Thursday, July 2, 2009

Backpacking: Clothing List

I cannot believe that I still have stuff to post from my trip to Chile. I am heading out to Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks for a short 2 day backpacking trip for the long 4th of July weekend. Also at the end of the July TEB and I will be hiking the High Sierra Camps trails in Yosemite (with our fathers). A gear list seemed necessary. I use TaskPaper to make lists, if you are looking for a good electronic organization system.

When in Patagonia I used the advice from the owner of Erratic Rock Hostel (publisher of Black Sheep newspaper and blog); pack two sets of clothing. One set for hiking and one set for camp. This worked fantastically while out on the W trail for 8 days. I plan to keep using it and with virtually no adjustment this list works if you are going out for 2 days or up to 8-10 days.


- gals: 1 pair underwear/2 days out
- guys: 2 pairs underwear
- sock liners (2x)
- hiking socks (2x)

Hiking clothing (set 1):
- hiking pants, preferably ones that zip-off into shorts
- short sleeve shirt
- long sleeve shirt
- bandana

Camp Clothing (set 2)
- fleece pants or shorts depending on weather
- long underwear top + bottoms (for sleeping)
- short sleeve shirt
- lightweight down jacket
- lightweight sandals that you can wear with socks
- hat that you are comfortable sleeping in
- 1 pair socks


- sun hat that has a cinching mechanism to keep on head in windy conditions
- rain jacket
- rain pants
- hiking boots, preferably gortex if you are investing in good boots


One of the most important things to keep in mind is the fabric of your backpacking clothing. My mom uses the adage "cotton kills" when referring to her own backpacking list. Cotton does not dry quickly, which is an essential quality when out in the backcountry. A synthetic quick-dry fabric or wool are good options. I am allergic to wool so everything from my underwear to my long-sleeve, half-zip mock shirt is made from synthetic material.

Another key clothing item are your boots. You want these to be waterproof (gortex) and to be well-broken in before embarking on any overnight trips. I suggest buying large, expensive items at REI (become a member, if you are not already) so that you can try breaking in your boots or backpack. If you find them uncomfortable then you can return it for something else or get your money back.

Hike 20+ hours, approximately 3 day hikes, in your boots before taking them on a longer trip. Adjust the thickness of your socks or add superfeet insoles for the perfect fit. If you absolutely cannot dayhike in your boots, wear them around town for 40+ hours before a big trip. It is just asking for disaster if you bring unfamiliar boots out into the backcountry. The last thing you want to do is hike 30 miles with open blisters.

Up next: Other gear and organizing your backpack!

{recap: I traveled to Chile during the month of February. I was distracted these past few months and am only now getting to post about my experience in South America. Click here to see all my posts about this fantastic Ph.D. Trip}

photo credit: Cayenne 02.01.09

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