Stoke level way up on an icy morning. Ojai, CA.
Stoke level way up on an icy morning. Ojai, CA. Photo: Nick Bobroff

Ultralight Thru Hike Gear List

Over a decade of refinement, obsession, and testing has gone into the configuration of this gear list. This is my version of a 10-pound base pack weight (ultralight), 3-season capable, durable, efficient, full-featured, and smile enhancing gear list. I find it usable in temps down to the mid-teens Fahrenheit, and have allocated generous safety, survival, and first aid essentials. Read more...

Worn/Carried Cost Weight
Shirt Patagonia Capilene Cool Trail SS Shirt, S19 Men's M $39.00 4.45oz
Shorts Patagonia Terrebonne Shorts, Patagonia Sender Boxers, Men's M and S $95.00 6.85oz
Socks Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew, Size L $22.00 2.60oz
Shoes Hoka One One Torrent, Men's 9.5 $120.00 18.00oz
Accessories Hat, Buff head wear, cotton bandanna, Oakley Turbine sunglasses, Suunto Core watch $455.00 7.00oz
Trek Poles Gossamer Gear LT5 $195.00 10.00oz
Total Worn/Carried $926.00 48.90oz
Base Pack: Backpack
Backpack Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider 2400*, S19 Black 40L Size M $330.00 31.00oz
Total Base Pack: Backpack $330.00 31.00oz
Base Pack: Shelter
Shelter Hyperlite Mountain Gear Flat Tarp*, S19 8.5'x8.5' DCF8 $355.00 8.05oz
Shelter Mountain Laurel Designs Superlight Solo Bivy, S19 DCF8 Bottom $245.00 4.75oz
Stakes 2x8" Easton Nano Spike, 4x7.5" MSR GroundHog, 4x6" Ti Shepherd Hook, LiteAF Tent Stake bag $38.49 3.75oz
Guylines 3x9', 4x6' 2mm (reflective), 2x8' 4x3' 1mm braided nylon dyneema core $25.00 2.40oz
Groundsheet Not used (Option: Gossamer Gear Polycryo) $0.00 0.00oz
Total Base Pack: Shelter $663.49 18.95oz
Base Pack: Sleeping
Sleeping Bag Enlightened Equipment Enigma Quilt 20℉, S19 Size RR 7D shell 15D liner 13.83oz 950 down fill $410.00 19.25oz
Sleeping Pad Thermarest NeoAir XLite, S19 Women's R $160.00 11.25oz
Pillow Sea To Summit Aeros Ultralight Pillow $39.95 1.95oz
Total Base Pack: Sleeping $609.95 32.45oz
Base Pack: Clothing
Top, Shell Arc'teryx Zeta FL Rain Jacket, S19 Men's M $325.00 7.30oz
Top, Insulation Patagonia Micro Puff Jacket, F18 Men's M $249.00 8.10oz
Top, Base Layer Patagonia Capilene Thermal Weight Zip Neck, S19 Men's M $99.00 6.50oz
Bottom, Shell Montbell Versalite Rain Pants, S19 Men's M $139.00 3.20oz
Bottom, Insulation Patagonia Capilene Midweight Bottoms, S19 Men's M $59.00 5.90oz
Head Simblissity Headnet, Smartwool 250 beanie, Blackrock Gear Hadron down hat $120.00 4.50oz
Hands, Feet Darn Tough Extra Socks, PossumDown Sleep Socks, PossumDown Gloves, Zpacks DCF-WB Rain Mitts $115.00 6.25oz
Stuff Sack Zpacks Medium-Plus Stuff Sack $22.00 0.28oz
Total Base Pack: Clothing $1,128.00 42.03oz
Base Pack: Gear
Essentials, Survival, First Aid, Hygiene Nitecore NU25 headlamp, Victorinox knife, micro carabiner, LMF Scout fire steel, mini butane lighter, pen cartridge, tweezers, ear plugs, needles, safety pins, extra filter gasket and backflush adapter, tenacious tape, inflatable patch. Water purification tablets, TinderQuik, 6' gaffer's tape. Triple antibiotic, ibuprofren, acetaminophen, benadryl, immodium, aspirin, steri-strips, bandage tape, nitrile gloves. Picaridin insect repellent, chapstick, benzalkonium hand sanitizer, soap wafers, tootbrush, floss, tootpaste, Deuce #1 trowel. Hyperlite Mountain Gear DCF11 Drawstring stuff sack, small $125.00 9.45oz
Electronics Aukey PB-Y13 10000mAh USB-C Power Bank, USB-C/Micro cables, USB-C to A and USB-C to Micro adapters, USB-C wall charger, wired audio earbuds. Android phone (excl. from cost). $30.00 12.00oz
H20 Storage 1x2L CNOC Vetco bottle S19, 2x1L rigid bottles $19.95 5.50oz
H20 Treatment Sawyer Squeeze Micro $27.95 1.75oz
Food Prep 650ml Ti Mug, MSR Pocket Rocket 2 stove, Ti long handle polished bowl spoon, freezer bag cozy, stuff sack, rag $95.00 6.25oz
Food Storage LiteAF Flat Bottom Food Bag, 11L Size S $21.95 1.22oz
Total Base Pack: Gear $319.85 36.17oz
Total Base Pack $3,051.29 10.04lb
H20 1L (typical carry) $0.00 35.20oz
Food 20oz / day x 4 days (typical resupply) $50.00 80.00oz
Fuel 1x3.9oz (110g) MSR IsoPro fuel canister $4.95 7.40oz
Total Consumables $54.95 122.60oz
*Indicates custom, modified, or myog/diy; weight may be less than stock. Total Complete $4,032.24 20.76lb

