Gear List

  • Tent - I recommend a 3-season tent and my personal favorite is the REI Half Dome 2HC for a bomber 2-person, 3-season tent.  I also carry the Big Agnes Copper Spurl UL2 which is super light. For car camping, we also have the REI Camp Dome 4.

  • Sleeping Bag - I recommend around a 20 degree down bag for backpacking.  Go synthetic if you are camping in wet areas and aren't real good about keeping your stuff dry.  I have the REI Mojave +15f down bag (no longer sold) which has been may favorite bag ever.  My wife carries the Mont-Bell Super Stretch #2 Down Hugger +20f (no longer sold).  My son uses a Kelty Light Year XP20 +20f synthetic which is super light and compressible for a synthetic, is priced right and he loves it.  My daughter is currently in my wife's previous bag, a The North Face Cat's Meow +20f.  Both she and my wife say it doesn't keep them that warm, but it is always highly rated.

  • Lantern - I use this only on car camping trips.  I have a Coleman Rugged Rechargeable Full Size Lantern.

  • Head lamp - I recommend the Petzl Tikka 2 for the adult and the Black Diamond Wiz for the kids

  • Backpack/Daypack - I recommend using something like the Gear Finder at backpacker.com or going to REI.com to whittle the list down, then going to an outfitter and trying it on.  I carry the REI Flash 65 and you can read my review where I think this is a great pack. My wife carries the Osprey Ariel 65.  My son and daughter both carry Gregory Jade 50's.

  • Pocketknife/multi-tool - I picked up a Leatherman at the REI Garage Sale, but it's a bit heavy for my tastes.  I like the Gerber Torch Drop Point Knife I have.  It is not extremely light, but feels good in my hands, opens easily and stays super sharp.

  • Sleeping pad - I recommend the Big Agnes Insulated Air Core, see my review on this site.

  • Water bottles - I recommend the Nalgene big mouth BPA free, Camelbak Better Bottle or the Camelbak Reservoir for drinking on the go.

  • Camp stove - I recommend the Coleman 424 Dual-Fuel for car camping.  I carry the Snow Peak Giga Power Stove for backpacking. It is small, lightweight and has 4 pot supports making it more stable to cook on.

  • Fire Starter - Carry at least 2 sources such as a lighter and matches or magnesium flint.

  • Fire Tinder - You can try finding small stcks along the trail or take cotton balls soaked in Vaseline.  Coghlan's Emergency Tinder works great as well.

  • Rain gear - Check out my review on the REI Taku Jacket. Pair that with the REI Ultralight Pants.  My wife has a The North Face Venture.  My son is wearing a Sierra Designs N2 Fusion from SteepAndCheap.com.  My daughter has the Sierra Designs Cyclone Parka also from SteepAndCheap.com.

  • Moisture wicking socks - Personal faves are the REI Merino Wool crew socks, see my review of these. SmartWool socks are great as well.

  • Trail shoes - I'm sporting some Vasque Blur trail runners now, see my review of these.I wear my heavy duty La Sportiva hiking boots when I'm carrying a load.  My wife has a pair of Keen light hikers which she is not too fond of.  My son and daughter both wear Vasque Breeze.  My son wears the mid hikers while my daughter wears the light hikers.

  • Pillow - Not a necessary item as a stuff sack and some clothes will work well.  However, I recommend the Therm-a-Rest compressible pillow.  My wife, daughter and I all have 'em.  My son uses an old Coleman compressible pillow.

  • Compass - I recommend learning to use it and pairing it with a map. Oh yeah, the compass doesn't work without the map and the map is made easier with a compass. Sort of like a Reese's Peanut Butter cup.  I carry a Suunto M2D Locator Compass.

  • Bug dope - Go with the Skintastic brand for use on the Kids, Deet for the adults.

  • Sunscreen - This is really required at high altitude.  Use SPF 30+ and re-apply regularly.

  • First aid kit - bandaids and antiseptics, tweezers, moleskin or something to prevent or fix blisters, ibuprofen, duct tape, scissors, gauze, a whistle and a mirror.