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Pack List - Kimberly's Solo Hiking Gear

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I’ve learned from becoming part of the backpacking community that gear is both intensely personal and yet also a big loud part of the community. From discussing recommendations in Facebook groups to bonding over shared favorites with neighboring campers, we cannot get enough gear talk. The personal part is that we all hike differently. Something that might be worth six ounces to me might seem ludicrous to someone else, and vice versa. I heard a story this weekend at PCT Days in Cascade Locks, OR, of a man who carried a wooden paddle 2,000 miles just to paddle himself across one river. Hundreds of pairs of eyebrows raised at that. But the general rule, as the speaker telling the story pointed out, is to never judge. Hike your own hike, as we say.

Admittedly I’m a beginner. I have yet to pack resupply boxes, for example, but I’m getting there. And I’ll get lighter and smarter and more discerning as I go, I’m sure. Much of this will improve as I’m using certain things more and can justify greater spending; As I go I’ll learn what kind of water filter I prefer, etc. But for where I am now, even if it’s to change, I have a why for everything in my pack. One thing to know before we dive in, you do not have to go spend a fortune outfitting yourself all at once for your first foray into the wilderness. Start with a fair balance of buy, borrow, and rent. I’ll point out which pieces I get from where for you too.

So, here it is. All of it. Let’s start with the big stuff.

PACK
WHAT: Co-op rental from REI. (I named her Twilight because of her coloring.)

NOTE: Get sized so you have a proper fit!

WHY: Because something like this at this stage in the game is smarter. I’m spending less now before committing to a bag, arguably one of the most important things to make an informed decision on. Better to buy one that suits my needs once I know first hand what my needs and preferences are, and then I’ll use it for years, rather than spend hundreds of dollars on a not so great choice. 

SLEEPING BAG AND PAD
WHAT: REI Co-op rentals as well.

NOTE: Your backpacking and camping gear will/may differ, meaning you may eventually have a camping sleeping pad that’s heavier and much more comfortable or temperature protecting, and one for backpacking that has those features in lesser extremes and weights less.

WHY: Ditto – learning and keeping costs down before I invest.

BONUS NOTE: Same for trekking poles. I borrowed them for my last few trips and haven’t landed on my own pair choice yet.

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TENT
WHAT: I just bought the Camp Dome 2 from REI Co-Op, and I am obsessed.

NOTE: Weight is 4 lbs 8 oz.

WHY: Heavier than some other options on the market, but for $99.95 the extra weight is worth it to me right now. It’s super quick and easy to set up, has room for me and my pack, and, let’s be honest, is really pretty. I have a kind of OCD thing about colors, so that’s not all vanity, I swear. 

BOOTS
WHAT: Salomon X Ultra Mid 2 GTX Hiking

NOTE: Try your boots on before you buy and use the little mini mountain thing at REI to make sure they are absolutely the right style and fit for you.

WHY: These are insanely comfortable, believe it or not, and I like having the ankle support. Many of the trails are not so smooth and definitely not so level.

BONUS NOTE: Bring camp shoes. You will one hundred percent want to get the boots off your feet as soon as you’re able to. I bring cheap/light rubber flip flops for now but I’m coveting these extremely light Birkenstocks. The weight isn’t listed but seriously they’re so light they weigh practically negative.

SOCKS
WHAT: Darn Tough Hiker Boot Hiking Socks and Darn Tough CoolMax Micro Crew Cushion

NOTE: Guaranteed for life. Really.

WHY: I heard very good things about wool when I was first shopping for hiking socks and did very well with the first style I mentioned last year. I grabbed a pair of CoolMax to take this year because all summer I’ve been training for a half marathon and am so tired having of hot feet.

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PANTS
WHAT: I wear lululemon’s Wunder Under pants on the trail.

NOTE: This is where I really differ from other hikers, but bear with me.

WHY: They’re moisture wicking, flat-seamed for no chafing, and I am comfortable in them. Period. Wear what you are comfortable in. I’ll say it again. Wear what you are comfortable in. I don’t like wearing shorts unless it’s THAT hot out and I’m not into the cargo pants style that move around. These are it for me. I can also sleep in the clean pair I intend to wear the next day and don’t have to pack additional sleepwear. Win.

BONUS NOTE: I love lululemon’s Namastay’put Hipster for my underwear. Seamless, wide-sided so they don’t cut in, and they feel like silk. This is all I wear every day on and off the trail.

SPORTS BRA
WHAT: lululemon, again.

