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 used the SMD StarLite, SMD Comet, and Gossamer Gear Whisper a fair bit. LuxuryLite was the most innovative pack I owned for a bit.

  • Kelty Model “B” Pack (first “real” pack I bought)… 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
  • Osprey Aether 60 (looking for something more comfortable than Speed but was quickly replaced by Vapor Trail for most trips. After Vapor Trail purchased used for “heavy loads” like winter trips or when I was carrying other people gear and was a loaner pack until given to friend’s son)… 2002-2020
  • Granite Gear Vapor Trail (lighter and more compact than Aether, became a loaner after I purchased the Gorilla and was gifted to someone in need)… 2002-2014
  • Gossamer Gear Gorilla (lighter, smaller – the right volume for me than the Vapor Trail, and support friend’s business)… 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 lost loft and stolen)… 1989-2002
  • Marmot Arroyo (old bag lost loft and wanted lighter and more compact bag)… 2001-2002
  • NuntakUSA Ghost (Lighter and warmer than Arroyo) 2003-
  • Western Mountaineering Versalite (for winter trips and loaner… sold because I no longer doing hard core winter trips)… 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 (more space, bug free, easier pitching?… not much easier)… 2008-2010
  • ZPacks Hexamid (lighter, easier pitching)… 2010-

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
  • Tarptent Squall2 (replaced Squall… more room than the Squall for two people)… 2005-2008
  • SD Lighting (wanted something freestanding)… 2004-2007
  • Tarptent Double Rainbow (more protective than squall, lighter than lighting… sold Lightning, Squall2 becomes 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 and bug free)… 2014

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)… 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 group backpacking)… 2009-2016
  • MSR Carbon Reflect 3 (free standing, smaller footprint)… 2012-


  • 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 (lighter and easier use)… 2002-2003
  • Burton Stove (faster cooking for groups)… 2003-2005
  • Coleman Xtreme (winter and bigger groups… until fuel no longer made)… 2005-2011
  • Snowpeak GS100 (burton mistake, back to snowpeak: more stable and less carbon monoxide)… 2005-

Solo Stove

  • Photon Alcohol Stove… 2003-2003
  • Ion Alcohol Stove (more fuel efficient and less hassle)… 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-
  • Evernew .9L pot (lighter weight)… 2001-2009
  • Evernew 1.3L pot (group backpacking trips)… 2002-
  • MLD 850ML Pot/Mug (more compact with Caledra)… 2009-

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