Only The Best
Hiking Gear 2018
As a minimalist, I make sure I only bring what's necessary for my family to enjoy the outdoors. My goal is to be as lightweight as possible, yet I do make a little room for some comfort items.
My Ultimate Hiking Gear List For 2018
I get asked often about the gear I use for my adventures. My answer is usually pretty simple: Don’t get too caught up about your gear because you’ll learn over time what works for you. On that same note, what works for you will definitely change over time.
With that said, I believe your adventures will be more enjoyable the lighter you pack. The truth is you really don’t need that much while out on the trail. Here are the things that I bring with me on the trail.
The right backpack for you is highly dependent on three things: the weight, the capacity, and the comfort. What works for me, might not work for you and vice versa. I’ve fallen in love with two backpacks that do everything I need of them.
Osprey Manta 36L
My first backpack I purchased for day hikes, and hands down, the pack I’ve used most. This pack is a work horse and can take a beating. I actually chose this one because of the awesome water reservoir, but it turns out I rarely take it with me. I’d likely choose a lighter pack next time, but I’m keeping this one for years to come.
- Comes with a water reservoir
- Integrated rain cover
- Heavier than others
Best Multi-Day Pack
Exped Lightning 45L
I love how the plush hip belt feels and how the weight transfers to my hips. Serious ultra-light hikers usually don’t have hip belts, but I haven’t dialed in my gear enough to carry my comfort items without one. My back isn’t my strong point, so I take every precaution to keep my gear comfortable for me.
- Crazy nice hip belt
- Can compact nicely if not filling up to capacity.
- Adjustable for different torso lengths.
- Water bottles are tough to get in and out while wearing the pack.
- No stretchy mesh pocket on the back of pack.
Sleeping Pad and Sleeping Bag
As I mentioned in the backpack section, my back is rather picky, and I do my best to keep my back happy while hiking. The gold standard for ultralight hikers in a sleeping pad is the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Ultralight Air Mattress. I’ve tried it, and I find it very uncomfortable especially when it bubbles as I move from one side to the other. Although, my top pick is heavier, it is by far the most comfortable sleeping pad I’ve tried.
Best Sleeping Pad Sea to Summit Comfort Plus
This sleeping pad is 1lb 9 oz and worth every last bit of weight in my opinion. There are two separate layers that can be pressurized independently, which allows you to dial in the exact firmness that you prefer. On top of that, these air sprung cells are no joke! This mattress is amazingly comfortable and a piece of gear I don’t see replacing any time soon.
- Crazy comfortable
- Two independent layers
- Packs to about the size of a nalgene bottle
- Heavier than others
Best Sleeping Quilt Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20 Degree
This is hands down my favorite piece of gear. The Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20 Degree Sleeping Quilt is the equivalent of sleeping in the clouds. Not only is it crazy soft, it is somehow unbelievably warm for the weight (or lack there of). I was skeptical about liking a quilt over a mummy bag, but I will never go back.
- Extremely customizable
- Extremely packable
- Nothing. I love it that much!
I did a ton of research on the right tent for me and my wife and I ended up with the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 3. We went with the 3 person for a little added room without adding a ton of weight.
Best Ultralight Tent Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 3
It was difficult for me to spend money on a piece of gear that I knew was going to be thin and light. With that said, I’m so happy with this purchase! I’m just not the tarp or cowboy camping type of guy, I guess.
- Very roomy for two people
- Two doors and vestibules
- Lightweight for a 3 season, free standing tent
- Heavier than a 2 person or a tarp setup
Food and Water Filtration
When it comes to food, I think the best thing is to keep things simple. Although, I do usually bring a stove because we love coffee in the morning, it’s completely unnecessary. I actually prefer just eating a bunch of bars and trail mix throughout the day without the need for a hot meal. It’s easier and allows me to enjoy the outdoors more instead of cooking.
Best Stove System MSR WindBurner 1.0L
The MSR Windburner Stove System 1.0L has been nothing but awesome for us. We primarily use it only to boil water for hot meals if we choose to bring those and for instant coffee in the morning. I originally got the 1.8L model and never used the full capacity, so I downsized to the 1.0L which is perfect for my family.
- Boils water crazy fast
- Compact enough
- Simple to run
- Heavier than others, but you honestly don’t even need a stove.
Best Family Water Filter MSR Guardian
The MSR Guardian water purifier is a beast coming in at right over 1lb. But this water purifier is perfect for our family of four. It pumps out an incredible 2.5L of virus-free, bacteria-free, protozoa-free, and dirt-free water per minute. Oh, and it’s self cleaning! We actually take this with us whenever we leave the continental U.S. to treat our water on all of our trips. Some hikers don’t even treat water, but that’s a risk I don’t want to take when out with my family. What I love most is that it screws directly onto a Nalgene bottle for an easy connection.
- Backpacker Magazine 2016 Editors’ Choice Winner
- Purifies water quickly for four
- Heavy compared to other filters (that aren’t nearly as good)