NOTE: Yes, there’s a pattern emerging here. I wear several different styles including Energy (medium support, more coverage), All Sport (higher support, less coverage) and Stuff Your Bra (holds stuff like snacks, phone/camera, sunglasses).

WHY: Comfortable, supportive, non-chafing, moisture-wicking. All the things.

SHIRTS
WHAT: lululemon’s Swiftly line

NOTE: I pack a tank or tee style for each day* and then one long sleeved for evening or cooler days.

WHY: This I’ll stand by forever and ever. In addition to the features of the other apparel, they are body-temperature regulating AND ANTI-STINK. Best. Thing. Ever.

OTHER APPAREL
WHAT: beanie hat, lightweight gloves, lightweight sweatshirt, shorts, Bangbuster headbands, and good old fashioned bandanas.

NOTE: Brand loyalist that I am, all lululemon. (Except the bandanas.)

WHY: I wear the shorts on super hot days or at camp to relax, the hat/gloves on chilly nights or mornings, and I absolutely need a cozy sweatshirt for camp that doesn’t weigh too much to carry. (So, not a Scuba hoodie. It’s the best hoodie every and my favorite at home but it’s heavy AF.)

BONUS NOTE: Campsite apparel isn’t sweated in and can be re-worn, so I bring one of each of these items except for the shorts, which I’ll bring 1-2 pairs of depending on how likely I am to hike in them (based on temps). Headbands I bring one per day* and bandanas I bring for multi-use like wearing (head/neck), cleaning, drying. 

*When I talk about headbands and shirts per-day, this is for about a 3-ish day trip. If I’m getting into 4+ days I’m going to start re-wearing more stuff.

FOOD STORAGE
WHAT: BearVault BV500

NOTE: Weights 2 lbs. 9 oz. Holds all your food and everything with a scent, like toothpaste.

WHY: Absolutely necessary. Bears kill people. Also doubles as something to sit on.

STOVE
WHAT: Jetboil Zip Cooking System

NOTE: I borrowed this from friends and like it a lot.

WHY: The fuel is less than $5 and it’s light and easy to use (11.75 ounces).

BOWL
WHAT: Sea to Summit X-Bowl

NOTE: You can eat everything out of a bowl. You only need one dish for your entire trip and this is it.

WHY: Weighs 2.8 ounces and flattens to take up extremely little space

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MUG
WHAT: GSI Outdoors Infinity Backpacker Mug

NOTE: If you’re going ultra-light, sure, stick with just water from your water bottles. But for me, coffee.

WHY: I cannot believe how light it is (3.5 ounces), plus it has a lid, isn’t too hot to hold, and cleans easily. Must. There’s no better option for us coffee nuts.

BONUS NOTE: If you need creamer/almond milk or other fixins, these little bottles in various sizes are perfect for such things.

WATER BOTTLES
WHAT: 2 giant Nalgene bottles.

NOTE: Yeah, I put coffee before water. Oops. Weighs 6.2 ounces each unfilled.

WHY: Easy to fill, drink from, and pour out of, fit in accessible side pockets, durable.

WATER PUMP
WHAT: Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter System

NOTE: This is a different system than my hiking buddy and I used last year. Not sure yet which direction I’m going to go when I commit to having one for myself.

WHY: This is one I’m still learning about. I will say I also brought Potable Aqua tablets (3 ounces, the Sawyer Squeeze kit is also 3 ounces) with me this year because if I had any trouble with the pump or was particularly worried about water safety, I’d rather have an extra step for certainty.  

UTENSILS
WHAT: Sea to Summit Alpha Utensil Set

NOTE: This may be something I switch up to shed weight later on, though the whole set is 1.3 ounces.

WHY: Super durable, though I could get away with one multi-use utensil made of something even lighter in the future. Example, one of these sporks weighs 0.04 ounces.

LANTERN
WHAT: Goal Zero Lighthouse Mini Lantern and Black Diamond Moji Lantern

NOTE: I carried two this trip which I would not normally do, but one also charges my phone and I did not want to be without a phone OR a lamp if I used all its juice.

WHY: The Goal Zero is one of my very favorite things. It charges up with a USB and charges my phone via USB. It has a stand that flips down to use or up to hide. It can hang from the ceiling of the tent. It dims or brightens. A very useful 8 ounces. I now also have the Moji lantern (also has dimming and hanging features, 3 ounces, runs on 3 AAA batteries), which I’ll take when I want two or will add to my camping kit.  

