Hi everyone! Mac here.
This post is a follow-up to my discussion of the Boreal Trail from the start of June. There were a few questions about what I packed for my hike, so hopefully this can give you an idea of what you might need (and what you can leave at home) for all sorts of trips in Saskatchewan this summer. I’ll provide commentary on some specific gear choices. If you have any questions, feel free to comment down below!
I like to organize my gear lists using an online pack list software. Lighterpack.com enables me to quickly lay out my gear lists while tracking the total weight of my kit. I’ll go into more detail regarding Lighterpack in a later blog post.
Disclaimer: Most weights are taken from manufacturers’ websites, or for little items, just “guesstimates” to put in a weight. I’m not gonna weigh my toothbrush, sorry folks. Some of these items were also carried by my partner, as they were “group items”. Consequently, food weight is skewed down a bit to make things reflect my actual total starting pack weight of 22 pounds, as weighed the night before we left. I was more focused on packability than on hitting a specific weight goal for this trip. The goal, gear-wise, was to fit into my Osprey Talon 22L backpack, and for my partner to use her Osprey Tempest 20L.
I always take either a plastic bag or a large waterproof dry sack as a pack liner. Between the liner and my pack’s raincover on the outside, I’ve never gotten my down-filled sleeping bag or puffy wet.
I packed just about all the same gear I normally would for any trip in the mountains, plus 2 days of food. A favourable forecast meant I left the rain pants at home. I was completely comfortable, but I did miss my favourite luxury item: my hairbrush.
TOP: Talon 22L on the Boreal Trail. BOTTOM: Levity 60L in Bald Mountain Basin, Wyoming.
Generally, I take my Osprey Levity 60L backpack. This trip was a fun experiment, but I will bring something more than 22L in the future, so I can carry more of the bulky food I like (sausage, cheese, bagels, etc).
I bought this shelter second-hand as part of my interest in trekking pole tents. I have dabbled in making my own tarp tents, with some minor success. These kinds of shelters require some patience in setting up and compromises in living space, but not as much as I expected. My usual tent is the palatial 3-person Big Agnes Copper Spur UL3. Comparable options I like to recommend are the MSR Hubba Hubba (2P) and Mutha Hubba (3P).
Vesper Quilt: I had just acquired the Thermarest Vesper Quilt (-7C) before this trip, and was stoked to try it out. It was very comfortable and felt more like a blanket than a sleeping bag.
Sleeping Pad: I doubled the weight of my pad by carrying my Nemo Astro Insulated instead of my Thermarest Neoair Xlite, but this was a trip where I wanted more comfort in pairing two rectangular pads with my partner.
Sleeping Pad Straps: Great for holding two pads together for couples. I made these myself, but you can also buy these.
Pillow: The pillow was a new addition, and is here to stay.
This is a pretty standard packed clothing list for me. I typically try to bring only two shirts: one for hiking, one for sleeping, and I prefer to wear long underwear to bed.
Liner Socks: Rather than wearing my liner socks, I tried just carrying them in my pack in case some hot spots developed on my feet. I didn’t need them, but I’m not ready to leave them at home just yet.
An addition for this trip: bug headnet. If you’re in Saskatchewan during the summer, a headnet is definitely worth bringing.
Clothes I didn’t use but were worth bringing: liner socks and underwear.
Clothes I didn’t need: down jacket (Arc’Teryx Cerium LT Hoody). I only wore this for maybe 30 minutes. My personal rule of thumb is if evening lows are ever projected for below 10oC, I’ll still bring my down jacket for lounging around camp.
Aside from the extra socks and underwear, I wore every item that I packed, and was never in need of anything else. This setup was just about perfect.
Long Sleeves and Pants: This was my first trip with the Arc’Teryx Remige Hoody and Lefroy Pants. I loved them both. They offered great UPF 50+ sun protection, and helped ward off the bugs. I don’t enjoy putting on a lot of sunscreen, and it wasn’t too hot for the long layers. For similar in-store pieces, check out the Smartwool Merino Sport 150 Hoody, The North Face Hyperlayer FD Hoody, Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants, and Prana Stretch Zion Pants.
SUN ON THE TRAIL: The Boreal Trail does go through the forest, but I spent most of my time hiking under direct sunlight. Be prepared for sun exposure!
BeFree Water Filter: I’d like to highlight the Katadyn BeFree filter as being my favourite lightweight filter. If it gets clogged, it is easy to clean by swishing around in water. However, nothing is invincible. I always bring Aquatabs in case of a filter emergency.
MSR Big Titan Pot: This titanium 2-Litre pot is more than enough volume for the two of us. Most 2-person cook kits, like the MSR Trail Lite Duo or Sea to Summit Sigma 1.9L Pot use a similar volume. Going solo? Check out the Sea to Summit 1.3L X-Kettle. It’s collapsible!
Water Capacity: How much water to carry is a personal matter. I’m comfortable hiking 10-15km between water sources with 2 litres of water. In the mountains, I often only carry 1 litre at a time and drink lots when I reach a stream. For mid-July in Saskatchewan, some hikers might want 3 litres of capacity.
Tweezers: I haven’t encountered many ticks in the Saskatchewan backcountry, which I chalk up to good luck (and hopefully not awful body odour). I’ll always have my tweezers, just in case.
Natrapel: Natrapel Bug Repellent was a good buy before this trip. Small 37mL packaging and smells like a citronella candle. Also less greasy than OFF!
Trowel: Everyone should carry a trowel for when (not if) you need to dig a cat hole. Leave no trace!
Headlamp: Rechargeable headlamps save on batteries in the long run, and I’m still searching for the ideal power bank.
Next time, I’m making waffles. Or sausage. Probably both. Eat your heart out, hiker hunger!
I have put a recommended packing list at the bottom here for your own personal checklist.
Thanks for reading!
Recommended Packing List
- Pack Liner
- Pack Raincover
- Tent footprint (if camping on rough terrain)
- Sleeping Bag
- Sleeping Pad
- Sleeping Pad Straps (if couples camping)
- Rain Jacket
- Rain Pants
- Insulated Jacket or Fleece
- Thermal Top
- Sun Shirt
- Hiking Pants
- Thermal Bottoms
- Liner Gloves
- Hiking Socks x 2
- Liner Socks x 2
- Thick Sleep Socks
- Spare Underwear
- Toque (weather dependant)
- Bugnet (bugs dependant)
- Sunglasses Case
- Sun shirt
- Trekking Poles
- Bic Lighter
- Cook pot
- Food Bag
- Water Filter
- Water Bottles x 2
- Toilet Paper
- Hand Sanitizer
- First Aid Kit
- Toothbrush & Toothpaste
- Bug Repellant
- Large Ziplocks/ Garbage bag
- Power Bank