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TMB - Tour de Mont Blanc Gear List

Background

I hiked the Tour de Mont Blanc (TMB) in 2018 after having done the Te Araroa and the Pacific Crest Trail in the two years before. So I had accumulated a lot of hiking and long distance experience. On these two long distance trails I tried out a lot of different gear and also learned a lot. When I started in New Zealand I was completely over-packed! I had a 75l backpack and carried about 16kg of base weight! Only after three weeks I had the first big "roll-over" where I changed my tent, shoes, backpack and also ditched a lot of stuff.

Changing and reducing gear has almost been a sport since then. Looking back now on how carefully I changed and decided not to carry the one or other extra I almost can't believe how much I voluntarily carried 😂 But I also have to admit that without going through the process myself I would probably not be as convinced of my setup now. I also would have felt uncomfortable with some of the stuff I am doing now (not taking) without the first hand experience. Based on the knowledge I have now and also the confidence in my own capabilities eg. with cold, wet, dry and injuries I still feel safe with the minimal equipment.

 

Tour de Mont Blanc - 4 days and camping

Since we only had four days in total we had to go very light and we also wild-camped every night. We also carried all food for the first two days until we were surely able to resupply in Courmayeur. We wanted to be independent from huts and daily limits with our hikes. It paid off well. We did the entire circuit in 4 days and 3 hours. It meant a daily average of 12-14 hours of hiking but it was doable.

When I tried to plan the route, trip and especially the days needed in advance I did not find any sufficient information about people doing it on their own in a relatively short amount of time. Most people take 6-10 days. Because of this I also didn't find any appropriate information about the gear to take and also the recommended daily sections. Here you go.

Since we hiked together of course we were able to share a few pieces of equipment like the tent and the stove. But to make it easier to follow I will post the full gear list for a solo hike.


What to pack?

Pointing it out again - everybody has a different comfort zone! So there is no right or wrong. You should never risk your health or even life by under packing and not being prepared! If you don't feel comfortable take whatever makes you comfortable! You can still throw stuff out on the next re-supply stop but you can't "get it" in the middle of nowhere if you need and don't have it with you.

In general I do recommend the same stuff I carried on the PCT at the very end. Of course it very much depends on the season you go. If you go during the high summer it is less likely to get really cold temperatures. Nevertheless you are in the Alps. Depending on your altitude and the weather system you can get temperatures below freezing, thunderstorms and any hazardous conditions you can encounter in the mountains. At the end you are in a high altitude mountain area.

The entire gear list in a quick overview:

(Some links in the table are affiliate links)
Item
Product
Weight
The hiking outfit
T-shirt
130g
Shorts
130g
Socks
40g
Shoes
650g
Gaiters
34g
Sun protection
100g
Trekking poles
600g
Watch
64g
1.748g
The big three
Backpack
811g
Pouch for backpack
14g
Tent
539g
Stakes
MSR Ground Hog Mini tent stakes (8)
80g
Sleeping bag
595g
Waterproof stuff sack
25g
Sleeping pad
230g
2.294g
Cooking
Cooking pot
Trangia Pot incl. handle
142g
Stove
83g
Fire
Lighter
10g
Spoon
10g
Water filter
91g
Water container
40g
Water Bottle
Powerade
50g
Food bag
28g
454g
Cloth
Rain jacket
180g
Rain skirt
54g
Rain pants
180g
Down jacket
360g
Jumper
376g
Beanie
32g
Neck gaiter
40g
Gloves
40g
Socks
40g
Stuff sack
55g
1.257g
Medics & Hygienics 
Teeth
Half tooth brush
7g
Teeth
Tooth paste
24g
Contact lenses
Case, solution, extra pair
80g
Eye
Eye infection creme
3g
Nails
Standard small nail clipper
21g
Beard
Comb
6g
Toilet paper
Amount depends on days.
30g
Pain killer
Ibuprofen
15g
Diaria
Imodium
4g
Disinfection
4 alcohol pads
1g
Tape
30g
Antihistamine
6 capsules
7g
Sunscreen
30ml
34g
262g
Repair kit
Tape
Ductape wrapped around trekking pole
Fixation
6 cable ties
6g
Knife
28g
Repair gear
1m Dyneema Composite Fabric
60g
Repair gear
Special tape for air mattress
10g
Repair gear
Tenacious tape
15g
Repair gear
Super glue
15g
Stuff sack
15g
149g
Electronics
Charger
USB with double port & iPhone cable
66g
Battery pack
135g
Phone & navigation
iPhone 6S
145g
Waterproof case
35g
Headlamp
55g
Battery
2 spare batteries for headlamp
22g
Wallet
7g
Stuff sack
20g
485g
Camera
Camera
Olympus OMD EM1 II (incl. battery & SD)
390g
Lense
M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-150mm 1:4.0-5.6 II
285g
Battery
2 extra Olympus batteries
90g
Memory card
2x SanDisk Extreme Pro 64GB
40g
Camera clip
84g
Camera rain cover
113g
Charger
Olympus charger & cable
115g
1.117g
Additional Gear
Pee-bottle
Gatorade 1l bottle
50g
50g
Total base weight
4.845g
Total base weight incl. camera
6.018g
Weight on the hiker
1.748g

Sweet as, brew! Let me know when there's new stuff online!

As summarised earlier for the PCT already:

Backpack:

Most important with a backpack is that it fits your back. They all have different harnesses and fit different backs. So make sure to try many. The other features are less important. If you carry heavier loads >15kg you want to have a good hip belt or otherwise you will have bruises on your hips and it's uncomfortable on longer hikes.

My backpack of choice is now the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest. It's specially designed for ultra-light hikers with a 40l volume and only weighs 811g (in comparison my Osprey 50l bag weighs about 1,8kg!) and it is waterproof in itself. It helps you only taking the things you really need since there is not a lot of space 😉. As a reference my bag is maybe half full with all my gear. The rest is "reserved" for food and I usually fit 5 days in it easily. I would not recommend it with a permanent weight over 15kg, but if you exceed it in the first days of a long hike because of food it should be ok since you will get lighter every day.

I also have a Zpacks Backpack Shoulder Pouch on one of my shoulder straps for my phone, ND filter and snacks.

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Tent:

Since we were two for the trip we shared the Zpacks Duplex. It is made out of Dyneema Composite Fabric (also known as Cuban Fibre) which is highly durable and super lightweight with 539g only! Including 8 stakes with 60g the total weight of the tent comes down to 599g. Comfort, space and durability are amazing. Keep your vestibules open for ventilation since in a single wall tent you do get condensation very quickly. It's not cheap with 555US$ but it's well worth every cent if you sleep in it every day.

Sleeping bag & sleeping pad:

The lightest and smallest version is always down. The higher the number of the filling (e.g. 850) the better the quality of the down and therefore the less you need for the same insulation. As mentioned above I would go with the Western Mountaineering Summerlite sleeping bag which is rated for +6C comfort and a max of 0C. I only had a 3 or 4 cold nights below freezing and used used my rain jacket and my backpack as a sack wrapped around my feet for extra insulation in cold nights - just make use of whatever you have if you need it.

Due to packing size I opted for an inflatable sleeping mattress. I am not a fan of the bulky foam pads which you always have to attach to the outside dangling around. The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite is the lightest one. I used to have a large one but now I go with the extra small one (119cm) since I put my legs on my backpack and other things. Saves 200g compared to the large/regular one.

 

Cooking:

Some people go without a stove and only eat cold or dry stuff. Apparently it works but I wouldn't want to go without one proper meal per day. So I carry a very small and light weight (83g) gas stove from Optimus Crux and a small gas canister. For cooking I have a 1.5l Trangia hardanodized ultralight aluminium cooking pot, the aluminum handle and  Sea to Summit plastic spoon.

My main water container is a cheap 1l Powerade plastic bottle - it does the job perfectly, is way lighter than the "proper" ones, the outflow of the Powerade bottle has the perfect size so that you can drink while walking (better than the Powerade one), you can replace it once in a while if it gets to nasty and it costs almost nothing! As a water filtration system you can go with the lighter Sawyer Mini instead of the Sawyer Squeeze. I only filtered my water 4 or 5 times on the entire trail. Since there is water everywhere in New Zealand and you rarely have two hours without a water source you can either carry a 2l Platypus or get an additional thin water bottle for the few occasions where you will need it.