HEADLAMP
WHAT: Black Diamond Cosmo Headlamp

NOTE: You absolutely need a headlamp for night-walking or other hands-free activities in the dark like pitching your tent, cooking, reading, etc.

WHY: Dimming is an excellent feature so you don’t blind your friends. The red light is also necessary because you actually see better with the red at night if you’re on your way to the loo or other campsite errands.

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Now let’s get into little bits:

SAFETY
Compass/whistle combo tool which I clip to the pack near me a la Cheryl Strayed in the “mooooooose” story, REI’s small first aid kit with extra matches, and maps and guidebook pages (torn out of books – only bring what you need).

PERSONAL CARE
All in one large ziplock or a couple of small ziplock bags:

Small travel toothpaste, compact toothbrush, wipes (in a small ziplock –don’t bring the weight of a whole package if you won’t need the whole package), ditto for IB Profin and Excedrin migraine, hand sanitizer, body glide (trust), extra hairties, glasses/contacts things because I don’t want to lose a lens and walk off a cliff, small spray sunblock for body and small lotion sunblock for face, and Repel with DEET (all the deet!) and Mosquito Band bracelets which I wear pretty much all the time.

Deodorant I tend not to bring at all because the scent attracts curious wildlife and honestly what’s the point, though I did bring it this trip because I started at the PCT Days Festival and knew I could pitch it before heading out if I wanted to lighten up. I also brought peppermint oil this time for mosquito relief because I’m a baby when it comes to bites.

PERSONAL THINGS
I put my ID, cards, cash, etc. in a small ziplock and call it the backpacker’s wallet. We can put my phone charger in this category as well.

ENTERTAINMENT
I’ll bring one book. It has to be paperback, that’s my rule.

If I’m not worried about battery power (airplane mode can last a while and that Goal Zero lantern/phone charger keeps me going) then a killer playlist full of Hozier, the Lone Bellow, and Kings of Leon adds some vibes to my campsite.

I’ll also bring the smallest notebook I can find and one pen, because I must write all the things.

FOOD
All in the BearVault! A freeze-dried breakfast and a dinner each day, packets of Starbucks instant coffee and maybe my little mini fixins bottles, a ton of snack bars, a bag or stacks of Ritz crackers, and mini peanut butter packets. If you’re going to take extra anything, take extra food. I take way more bars than I’ll eat because in a situation where I need something extra, that could save my life. Or, I have some to share.

I think that’s everything. And somehow it all fits in the Pack!

What would you leave out that I carry? What do you love to carry that I didn’t mention here?

Alternate Routes in Iceland

Alternate Routes in Iceland

A Texas attorney and a country music recording artist from Nashville seem like an unlikely pair to tackle a wild, winter adventure in Iceland. But we’re not your typical southern broads. We left the makeup and the curlers at home to take an icy plunge, balls first into an authentic and unforgettable Icelandic experience. The rumors of Iceland’s incredible beauty were what got us dreaming about planning a trip. But besides wanting to check out all the awesomeness for ourselves, Ryan and I have recently started a new adventure company. What better way to build content for our new adventure business than a trip to Iceland?!

Day 1: Getting “Iceclaimated”

My heart is sayin’ YES but my body’s sayin’ NO! We couldn’t wait to get out there and explore, but…for real, y’all…that jet lag is no joke.  A word of warning if you’re planning a trip to Iceland from the states; build in an extra day on the front end to sleep off the funk. We wish we had done this and definitely will next time. Every moment counts when you’re wanderlusters like us!

Our flight arrived in Keflavik around 4:20am. We took the Flybus to the Rekyjavik bus station and from there took a cab to pick up our camper van. BIG MISTAKE. We paid close to $75 USD just to get us across town! Live and learn. Our loss, your gain! Heed the advice, my friends.

We were a little early to the pick up our van. Approximately 6 hours early. Never have we lusted so passionately for a bed. So close but yet so far away. Despite our crabby state of exhaustion, the staff at GoIceland was incredibly friendly. They gave us some coffee and worked diligently to get us on our way as quickly as they could. Due to this office being in the process of moving, there was some lack in communication about the address we were supposed to pick up our vehicle. But, the staff more than made up for it by fully refunding us for our expensive cab ride, which was very generous. Jan at the office was hilarious, a really good hang. We’ll definitely be returning to rent a camper van with GoIceland, and we’ll be referring all our adventure clients to them as well. After loading up on food, we headed out into the darkness north to Fludir, where we discovered the Secret Lagoon. Incredible soak. We wound up driving just a little farther north to camp out near the geyser, Strokkur. We wound up staying in an empty hotel parking lot. We were thankful there were no security cameras, because we definitely peed out there. Sorry not sorry.

