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Gear List for a Simple Overnighter
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Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Gear List for a Simple Overnighter on 10/29/2006 00:51:33 MDT Print View

Here's the scenario:

You get off work Friday at 1 pm and you have 24 hours. So you swing by the house, and grab your dedicated "ready kit", suitable virtually year round and warm enough for temperatures down to 20 or so. The goal here is not to have to fool around with a gear list, substitutions, and minutiae. Just grab the bag and go. Get to the trailhead ASAP on a moment's notice.


What's in your kit?

Here's my rationale.

I'm going to walk half a day, cook, sleep, cook, and walk.

I need sleeping gear, walking gear, and cooking gear, recognizing that the latter is a luxury.

My goal: minimize the # of items in my kit. I don't care about weight, this pack will be plenty light. I do care about simplicity and aesthetics of the gear. It still has to be fun to use!

It also has to deal with minor discomforts of rain, cold, and wind.

My list:

Pack: simple frameless rucksack
Stuff Sack: garbage pack pack liner
Sleeping Bag: down or synthetic quilt
Sleeping Pad: torso sized closed cell foam
Shelter: waterproof bivy sack
Cook Kit: mug, spoon, wood stove, firestarter, firestarting tinder, in a stow bag
Hydration: one water bottle, a few chlorine dioxide tablets
Miscellany: a few squares of tp, toothbrush, compass, map, pocket camera, notepad, pencil

Clothing Worn: wool hoody, softshell pant, socks, shoes
Storm Clothes: rain poncho
Warm Clothes: insulating jacket and pants, dry socks, gloves, hat

Food: hot cereal, cocoa, chips, chocolate, nuts, ramen, and coffee.

Would love to hear what other approaches might be to this scenario.

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Gear List for a Simple Overnighter on 10/29/2006 01:28:07 MDT Print View

This is what I carried this summer on similar trips albeit on a mountain bike. Is it ideal? I don't know but it's all I had. My knowledge and gear options are evolving. If it was cold enough I started in tights and dropped the knee warmers all together. If it was hot the knee warmers went in the pack for when the sun went down or the elevetion went way up. I can get from 5k to 10k feet in less than 2 hours from my house. If it was really hot I ditched the sleeping bag and just slept in the micropuff pullover. Good down to 40-45 degrees if I didn't need to sleep for 8 hours.

Pack: REI Flash Pack
Stuff Sack: why bother? sleeping bag in WP stuff sack but that's it
Sleeping Bag: MB down summer bag (15.9oz) from clearance
Sleeping Pad: blue pad 3/8" torso
Shelter: montbell UL bivy
Cook Kit: SP450 w/ no handles, (replaced by sterno can now), DQ spoon, esbit tab, mini bic, ti wingstove, ti foil, AL foil lid all in mesh SP stow bag
Hydration: 2.4L platypus with MP1 tabs chlorine dioxide tablets. Start totally full of water to minimise stops until next morning
Lighting: Princeton Tec EOS (spare battery set if going all night and fast)
Miscellany: 2 paper towl squares, 1oz first aid pack, notepad, ped, emergency fire starting kit (SP matches, trick candle, esbit), clear lenses for the sunglasses, mini sunscreen packets all in little ziplock
Clothing Worn: wool zip-t, shorts w/ leg warmers socks, shoes, brimmed cycling cap, gloves, helmet, watch, red lensed sunglasses
Storm Clothes: hooded windshirt (bail into bivy if really really nasty)
Warm Clothes: micropuff pullover or vest, dry socks (maybe), tights (maybe), wool sleep hat (wear riding if really cold and wet)

Food: poptarts, candy, energy bars, clif blocks, ramen, tea bag, honey

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Gear List for a Simple Overnighter on 10/29/2006 12:57:57 MST Print View

I just cut and pasted this from my Web site as I happen to have an an article similar to this thread's topic.

