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-
  • Hanchor Tufa (works a bit better for combining urban and back country trips. If under packed can smush into a personal item sizer.)… 2023-

Sleeping Bags

Often borrowed by dad’s down bag which was made by L.L. Bean and periodically rented bags when doing winter trips. We had several other sleeping bags which were used by members of my family, and I experimented with a BPL cocoon synthetic quilt as a stand-alone and over-quilt for a year or so.

  • 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
  • Gossamer Gear Whisper (easier entry, separate floor)… 2024-

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 don’t enjoy solo snow trips.

  • Boy Scout Voyager Tent (both original canvas and later nylon versions)
  • 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. One of the most elegant shelters I have used.
  • 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. This is the shelter I most miss.
  • 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. I loved this tent! So many good memories.
  • Eureka 4 man Timberline “Free Standing” A-Frame
  • 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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