I also have two stuff sacks (10l and 15l) for my food. It helps to easier squish the food into the backpack and I always separate breakfast & dinner from snacks. By doing that I can bury the breakfast & dinner bag in my pack and only have to take to bag with the snacks out during the day

(What I don't carry anymore different to before the trail and on the picture: camel bag, water bottle)

Clothes:

I try to carry as little as I can. Therefore I don't take anything which can't be used on top of each other for the worst case scenario. Don't over pack - yes, you will be smelly and a bit sticky. But everybody is out there. You'll get used to it. Not showering for ten days sounds really bad at the beginning but it's actually not. And once in a while there is also a river to jump in if you are desperate 😉

I usually hike in a Icebreaker merino wool t-shirt, my beloved red/pink Speedo swim shorts, short Icebreaker merino socks and my favorite Salomon Speedcross4 trail runners. To protect my socks and shoes from the insight I use very small Outdoor Research Sparkplug gaiters. As sun protection I have my new and cool Prana hipster cap 😎.

Rain gear: Outdoor Research Helium II rain jacket & Vaude Drop Pants II rain pants - for heavy conditions and when temperatures drop below 0C with rain and wind. And the above mentioned rain skirt Zpacks Rain Kilt. I would personally make it shorter and keep it over your knees for better movability.
My Patagonia Nano Puff jacket with Prima Loft Gold is the piece which keeps me warm in camp or breaks - very small and very warm. I find Prima Loft better on long distance hikes since it even warmth you if it's wet, it dries quickly and you can easily wash it - different to down.
One Icebreaker Descender Long Sleeve merino wool jumper - early in the morning or later in the day on cold and windy days I like to wear this one. Primaloft or down is to warm to walk in.
For the really cold days I carry a thin Icebreaker merino beanie, a Buff (neck gaiter) and a pair of Icebreaker Sierra gloves.
Since my swim shorts have a mesh inside I don't wear underwear. It also helps for better ventilation, less sweating and rubbing. So I only carry one pair of merino underwear to sleep in.
The only extras I carried were one Icebreaker merino t-shirt which is not really necessary - but it is nice sometimes e.g. in towns after a shower when waiting for the laundry to be done. But you don't need it. If its wet I either try to keep in on and dry it with body heat or I take it off and wear my jumper. It sucks in the morning to put it on again but after 20 minutes of exercising it's usually dry. In Oregon I changed one Icebreaker t-shirt for a long sleeve shirt because of the mosquitos and kept it to the end. I also have one pair of extra socks in case a sock breaks down. This usually happens quickly. I went through a pair in 3-4 weeks. Your feet are the most important part on this journey - you do want to do anything possible to prevent blisters and/or injuries! Other than that you only need one pair. Why? How many can you wear? Exactly. If they smell you wash them in a break. If they are wet? Then you walk in wet socks. If it rains on consecutive days even dry socks are wet after 20 minutes so there is no sense in putting dry ones on to into your wet shoes...

(What I don't carry anymore different to before the trail and on the picture: hat, rain skirt, thermal pants, towel)

Medics and Hygienics

How to go light: Try to buy the smaller sizes. No need to carry 200ml of something that will last for 2 month. Resupply more often. I have seen people carrying regular bottles of everything ending up with 3-4kg of liquids 🙈

My daily hygienics consisted out of a small and cut off tooth brush + toothpaste, contact lenses and cleansing fluid (extra pair and a few daily lenses in case of an eye infection), nail clipper, comb for my beard - therefore no razor 😂 and an amount of toilet paper suitable for the days - don't carry an entire roll!

In case shit happens. How much can you do in the wilderness? If it's a minor thing you usually don't really have to do anything and if it's a big thing (broken bones, etc.) you can't heal yourself anyways. So the only thing you have to do is get out and get help. So I am not a big fan of carrying a lot of stuff. For the heavy stuff I rely on painkillers (Ibuprofen), the cable ties and ductape.

I also carry Imodium for diaria (how many do you need? Not the entire pack for sure, just enough to get you out in case it hits you), a cream for eye infection which happens quickly with contact lenses, a couple disinfection/alcohol tissues (also work great if you have to clean camera lenses or surfaces before you repair / glue them). And a few Antihistamine pills after my shocking 25 sting-wasp-experience.

For the smaller issues and especially my feet I have a small roll of plaster tape (Mefix) which is a sticky plaster to seal open wounds and a 2m strip of Leuko Surgical Tape wrapped around a solid plastic tube: it's the only tape which really works. The adhesive is incredible and even stays on feet for days when they get wet. Don't try anything else!

Last but not least a 30ml sunscreen tube and a Ziploc bag to store everything.

(What I don't carry anymore different to before the trail and on the picture: Voltaren, Aspirin, hand sanitizer, bio degradable washing lotion, ear plugs)

Repair kit

Minimal as well. Tape and cable ties will fix most problems temporarily or even long term. For the electronics I only carry my iPhone for backup navigation (bad weather, emergency situations) and to write the blog.

Sufficient amount of ductape wrapped around my trekking poles so I don't have to carry it in the backpack fixes everything: equipment and also small injuries.
An Opinel Knife No. 6, a stripe of special waterproof repair tape for tents, rain jackets and repair kit for my air mattress, 6 cable ties, super glue, a spare lighter, a 10m MSR Ultralight Utility Cord (cloth line, rope to hang food and possible repair kit) and 2 small carabiners to hang food. On top I carried 4 one gallon Ziploc bags as emergency and rain gloves and socks and a small stuff sack to store everything.

Electronics

USB charger with double port, my iPhone in a waterproof Lifeproof Case - also my fall back navigation and emergency (if I have reception) device, a Goal Zero Flip 20 Powerbank for two charges. A Black Diamond Ion headlamp for hikes during night time and everything else when it's dark. And I have a small Zpacks Wallet Zip Pouch for credit cards &, ID and all of it goes into a 3l Osprey Ultralight Dry Sack.

(What I don't carry anymore different to before the trail and on the picture: compass & maps which you won't need for the PCT)

The only luxury equipment - my camera

Photography is one of my passions. So I can't go without a proper camera. I tried to find a compromise between a full DSLR camera which is to bulky and heavy and a smaller one which will still give me a very high quality. For the last 2 years I have used my Olympus OMD EM10II with a micro four thirds sensor and the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 14–150mm 1:4.0–5.6 II lense. It only weighs 1018g including the lense, battery and memory card which is significantly less than a comparable SLR.

On top I have 2 spare battery, 2 SD memory cards, cleaning wipes, a grey filter and the camera battery charger.

And I also finally found a way to attach my camera to my backpack so that I can always use it without taking my backpack off or it dangling around and being annoying. The Peak Design clip straps the camera to your shoulder belt. It's fixed, secured and you still have easy access to it. And after two years of heavy usage I can only highly recommend this thing including the shell to protect your camera from dust and rain. If you take the extra weight of a good camera with you this clip is a must item - if you have your camera in your pack you'll never use it and just carry dead weight around! Peak Design Capture Clip v3 for the backpack & Peak Design Shell for protection. Use the link to get a free gift 😉

PS: Unfortunately my camera went swimming 3 weeks before the end. So I had to replace it on the go. I have to admit that I used this excuse to directly upgrade to the OMD EM1 II with a 12-100 Pro Lense. It is significantly heavier (+460g) but I will also use it for non hiking purposes now. On long hikes I might try to use the old lense if I can repair it. For the packing list I include my old camera since it was the one I used.

Additional gear

Leki Khumbu hiking poles which I always use. It's said that they save you up to 30% of energy in your legs since you use your upper body which normally is not used when hiking.

Suunto Core Watch. Simple watch, altimeter and compass. I am not a fan of GPS watches since they use a lot of battery which you don't have out there.

Additional 32oz Gatorade (big opening) pee-bottle for the night. I hate getting out of the tent at night. Probably one of my most favorite items 😊

 

Sweet as, brew! Let me know when there's new stuff online!


The mountains are calling and I must go - preperation has started...

The day has come. After some very work-intensive and hard month preparing our "go-live" it is finally time to hit the mountains again. John Muir - a very famous American Conservationist - has been quoted many times. And I will do so, too: "The mountains are calling and I must go."

The week has been exciting already. I did get my box with outdoor equipment from the basement and started to sort out what I need.

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Only opening this box and going through all the stuff already makes me feel good and happy. Many memories are linked to the little and light (😂) pieces of gear. But it also spreads the smell of freedom and the outdoors.

Some things never change. I am still looking for ways to reduce my base weight. The newest thing I got myself for the upcoming trip is this guy: A new air mattress. It's the NeoAir X-Lite in x-small. This saves me another 220 grams to my current one which is an extra large. I do fit perfectly fine on the extra large but it's a lot of extra weight. I am really curious to see how I will deal with this litte one...

