RP Backpacking Gear Guide Part 2

In part 1 we covered the strategies of Old School and Ultralight backpacking, as well as a simple breakdown of Ultralight gear recommendations by weight and cost.

Most backpackers are not Old School or Ultralight. Most don't want to sacrifice some conveniences and comforts to go hyper-lightweight, but most also don't want to carry 50lb packs and destroy their knees. The sweet spot in the middle is where the Average Backpacker fits.

If you find yourself here, you want to go reasonable far/fast, but not at the expense of some creature comforts. You don't want to spend quite as much on gear, and your gear is likely going to be a bit more durable. On the packing list, you'll notice some cross-over with the Ultralight list we posted last week, because you may still want to take some steps towards lightening your load. As we mentioned, the UL guys have influenced the market- causing to bigger companies to continue to find new ways to increase efficiencies, lower weights, and bring new technologies to the market. You get to reap those rewards!

As we guide Back Country Expeditions, our gear needs are slightly different (we have to carry more stuff!) than yours might be, but most of it will line up just fine. We'll list some specific gear recommendations below.

*One specific note, both Ultralight and Average backpackers have been switching over from heavy hiking boots to lighter weight (non-waterproof is preferred!) trail running shoes. If you are still tromping around in heavy boots, give trail runners a try, specifically ones that have an extra wide toe box like Altras or Topos. 

Here is an Average backpacker's packing list: 

(Notice that it also includes the weight of each item! We'll try to include the cost as well.)

Pack, Shelter, Sleep System:


Osprey Atmos AG 50.  71 oz.  $280


Big Agnes Tigerwall UL2.  35 oz.  $400

Sleeping pad:

Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Ultra (20"x72").  22 oz. $100

Sleeping bag/quilt: 

Big Agnes Fussell UL Quilt.   17 oz.   $279


This does not include the clothing you are wearing!

REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket 2.0   11 oz.  $100

Frogg Toggs Xtreme Lite Jacket   9 oz.  $40

Smartwool Merino Glove  2.47 oz.  $30

(Base Layer: beanie, long johns, etc. Variable) Smart Wool 150 

Cooking System:


Jetboil Minimo Cook System.  14 oz.  $155

Sea to Summit Alpha Light Spork - Long.  .4oz.  $11

Fozzils Snapfold Bowl.  1.4 oz.  $5

if in bear country:

BearVault BV450.  33 oz. $77

Water Filtration and storage:

Sawyer Squeeze.  3.5oz.  $47

Smartwater 1L Bottle.  1.5oz.  $2


iPhone 12 Mini.  4.8oz

Anker 313 Power Bank Slim 10,000mAh.  5.1 oz.  $16

CableCreation 6" USB charging cable.  .7 oz. $7

Garmin inReach mini.  3.5 oz. $350

Amazon rechargeable headlamp.  2oz.  $15 (for a 2 pack)


4Monster Microfiber Towel (Medium) (Amazon).  5.3 oz.  $13

Bic Mini Lighter   .39oz.  $8 (for a 5 pack)

First aid kit (variable, diy)

Toiletries (variable, diy)

BoglerCo Ultralight Backpacking Trowel   0.48 oz.  $18

ALPS Mountaineering Momentum Trekking Poles.  14.5 oz   $100

REI Co-op Flexlite Air Chair   16 oz.  $100


Total weight: 274 oz (plus the variables) (thats still only 17.13 pounds!)

Total Dollars: $2153 (not including variables and the cell phone)

Ultimately its ~$1000 less than Ultralight, but ~8 pounds more weight. To be sure, there are ways to cut the cost more (purchasing used gear off of facebook market place, online mark-downs, make your own gear, etc. And there are ways to cut weight or increase comfort.

There are dozens of options in each category listed, which you could spend hundreds of hours researching (some of us might be guilty of that...) but hopefully this gives you a quick direction as to where you can jump into the world of backpacking, or upgrade some of your gear if you already have. 

See you out on the trail! Sign up for one of our Expeditions here!


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