Crosby Manitou State Park, Finland, MN

Had a day off work so I grabbed some of my lighter gear and headed off for a nice four and a half mile hike in for a night of sleeping under my tarp next to the Manitou River (site 14).

Lynn Wheldon About a Pound pack
REI Minimalist Bivy
Western Mountaineering Megalite down bag
Blue foam sleeping pad
Equinox silnylon rain poncho
Minibull Designs alcohol stove
AntiGravityGear 3 cup aluminum pot/cozy
2L Camelback/tube
Coffee cup
Lexan spoon
Gatorade bottle
Patagonia Capilene SS
Arc'Teryx Blaze Zip LS
Nylon pants
Patagonia midweight tights
Teko socks
Montrail Vitesse shoes
Midweight zip fleece
Fleece touque
Sun/rain hat
Petzl Tikka headlamp
First aid kit

Edited by sharalds on 10/29/2006 12:59:03 MST.

Jonathan Chiappa
(chiappaj) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Gear List for a Simple Overnighter on 10/30/2006 10:58:11 MST Print View

I did a very similar scenario just a couple weeks ago, except I did it mid week. Left at 2pm on Thursday and returned to work by 11am on Friday.

A couple side notes:
I live in northern California (Bay Area) so temperatures rarely get much below freezing.
I often do something new on my "quick" trips. e.g. solo for the first time, climb, try new gear, introduce someone to backpacking, hike a stream, etc ...
Because I often do something new I often have some random extra gear. Part of the beauty of going light is that I don't sweat carrying something extra to try out.

Gear list ------------
Straw cowboy hat
Smartwool long sleeve T
light-weight loose-fitting stretch nylon running pants
Smartwool socks
Flyroc 310's
necklace with whistle, knife, photon

ULA Relay
Gatewood Cape
Western Mountaineering Ultralite - I carry this bag partially because I don't have a good lighter bag but also because I don't carry many additional cloths. (helps keep life simple.)
garbage bag pack liner
Blue foam pad
Marmot windshirt
Possum down socks (for sleeping
Warm hat (gloves sometimes)

Coleman F1 ultralight and half-dead fuel canister (no windscreen) - easy and quick to use
Ti pot - holds enough water for 2 people
spoon - sometimes I forget, then it's chopsticks
Chlorine dioxide
2 - 1L water bottles - I often don't have good access to water

Cliff bars for breakfast (sometimes only these - It keeps "cooking" even easier), Freeze dried for dinner, Dried fruits and nuts for snacks.

TP, Purell, toothbrush, compass, map, camera, pencil
compass, lighter, steri strips, tape, gauze pad, neosporin, ibuprofen, Imodium, b-day candles, matches, 2 safety pins - all in a bag

Comments are welcome. I sometimes get a little nervous about the lack of clothing but I figure if it gets really bad I can hike out.

- Jon

Roger B
(rogerb) - MLife

Locale: Here and there
Overnight in the Catskills, NY on 10/30/2006 15:33:48 MST Print View

Pack: GG G6
Stuff Sack: Big plastic bag
Sleeping Bag: GG Sleeplight
Sleeping Pad: BMW Torsolite
Shelter: Gatewood Cape, (may take a BMW Vapr bivy sack if it is going to be very damp)
Cook Kit: MoGo Firefly with Ti stand, plastic cup evernew pot, light my fire spork, freezer bag cozy, matches in a stow bag
Hydration: nalgene bottle and Aqua Star UV
Miscellany: TP, toothbrush, compass and Foretrex 101, map, Pentax Optio WP, waterproofpad, swissarmy knife with pen

Clothing Worn: smartwool hoody, Ibex Guide Lite Pants, socks, shoes
Storm Clothes:GoLite Virga (extra security)
Warm Clothes: Patagonia MicroPuff, dry socks, Possum Fur Beanie, Ibex Liner Gloves

Food: Porridge, Coffee, Tea, cheese, raisins and M&M's, Cliff Bars, ramen, soup.