IMG_3039

The idea is to get my "pillow" (down-jacket & merino jumper) off the air mattress so that I save the space of my head on the mattress and then I'll either have to sleep curled up or I will use my backpack for the legs. As long as the ground doesn't get to cold at night I should be fine. And if not it's just what it is: "Ultra-light, freeze at night!" 😂

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So that's what it has come down to now. Not much is left anymore. The good thing about this 5 day hike is that I won't have to take a few things that I would need on a longer hike. Chargers for the camera, spare socks and hanging lines for food. I have also cleaned up a bit further in my medi-kit and repair box. There is going to be endless room for chocolate 😍

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But what is all the preparation for now you might ask yourself? Well, I am heading to the mountains. I will fly to Geneva on Friday and then take a bus to Chamonix in France - straight to the base of Mont Blanc. The last time I have been there was 2010 when I climbed Mont Blanc. Such a beautiful trip from the Italian side with tough conditions. It was a hot summer and the snow bridges were so thin that we kept on falling into crevasses over and over again on the way down. A very formative experience in my mountaineering career.

But this time will be fun only. I will try to hike the "Tour du Mont Blanc" a trail which circles around the massiv of Mont Blanc. It passes through France, Italy and Switzerland covering a bit more than 170km (100 miles) and an elevation change of almost 24,000 meters (80,000ft). From the parts I have been to so far and all the pictures I have seen it's a stunning tour. Usually the tour is done as a 10 day hike from hut to hut.

Map by Steve Walkowiak, SWmaps.com

 

Limited by a couple of factors I only have about 4.5 to 5 days which makes it a challenging pace. Especially considering that I am not in trail-shape anymore after living the startup life - mostly sitting on my butt - for the last month 😂. But I have actually trained for it in the last weeks. I combined my new job and old hobby golfing with the preparation for this trip. I went to one of the really hilly courses in the area, started playing two and ended on Sunday with three consecutive rounds of golf carrying my bag like a backpack. That only gave me more than 30km of walking while I could play golf for 9.5 hours. I don't think preparing could have been more fun 🏌️‍♂️

 

So just cleaning up my desk now and I am so excited to get back into the mountains for a little while. And there will be a surprise on top. I won't go by myself... So stay tuned if you want to know who is crazy enough to join me on this tour. Someone you know 😉

#happytrails


Featured content on MightyGoods - I was invited to share some of my packing-insights of my long-distance-hiking experience for their latest story.

MightyGoods is a great page which tries to help hikers and adventurers to find the right backpack. They also have collected an immense amount of information on ways how to pack and what to put in them.

Mads, Laarni & James have put together an incredible amount knowledge about the backpacking topic. So I am really thrilled that they have asked me to contribute to their latest story about packing tips for long distance hikes.

17 extrem hikers - and some of them quite famous and experienced - have chipped in for this. And I feel honoured to be one of them. So if you are looking into getting a new pack or some advise on packing check out this comprehensive story:

17 Adventurers Share How They Pack for Long Distance Hiking (1,000+ km Hikes)


My 11 "unusual" tips for a long distance hike.

Many essential things are discussed in depth in the hiker scene when it comes to long distance hiking. There is a lot of high quality recommendations and feedback on gear, food & planning. That's why I don't even want to bother taking this topic up again.

But I would like to share some of the small and little things which I discovered during my last 8.000km of hiking. Little things which made my hiking life a lot easier or which I found extremely important for an enjoyable hike, a sustainable setup and time & weight savings on the journey.

1. Clothes line in the tent

Usually there are two loops in the top corners of most tents. Get a very thin line or even a fishing line and tie a piece betweeen these two loops. You will have a perfect cloth line in your tent to hang socks or other wet/damp items. If it's warm enough you will have a chance to dry them. And they are also off the ground which will minimise the risk of mice getting them or being attracted by the smell.

2. Gaiters

If you wear trail runners do get gaiters. Since trail runners have a low cut they are prone to collect a lot of little rocks, sand and branches which you kick up while walking. They are now offered by most companies and these tiny little things are great. They have two great advantages: Firstly you don't have to take your shoes off so often anymore to prevent bilsters from rubbing and secondly you will make your shoes and socks last longer. Every little sand crystal stuck in our sock will create more friction between it and the shoe with the consequence of getting holes earlier.


3. Waterproof gloves

There are times where you wish you had waterproof gloves. This usually happens when it is a bit chilly, it rains and you get a bit of wind. With your hands on the poles they are very exposed and they also don't move much by holding the poles. With this the circulation is also not supported much. Does it make sense to carry big and heavy water proof gloves. Usually not. An easy fix for this are zip-lock bags. Take a gallon bag or smaller, put a little piece of ductape over one of the side-edges and then cut a little hole in that piece. That's were you can stick your trekking pole through and your hand will go through the regular opening of the zip-lock. Voila. Ultralight-waterproof gloves:

4. Camera clip

If you carry a camera, especially a bigger one - make sure it is accesible. There is NO sense of carrying a camera which is in your backpack. You will never take your backpack down every time there is a potential photo opportunity. Trust me. And more over many photo opportunities don't even last long enough to take your pack down and get your camera out. Especially when you are taking pictures of wildlife. I started out carrying my camera in a classical camera bag strapped on my chest belt. It works perfectly fine. The only two disadvantages are that the bag stats bouncing once you go a bit faster and you always have to strap and unstrap it when you take your pack up and down.

Now I use a tiny little clip with a little shell which I can pull over the camera to protect it from dust and water. It's a game changer!

Camera can be released with one hand and is always accesible. If you a carry a heavy camer make sure you can also make us of it. Otherwise don't carry it. This is the Peak Design Clip I use for my camera: Pro Clip

5. Food rotation

One of the toughest things at the end of a long distance trail is to actually find something you are willing to eat and which you are not sick of already. Therefore: make sure you rotate your food everytime you can. Even though you might still like it and could do it another turn try not to. Safe it for later so you will be able to eat it until the very end. Because once you have overdone it with one thing it's very unlikely that you'll be able to eat it again on the trail. And it sucks to stand in front of a huge candy bar isle not being able to pick anything because you can't stand it anymore...

6. Take care of your feet

Tackled very often but can't be taken up often enough. Your feet. They are the most important thing on a thru-hike. They carry you and your gear. If you don't take care of them you will have to suffer with every step or even have to go off trail. The biggest mistakes I (and I guess most of us) have made is to ignore the little signs. Especially at the beginning when you are not fully "grooved-in" this becomes crucial. Therefore: If you only feel the lightest rubbing, pinching or whatever. Stop. Don't think it will be ok for another hour or for the day. If you hike 25 miles a day the slightest rubbing will lead to irritated skin or a blister eventually. To heal something like this on a trail is painful. It takes forever since you usually walk on your feet every day and they don't get the brake to recover. Therfore take a quick break and solve it. If it is a rock in your shoe, take it out. If you have a hole in your sock, change it. If you feel a rubbing, get leuko-tape and tape the area properly. If the tape comes off. Fix it. Prevention is easy but we tend to think it will be ok. Don't let it come so far.

The second point is hygiene. Especially when you sweat a lot during high temperatures make sure you wash your feet and socks as often as you can. Take them off during a break, wash both and if you don't get them dry rather walk in wet socks than dirty ones. Your sweat will build little crystals which will function like sand paper on your feet and especially soles. Once you have open spots it's easy to catch infections. So keep them shiny and clean!

7. Duct tape - reduce your base weight

Duct tape is a great tool to fix many things. But you won't need an entire role of tape to fix something until you get to a point where you can take of any issues properly and with unlimited ressources. Therfore don't roll it on a pen or straw but around your trekking poles. You will therefore not have to carry it on your back and safe precious space in your pack.

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8. How to fix cracks in your heels

Sometimes I do get problems with my heels developing cracks. It's hard to heel this. As long as they stay closed and don't open up to much they are usually not a big issue. But if they rip further and you start developing an open wound also the problem with infections can arise again. An easy and very effective way to fix them is to use standard super glue! It sounds a bit odd but it works. It keeps the cracks together and stops them from ripping further.


9. Only carry what you need until the next resupply point

Don't carry anything you don't need! Every step is going to hurt more long term and you will increase the risk of injuries. Therefore - get rid of everything you don't need. And if you have stuff which you will only need for a certain stretch don't carry it the entire way. Send it to where you will need it and once you are out also send it away. Either find a friend where you can store stuff or bounce a box a couple of time until you can pick it up again. More room in your back = more space for chocolate ;-)

10. Use two separate food bags

I find it very helpful to use to separate food bags. One for my breakfast and dinner food and one for snacks and lunch. Why? Because I can leave the breakfast and dinner bag in my pack and I will only have to get a smaller bag out without going through my entire food. And on top it is easier to pack in your backpack if you don't have one giant but two smaller bags.

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11. Sleeping pad size

You don't necessarily need a sleeping pad that is long enough for you. If you are inbetween sizes go for the smaller one. Or even try to go one lower. Seldemly you do lie fully extended on your mat anyways. And on top you can also trick a bit. I usually build a pillow out of my jumper and my downjacket. The pillow does not have to lie on top of the mat - 20cm saved. And also our feet can be bedded on your pack or other equipment items instead. So even with 1,90m (6'2) I can easily go with a small mat and save some weight and space... ;-)

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That’s it for now. I’ll think of a few more and if you want I’ll put together another set.

