I view backpacking equipment as a means to an end. And that end is to have the safest, most enjoyable experience I possibly can whilst out in the woods. With that philosophy in mind, I look for four basic attributes in all of my outdoor gear – simple, lightweight, durable and functional. All of my sponsors make gear that meet those criteria. Light on bells and whistles; big on performance.
When it comes to backpacking attire there is lightweight, ultra lightweight……….and then there is Montbell. Their products are so gossamer-like that at first glance you think they would tear at the mere possibility of an overgrown trail. However, after logging more than 20,000 miles carrying Montbell gear, I can attest that they are not only feather-like in weight, but also durable and reliable. Montbell items I regularly use: Tachyon Anorak, Dynamo WindPants, Thermawrap Vest, Thermawrap Jacket, UL Down Jacket, Versalite Rain pants, Torrent Flier Rain Jacket, Chameece Beanie, Gore-tex All Round socks.
A piece of gear may look pretty in the store, but unless it performs as it should out in the field, it will be about as useful as a chocolate teapot. Mountain Laurel Designs products have been an integral part of my backpacking kit since 2008. They have been one of my sponsors since 2011. I used the MLD Burn for all of the Calendar year Triple Crown and the Pro Poncho was with me for the first eleven of the 12 Long Walks. MLD items I regularly use: Burn Backpack, Exodus Backpack, Silnylon Pro Poncho, SoloMid XL Shelter, Cuben Poncho Tarp, Superlight Bivy, LightSnow Gaiters and eVent Rain Mitts.
Since its establishment in 2008, Katabatic Gear has earned a reputation for making arguably the finest lightweight down quilts on the market. As of 2015, I have happily used their quilts for more than 600 nights in the backcountry in a wide range of conditions. Top-of-the-line materials, impeccable workmanship and innovative design. Katabatic Gear items I use: Sawatch 15°F, Palisade 30°F & Bristlecone Bivy.
Since 1999, Henry Shires has been making some of the finest lightweight shelters on the market. His designs are innovative, yet always simple and functional.
Between 2003 and 2010, the Tarptent Squall was my go-to shelter for many international backpacking trips. To this day it remains one of my favourite two-man tents. During a recent journey to Peru (August/September, 2014), I was fortunate enough to take along a Tarptent prototype called the ProTrail. It performed fantastically well in a wide range of conditions.
Since 1998, Gossamer Gear has been making some of the finest lightweight backpacking equipment on the market. Shelters, backpacks, hiking poles and sleeping mats; the company has established a reputation for innovative, yet practical designs at fair prices. I used their Gossamer Gear Kumo backpack on my 2015 traverse of southwest Tasmania’s Arthur Range. The pack performed superbly in extreme conditions. A great balance between weight, comfort and functionality.