Einstein X
(EinsteinX) - F

Locale: The Netherlands
Re: Gear List for a Simple Overnighter on 10/31/2006 06:21:07 MST Print View


I remember when i first started visiting this website you didn't like softshell. I remember one of your arguments being someone in a shop telling you: "my boss just told me to push it." In your list I find:

"Clothing Worn: wool hoody, softshell pant, socks, shoes"

Softshell pant??? What made you change your mind?

Oh and what the heck is ramen???

Thnx, Eins

(sorry don't have such a list)

Graeme Finley
(gfinley001) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Re: Gear List for a Simple Overnighter on 10/31/2006 07:00:46 MST Print View

Interestingly, my overnight pack isn't really very different from my more extended trip (e.g. 4-6 nights) pack - all that really changes is the amount of consumables that I carry.

Pack: MLD Prophet 30/GG G6
Stuff sack: Polypro pack liner
Sleeping Bag: Marmot Atom
Sleeping pad: Thermorest 3/4 (this is where I spoil myself)
Shelter: BWM poncho tarp, w/Montbell UL bivy sack if weather looks iffy
Cook kit: Alcohol stove, titanium pot w/aluminum foil lit, spork
Hydration: 2L platypus w/AM or Klearwater
Miscellany: Toiletries/Emergency gear in ziplock I always keep packed, plus first aid kit in waterproof bag that I also keep stocked, compass, map

Clothing worn: Wool L/S shirt, softshell pants, socks, shoes
Storm clothes: Hooded wind jacket plus poncho
Warm cloths: WM Flight jacket, possumdown gloves, insulated hat, sleeping tights and socks

Food: Ramen noodles/cous cous, balance bars, wasabe peas, ganola (can be eaten cold or hot)

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Re: Gear List for a Simple Overnighter on 10/31/2006 09:41:19 MST Print View

EinsteinX: my dismay with soft shell clothing is because of their tendency to absorb a lot of moisture and their inability to dry quickly. I still don't wear soft shell tops except (maybe) in really cold conditions, and then, it's Powershield only, which I found to absorb less water and dry faster than other softshell fabrics I've tried.

The exception is a very tightly woven nylon that Patagonia uses in their French Roast pant. The fabric is very nonabsorbent. I chose these pants on a 10 day trek in the arctic early this summer. They got soaked every day, sometimes several times a day, as a result of wading rivers. They always dried fast, and the stretch fit, mosquito-proofness of the fabric, and light weight (9 oz) were a bonus.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Re: Gear List for a Simple Overnighter on 10/31/2006 09:50:01 MST Print View

Graeme writes:

>> Interestingly, my overnight pack isn't really very different from my more extended trip (e.g. 4-6 nights) pack - all that really changes is the amount of consumables that I carry.

My goal with my kit is to just "deal with" or "accept" more limitations on an overnighter than I would accept on an extended trip.


An an overnighter, I don't want to carry first aid gear, repair gear, emergency gear, or toiletries.

I don't want to spend time on my overnighter fiddling with or keeping track of gear, so I want as few things in my kit as possible. For example, I'd rather wear a merino hoody with sewn in mittens rather than deal with a separate hat, gloves, and shirt, even thought the latter may give me more flexibility that I might want on a longer hike. Same rationale for choosing a bivy sack over a tarp system. I can deal with a night of rain in any sleep system, so I like to keep it simple. i.e., on an extended trip in wet conditions, a bivy sack and down bag may not be the best option...

Where my theory breaks down a little is with hot food and fire. On an extended trip, it makes sense. On a short trip, why not ditch hot food altogether (eliminates stove, windscreen, fuel, pot, lid, lighter, matches, etc.)? Many do. But that aspect of "camping" is aesthetically very rewarding to me, so a wood stove (to minimize my impact) and hot food go in my overnight kit as my luxuries.

Edited by ryan on 10/31/2006 09:51:31 MST.