Let me know if you have any little tips and tricks you would like to share! I am always curious to learn more. Just leave me a comment...


Te Araroa Gear List

I hiked the Te Araroa NOBO in the season of '15/'16 and in 2017 I also hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. On these two long distance trails I tried out a lot of different gear and also learned a lot. When I started in New Zealand I was completely over-packed! I had a 75l backpack and carried about 16kg of base weight! Only after three weeks I had the first big "roll-over" where I changed my tent, shoes, backpack and also ditched a lot of stuff.

Changing and reducing gear has almost been a sport since then. Looking back now on how carefully I changed and decided not to carry the one or other extra I almost can't believe how much I voluntarily carried 😂

But I also have to admit that without going through the process myself I would probably not be as convinced of my setup now. I also would have felt uncomfortable with some of the stuff I am doing now (not taking) without the first hand experience. Based on the knowledge I have now and also the confidence in my own capabilities eg. with cold, wet, dry and injuries I still feel safe with the minimal equipment.


What to pack?

Pointing it out again - everybody has a different comfort zone! So there is no right or wrong. You should never risk your health or even life by under packing and not being prepared! If you don't feel comfortable take whatever makes you comfortable! You can still throw stuff out on the next re-supply stop but you can't "get it" in the middle of nowhere if you need and don't have it with you.

In general I do recommend the same stuff I carried on the PCT at the very end. The two trails have a lot in common so also the same gear works fine. So the base with all the detailed explanation is my "Final PCT Gear List" - check it out if you need detailed info to the single sections and items.

One of the major differences between the PCT and the Te Araroa: there is a lot more water involved on the TA! From both sides - above and below. You have more river crossings and many more rain days. Also the Kiwi forest - called bush - stores a lot of water and since the trail is very often overgrown you will have to brush through soaking wet ferns and other vegetation. Therefore the rain gear is more important than on the PCT. I highly recommend a rain skirt for this. It will most likely be to warm for rain pants but the rain skirt is perfect for the TA. It prevents your shorts from getting wet and cold since they also don't dry quickly in the wet forest. I would also recommend a stronger rain jacket than on the PCT since you will go through much rougher terrain - a lot of thorn-bushes, scrubs and more. The very thin ones will most likely not survive for long. Or you'll have to replace them along the way.

Sleeping bag: You can definitely go with a lighter one. Since you are able to spend most nights on the South Island in the backcountry huts you will always be warmer. A +6C comfort temperature sleeping bag was more than enough.

Also the Sawyer Mini will do instead of the Squeeze since you won't really need it.

The entire gear list in a quick overview:

(Some links in the table are affiliate links)
Item
Product
Weight
The hiking outfit
T-shirt
130g
Shorts
130g
Socks
40g
Shoes
650g
Gaiters
34g
Sun protection
100g
Trekking poles
600g
Watch
64g
1.748g
The big three
Backpack
811g
Pouch for backpack
14g
Tent
539g
Stakes
MSR Ground Hog Mini tent stakes (8)
80g
Sleeping bag
595g
Waterproof stuff sack
25g
Sleeping pad
230g
2.294g
Cooking
Cooking pot
Trangia Pot incl. handle
142g
Stove
83g
Fire
Lighter
10g
Spoon
10g
Water filter
91g
Water container
40g
Water Bottle
Powerade
50g
Food bag
28g
454g
Cloth
Rain jacket
180g
Rain skirt
54g
Rain pants
180g
Down jacket
360g
Jumper
376g
Beanie
32g
Neck gaiter
40g
Gloves
40g
Socks
40g
Stuff sack
55g
1.257g
Medics & Hygienics 
Teeth
Half tooth brush
7g
Teeth
Tooth paste
24g
Contact lenses
Case, solution, extra pair
80g
Eye
Eye infection creme
3g
Nails
Standard small nail clipper
21g
Beard
Comb
6g
Toilet paper
Amount depends on days.
30g
Pain killer
Ibuprofen
15g
Diaria
Imodium
4g
Disinfection
4 alcohol pads
1g
Tape
30g
Antihistamine
6 capsules
7g
Sunscreen
30ml
34g
262g
Repair kit
Tape
Ductape wrapped around trekking pole
Fixation
6 cable ties
6g
Knife
28g
Repair gear
1m Dyneema Composite Fabric
60g
Repair gear
Special tape for air mattress
10g
Repair gear
Tenacious tape
15g
Repair gear
Super glue
15g
Stuff sack
15g
149g
Electronics
Charger
USB with double port & iPhone cable
66g
Battery pack
135g
Phone & navigation
iPhone 6S
145g
Waterproof case
35g
Headlamp
55g
Battery
2 spare batteries for headlamp
22g
Wallet
7g
Stuff sack
20g
485g
Camera
Camera
Olympus OMD EM1 II (incl. battery & SD)
390g
Lense
M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-150mm 1:4.0-5.6 II
285g
Battery
2 extra Olympus batteries
90g
Memory card
2x SanDisk Extreme Pro 64GB
40g
Camera clip
84g
Camera rain cover
113g
Charger
Olympus charger & cable
115g
1.117g
Additional Gear
Pee-bottle
Gatorade 1l bottle
50g
50g
Total base weight
4.845g
Total base weight incl. camera
6.018g
Weight on the hiker
1.748g

Sweet as, brew! Let me know when there's new stuff online!

 

As summarised earlier for the PCT already:

Backpack:

Most important with a backpack is that it fits your back. They all have different harnesses and fit different backs. So make sure to try many. The other features are less important. If you carry heavier loads >15kg you want to have a good hip belt or otherwise you will have bruises on your hips and it's uncomfortable on longer hikes.

My backpack of choice is now the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest. It's specially designed for ultra-light hikers with a 40l volume and only weighs 811g (in comparison my Osprey 50l bag weighs about 1,8kg!) and it is waterproof in itself. It helps you only taking the things you really need since there is not a lot of space 😉. As a reference my bag is maybe half full with all my gear. The rest is "reserved" for food and I usually fit 5 days in it easily. I would not recommend it with a permanent weight over 15kg, but if you exceed it in the first days of a long hike because of food it should be ok since you will get lighter every day.

I also have a Zpacks Backpack Shoulder Pouch on one of my shoulder straps for my phone, ND filter and snacks.

P7180915.jpg

Tent:

The Zpacks Solplex is my choice. It is made out of Dyneema Composite Fabric (also known as Cuban Fibre) which is highly durable and super lightweight with 439g only! Including 8 stakes with 60g the total weight of the tent comes down to 499g. Comfort, space and durability are amazing. Keep your vestibules open for ventilation since in a single wall tent you do get condensation very quickly. It's not cheap with 555US$ but it's well worth every cent if you sleep in it every day.

P6051814.jpg

Sleeping bag & sleeping pad:

The lightest and smallest version is always down. The higher the number of the filling (e.g. 850) the better the quality of the down and therefore the less you need for the same insulation. As mentioned above I would go with the Western Mountaineering Summerlite sleeping bag which is rated for +6C comfort and a max of 0C. I only had a 3 or 4 cold nights below freezing and used used my rain jacket and my backpack as a sack wrapped around my feet for extra insulation in cold nights - just make use of whatever you have if you need it.

Due to packing size I opted for an inflatable sleeping mattress. I am not a fan of the bulky foam pads which you always have to attach to the outside dangling around. The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite is the lightest one. I used to have a large one but now I go with the extra small one (119cm) since I put my legs on my backpack and other things. Saves 200g compared to the large/regular one.

Sleeping mattress, liner & sleeping bag in waterproof pack-sack

Cooking:

Some people go without a stove and only eat cold or dry stuff. Apparently it works but I wouldn't want to go without one proper meal per day. So I carry a very small and light weight (83g) gas stove from Optimus Crux and a small gas canister. For cooking I have a 1.5l Trangia hardanodized ultralight aluminium cooking pot, the aluminum handle and  Sea to Summit plastic spoon.

My main water container is a cheap 1l Powerade plastic bottle - it does the job perfectly, is way lighter than the "proper" ones, the outflow of the Powerade bottle has the perfect size so that you can drink while walking (better than the Powerade one), you can replace it once in a while if it gets to nasty and it costs almost nothing! As a water filtration system you can go with the lighter Sawyer Mini instead of the Sawyer Squeeze. I only filtered my water 4 or 5 times on the entire trail. Since there is water everywhere in New Zealand and you rarely have two hours without a water source you can either carry a 2l Platypus or get an additional thin water bottle for the few occasions where you will need it.

