Call this the awkward 'everything else' post: gear that I didn't need during the day carried loose in my backpack. After a few weeks on the trail, I had shifted around how I packed my gear pretty dramatically, dividing the items into "hiking" and "camping".

Camping stuff was always packed away in my backpack, with a small and fiddly things in a blue stuff sack, and other gear just loose in the backpack. That's what this post is about.

Loose Gear

Item Description g oz Notes Container or Location
Down Jacket Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer 211 7.4 Backpack
Pouch Bubble wrap foil pouch 55 1.9 Used to keep food warm, and for keyboard Backpack
Keyboard Anker Ultra Portable Bluetooth Keyboard 278 9.8 Definite luxury item Pouch
Water Bladder Platypus 2L bottle 38 1.3 Includes cap Backpack
Stove Pot Olicamp XTS 32oz with lid 217 7.6 Backpack
Stove Olicamp Ion, and its small bag 51 1.8 Stove Pot
Lighter Bic Lighter 22 0.8 Stove Pot
Pen Sharpie mini 10 0.4 Stove Pot
Hydration Pot Glad Twist-N-Zip 1 quart container w/lid 54 1.9 For rehydrating food on trail, while walking Backpack
Mug Snow Peak 450ml colored Ti Mug 60 2.1 Snow Peak MG-043 Hydration Pot
Mug cover Snow Peak mug cover 30 1.1 Snow Peak MG-053C (but fits the 043 just fine) Hydration Pot
Scrubby 1/4 Blue scrubby in quart Ziplok 7 0.2 Mug
Soap SeaToSummit Wilderness Wash, 40ml 55 1.9 Mug
Food bag Opsack OP3 12x20 100 3.5 Two of these self
Total weight 1188 41.9

Down Jacket

Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer This seems to be the PCT standard--and it was fantastic. My go-to jacket, and works well when paired with my Marmot Essence rain jacket, even in windy just-above-freezing sleet. Hint: a lot of places mark these jackets down around the first of March.


Generic metallic bubblewrap pouch I used it for two things: first, for making a little pouch to keep my plastic pot warm when it was rehydrating stuff... and second to stash my keyboard in when walking.


Anker Ultra Portable Bluetooth Keyboard A definite luxury item. I used it to write this blog, which really helped with the loneliness the first weeks on the trail in late March and early April, when it got dark around 7pm and there wasn't anyone else around. Later, I didn't write quite as much. Originally I had a Logitech Keys-To-Go keyboard, which was a few ounces lighter but didn't really have a satisfying key feel--and after just 10 days, the Logitech stopped connecting to my iPhone, so I Amazon Primed this $29 keyboard to the hostel in Big Bear. The keyboard was durable to last me my whole trip.

Water Bladder

Platypus 2L bottle I carried this the whole way, and it was very useful for collecting water before stopping at a dry camp for the night. It also was used on some of the longer dry stretches, (along with two to four 1L SmartWater bottles). Originally I had a hydration tube and bite valve, and found that to not be very useful because you didn't know how much was left in the bladder. The SmartWater bottles were just as easy to get at, tucked in the side pockets, so I just put the cap on the bladder and packed it away.

Pot and Stove (and lighter and pen)

Olicamp XTS 32oz with Olicamp Ion stove This worked really well. I started out with a JetBoil stove, and when Pillsbury went through my pack at SuperDave's in Mt Laguna she said "why you carrying around this heavy stove? It weighs over a pound! Try this instead." So I was sold on the stove and pot combination, and loved it. The stove itself weighs less than two ounces (yep) and the pot has fins on the bottom and sits on top. It boils water quickly and the pot is designed to fit a fuel canister, a lighter, and the stove. I put the stove in its little nylon bag, and added a Sharpie mini. I used the Sharpie to mark off how many burns I had made with the stove, and when I got the fuel canister. On fuel: I used the larger 230g canisters, just because they'd last longer than the small 100g canisters. Some of the smaller towns didn't have canisters for sale, or it was a bit difficult to get them, so I just went big. The big canister lasted about 2 weeks or 50 burns.

Hydration Pot

Glad Ziploc Twist-N-Zip 1 quart container with lid Generally I rehydrated stuff, and rarely cooked--the last thing I wanted to do when I got to camp was cook for 20 minutes. Sometimes I'd simmer things in the metal pot, like mac-and-cheese, but generally I used these steep-sided containers, which have a tight fitting screw lid. I'd pour in whatever I was rehydrating--couscous, mashed potatoes, Knorr pasta sides--add boiling water and olive oil, and I'd have a tasty meal in minutes. An extra bonus is that these containers clean up super-easy: add a squirt of water and an optional dab of soap, screw on the lid, and shake! No scrubbing required. One thing to look out for: these containers last about six weeks, then they'll start splitting vertically. But they're easy to replace at Safeway, which sells them in pairs for $4.

Mug and Mug cover

Snow Peak 450ml titanium mug with matching lid Another winner. This is just the single-wall mug; Snow Peak makes a double-walled insulated mug as well. I found the single wall mug works well; titanium is a really poor heat conductor (one reason why titanium cookware gets hotspots--the heat doesn't evenly dissipate, and you end up burning your meal). It fits inside the hydration pot.

Scrubby and soap

Blue scrubby and SeaToSummit Wilderness Wash, 40ml Cut the blue scrubby in 1/4, put it in a ziplock, and you're good to go. Originally I packed this in the hydration pot, but it made my meals taste like soap, so it moved around and eventually just ended up vaguely loose in my backpack.

Food bags

Opsack OP3 12x20 I took two of these--the first was for food, and it held enough for a week. The second was for food wrappings and garbage and everything, and as a backup bag. These bags are odorproof and I used them as my bearbags, putting everything smelly in them, pushing them down deep in my pack, and keeping them inside my tent at night to keep the bears and rodents away. It worked. (I did use a bear canister where it was required in Yosemite and Sequoia, and bear boxes if they were avaialable.) The bags themselves are very sturdy, except for the top above the zip-lock, which would come apart.

That's it for camping gear that I loosely packed inside my pack. I could've cut out 12 ounces by dropping the keyboard and pouch and Sharpie, but that also means I wouldn't be able to have fun and write about things on the trail, all those hundreds of things I thought about during the day (well, maybe dozens of things...) Besides, I justified the keyboard by ditching my Jetboil; which added about as much additional weight over the Olicamp stove as the keyboard did...

Next up: clothing and what I wore.