 Day 2: The Adventures Begin

Off to a great start! 8am wake up call, and we have to pee SO bad…If only it weren’t for the staff trickling in that decided to park RIGHT next to us. The store and café didn’t open for another hour. Confession: GoIceland Camper Vans are GREAT for pretty much everything EXCEPT the pee pee dance.

Finally, alas. Sweet relief. By 9am bladders were empty and we were coffeed up for the adventure. Strokkur really is something else! Although, it took us almost an hour to find it. Yeah, we’re kind of embarrassed to admit that. We took this trail back to the camp ground (closed in the winter) and kept thinking that it looped around to the geothermal field where Strokkur was erupting. We went in and out TWICE thinking we had missed something before we finally realized that the main entrance to the walking path was only 25 meters away. Lame. Ha! I guess we weren’t nearly as caffeinated as we thought. In the video, you might perhaps see Ryan and I getting “surprised” by Strokkur. A Geyser with no bedside manner? You must be joking…

The adventured continued down the Golden Circle towards Gullfoss, Seljalandsfoss, and Skogafoss. On the way we stopped for a riverside photo op where I learned a valuable lesson. Sometimes you just have to wait your turn for the spotlight.

Alternate Routes in Iceland

We got DRENCHED at Gulfoss and Seljalandsfoss, but the photos turned out incredible.

Alternate Routes in Iceland

We also discovered this old boarded up haunted cave along the way, and just had to stop for a photo! Pretty creepy!

Alternate Routes in Iceland

Our plan was to continue on up the southeast coast past Vik to Skaftafell glacier, Jökulsárlón, and Diamond Beach. Somewhere in between Vik and Skaftafell, mother nature began to call. And, I don’t mean the Iceland weather. Number 2 talk can be taboo, but let’s get real people. So, one of us had go. I won’t say who (changing names to protect the innocent). We’ll call this person Nancy. So, we did what any good human would do. We found a nice waterfall, parked the car, turned out the headlights, and handed Nancy the toilet paper (photo not included).

We arrived at a roadside pull out by the old bridge near Skaftafell National Park around midnight. Just when we were about to go to bed, the northern lights began to dance. These lights never lose their luster with us. We are so grateful at every opportunity we’ve had to admire their mysterious and exotic beauty. After the show it was definitely lights out!

Alternate Routes in Iceland

Day 3: Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend

We got a late start as we stayed up past our bed time in order to watch the northern lights. We woke up with an incredible view of Skaftafell and made a point to stop at Jökulsárlón and Diamond Beach. We found a really cool secret lagoon as well along the way filled with icebergs and bits of glacier. We got dumped on, and all our gear got wet, but it was totally worth it. The views up the east coast are absolutely stunning. Ryan made the best sandwiches, which also helped us forget for a moment that we were wet and cold.

We continued on towards highway 1 and stopped around 7:30 to find a hot spring in Hoffell. It took us a while to find it in the dark, but we were the only ones there! Absolutely incredible! We were even able to take a geothermal shower and freshen up before heading on up the road to Höfn.

We ate an absolutely delicious meal at Kaffi Hornið in Höfn. We had heard that lamb was the best in Iceland, and the rumors are true! I had the lamb chops with root vegetables. Lamb-a-liciously incredible! Ryan had the lagustine pasta. Out of this world!

Following dinner, we proceeded to continue our drive up the east coast. Our last minute “let’s do the ring road” decision had us a little overly ambitious to get to Dettifoss by bed time. But our plan froze up along with all the ice on the roads. We drove all the way up to Brei∂dalsvik. We arrived at the turn off around 0:30, and we discovered that highway 1 was impassable through northern Iceland. I guess we wouldn’t be driving the ring road after all. We were both pretty disappointed for a few minutes that we had wasted the time and the fuel driving that far. We parked on a pull-out near a bird sanctuary for the night and woke up to the most incredible views!

Day 4: East Coast Driving and Seljavallalaug Hot Springs

In the morning light, we enjoyed a nice breakfast of eggs and oatmeal with a beach side view. The sun was golden as it was rising (for the first time on our trip so far). This was the most gorgeous day of our trip weather wise.

As we headed back down the east coast, we were stunned at every corner. Each curve in the road offered a more breathtaking view than the last. With the mountains to the west and the ocean crashing into the shore on the east, how could one go wrong?