I also have two stuff sacks (10l and 15l) for my food. It helps to easier squish the food into the backpack and I always separate breakfast & dinner from snacks. By doing that I can bury the breakfast & dinner bag in my pack and only have to take to bag with the snacks out during the day

(What I don't carry anymore different to before the trail and on the picture: camel bag, water bottle)

Clothes:

I try to carry as little as I can. Therefore I don't take anything which can't be used on top of each other for the worst case scenario. Don't over pack - yes, you will be smelly and a bit sticky. But everybody is out there. You'll get used to it. Not showering for ten days sounds really bad at the beginning but it's actually not. And once in a while there is also a river to jump in if you are desperate 😉

I usually hike in a Icebreaker merino wool t-shirt, my beloved red/pink Speedo swim shorts, short Icebreaker merino socks and my favorite Salomon Speedcross4 trail runners. To protect my socks and shoes from the insight I use very small Outdoor Research Sparkplug gaiters. As sun protection I have my new and cool Prana hipster cap 😎.

Rain gear: Outdoor Research Helium II rain jacket & Vaude Drop Pants II rain pants - for heavy conditions and when temperatures drop below 0C with rain and wind. And the above mentioned rain skirt Zpacks Rain Kilt. I would personally make it shorter and keep it over your knees for better movability.
My Patagonia Nano Puff jacket with Prima Loft Gold is the piece which keeps me warm in camp or breaks - very small and very warm. I find Prima Loft better on long distance hikes since it even warmth you if it's wet, it dries quickly and you can easily wash it - different to down.
One Icebreaker Descender Long Sleeve merino wool jumper - early in the morning or later in the day on cold and windy days I like to wear this one. Primaloft or down is to warm to walk in.
For the really cold days I carry a thin Icebreaker merino beanie, a Buff (neck gaiter) and a pair of Icebreaker Sierra gloves.
Since my swim shorts have a mesh inside I don't wear underwear. It also helps for better ventilation, less sweating and rubbing. So I only carry one pair of merino underwear to sleep in.
The only extras I carried were one Icebreaker merino t-shirt which is not really necessary - but it is nice sometimes e.g. in towns after a shower when waiting for the laundry to be done. But you don't need it. If its wet I either try to keep in on and dry it with body heat or I take it off and wear my jumper. It sucks in the morning to put it on again but after 20 minutes of exercising it's usually dry. In Oregon I changed one Icebreaker t-shirt for a long sleeve shirt because of the mosquitos and kept it to the end. I also have one pair of extra socks in case a sock breaks down. This usually happens quickly. I went through a pair in 3-4 weeks. Your feet are the most important part on this journey - you do want to do anything possible to prevent blisters and/or injuries! Other than that you only need one pair. Why? How many can you wear? Exactly. If they smell you wash them in a break. If they are wet? Then you walk in wet socks. If it rains on consecutive days even dry socks are wet after 20 minutes so there is no sense in putting dry ones on to into your wet shoes...

(What I don't carry anymore different to before the trail and on the picture: hat, rain skirt, thermal pants, towel)

Left: my "carry-on", Right: my outfit

Medics and Hygienics

How to go light: Try to buy the smaller sizes. No need to carry 200ml of something that will last for 2 month. Resupply more often. I have seen people carrying regular bottles of everything ending up with 3-4kg of liquids 🙈

My daily hygienics consisted out of a small and cut off tooth brush + toothpaste, contact lenses and cleansing fluid (extra pair and a few daily lenses in case of an eye infection), nail clipper, comb for my beard - therefore no razor 😂 and an amount of toilet paper suitable for the days - don't carry an entire roll!

In case shit happens. How much can you do in the wilderness? If it's a minor thing you usually don't really have to do anything and if it's a big thing (broken bones, etc.) you can't heal yourself anyways. So the only thing you have to do is get out and get help. So I am not a big fan of carrying a lot of stuff. For the heavy stuff I rely on painkillers (Ibuprofen), the cable ties and ductape.

I also carry Imodium for diaria (how many do you need? Not the entire pack for sure, just enough to get you out in case it hits you), a cream for eye infection which happens quickly with contact lenses, a couple disinfection/alcohol tissues (also work great if you have to clean camera lenses or surfaces before you repair / glue them). And a few Antihistamine pills after my shocking 25 sting-wasp-experience.

For the smaller issues and especially my feet I have a small roll of plaster tape (Mefix) which is a sticky plaster to seal open wounds and a 2m strip of Leuko Surgical Tape wrapped around a solid plastic tube: it's the only tape which really works. The adhesive is incredible and even stays on feet for days when they get wet. Don't try anything else!

Last but not least a 30ml sunscreen tube and a Ziploc bag to store everything.

(What I don't carry anymore different to before the trail and on the picture: Voltaren, Aspirin, hand sanitizer, bio degradable washing lotion, ear plugs)

Repair kit

Minimal as well. Tape and cable ties will fix most problems temporarily or even long term. For the electronics I only carry my iPhone for backup navigation (bad weather, emergency situations) and to write the blog.

Sufficient amount of ductape wrapped around my trekking poles so I don't have to carry it in the backpack fixes everything: equipment and also small injuries.
An Opinel Knife No. 6, a stripe of special waterproof repair tape for tents, rain jackets and repair kit for my air mattress, 6 cable ties, super glue, a spare lighter, a 10m MSR Ultralight Utility Cord (cloth line, rope to hang food and possible repair kit) and 2 small carabiners to hang food. On top I carried 4 one gallon Ziploc bags as emergency and rain gloves and socks and a small stuff sack to store everything.

Electronics

USB charger with double port, my iPhone in a waterproof Lifeproof Case - also my fall back navigation and emergency (if I have reception) device, a Goal Zero Flip 20 Powerbank for two charges. A Black Diamond Ion headlamp for hikes during night time and everything else when it's dark. And I have a small Zpacks Wallet Zip Pouch for credit cards &, ID and all of it goes into a 3l Osprey Ultralight Dry Sack.

(What I don't carry anymore different to before the trail and on the picture: compass & maps which you won't need for the PCT)

The only luxury equipment - my camera

Photography is one of my passions. So I can't go without a proper camera. I tried to find a compromise between a full DSLR camera which is to bulky and heavy and a smaller one which will still give me a very high quality. For the last 2 years I have used my Olympus OMD EM10II with a micro four thirds sensor and the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 14–150mm 1:4.0–5.6 II lense. It only weighs 1018g including the lense, battery and memory card which is significantly less than a comparable SLR.

On top I have 2 spare battery, 2 SD memory cards, cleaning wipes, a grey filter and the camera battery charger.

And I also finally found a way to attach my camera to my backpack so that I can always use it without taking my backpack off or it dangling around and being annoying. The Peak Design clip straps the camera to your shoulder belt. It's fixed, secured and you still have easy access to it. And after two years of heavy usage I can only highly recommend this thing including the shell to protect your camera from dust and rain. If you take the extra weight of a good camera with you this clip is a must item - if you have your camera in your pack you'll never use it and just carry dead weight around! Peak Design Capture Clip v3 for the backpack & Peak Design Shell for protection. Use the link to get a free gift 😉

PS: Unfortunately my camera went swimming 3 weeks before the end. So I had to replace it on the go. I have to admit that I used this excuse to directly upgrade to the OMD EM1 II with a 12-100 Pro Lense. It is significantly heavier (+460g) but I will also use it for non hiking purposes now. On long hikes I might try to use the old lense if I can repair it. For the packing list I include my old camera since it was the one I used.

Additional gear

Leki Khumbu hiking poles which I always use. It's said that they save you up to 30% of energy in your legs since you use your upper body which normally is not used when hiking.

Suunto Core Watch. Simple watch, altimeter and compass. I am not a fan of GPS watches since they use a lot of battery which you don't have out there.

Additional 32oz Gatorade (big opening) pee-bottle for the night. I hate getting out of the tent at night. Probably one of my most favorite items 😊

 

Sweet as, brew! Let me know when there's new stuff online!


Do What Make Good - Home



My final Pacific Crest Trail / PCT Gear List

Since I have been asked for advise and recommendations many times during the last weeks regarding the "right gear" I sat down and compiled my gear list again. This Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) gear list includes everything I have used on my thru-hike in 2017. You will see it also includes a few tips and tricks, recommendations & explanations on why and how I used certain items. At the end of the article you'll find an overview table with all items and weight. Also check out the Gear section on my site for further info.

Overview

I started out with more and different gear at the beginning of my Pacific Crest Trail journey. Even though I thought I knew what I would need based on my previous experience I changed and optimized quite a few things along the way again. You never stop learning. The most commonly used reference is the one of your "base weight". It includes everything which is in your backpack including the pack itself without food and water. And you usually do not count what you are wearing as your minimal/standard outfit.

I managed to lower my base weight to only 5.4kg (6.6kg incl. my camera gear)! When I saw the numbers earlier I was surprised myself..

Since most of the gear and thoughts are still valid I have recycled a lot from my original post which I put together before I started. If you want to read some background info and compare to what I have now feel free to check out the Post "My Gear List..."