Benjamin Smith
(bugbomb) - F - M

Locale: South Texas
Re: Re: Re: Gear List for a Simple Overnighter on 10/31/2006 11:35:28 MST Print View


I'm curious as to why you leave first aid gear behind? I can guess at your rationale (on a short trip you can handle pain, and pain relief is really all a SUL first aid kit would offer on a 24-hour trek), but I'd like to hear your thoughts.

I'm also interested in your rationale for bringing a waterproof bivy AND a poncho (which could just as easily be a poncho/tarp?)

My own list would be (off the top of my head):

-homemade 4-oz pack
-trash bag pack liner

-homemade 20-oz quilt (good well below freezing in my experience)
-homemade 5x8.5 poncho-tarp (I don't much like bivy shelters, and the tarp would let me pitch it, skip it, or roll up in it burrito-style if I wanted)
-torso-sized foam pad

-probably nothing

-1 1-liter Platy
-chlorine dioxide tablets

-TP, compass, map (maybe), no light

Hiking clothes:
-nylon zip-off pants
-Smartwool lightweight LS zip-tee with sewn-on fleece or wool hood
-brimmed hat
-wool socks
-trail runners

Warm clothes:
-warm jacket, sleep socks, no gloves (I almost never wind up wearing them)

Food: granola/energy bars, pringles/fritos, dark chocolate M&Ms, nuts

I love this exercise because it not only keeps me engaged on short trips, it helps me think through what I didn't miss for longer ones.


Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Re: Re: Gear List for a Simple Overnighter on 10/31/2006 11:39:31 MST Print View

First aid and emergency fire gear are non-negotiable for me. I don't bring a lot, maybe ~1.5-2ounces between the two and they're always packed together in a tiny ziplock. With a setup like that why leave it behind? It's easy and cheap to have dups and you can have an accident in 24 hours just as easily as on a longer trek, more so if you push the pace or go all night.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Re: Re: Re: Gear List for a Simple Overnighter on 10/31/2006 12:08:22 MST Print View

>> I'm curious as to why you leave first aid gear behind?

Ben - my "long distance hiking" first aid kit consists of two item groups: blister care and meds.

On a short overnight, I don't really care about blisters, because I'm going home the next day. As for meds, the main reason I take meds is for emergencies, and to manage pain if I'm on an "epic" adventure.

I can't remember ever dipping into my first aid kit on an overnighter.

The poncho I have is dedicated raingear, it's not a tarp-poncho. It replaces what I'd normally take as a rain jacket because it gives me good lower body protection, and only weighs 5 oz (it's an ID cape).

And Chris, re: firebuilding gear. I'm with you. I never leave a firestarter/tinder behind.

Edited by ryan on 10/31/2006 12:09:11 MST.

(RavenUL) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: Gear List for a Simple Overnighter on 10/31/2006 12:16:17 MST Print View

Pack – MS Ghost (MS Boogieman in summer)
Sleeping Bag – Montbell Synth. Stretch #4 (modified “poncho liner” sleeping bag in summer)
Sleeping Pad – WalMart Blue foam cut to size
Shelter – Poncho Tarp
Food – High energy cold foods (variety)
Hydration – 3ltr Camelbak (filled as appropriate)
Misc. - Knife, listerine pocket tabs, pocket surv kit, pocket FAK kit, paper towels. (JetBoil and bamboo spoon in winter for making tea or playing with my food)

Clothing worn – Synth pants and overshirt, wool base layers, socks, shoes, hat
Additional clothing - insulating jacket and pants, dry socks, gloves, cold weather hat.

With this list, I can run a very light overnight trip, or by adding consumables, I can extend the trip out virtually indefinatly.

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Gear List for a Simple Overnighter on 10/31/2006 12:33:57 MST Print View

I'm with you on not needing the blister care but the meds are still coming with me. First aid is something that's whole purpose is to be there in the very off chance you need it. ULers already improvise FA for splints, irrigation etc so why leave behind the meds?

