Gear list philosophy, disclaimers, disclosure, and additional resources

For some time I’ve been aware that my gear lists from past trips are not as useful as they could be. They are at least somewhat outdated due their age — my thoughts about gear are still evolving, and the gear actually available is constantly changing. Going forward, I intend to keep an updated set of recommended gear lists. Rather than include the same prefacing comments in each list (and making an already long page even longer), I’m going to publish them once here and link to them.

1. Philosophy. A backpacking trip consists of two contradictory and conflicting activities, hiking and camping. On some backpacking trips, I prioritize my hiking, and consider my camp to be merely an 8-hour recharge. I pack light and travel efficiently so that I can hike many miles with ease, though without compromising my safety or my ability to fully recover at night through quality sleep. Unless otherwise noted, my recommended gear lists are optimized for such trips. If your trip is more camping-driven, you may wish to pack different or additional items (e.g. fishing rod, larger camera, journal, binoculars, shelter with more interior volume) to support those static activities. Read more about backpacking philosophy.

2. Alternatives. I feel very confident in my recommendations, which have been refined during the course of hiking 30,000+ miles, guiding 40+ trips with 350+ clients, and writing a book about gear selection. If you follow closely what I recommend, I doubt you’ll be disappointed. However, I also recognize that there are viable alternatives to my selections, especially with specific items, and sometimes with the larger system choices. I’d encourage you to do additional research and experimentation in order to assemble a kit that best meets your needs, preferences, and budget.

3. Individual responsibility. It’s your responsibility to determine the relevancy of my recommendations. Your optimal kit may be different, depending on the location, time of year, duration, and objectives of your trip, plus your backpacking skills and experience.

4. Disclosure. I am given a lot of clothing and equipment to use and test, including items mentioned in these gear lists. But long-term it is in my bests interests to provide good information to you. So while my lists may be heavy with the brands with which I work mostly closely, please know that I will not recommend an item unless I genuinely believe in it.

5. More information. Brief explanations are given for my selections, but there is much more to say. For more in-depth discussions about product categories, materials and designs, and specific items, you should read my book, The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide.

Posted in on July 21, 2014


  1. Tom on November 24, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    You should include a link to the ebook version of your book “The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide”. I eventually found links for an iBook and Google Play version. Not sure if Kindle carries your book as well. In this way you can get paid for the redirection and make its sourcing that much easier.

    fyi… bought my digital copy through Google Play.

    … t

  2. DougJ on February 26, 2018 at 6:01 pm

    You book is a wonderful guide, especially for me who has been away from backpacking for 20 years and now revisiting the sport for retirement. The technology has changed so much (formerly used the best-at-the-time external frame) that your book accelerated my research with your honest and to-the-point analysis of the equipment and the technology, engineering, and chemistry to support your claims/results. Thank you so much for writing the book!

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