What to pack?

First of all, everybody has a different comfort zone! So there is no right or wrong.
Every environment is different and requires different equipment!
You should never risk your health or even life by under-packing and not being prepared!

The main questions to consider are usually:
What weather will I have to expect? What will be the lowest temperatures?
How remote will I be and how quickly can I escape or receive help in an emergency situation?

This will determine a lot when it comes to the right equipment. The big three are usually your backpack itself, the tent and the sleeping bag. Tent and sleeping bag will depend on the conditions - how stable does the tent have to be (e.g. very stable in Patagonia with a lot of wind and no shelter, less in New Zealand where you can usually camp in the forest and have shelter) and how warm and big does your sleeping bag (and with this usually also the cloth) have to be. By volume and size of all these things you will be able to choose a backpack.

The entire gear list in a quick overview:

(Some links in the table are affiliate links)
Item
Product
Weight
The hiking outfit
T-shirt
130g
Shorts
130g
Socks
40g
Shoes
650g
Gaiters
34g
Sun protection
100g
Trekking poles
600g
Watch
64g
1.748g
The big three
Backpack
811g
Pouch for backpack
14g
Tent
539g
Stakes
MSR Ground Hog Mini tent stakes (8)
80g
Sleeping bag
595g
Waterproof stuff sack
25g
Sleeping pad
230g
2.294g
Cooking
Cooking pot
Trangia Pot incl. handle
142g
Stove
83g
Fire
Lighter
10g
Spoon
10g
Water filter
91g
Water container
40g
Water Bottle
Powerade
50g
Food bag
28g
454g
Cloth
Rain jacket
180g
Rain skirt
54g
Rain pants
180g
Down jacket
360g
Jumper
376g
Beanie
32g
Neck gaiter
40g
Gloves
40g
Socks
40g
Stuff sack
55g
1.257g
Medics & Hygienics 
Teeth
Half tooth brush
7g
Teeth
Tooth paste
24g
Contact lenses
Case, solution, extra pair
80g
Eye
Eye infection creme
3g
Nails
Standard small nail clipper
21g
Beard
Comb
6g
Toilet paper
Amount depends on days.
30g
Pain killer
Ibuprofen
15g
Diaria
Imodium
4g
Disinfection
4 alcohol pads
1g
Tape
30g
Antihistamine
6 capsules
7g
Sunscreen
30ml
34g
262g
Repair kit
Tape
Ductape wrapped around trekking pole
Fixation
6 cable ties
6g
Knife
28g
Repair gear
1m Dyneema Composite Fabric
60g
Repair gear
Special tape for air mattress
10g
Repair gear
Tenacious tape
15g
Repair gear
Super glue
15g
Stuff sack
15g
149g
Electronics
Charger
USB with double port & iPhone cable
66g
Battery pack
135g
Phone & navigation
iPhone 6S
145g
Waterproof case
35g
Headlamp
55g
Battery
2 spare batteries for headlamp
22g
Wallet
7g
Stuff sack
20g
485g
Camera
Camera
Olympus OMD EM1 II (incl. battery & SD)
390g
Lense
M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-150mm 1:4.0-5.6 II
285g
Battery
2 extra Olympus batteries
90g
Memory card
2x SanDisk Extreme Pro 64GB
40g
Camera clip
84g
Camera rain cover
113g
Charger
Olympus charger & cable
115g
1.117g
Additional Gear
Pee-bottle
Gatorade 1l bottle
50g
50g
Total base weight
4.845g
Total base weight incl. camera
6.018g
Weight on the hiker
1.748g

Sweet as, brew! Let me know when there's new stuff online!

 

As summarised earlier for the PCT already:

Backpack:

Most important with a backpack is that it fits your back. They all have different harnesses and fit different backs. So make sure to try many. The other features are less important. If you carry heavier loads >15kg you want to have a good hip belt or otherwise you will have bruises on your hips and it's uncomfortable on longer hikes.

My backpack of choice is now the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest. It's specially designed for ultra-light hikers with a 40l volume and only weighs 811g (in comparison my Osprey 50l bag weighs about 1,8kg!) and it is waterproof in itself. It helps you only taking the things you really need since there is not a lot of space 😉. As a reference my bag is maybe half full with all my gear. The rest is "reserved" for food and I usually fit 5 days in it easily. I would not recommend it with a permanent weight over 15kg, but if you exceed it in the first days of a long hike because of food it should be ok since you will get lighter every day.

I also have a Zpacks Backpack Shoulder Pouch on one of my shoulder straps for my phone, ND filter and snacks.

P7180915.jpg

Tent:

The Zpacks Solplex is my choice. It is made out of Dyneema Composite Fabric (also known as Cuban Fibre) which is highly durable and super lightweight with 439g only! Including 8 stakes with 60g the total weight of the tent comes down to 499g. Comfort, space and durability are amazing. Keep your vestibules open for ventilation since in a single wall tent you do get condensation very quickly. It's not cheap with 555US$ but it's well worth every cent if you sleep in it every day.

P6051814.jpg

Sleeping bag & sleeping pad:

The lightest and smallest version is always down. The higher the number of the filling (e.g. 850) the better the quality of the down and therefore the less you need for the same insulation. As mentioned above I would go with the Western Mountaineering Summerlite sleeping bag which is rated for +6C comfort and a max of 0C. I only had a 3 or 4 cold nights below freezing and used used my rain jacket and my backpack as a sack wrapped around my feet for extra insulation in cold nights - just make use of whatever you have if you need it.

Due to packing size I opted for an inflatable sleeping mattress. I am not a fan of the bulky foam pads which you always have to attach to the outside dangling around. The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite is the lightest one. I used to have a large one but now I go with the extra small one (119cm) since I put my legs on my backpack and other things. Saves 200g compared to the large/regular one.

Cooking:

Some people go without a stove and only eat cold or dry stuff. Apparently it works but I wouldn't want to go without one proper meal per day. So I carry a very small and light weight (83g) gas stove from Optimus Crux and a small gas canister. For cooking I have a 1.5l Trangia hardanodized ultralight aluminium cooking pot, the aluminum handle and  Sea to Summit plastic spoon.

My main water container is a cheap 1l Powerade plastic bottle - it does the job perfectly, is way lighter than the "proper" ones, the outflow of the Powerade bottle has the perfect size so that you can drink while walking (better than the Powerade one), you can replace it once in a while if it gets to nasty and it costs almost nothing! As a water filtration system you can go with the lighter Sawyer Mini instead of the Sawyer Squeeze. I only filtered my water 4 or 5 times on the entire trail. Since there is water everywhere in New Zealand and you rarely have two hours without a water source you can either carry a 2l Platypus or get an additional thin water bottle for the few occasions where you will need it.

I also have two stuff sacks (10l and 15l) for my food. It helps to easier squish the food into the backpack and I always separate breakfast & dinner from snacks. By doing that I can bury the breakfast & dinner bag in my pack and only have to take to bag with the snacks out during the day

(What I don't carry anymore different to before the trail and on the picture: camel bag, water bottle)

Clothes:

I try to carry as little as I can. Therefore I don't take anything which can't be used on top of each other for the worst case scenario. Don't over pack - yes, you will be smelly and a bit sticky. But everybody is out there. You'll get used to it. Not showering for ten days sounds really bad at the beginning but it's actually not. And once in a while there is also a river to jump in if you are desperate 😉

I usually hike in a Icebreaker merino wool t-shirt, my beloved red/pink Speedo swim shorts, short Icebreaker merino socks and my favorite Salomon Speedcross4 trail runners. To protect my socks and shoes from the insight I use very small Outdoor Research Sparkplug gaiters. As sun protection I have my new and cool Prana hipster cap 😎.

Rain gear: Outdoor Research Helium II rain jacket & Vaude Drop Pants II rain pants - for heavy conditions and when temperatures drop below 0C with rain and wind. And the above mentioned rain skirt Zpacks Rain Kilt. I would personally make it shorter and keep it over your knees for better movability.
My Patagonia Nano Puff jacket with Prima Loft Gold is the piece which keeps me warm in camp or breaks - very small and very warm. I find Prima Loft better on long distance hikes since it even warmth you if it's wet, it dries quickly and you can easily wash it - different to down.
One Icebreaker Descender Long Sleeve merino wool jumper - early in the morning or later in the day on cold and windy days I like to wear this one. Primaloft or down is to warm to walk in.
For the really cold days I carry a thin Icebreaker merino beanie, a Buff (neck gaiter) and a pair of Icebreaker Sierra gloves.
Since my swim shorts have a mesh inside I don't wear underwear. It also helps for better ventilation, less sweating and rubbing. So I only carry one pair of merino underwear to sleep in.
The only extras I carried were one Icebreaker merino t-shirt which is not really necessary - but it is nice sometimes e.g. in towns after a shower when waiting for the laundry to be done. But you don't need it. If its wet I either try to keep in on and dry it with body heat or I take it off and wear my jumper. It sucks in the morning to put it on again but after 20 minutes of exercising it's usually dry. In Oregon I changed one Icebreaker t-shirt for a long sleeve shirt because of the mosquitos and kept it to the end. I also have one pair of extra socks in case a sock breaks down. This usually happens quickly. I went through a pair in 3-4 weeks. Your feet are the most important part on this journey - you do want to do anything possible to prevent blisters and/or injuries! Other than that you only need one pair. Why? How many can you wear? Exactly. If they smell you wash them in a break. If they are wet? Then you walk in wet socks. If it rains on consecutive days even dry socks are wet after 20 minutes so there is no sense in putting dry ones on to into your wet shoes...

