My kit has changed a slightly over the 2017 hiking season and I would have to say it has “tightened” to a very solid and efficient pack. Maybe this post can help you on selecting your pack items.
See my gear page for more detailed reviews of useful hiking / backpacking items.
The Pack: I am still sporting the Z-Pack Nero (Zero) pack. Very Simply and useful backpack. Roll-top closure and Cuban Fiber material makes this pack very waterproof. Wide side pockets makes easy access to snacks and water bottles as your hiking. No need to take off your pack or hassle with one of those annoying water bladders. The big mesh back pocket makes stuffing quick items simply and easy to get to. Only downside to this pack is the lack of a load bearing hip belt and is a frameless design. Nearly on every hike over 16 miles, my shoulders start to really kill me and the standard hip belt on this pack offers no or little relief. Update 12-9-2017, I think I found a good solution for this problem. I inserted a piece of scrap cardboard about 28 inches long and 14 inches wide in the pack’s inside main compartment along the inner back side as a “Stay”. Took about 50% of the pain away… and cheap. It now forces more weight to the hips and off my shoulders. Just make sure to cut the piece so the grain follows the long side for strength.
Inside the Pack: I carry two (2) frozen 1L smart water bottles, puffy vest, military nylon ripstop poncho, lunch container, ditty bag, 1L thermos filled with lemonade, 1 – 700mL smart water bottle with pop lid, Water proof ZIP pouch with battery charger. My normal “total” pack weight is about 15.2 to 15.5 pounds, Including water and food.
Ditty Bag: Inside the Granite Gear purple Ditty bag is my bug net, wool gloves, medical kit (stop bleeding sponge, antiseptic wipes, band-aids, tweezers, aspirin and diarea pills), Sawyer water filer, ACE bandage, Wipes in sandwich baggie, write in the rain note book and pencil, Mio Electrolytes, and 10ft of paracord for poncho shelter or anything else that might come up.
Lunch container: My lunch has changed with my diet this year in an effect to lose body weight. Going to a low carb diet around June I have cut back to vegetables, simple meats and low carb Kind bars. No more Pop Tarts or sandwiches … sad to say. Lost 25 pounds though !!!
And second, I have switched over to a military poncho from my Marmot Rain Jacket. It did add a couple more ounces to the pack weight but I find it much more versatile of an item. It’s not only a very good rain covering, it’s super easy to put on while hiking and covers you and your pack. It can be modified while hiking for ventilation and it can serve as a ground cover, seat pad and a pop tent / shelter if needed. This one is a Mil -Tec OD Green Military Poncho with 6 grommet holes and side snaps. Very neat piece of kit. Army dudes got this one right.
Last thing to note is that I am still trying to find a solution to my boot gaiters. There are nasty sections of the trail that completely flood your boots / shoes with thorns, twigs, rocks and grass. Gaiters are sooooo helpful but I just keep destroying them from my feet knicking each other as I hike. Keep you posted on my quest for the perfect hiking gaiter.