Goto Backpacking Gear

Thought it would be interesting to see how my primary items have changed over time:  I am ignoring items that were used briefly or for testing purpose. For a while I was regularly purchasing new gear and trying it our. When I found something that was “better” than what I was using, I would potentially hold on to the old item for my “loaning library”, or see it to fund my gear habit. In recent years I have been slowly giving away / selling items I was holding as “loaner”. What I still own is bolded.


Something like 18 packs tested but not considered “goto”. Never became go-to but I used the SMD StarLite and Gossamer Gear Whisper a fair bit. LuxuryLite was the most innovative pack I owned for a bit but didn’t work for me.

  • Kelty Model “B” Pack… 1972-1978
  • JanSport D3 (replace destroyed pack)… 1978-2000
  • Gregory Forester (wanted something more comfortable)… 2000-2001
  • GoLite Speed Pack (looking for something lighter)… 2001-2002
  • Granite Gear Vapor Trail (more comfortable, became a loaner after I purchased the Gorilla and was gifted to someone in need)… 2002-2014
  • Osprey Aether 60 (Volume / comfort for heavier / longer trip, adjustable so good loaner until given to friend’s son)… 2002-2020
  • Gossamer Gear Gorilla (lighter, smaller – the right volume for me, and support business I believed in)… 2009-

Sleeping Bags

Often borrowed by dad’s down bag which was made by L.L. Bean and periodically rented bags when doing winter trips.

  • White Stag Synthetic Bag… 1972-1977
  • North Face Cat’s Meow (old bag lost loft)… 1977-1988
  • North Face Cat’s Meow (old bag stolen)… 1989-2002
  • Marmot Arroyo (old bag lost loft)… 2001-2002
  • NuntakUSA Ghost (Lighter and warmer than Arroyo) 2003-
  • Western Mountaineering Versalite (for winter trips and loaner… sold because I no longer regularly doing trips below 20F)… 2004-2020

Shelters – Solo

  • MSR Zoid 1 (first solo tent)… 2001-2001
  • Brawny Poncho Tarp (lighter for solo trips)… 2002-2004
  • Gossamer Gear Spinnshelter (better storm protection)… 2004-2008
  • Gossamer Gear The One Version 1 (more space, bug free)… 2008-2010
  • ZPacks Hexamid (lighter, packed smaller, easier for me to pitch)… 2010-2022

Shelter for 2

Either used larger shelters (below) or borrow shelters for hardcore snow trips. Favorite snow shelters I borrowed were Warmlite, Hilleberg, and Bibler. Snow trips ended because my wife doesn’t enjoy them and I no longer enjoy doing solo snow trips.

  • North Face Tuolumne Tent with snow tunnel entrance A frame front pole, I rear pole… 1974-1982
  • … see below, used larger tents for awhile…
  • Six Moon Designs Original Europa (lighter shelter to share)… 2002-2002
  • Tarptent Squall (more ventilation, better / faster pitch)… 2002-2005
  • SD Lighting (sometimes wanted freestanding)… 2004-2007
  • Tarptent Squall2 (replaced Squall… more room than the Squall for two people)… 2005-2008
  • Tarptent Double Rainbow (more protective than squall, lighter than lighting… sold Lightning, Squall2 became loaner)… 2007-2014
  • MLD SuperFly (lighter weight, better in shoulder seasons… sold Squall2, Double Rainbow became loaner)… 2008-2014
  • BA Copper Spur 2 (Wanted free standing, easy setup when loaning)… 2014-2022
  • Durston X-mid Pro 2 (Save weight, light enough I could get by with just one shelter?) 2022-

Large Shelters

  • Sierra Designs Three Man Hex Tent (dad’s.. so I couldn’t always use it)… 1970-1985
  • Largish “Patrol Tarp” 1976-1988
  • Sierra Designs Stretch Dome (wanted more space than NF Tuolumne, specially in winter)… 1982-1988
  • Sierra Designs 3/4 Season Convertible 3 Person Nightwatch (Stretch Dome stolen)… 1988-2002
  • 4 Person Free Standard Car Camping Tent made by Moss (family car camping replacing Nightwatch which was delaminating)… 2001-2011
  • GoLite Hex3 (group backpacking)… 2003-2008
  • GoLite Shangra-La 4 (more room, easier setup for groups)… 2009-2016
  • MSR Carbon Reflect 3 (free standing, smaller footprint)… 2012-2022. Not Needed… kids no longer come with Jackie and me.

Group Stove

  • Svea 123 – 1969-1978 (dad’s)
  • Gerry Mini Canister Stove when Svea 123 was not avail – 1976-1978
  • MSR X??- 1978-1989
  • MSR ???  had a plastic fuel tube (replace stolen stove) – 1989-2000
  • MSR Whisperlite International  (MSR ??? recalled, tube unsafe) – 2000-2005
  • Snowpeak GS100 (easy to use, light weight, low carbon monoxide)… 2002-
  • Coleman Xtreme (winter and bigger groups… until fuel no longer made)… 2005-2011

Solo Stove

  • Several homemade and a few “commercial” Alcohol Stove starting with the Photon… 2002-2004
  • Ion Alcohol Stove (more fuel efficient and less hassle, but slow)… 2004-2009
  • UL Caldera Cone (easier to use and faster than Ion, normally esbits)… 2009-


Some experimenting with small pots and Mug over the years, but never for an extended period of time.

  • Boy Scout Mess Kit with mini pot (used Troops cook kit)… 1974-1978
  • MSR Alpinelite Cook Kit (First multi-person cook set)… 1978-2001
  • MSR DuraLite (car camping, Alpinelite lost)… 2001-2021
  • Evernew .9L pot (lighter weight)… 2001-2009
  • Evernew 1.3L pot (group backpacking trips and now used car camping)… 2002-
  • MLD 850ML Pot/Mug (more compact than .9L with Caledra)… 2009-

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