(What I don't carry anymore different to before the trail and on the picture: hat, rain skirt, thermal pants, towel)

Medics and Hygienics

How to go light: Try to buy the smaller sizes. No need to carry 200ml of something that will last for 2 month. Resupply more often. I have seen people carrying regular bottles of everything ending up with 3-4kg of liquids 🙈

My daily hygienics consisted out of a small and cut off tooth brush + toothpaste, contact lenses and cleansing fluid (extra pair and a few daily lenses in case of an eye infection), nail clipper, comb for my beard - therefore no razor 😂 and an amount of toilet paper suitable for the days - don't carry an entire roll!

In case shit happens. How much can you do in the wilderness? If it's a minor thing you usually don't really have to do anything and if it's a big thing (broken bones, etc.) you can't heal yourself anyways. So the only thing you have to do is get out and get help. So I am not a big fan of carrying a lot of stuff. For the heavy stuff I rely on painkillers (Ibuprofen), the cable ties and ductape.

I also carry Imodium for diaria (how many do you need? Not the entire pack for sure, just enough to get you out in case it hits you), a cream for eye infection which happens quickly with contact lenses, a couple disinfection/alcohol tissues (also work great if you have to clean camera lenses or surfaces before you repair / glue them). And a few Antihistamine pills after my shocking 25 sting-wasp-experience.

For the smaller issues and especially my feet I have a small roll of plaster tape (Mefix) which is a sticky plaster to seal open wounds and a 2m strip of Leuko Surgical Tape wrapped around a solid plastic tube: it's the only tape which really works. The adhesive is incredible and even stays on feet for days when they get wet. Don't try anything else!

Last but not least a 30ml sunscreen tube and a Ziploc bag to store everything.

(What I don't carry anymore different to before the trail and on the picture: Voltaren, Aspirin, hand sanitizer, bio degradable washing lotion, ear plugs)

Repair kit

Minimal as well. Tape and cable ties will fix most problems temporarily or even long term. For the electronics I only carry my iPhone for backup navigation (bad weather, emergency situations) and to write the blog.

Sufficient amount of ductape wrapped around my trekking poles so I don't have to carry it in the backpack fixes everything: equipment and also small injuries.
An Opinel Knife No. 6, a stripe of special waterproof repair tape for tents, rain jackets and repair kit for my air mattress, 6 cable ties, super glue, a spare lighter, a 10m MSR Ultralight Utility Cord (cloth line, rope to hang food and possible repair kit) and 2 small carabiners to hang food. On top I carried 4 one gallon Ziploc bags as emergency and rain gloves and socks and a small stuff sack to store everything.

Electronics

USB charger with double port, my iPhone in a waterproof Lifeproof Case - also my fall back navigation and emergency (if I have reception) device, a Goal Zero Flip 20 Powerbank for two charges. A Black Diamond Ion headlamp for hikes during night time and everything else when it's dark. And I have a small Zpacks Wallet Zip Pouch for credit cards &, ID and all of it goes into a 3l Osprey Ultralight Dry Sack.

(What I don't carry anymore different to before the trail and on the picture: compass & maps which you won't need for the PCT)

The only luxury equipment - my camera

Photography is one of my passions. So I can't go without a proper camera. I tried to find a compromise between a full DSLR camera which is to bulky and heavy and a smaller one which will still give me a very high quality. For the last 2 years I have used my Olympus OMD EM10II with a micro four thirds sensor and the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 14–150mm 1:4.0–5.6 II lense. It only weighs 1018g including the lense, battery and memory card which is significantly less than a comparable SLR.

On top I have 2 spare battery, 2 SD memory cards, cleaning wipes, a grey filter and the camera battery charger.

And I also finally found a way to attach my camera to my backpack so that I can always use it without taking my backpack off or it dangling around and being annoying. The Peak Design clip straps the camera to your shoulder belt. It's fixed, secured and you still have easy access to it. And after two years of heavy usage I can only highly recommend this thing including the shell to protect your camera from dust and rain. If you take the extra weight of a good camera with you this clip is a must item - if you have your camera in your pack you'll never use it and just carry dead weight around! Peak Design Capture Clip v3 for the backpack & Peak Design Shell for protection. Use the link to get a free gift 😉

PS: Unfortunately my camera went swimming 3 weeks before the end. So I had to replace it on the go. I have to admit that I used this excuse to directly upgrade to the OMD EM1 II with a 12-100 Pro Lense. It is significantly heavier (+460g) but I will also use it for non hiking purposes now. On long hikes I might try to use the old lense if I can repair it. For the packing list I include my old camera since it was the one I used.

Additional gear

Leki Khumbu hiking poles which I always use. It's said that they save you up to 30% of energy in your legs since you use your upper body which normally is not used when hiking.

Suunto Core Watch. Simple watch, altimeter and compass. I am not a fan of GPS watches since they use a lot of battery which you don't have out there.

Additional 32oz Gatorade (big opening) pee-bottle for the night. I hate getting out of the tent at night. Probably one of my most favorite items 😊

 

Sweet as, brew! Let me know when there's new stuff online!


Gear

Pacific Crest Trail Gear

Final PCT / Pacific Crest Trail gear list

PCT Gear List

Te Araroa Gear List

Te Araroa ultra-light gear list. Based on my thruhikes.

Te Araroa Gear

TMB Gear

A ultra light TMB / Tour de Mont Blanc Gear list

TMB Blanc Gear

Unusual hiking tips

The "other tips" people don't write about on thru-hikes.

11 unusual tips


Preparation for the PCT - some of my new toys...

During the last month I have always been asked a lot about how it is to walk for 3,000km and what I took on the five month hike. Since many people also asked for advise I thought I put down some of my ideas, experiences and finally the gear which I am using, how and why.

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To begin with - in NZ I started out with a 75l backpack and about 16,5kg base weight. Without food and water and everything that was in the bag. I was prepared for many worst case scenarios and also carried stuff which I would never take again. Why? Because I actually did not need them, the benefits did not justify the additional weight or/and my comfort zone had shifted to a point were I was comfortable not to take it anymore. Over the days and weeks on the trail I realised how little I needed, how painful every gram was uphill and how much more chocolate I was able to carry with less weight and more space in the backpack - and chocolate makes you happy!!! 😊

I went down in weight and volume in two big stages. First one was after about three weeks where I changed my backpack to a 50l one, changed my tent and cooker and  got rid of a lot of stuff. And after the trail I changed again to a very lightweight backpack with 45l, got rid of more equipment and changed some gear for lighter or smaller one. Now my baseweight is less then 6kg - this includes my backpack, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, stove & pot, cloth, medic & hygiene-kit, repair and safety equipment. It has been a massive transformation but the joy on each and every uphill slope is just amazing with 10kg less! And another big advantage of being lighter is - you are a lot faster. By being faster you can also manage to cover greater distances, needing less time and with this again carrying less food. So there are many advantages not to overpack...

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My entire equipment now for a six day solo hike including all food.


What to pack?

First of all, everybody has a different comfort zone! So there is no right or wrong.
Every environment is different and requires different equipment!
You should never risk your health or even life by underpacking and not being prepared!

The main questions to consider are usually:
What weather will I have to expect? What will be the lowest temperatures?
How remote will I be and how quickly can I escape or receive help in an emergency situation?

This will determine a lot when it comes to the right equipment. The big three are usually your backpack itself, the tent and the sleeping bag. Tent and sleeping bag will depend on the conditions - how stable does the tent have to be (e.g. very stable in Patagonia with a lot of wind and no shelter, less in New Zealand where you can usually camp in the forest and have shelter) and how warm and big does your sleeping bag (and with this usually also the cloth) have to be. By volume and size of all these things you will be able to choose a backpack.

Backpack:

Most important with a backpack is that it fits your back. They all have different harnesses and fit different backs. So make sure to try many. The other features are less important. If you carry heavier loads >15kg you want to have a good hip belt or otherwise you will have bruises on your hips and it's uncomfortable on longer hikes.

