My Travel Clothing Wants and Wishes

packed backpack

Suddenly a new, big, exciting Europe trip is being planned, and it’s happening soon (more blog-y details soon about that.) Ack! I’ve been worrying yet again about the best items to pack (another post I need to write) and I have been very unhappy with my current wardrobe.

A lot of this was spurred by buying my husband an awesome pair of Bluffworks pants, which come with wrinkle resistant cloth and a boatload of hidden pockets. As I lost my passport to scammers a few years ago, hidden pockets would be awesome.

AND YET nearly every pair of girl travel pants I find have no pockets, much less spare pockets. This started me on a journey looking for my ideal pants, and then looking for my ideal jacket, shoes, etc… and coming up empty. Perhaps you, reader, can help?

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Hiking the John Muir Trail: Gear List


One of the most important things you can do when planning a long distance backpacking trip is ensure that you’re hiking with as little weight as possible. It’s hard to leave creature comforts at home (“but mom, I neeeeed that fancy cookset”), but every step that you take is going to be significantly more painful with every extra pound you take along.

I’ve forced myself to go ultra-lightweight when I scored this lovely backpack at a REI garage sale the other day:


The REI Flash 52. Which is apparently not a backpack you want to bring more than 30 lbs with, but is a great, lightweight pack for anything less. So the challenge is on!

Here’s my list so far:

Gear Name Weight in lbs Weight in oz
Backpack REI Flash 52 2 lbs. 15 oz. 57
Pad Big Agnes Insulated Q Core 1 lb 16
Sleeping bag Mountain Hardware Ultralamina 32 1 lb 15oz 31
Headlamp Black Diamond? 3.9 oz 3.9
Nalgene Nalgene 3.5 oz 3.5
Water bladder Camelbak 100 oz 6.5 oz 6.5
Mug Summit to Sea X Mug 2.4 oz 2.4
Spoon Light My Fire Spork 0.2 oz 0.2
First Aid Kit Adventure Medical Kits UltraLight / Watertight .7 First-Aid Kit 8 oz 8
Camera iPhone 5s + case 3.95 oz + 1.05 oz 5
Hiking poles ? 1 lb 4 oz 20
Towel REI MultiTowel Lite Small Towel 0.75 oz 0.75
Sunscreen Neutrogena Sport 4 oz 4
Pee funnel Sani-Fem Freshette Feminine Urinary Director 1 oz 1
Hand sanitizer Purell 0.40 oz 0.4
Bug spray Jungle Juice 0.40 oz 0.4
Bear canister lil sami 1 lb 5 oz 21
Kettle GSI Outdoors Hae Tea Kettle 5.8 oz 5.8
Tent Big Agnes Flycreek UL2 2 lbs. 5 oz. 37
Camp shoes Hacked sleeping pad 1.1 oz 1.1
Pillow Exped Air Pillow UL 1.6 oz 1.6
Maps John Muir Trail Map-Pack: Shaded Relief Topo Maps 3 oz 1
Knife ? (perhaps get multitool?) 3 oz 3
Soap Sea to Summit Citronella Wilderness Wash Soap 1.3 oz 1.3
Toilet paper
Emergency matches
Duct Tape (on poles)
Spot or PLB
Chapstick with SPF


The above is coming in at ~15 lbs.

Then, there are a couple choices I need to make:

Water filter Platypus Gravity Works Bottle Kit 9.5 oz 9.5
Sawyer Squeeze 3
New stove? 3.9 oz 3.9
Stove fuel ? 3.5 oz 3.5
Super cat stove 0.75 oz 0.75
Denatured alcohol 8-16oz 8


I already own the Gravity Works, but could save 6.5 oz if I get a Sawyer Squeeze. But I really, really love my Gravity Works. Not sure yet if I want to buy even more gear.

I also need to get a new stove, so I’m considering this highly rated stove on Amazon. But I’m only bringing a kettle since I’ll just be heating water for my meals, which works really well with a kitty food can stove. But the denatured alcohol looks to be heavy, canceling the savings? That said, not even sure I have the stove fuel weight right in the above table either.

I’m also considering bringing a SPOT or a Personal Locator Beacon for emergencies, but that adds to the weight as well.

The unfortunate thing is that my gear list so far, including anticipated food and full 3L of water is coming in at 32 lbs. Right on the edge of being too heavy for the Flash 52.

Any thoughts on these decisions, or on any other gear I’m planning on bringing?

Oh, and a bit of an update: like a dork, I wasn’t able to get a pre-season Wilderness permit for the John Muir Trail (because I totally didn’t realize that I needed to be ready in early February to score a permit for early August — d’oh!) I’m resolved now to get a permit the day-of or day-before my planned date as recommended by Reddit, meaning I’ll have to wait in line from 5am until 11am, but if that’s what I need to do, then so be it. Don’t be like me and miss the permit deadline!

photo credit: SteveD. via photopin cc

Gear Review: Eagle Creek Pack-It Cubes

Gear Review: Eagle Creek Pack-It Cubes (3)

Shorty review time! I bought these cubes ages ago on my first trip through Europe. I used a suitcase with wheels, and these cubes worked marvelously to keep my clothes organized.

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Gear Review: Patagonia Women’s Torrentshell Jacket

Gear Review: Patagonia Women's Torrentshell Jacket (4)

Another item bought for my trip through Europe. I needed a rain jacket that was small enough to fit into my backpack but large enough I could wear several layers underneath for warmth. Last, I also wanted a jacket that I could reuse on backpacking trips.

The Patagonia Women’s Torrentshell Jacket fit all of these requirements. The only downside was the bright green color — which isn’t a fault of the jacket (I deliberately choose it to be visible while backpacking and mountaineering), but wasn’t the most classy item when out in public.

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Gear Review: Merrell Women’s Captiva Strap Waterproof Boot

Gear Review: Merrell Women's Captiva Strap Waterproof Boot (4)

Another amazingly useful item from my travels through Europe!

I’ve wanted a knee-high casual boot for a long time, but most I found had issues — trendy, saggy ankles (never the best look on me), too much of a heel, not tall enough, or not tall enough… so when these Merrell boots (Merrell Captiva Strap) went on sale at REI, I snatched them up immediately right before we departed for Europe.

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Gear Review: REI Vagabond Tour 40 Travel Pack

Gear Review: REI Vagabond Tour 40 Travel Pack (10)

The last time I went abroad for several months, I brought a suitcase with wheels — which turned into a big pain. Dragging the suitcase over cobblestone streets in Rome, (can you imagine how loud and annoying that was?), through deep swaths of snow in New York City… while it saved my back, it was very annoying.

For my most recent trip through Europe, my partner and I bought the REI Vagabond 40 packs instead. The one photographed here is the one I used throughout the trip (thus the scuffs and dirt marks!) I managed to use just one backpack for the entire three month trip abroad.

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Gear Review: Thermarest Women’s ProLite Sleeping Pad

Gear Review: Thermarest Women's ProLite Sleeping Pad

I bought the Thermarest Women’s ProLite Sleeping Pad wanting a combination of lightness (since I’m a semi-ultralight backpacker) but also needing a lot of comfort since in general, I sleep terribly while backpacking and camping (working on that!) This pad was with me through several major trips — climbing Half Dome, backpacking in Yosemite, camping in Big Sur, and more.

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