Why 10-Pounds?

That's just where it lands when you try and balance the items mentioned above. In the classic lightweight backpacking bible Beyond Backpacking, Ray Jardine configured an 8.5 pound base pack that he considered thru hike worthy. However, Ray hiked with a partner and they split up gear and each carried only a partial kit. For example, Jenny might carry the shelter kit, while Ray would carry the sleeping kit. If you were to weigh up Ray's pack fully allocated, it would likely land in the 10-pound range.

What about SUL?

I've gone SUL (super ultralight, 5-pound base pack weight) on countless trips in extreme conditions which was fun and challenging. I've personally found that carrying a 5-pound vs. a 10-pound base pack is not significantly different. However, the difference (net gains) in long term durability, functional range, comfort, less mental stress, and ease of use were massive. A more robust, though heavier gear list, resulted in a much better outdoor experience - for me. YMMV!

How is a Thru Hike Gear List Different?

On a thru hike one needs to account for things like town stops, recharging electronics via 110v/220v power outlets, resupplying consumables regularly, traveling through the full gamut of climate zones, and generally living on trail day-to-day. On a casual weekend trip, you can probably leave your cell phone wall charger behind, carry enough consumables to last the whole trip, and pack for weather conditions specific to your route. Thru hikers on the other hand tend to adopt a more "life on the trail" approach, and carrying a full jar of peanut butter, large pizza, or brick (if you get pranked) into the backcountry is not uncommon! In short, a thru hike kit is like having a sustainable "house" on your back, that is ready for the challenges a long hike presents.

Plug and Play

Many of the items in this list can be switched out for your preferred type, and not adversely effect the 10-pound threshold. For example, I dig the flat tarp experience, and I include a bivy because wet and buggy areas are common on a thru hike. You may prefer a fully enclosed shelter with bug netting. Because my "Shelter" setup includes robust allocations to stakes and guylines, the overall weight is very similar a typical mid or shaped tarp shelter such as the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dirigo 2 (28.0 oz), or the Zpacks Duplex Tent. (19.4 oz.), which require less guyline and fewer stakes.

Think of this list as a template, and as long as you plug in items with similar function and weight, the end result will be a list customized for your needs that maintains a happy balance between weight and experience, while keeping you safe - so long as you fill up the space between your ears with the right knowledge, skills, and experience.