When we hit the trail, this is the equipment we carry in our packs. Unlike the CleverHiker Gear Guide, where we highlight a wide range of exceptional choices, this page is where we talk about our personal favorites.
For more of our favorite gear recommendations, have a look through these popular CleverHiker Gear Guide links:
Why Trust Us?
We fully understand how tough it is to find trustworthy gear advice, and that’s one of the main reasons we built CleverHiker. We live for outdoor adventure, and we take these guides very seriously. Here are some of the reasons you can trust us:
Our choices are completely independent and based on personal experience.
We’ve logged over 10,000 trail miles and test outdoor gear for a living.
We own and field test every product we recommend, which is sadly not the norm.
We travel to industry trade shows to learn about upcoming product innovations.
We constantly update our guides when new products launch.
We treat our recommendations as if they were for our family and friends.
We’re lifelong learners and we’re always open to constructive criticism. If you think we’ve missed a product or got something wrong, we’d love to hear your feedback.
CleverHiker Top Gear Picks 2019
Our top choice for all around value and ease of use. A very well balanced combination of weather protection, weight, comfort, and convenience. We like the UL3 size for a bit more room when backpacking in pairs, but the UL2 size is also excellent for solo adventures or if you don’t mind tighter quarters.
Our top choice for thru-hiking and long/difficult treks. Non-freestanding, single wall shelters like these always take a bit more time/practice to pitch, but the weight savings tents to be well worth it. We like the Duplex for solo trips and the Triplex when backpacking in pairs.
These are excellent choices for beginners and backpackers on a budget. They’re durable, well built, spacious, and very comfortable. The main downside with tents like these is they tend to be bulky and heavy for tough backpacking trips. That said, if you split the weight between two hikers they’re not too bad and it’s very tough to beat their price tags.
Best All-Around Backpack: HMG Southwest 2400
Best Ultralight Backpack: ZPacks Arc Blast
More info: Best Lightweight Backpacks
Highest Quality: Western Mountaineering Alpinlite
Best Ultralight Quilt: Enlightened Equipment Revelation 10°
Best Women’s Bag: Feathered Friends Egret UL 20°
More info: Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags & Quilts
Best Ultralight Summer Pad: Therm-a-Rest UberLite
Best Ultralight 3-Season Pad: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite
Best 4-Season/Cold Sleeper Pad: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm
Most Quiet/Convenient: NEMO Tensor Insulated
Best Foam Pad: NEMO Switchback
Best Budget Air Pad: Klymit Static V2
More Info: Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads
Best Ultralight Pillow: Zpacks Medium-Plus Dry Bag Pillow
Most Comfortable Pillow: Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow
More Info: Best Backpacking & Camping Pillows
If you want simmer control for backcountry cooking and better performance in sub-freezing temps, get the MiniMo. If you just want boiled water quickly, the Flash is likely all you need.
The BRS is a tiny, ultralight stove for 1-2 people max. The Pocket Rocket 2 and Deluxe will be much more durable and dependable in the long run, though they’re slightly heavier/bulkier. The PR Deluxe has the best features of the bunch.
Best Cookpot for 1-2 Hikers: Snow Peak Mini Solo Cookset
Best Group Cookpot: MSR Big Titan Kettle
Best Spoon: TOAKS Long Spoon
Best Cup: GSI Stacking Cup
When bear canisters are required, we use the BV 500, which is excellent. On most other trips we bring our Ursack, which is great for keeping small critters out of our grub, but can keep out bears too.
More Info: Best Backpacking Stoves
Best All-Around Water Filter: Sawyer Micro Squeeze
Best No-Hassle Water Purifier: SteriPEN Ultra
Best Chemical Treatment: Aquamira Drops
Purifier/Filter Backup: Katadyn Pills
Water Bottles: 1L Smartwater Bottles
Soft Water Bottle (for long dry stretches): Platy Bottle 2L
More Info: Best Backpacking Water Filters
Rain Pants: Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic
Down Jacket: MontBell Plasma 1000 Alpine Down Parka
Hiking Shorts: Nike Dri Fit Running Shorts
Hiking T-shirt: Nike Dri Fit T-Shirts
Hiking Long-sleeve: Nike ¼ Zip
Hiking Socks: Balega Hidden Comfort
Warm Socks: Darn Tough Micro Crew Cushion
More Info: Best Rain Jackets & Down Jackets
Snow Traction: Kahtoola Microspikes
Headlamp: Black Diamond Spot 325
Stuff Sacks: HMG Waterproof Stuff Sacks
Stuff Sacks: S2S eVAC Dry Sacks
Backpacking Seat: Therm-a-Rest Z-Seat
Portable Camp Chair: Helinox Chair Zero
Gear Repair: Tenacious Tape
Compass: Suunto M-3 D Leader
Trekking Poles: Gossamer Gear LT5S
Ice Axe: C.A.M.P. USA Corsa
Sunglasses: Ray Ban Polarized New Wayfarer
Multi-tool: Swiss Army Tinker
First Aid Kit: Ultralight .7 Kit
Camp Towel: Packtowl Nano
Cathole Trowel: REI Co-op Snow Stake
Tent Stakes: Aluminum Reflective Stakes
Camera: Sony RX100
Power Bank: Jackery Mini Power Bank
Tripod: Zippod 45
Book: Kindle Paperwhite
Bear Spray (used in grizzly country): Frontiersman Bear Spray
If you enjoyed our Top Picks list, you'll probably like the CleverHiker Gear Guide as well. Here are a few links to some popular Gear Guide articles:
Best Stoves, Food, Water Filters, Jackets & More: CleverHiker Gear Guide
We hope this guide was helpful for finding the backpacking gear you were looking for. If you want to provide feedback or recommend an item we missed, please use our contact form to get in touch.
Thanks for reading and happy trails!
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