My Gear Lists, Or Why Excel is Indispensable

Things are about to get serious…no pictures of cute kids in this post!

As promised, here are my gear lists.  I have a “semi-ideal gear list” and an “actual gear list.”  They are in pdf format for internet use.  Please contact me if you’re interested in my excel spreadsheet for your own use (it’s not too hard to program yourself).  As usual, the organization is very much inspired by the gear lists in Skurka’s very helpful book, although I’ve tweaked some things for myself.

The list is organized in 6 sections: items worn or carried, clothing packed, sleeping system, cooking system, small essentials, and pack system.  The math works out as below:

gear list totals

Some detailed info:

“Base weight” refers to the weight of one’s kid not including items worn or consumed.  You can see that my actual kit has a 50% heavier base weight than my semi-ideal kit, coming in at 16+ lbs.  This is because my semi-ideal kit lists the weights of two of the “big three” which I have not yet upgraded: my pack and my sleeping bag.

Backpackers often talk about the “big three” as the three most significant sources of weight: sleep system, shelter, and the pack itself.  While my shelter system is pretty light at 22.4 oz (not including trekking poles), my sleeping bag is very heavy at 51 oz. and my pack is very substantial at almost 6 lbs.  I don’t mind the heavy pack: my Gregory Baltoro is indestructible and very comfortable, but I hope to upgrade the sleeping bag soon.  What I have is perfect for car camping, but not ideal for backpacking (more on this in future posts).

All of the other ways to cut unnecessary weight are relatively cheap, and often involves eliminating redundancies (more on this, too, in future posts).  Upgrading the small stuff is a gradual process you can do over time: the lines marked with orange in my lists are flagged for gradual upgrades of minor items.

Both lists are suited for 3 season hiking in Eastern forests, since that’s where I live.  If I were planning a trip elsewhere, these lists would look very different.  But here, when hiking from spring to fall, what I take is influenced by several factors:

  • temperatures from the 40s at nighttime to 90s during the daytime
  • high humidity and a fair amount of precipitation
  • relatively low elevations, rarely getting over a “mile high”
  • sunlight from 12 to 16 hours a day
  • generally soft ground terrain, with rare rocky bits
  • generally good coverage from the sun, with rare exposed sections
  • abundant water sources
  • bears are usually not a problem, depending where you go; insects can be
  • it’s hard to get really remote in the Eastern US, so civilization isn’t far

I hope to share more in the future, but for now, I hope you enjoy my lists!

What outdoor gear would you like to acquire or replace?

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