It brings me much satisfaction to post the above picture and say, here are our packs for New Zealand! 🙂 Though I’ve hiked ultralight before, this is Georges’ first downgrade from a 50-pound carcass strapped to his back.  The final weights aren’t in yet, but I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

First Weigh-In

Approaching our final gear lists, G and I weighed our packs today (9/16/15). First attempt held Georges’ at 24+ lbs. Mine came in at 11 lbs. Though satisfied to see my weight low, we can’t allow G’s pack to be so heavy and mine so light. We did some switching and added the tent (4+ lbs) to my pack. Assuming I’ll try to always carry the heavier food, and grateful Georges owns and is bringing such a wonderful camera and lenses–I think things will be good. Perhaps by the end of September our packs might weigh in closer to equal (and closer to ten pounds…). 🙂 Check back for the final weigh in!

We are closely following the gear lists of those who’ve gone before us. Most influential was Joe and Liz’s blog, but here’s our final list.

Morgan’s Clothing Gear

Georges’ Clothing Gear

Shelter inc.

  • Tent: Nordisk 3LW
  • Sleeping pads: Therm-a-rest Neo Air XLite Minehis
  • Sleeping bags: Morgan started with Ozark Trail, but couldn’t sleep due to the cold. I ended up bouncing the Ozark for more hut-based sections of the South Island when I would have to carry more food and had warmth from the hut, but mostly used a heavy-weight Kiwi sleeping bag. Georges’: Mammut 3-season
  • Georges has a silk inlet/cocoon for his sleeping bag, too (weighing in at 114 grams). Morgan added one a few weeks in…

Kitchen Gear

  • Stove: Vertex, lightest ever (we both have a stove)
  • Fuel: we’re going to try solid Esbit; if we don’t like it, we’ll switch to denatured alcohol. We did indeed switch to liquid fuel–great choice.
  • Pots: MugPot
  • Spoon: Alpha Light Long
  • Self-cleaning towel/washcloth: Lunatec’s Trekr
  • Multi-purpose towels: Z-packs Lightload (G and I both have one)
  • Mini BIC lighters (one each)
  • Fire starter–We carried one, but didn’t need it
  • Dish Soap: bar of eco-friendly soap
  • Water filters: Sawyer Filters (we both carry one filter and one of us carries a cleaning syringe; we have four spare filters and a spare syringe in the bounce box)
  • Water-purification tabs: Back-up MSR tabs (we did end up using these once when we filtered highly-questionable water that we felt better also chemically cleaning. (Rough camping situation). We also drink straight from the source sometimes; the water in NZ is great.)
  • Bladders: G has a 1-liter Platypus and a 2-liter Platypus; I’m starting out with 3 1-liter bottles and anticipate throwing those out and changing as their quality meets its match.
    • We ended up each carrying a disposable water bottle and carrying the small bladder as a dirty bladder (for collecting water from source and filtering into bottles) and the large bladder as a camp bladder (so we didn’t have to filter as often at camp).
  • Vitamines: Girl versionBoy version
    • We found these might have had mental-health side effects?? We know science doesn’t support it, we use found ourselves to be much more irritable and angry on these, so we ditched them. (Plus, they are heavy). We were just careful to rely on dehydrated milk powder, a somewhat-balanced trail diet and healthy recharges in towns
  • Food bags: I’m using ZPack’s Roll-top Blast Food Bag and Georges is using one of my odor-proof food bags (spares of which are in the bounce box)–I can’t remember where these came from


  • Leukotape
  • KT Tape
  • Mole Skin
  • Bandaids galore
  • Neosporin
  • Quik Wipes/WetOnes
  • Q-Tips
  • Bug Spray
  • Ibuprofen
  • Benadryl
  • Morgan’s Meds
  • First-aid knife
  • Chapstick
  • Sunscreen


  • Towels: G has a mediummine is small
  • Toothpaste
  • Shortened toothbrushes
  • Toilet paper
  • Trowel
  • Bar of soap
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Comb

Additional Gear

  • Trekking Poles: Georges’ are BlackDiamond; though not lightweight, my MountainSmiths were purchased on my first solo-backpacking trip so I’m not ready to replace them yet 🙂
    • Ditched them–found we liked hiking without them better, but we did always carry at least one for water-crossings and poking things.
  • Global Compass: Suunto globally balanced
    • Used it one time, could have gone without
  • Knives: I have a first-aid knife I treasure because it was given to me by an pal in his support of my development as a backpacker (I don’t know what I would do with a knife…so I keep it in my first-aid kit)
  • Camera: Sony plus lens
  • Camera bag: Lowepro Dashpoint 20 (Georges will be carrying this on his shoulder strap, top right (for very easy access)
  • Camera SD cards, and cases–several back-up cards
  • Headlamps: MineG’s
    • We nearly always slept when it was dark…
  • Sunglasses: Georges has Oakley, mine are a brandless plastic pair
  • Duct tape
  • Backpacks: Z-packs G’s Arc Haulmy Arc Blast
  • Pack liners: both of us are using LiteTrail pack liners*
  • Dry bags: we have a collection, but Georges uses mostly EXPED ultralights, and mine are the good old Wal-Mart dry bags plus a medium ZPACK for clothes
    • These needed to be air-tight for proper bag packing, so we ended up replacing a few through the trail–worth the money to get good ones, but holes are expected, so I’m not sure I’d recommend the money to get great ones.

This is my gear, ready to go. (Note the shoes and pile with the watch on top are gear I’ll be wearing and so won’t go into the pack) It might change some as we are finishing out the month of September (and balancing G’s pack a bit), but it’s a solid testament to less being highly efficient.


*LiteTrail is a source from which I purchased a collection of ultralight gear–that I love very much. I got my gear just before their website closed. I’m not sure if you can still get their gear but my personal favorites are the odor-proof bags, pack liners (will be very sad when I have to find another), curly cord locks, and ultralight H line hang rope. I didn’t feel it was right not to link to their shop because these were some of my first ultralight purchases, and I will use the gear for a long time. Since there’s no shop to which to link, this is what I found.

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