What if you sprain an ankle really bad? Wouldn't you rather reduce that inflamation right away? What if you come in contact with something you are allergic to, wouldn't you want that benedryll? What if you come across an unprepared dayhiker who needs help? Sure they should have brought their own stuff but basic meds could still help them in an emergency?

My meds weigh next to nothing and take up no volume stuffed into a bag with the fire stuff. One bag, nothing extra to keep track of. Just in case.

Anyway you have a lot more backcountry experience than me but I thought I'd bring another perspective.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
Yes to the meds on 10/31/2006 20:59:23 MST Print View

Christopher, I agree on the meds; On my typical group dayhikes, introducing hiking to beginners, I am the only one carrying a first aid kit, so I carry the equivalent of an Adventure Medical 'Day Tripper' with an added SAM splint and sawyer extractor.

For me, choosing the lightest gear which meets my performance requirements allows me to actually carry more safety, comfort and convenience items; frequently appreciated by my hiking companions.

Looking back on my days with a 6lb external frame pack, 8lb sleeping bag, cotton clothing, etc.. I am amazed how much improvement is possible.
Fast, light, efficient, multi-purpose; all these UL concepts are bleeding over into the rest of my life for the better.

PS; Ive been a first responder at a few injuries and a car accident, and having a little knowledge and supplies has been much appreciated.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Yes to the meds on 11/01/2006 01:01:00 MST Print View

I'm not going to skip meds and a FAK / emergency supplies for most of my hikes.

And I do not advocate anyone doing so on any trip.

I'm just wondering if there is any appeal to do so in the interest of aesthetics (kit simplicity) among anyone else...?

I like trail running. Sometimes, I'll go on a 20 mile run. I almost never bring anything except a water bottle (refilled at streams) and snacks, occasionally a wind shirt or rain jacket, if the forecast is bad. This is pretty common. Few of the runners I know around here take much more than what they can fit in a fanny pack: food and a shell.

So, if my overnight hike is only 20 miles (10 in, 10 out), and it's done presumably, slow and more careful than a trail run, can't we skip the emergency supplies all the more? Or are the trail runners being too risky with their kit?

Good discussion, thanks for participating.


Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re meds on 11/01/2006 02:32:33 MST Print View

The funny thing is, we (my wife and I) used to carry a first aid kit big enough for anything up to open heart surgery, 'just in case'. After about ten years, I opened it up and checked the expiry dates. All well expired. And the iodine stuff had contaminated everything.

We dealt with the blisters problem by fixing our footwear. We don't get blisters any more.

My current first aid kit contains a few Panadol, some bandaids, very small capsules of butesin picrate (burn cream) and bismuth formic iodide (antiseptic powder), plus a roll of micropore surgical tape - and a sealed scalpel blade. The kit is rarely touched. This is all we take for trips up to eight weeks long.

Go UL, travel light, and avoid accidents.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Yes to the meds on 11/01/2006 02:41:37 MST Print View

Nearly any time i venture into the forest, even on a day hike, i take a full UL kit, including food for an extra day.


1. i'm usually solo, but even if not, i still take the full kit.

2. terrain in my neck of the woods lends itself to sprained ankles.

3. this old klutz believes that the first time he doesn't take the full kit, he will sprain an ankle and may have to spend the night a few miles from help, and if it's wet, coming down in torrents, or cold and wet, or just plain cold, get the picture. At least i can attempt to continuing limping out the next day.

4. my view on carrying the extra weight is that it helps keep this old 'bod' and its 'ticker' in some remote semblance of being conditioned.

5. haven't needed it yet, but once came very close to turning a long day hike into an overnight.

I know, such an approach is not for everyone, nor do i think it should be. It's my comfort zone. Nunquam non paratus! [never not prepared]

Roger, i used to carry a 2.5lb med kit (old Corpsmen die hard). Same story as yours. For me, it became both illogical (why be prepared for a bunch of procedures that i wouldn't be able to, or perhaps shouldn't, perform on myself???) and cost prohibitive to keep on restocking never used out-of-date supplies. In fact, this was the last area of my kit to lighten up. This website is what finally convinced me to do so.