We hardly saw any tourists most of the day until we got closer to the golden circle. We stopped to take in a few views that we missed on the way up. Black beach did not disappoint!

We discovered a local hike to a mountainside hot spring. Seljavallalaug. However, the water was only slightly warm. In fact to make it warmer we peed in it. No, we didn’t actually. But the cold plunge certainly elicited the urge.

Alternate Routes in Iceland

We ended the day by cooking some Icelandic salmon underneath the beautiful show of northern lights. Total perfection. It doesn’t get any better than this. We continued our drive to Þingvellir National Park where we spent the night just inside the park at a pull off.

Day 5: Þingvellir & Hveragerði

We woke up to a pleasant surprise at our little Þingvellir parking spot. Cars upon cars were stopping at our van, practically leaning against it to take pictures of our lake view in the rain and fog. I mean, really? We were literally trapped. Nowhere to pee. Again. We sat with our legs crossed doing the pee pee dance for almost a half hour before we could even start the van and inch our way out of the parking spot so as not to hit someone with a camera. In our minds, sweet relief was just moments short of cutting the top off an empty water bottle and letting it all go. But we were lucky enough to find a spot just down the road. At lightning speed we yellowed the snow, taking turns watching for oncoming tourists with cameras.

Alternate Routes in Iceland

Off to Þingvellir we go! The continental divide was really something. Although, we got caught up in a little more walking here than we would have liked. We had hoped to see some other sites within the park but ran out of time.

Our next priority was a stop at Reykjadalur Hot Springs in the town of Hveragerði. We had read this was literally one of THE best short hikes in Iceland, and we are all about the hot springs. So, we went for it. We had brought our micro spikes on the trip in case of an icy hiking trail. But the trailhead didn’t “look” icy. It was a nice, dry, paved gravel trail. “What an easy ascent,” we thought. So, Ryan left the micro spikes in the car. About 1 kilometer into the hike, however, we realized very quickly that we had made a bad decision to leave the micro spikes. The gravel ended and the trail became increasingly slippery. But, we pushed through and we were SO glad we did. This was our absolute favorite activity we did on the entire trip. The hike was gorgeous, filled with geothermal activity and boiling springs. There were waterfalls along the way and rivers. This hike is an absolute MUST, and we would highly suggest making this a priority for anyone traveling to Iceland.

We headed out of Reykjadalur soaking wet and began our drive back to Reykjavik. We had plans to check out a restaurant called Tapas Barinn that has great reviews for a traditional Icelandic feast. We were looking forward to trying puffin, whale, char, and horse. But, no dice due to the 3-hour wait. Icelandic Fish & Chips at the Volcano House hit the spot!

Finding a spot to park the van is not easy in downtown Reykjavik. There is a city camp ground where you can park for free. Although, in the winter time the facilities are closed. You can pay $17 USD per person to use the facilities at the Reykjavik City Hostel. Considering it was late (and we did not want to get arrested for public urination), that is what we decided to do.

Day 6: Penises & Planes

As you may know, Reykjavik does have a penis museum. We did purchase several t-shirts, not for us, but for friends back home. And stop giving me that “sure, it was for a friend” look.

Alternate Routes in Iceland

After penises, penises, and MORE penises, we had just enough time to grab a few additional souvenirs, clean and pack up the van, and fill the tank. We were not ready to leave (Iceland, NOT the penis museum). But we are filled with even more wanderlust and excitement about our next trip.

Alternate Routes in Iceland

Check out Ryan’s disappointed face on the plane heading home…We had the time of our lives and created many beautiful memories along the way. We were also fortunate enough to create lots of wonderful content for our new company website and look forward to bringing our clients to Iceland for some amazing adventures! And, the songwriter in me could not resist writing this little song about our trip. Until next time, Iceland. Bon voyage!

Alternate Routes in iceland

Welcome to Alternate Routes

Alternate Routes Blog- Outdoor Blog- Adventure Blog- Wilderness Life- Hiking Blog

Welcome to Alternate Routes. We are an adventure company based in Nashville, TN striving to empower women to embrace the spirit of adventure. We have a focus on backpacking and curate numerous backpacking trips throughout the United States to bucket list destinations. 

This is where we will blog of our travels and trips, post photos and videos of our adventures, and offer free wilderness tips and gear reviews! We hope you enjoy peeking around our website. Be sure to sign up for our email list for trip announcements and special social media contests about trip giveaways!