 1L is small enough to fit my phone and electronic. After having my phone ruined in a freak storm in Moab, I promised that I’ll never travel without a dry sack ever again. My pick: Sea-to-Summit Ultra Sil Dry Sack

First Aid Kit – We’ve made our own, but this is a good one to star with. In addition to your standard bandaids and bandages, I also add emergency blanket, hand warmer, water purifier tablet, matches, and liquid bandage.

My trusty red Nano Air from Patagonia


Gaiters – Useful to keep snow from getting into shoes and in return, keeping your feet warm. A must for snowy trails. The link is for a similar model from Outdoor Research that I picked up on sale from REI. My pick: OR High Gaiters

Trail Runners – I wear trail runners for 90% of my hiking and backpacking trips. Altra Lone Peak doesn’t have much cushion (which I prefer – check out their Olympus model for more cushion) and are zero drop. They’re not very durable and seem to only last me 2 seasons (sigh). Admittedly I do tend to abuse them.

Approach Shoes – I wear approach shoes for scrambling, going off-trail, or generally when I need more support on the trail. These fit my wide feet well and are grippy enough for low-5th class climbing, perfect for chasing after those more technical 14er summits. My pick: La Sportiva TX3

Microspikes – for whenever there’s a chance of ice on the trails. My pick: Kahtoola Microspikes

Hiking Socks – Instead of water proof shoes, I’d wear wool socks that will still keep me warm even when wet. I used to be a fan of Smartwool but I’ve been slowly transitioning to Darn Tough. I love their lifetime warranty and the fact they’re family owned and US made. My pick: Darn Tough Low


Sunscreen – I started wearing mineral sunscreen because I found out – the bad way – that I’m allergic to chemical sunscreen. I’ve been using Bare Republic sunscreen exclusively for a long time because I like the silky feel on my face. It’s not sticky at all. It’s also reasonably priced. For when I’m out and about in town, I use this Korean brand, Etude. It absorbs well and has less of a white cast. My pick: Bare Republic Mineral Sunscreen.

Deet-Free Bugspray – I’m quite picky about bug spray because I don’t like Deets. I don’t like the smell, and I don’t want to worry about it eating into my clothes. It has been proven that picariding based bug spray works just as well. And it smells so much better! I’ve tested this when I was went canoeing the waterways of Ontario, Canada and backpacking in the Wind River Range. No bites! And mosquitoes usually LOVE me! My pick: Sawyer Picaridin Bug Spray

Makeup remover – when I’m backpacking I use a makeup remover wet cloth for removing sunscreen and dirt. It feels SO GOOD to go to sleep with a clean face even when the rest of the body is crusty with dried sweat. My pick: Netrogena Facial Cleaning Singles.

Good quality gear is expensive and if you’re just starting out, I’d recommend going to Facebook Marketplace or used outdoor stores to start with. I quickly learned that I don’t need the lightest and latest to get by – thank gawd for that, because it’ll get unaffordable very quickly. Each year you can then upgrade whichever item you think would increase your enjoyment of the outdoors the most.

This year – 2024 – I honestly can’t think of anything on this list to upgrade or add (with the exception of some old climbing gear we have to replace for safety reason). I’m happy with the system that we have. It only took us some odd years to get there, lol.