Edited by pj on 11/01/2006 02:51:10 MST.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
risk/consequences matrix on 11/01/2006 03:46:09 MST Print View

Dr. Ryan et. al.,
This thread started as a discussion of gear for a simple overnighter; as usual, this site forced me think about the essence of the decision 'how much is enough'.
The Corpsman carried 2.5lbs because other's lives depended on it and him.. Trail runners like Dr. Ryan carry almost nothing because they can responsibly take the risk for their own welfare.

So regarding survival/FAK gear, each of us brings gear appropriate the matrix of 1:the threat(low/high) and 2:the consequences of an accident(low/high)

An experienced trail runner following a marked trail is in the low/low corner of the matrix, A Corpsman or leader of totally amateur hikers faces higher risks/consequences.

Sorry if the threat/consequences idea matrix is painfully obvious to everyone else. It still is advantageous to carry the lightest equipment to deal with the threat (such as Doug Ritters pocket survival kit BPL started selling, and I carry).

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Gear List for a Simple Overnighter on 12/18/2006 11:51:37 MST Print View

Pretty much my usual kit. I might take more socks or briefs on a long trip, but the rest is essentials. Summer trips could take lighter clothing and a lighter bag or just a fleece blanket, but the rest is needed to stay safe/warm/dry. A no-cook overnighter is certainly an option, so the stove, pot, etc could stay at home.

Comfy overnighter list:
Pack and gear:
GoLite Jam pack
Sea to Summit silnylon stuff sacks as needed
2 liter Platypus and hose
Black Diamond trekkng poles

SMD Gatewood Cape Shelter
Tyvek ground cloth
BMW Ti stakes

Moonstone Delta Cirrus sleeping bag
Torsolite hybrid pad (added Gossamer Gear Thinlight pad)
Flexair pillow

Snowpeak 600 pot with tin can lid
Esbit folding stove and fuel

Instant oatmeal, candy, gorp, dried fruit, dehydrated dinner, coffee, tea, hot cocoa,
Top Ramen, granola bars, beef jerky, pretzels, bagels, peanut butter, jam
bear bag and line

Aqua Mira
fire starter: matches, butane lighter, Firesteel, tinder
first aid kit (Adventure Medical .5 with added meds)
hard candy (back-up food)
space blanket
Gerber Tracer LED headlamp
Micro LED light
Princeton Tec Pilot LED light (lives on my pack strap)
Sighting compass (main navigation tool)
backup mini-compass
45 gallon garbage bag
reading glasses
Platypus 1 liter
sunscreen 1oz bottle
Bug juice 1/2oz bottle
Gel hand cleaner (fire starter too).

Personal hygiene:
Dr. Bronners 1/2oz bottle
gel toothpaste 1/2oz bottle
mini roll dental floss
travel toothbrush
small MSR pack towel
travel hair brush
REI plastic mirror (signal mirror too)
small container body glide

Tilley hat
SMD Gatewood Cape Shelter (raingear)
Marmot Precip rain pants
Ex Officio Buzz Off zip-off pants (worn)
silkweight Capilene tee
nylon button down shirt (worn)
silkweight long sleeve tee (shoulder seasons)
silkweight long johns (shoulder seasons)
polyester briefs (worn)
Capilene socks (worn) (spares if cruddy weather)
Moonstone Cirrus polyfill vest
Powertretch fleece zip long sleeve shirt
Montane Lite Speed wind shirt
OR Peruvian fleece cap (night cap)
Mountain Hardwear Tempest gloves
Vasque Velocity shoes (worn)

Colder weather:
add expedition weight long johns, heavier boots (Gore-tex),
down sweater, heavier pants.

Write in the Rain notebook (smallest size)
Space pen
AM/FM/SW radio
digital camera & accessories

Add 2 liters water and shake!

Edited by dwambaugh on 12/18/2006 13:43:11 MST.