I have two Osprey backpacks (Xenith 75l, Atmos 50l) which I really like for their comfort (hip belt and ventilation) when it's heavier. But my normal hiking backpack is now my Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest. It's specially designed for ultra-light hikers and only weighs 800 grams (in comparison my Osprey 50l bag weighs about 1,8kg!) and it is waterproof in itself. I would not recommend it with a permanent weight over 12kg, but if you exceed it in the first days of a long hike because of food it should be ok since you will get lighter every day.

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Tent:

First of all I prefer a tent over a tarp only. On long hikes with long stretches and the possibility of consecutive days of rain I prefer to have a dry spot at night. Especially since I don't carry a lot of spare cloth or rain protection and I usually do get wet during the day. So I really need to stay dry and warm in the night - but that's me. And the difference between a tarp and mosquito protection to my tent is not that much anymore.

I am a big fan of my two Hilleberg tents (Allak & Soulo) which are designed for harsh conditions. I had my Allak pitched at around 100km wind one night with little shelter and different to my neighbours who's tent-poles broke I was fine. But the stability has it's price - weight! They are extremely light for what they can do but the Soulo still weighs around 2,5kg.

Therefore I changed to a MSR Hubba NX Solo which only weighs 1.12kg with good stability.

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Sleeping bag & sleeping mat:

The lightest and smallest version is always down. The higher the number of the filling (e.g. 850) the better the quality of the down and therefore the less you need for the same insulation. I go with a Western Mountaineering sleeping bag which is rated for +6C comfort and a max of 0C. I have already used it down to -5C and just left my t-shirt and thermal pants on in the night and it was fine. I have also used my rain jacket and/or my backpack as a sack wrapped around my feet for extra insulation in cold nights - just make use of whatever you have if you need it. It weighs a bit more than 500 gr. and packs extremely small - maybe 3l. I also always use a silk liner (120 gr.) to protect the sleeping bag from oil and fat and it gives a bit more of insulation if I need it in cold nights. The problem with down is if they get wet once or even worth contaminated with oil they clump up and the insulation is gone. Therefore the 120 gr. for me is a good investment on a long trail when I have no chance to professionally clean the sleeping bag.

Due to packing size I opted for an inflatable sleeping mattress. I am not a fan of the bulky foam pads which you always have to attach to the outside dangling around. The Thermarest NeoAir XLite is my choice since it is light and through the air chamber also gives the best possible insulation from the ground.

Sleeping mattress, liner & sleeping bag in waterproof pack-sack

Cooking:

I carry a very small and light weight (70 gr.) gas stove from Olympus and a small gas canister. For cooking I have a medium size titanium cooking pot which might weigh a bit more than 100 gr and a Spork. On top I do carry a small mechanical water filter with an empty 1.5l plastic bottle, a 1l plastic bottle and a 3l camel bag if I have to carry water for more than a day.


Cloth:

I try to carry as little as I can. Therefore I don't take anything which can't be used on top of each other for the worst case scenario. Don't overpack - yes, you will be smelly and a bit sticky. But everybody is out there. You'll get used to it. Not showering for ten days sounds really bad at the beginning but it's actually not. And once in a while there is also a river to jump in if you are desperate 😉

I usually hike in a Icebreaker merino wool t-shirt, swimming pants, short Icebreaker merino socks and my favorite Salomon Speedcross3 trail runners. To protect my socks and shoes from the insight I use very small "dirty girl" gaiters. I also carry a

Rain jacket - currently a heavier and sturdier from Haglöfs, but maybe change it for a lighter one
Rain skirt - best option when it rains and it is warm
Rain pants - for heavy conditions and when temperatures drop below 0C with rain and wind
Patagonia lightweight Prima Loft Gold jacket - very small and very warm, better than down in this case since it can get wet.
Thermal underwear for cold evenings in the camps
1 extra Icebreaker merino t-shirt
1 thin Icebreaker merino hat
1 Buff (neck gaiter)
1 pair of Icebreaker mernio gloves
My stylish hiking hat
2 pair of Icebreaker merino underwear
1 pair of extra socks in case the main one breaks down. Get used to walking in wet  socks - it only sucks the first 20 minutes...
Small microfiber towel

Left: my "carry-on", Right: my outfit

Medics and Hygienics

Try to buy the smaller sizes. No need to carry 200ml of something that will last for 2 month. Resupply more often. I have seen carrying regular bottles  of everything ending up with 3-4kg of liquids 🙈

Small and cut off tooth brush + toothpaste
Small container of biodegradable washing lotion
Desinfectional gel
Contact lenses and cleansing fluid (extra pair and a few daily lenses in case of an eye infection)
Nail clipper
Coam for my beard - therefore no razor 😂
Toilet paper

Painkillers
Cream for eye infection - happens quickly with contact lenses
Couple desinfectional tissues
Small roll of plaster tape
Antihistamines


Repair kit, electronics, navigation and other stuff

Minimal as well. Tape and cable ties will fix most problems temporarily or even long term. For the electronics I only carry my iPhone for backup navigation (bad weather, emergency situations) and to write the blog.

Sufficient amount of ductape wrapped around my trekking poles so I don't have to carry it in the backpack - it fixes everything: equipment and also small injuries.
An Opinel Knife
A stripe of special waterproof repair tape for tents, rain jackets and repair kit for my air mattress
Cable ties
One piece of string

USB charger with double port
iPhone in waterproof Lifeproof Case- also my fall back navigation and emergency (if I have reception) device
Powerbank for two charges
Headlamp for hikes during night time and everything else when it's dark

A fully functioning light weight compass and paper maps (in a waterproof transparent cover attached with a string to the backpack)
Hiking poles which I always use. It's said that they save you up to 30% of energy in your legs since you use your upper body which normally is not used when hiking

Maps for 4,300km and five month = 1kg. Will mail them in stacks to pick up points...

My only luxury equipment - my camera

I tried to find a compromise between a full DSLR camera which is to bulky and heavy and a smaller one which will still give me a very high quality. After testing it for 1.5 years now I can say that I am extremely happy. It only weighs 900 gr. including the lense which is significantly less than a comparable SLR. And I also finally found a way to attach my camera to my backpack so that I can always use it without taking my backpack off or it dangling around and being annoying. The Peak Design clip straps the camera to your shoulder belt. It's fixed, secured and you still have easy access to it.

Olympus OMD EM10II with 14-150mm lense (converts to 28-300 in traditional logic)
3 batteries, 4 SD memory cards, cleaning wipes and three grey filters
Camera battery charger
Peak Design Pro clip for the backpack
Peak Design rain cover


If you consider buying any gear from Peak Design for your camera - they asked me to join their affiliate program. So just use this link here and you will get a 10% discount on your purchase: https://www.peakdesign.com?acc=470
What else is important?

I do pack everything in waterproof sacks or zip-locks. It a) helps to keep order and easy access and it prevents stuff from getting wet! Very important.

The entire gear list in a quick overview:

I am wearing my t-shirt, shorts, one pair of socks, trail runners, gaiters and I am having my trekking poles in use. The rest is in my bag unless the weather changes and I put some of the stuff on.

  • Cooking stove from Olympus
  • Cooking pot from Trangia
  • Spork
  • Water filter + 1.5l water bottle
  • 1l water bottle
  • 3l camel bag
  • Rain jacket
  • Rain skirt
  • Rain pants
  • Patagonia Prima Loft Gold jacket
  • Marmot thermal pants
  • 1 extra Icebreaker merino t-shirt
  • 1 thin Icebreaker merino hat
  • 1 Buff (neck gaiter)
  • 1 pair of Icebreaker mernio gloves
  • Sun hat
  • 2 pair of Icebreaker merino underwear
  • 1 pair of extra socks
  • Small microfiber towel
  • Small and cut off tooth brush + toothpaste
  • Small container of biodigradable washing lotion
  • Desinfectional gel
  • Contact lenses and clensing fluid (extra pair and a few daily lenses in case of an eye infection)
  • Nail clipper
  • Comb for my beard - therefore no razor 😂
  • Toilet paper
  • Painkillers
  • Cream for eye infection - happens quickly with contact lenses
  • Couple desinfectional tissues
  • Small roll of plastertape
  • Antihistamines
  • Ductape
  • Opinel Knive
  • A stripe of special waterproof repair tape
  • Cable ties
  • One piece of string
  • USB charger with double port
  • iPhone
  • Powerbank for two charges
  • Headlamp
  • Olympus OMD EM10II with 14-150mm lense (converts to 28-300 in traditional logic)
    3 batteries, 4 SD memory cards, cleaning wipes and three grey filters
    Camera battery charger
  • Peak Design Pro clip for the backpack
  • Peak Design rain cover
  • 4 different pack and dry sacks
  • Hiking poles aluminium
  • Sunscreen & chapstick