Photographing a bald on the Appalachian Trail

On a backpacking trip we like to be just as comfortable hiking as we are in camp. Lightening our pack weight has been key. Carrying less weight means less physical strain, more energy to focus on the beautiful subtleties of nature, and ultimately more fun. At the same time, we also like to sleep comfortably and cook a hearty meal. When choosing gear, we aim for the sweet spot which perfectly balances comfort on the trail and in camp.

We had a great setup on the PCT, but we are always refining our gear, learning what items aren’t necessary, researching new products, and finding things which serve multiple purposes. Simple durable items are a favorite of ours. In addition we make changes based upon the terrain and weather in the area where we’re hiking.

Rainy weather on the Appalachian Trail

We recently updated our Appalachian Trail gear list to reflect the changes we made while hiking the AT:

Hope you find it helpful.

Cooking dinner in the backcountry

We also wanted to let everyone know that North Star is continuing to recover. Her shingles rash is gone. The pain only flares up occasionally. The remaining issue is her energy level. She gets very tired after walking a few blocks.  The discussion forums we’ve read concur that it usually takes between 1-3 months to return to full health after a shingles outbreak. We’ll continue to be patient.

Sunset on the Appalachian Trail


  1. Glad to hear that Northstar is doing better. Don’t think I ever want to get shingles! By the way, I know in one of your postings you had a picture of Rocky Mountain National Park and I think you had mentioned that you have been there numerous times. My wife and I are going there for 3-4 days in July and were wondering if you have any hiking trail recommendations. These would have to be day hikes and we have done 9-10 mile day hikes before, so it doesn’t have to be a short hike. You can let us know by emailing us at Thanks and continue to rest and get better.


  2. Thanks for the update. It’s good to know that North Star has moved beyond that terrible pain stage. Let’s hope the energy improves quickly! How about a few pictures of Fort Collins?


  3. North Star, glad to hear you are healing. Wishing you well. Hope you have a good spot to rest up inside with views of the changing world outside, or perhaps a cozy lounge chair in a great spot in a garden or on a porch. All the best.


  4. Sending many good wishes your way!

    Thank you for your openness about shingles — still a hushed-up problem, unfortunately….


  5. Like I said before, your gear lists are awesome. We decided to go with the same sleeping bag setup that you guys had for the PCT — way more in our penny-pinching-price range!
    Quick question on Chris’ PCT/AT list: You had the Sea-to-Summit UltraSil Daypack for your sleeping bag “storage”, what was the reason for choosing that over a compression bag? How often did you truly use it as a daypack? It looks like you didn’t use that on the AT, but would you use it for the PCT again?
    Also, I’ve been SUPER curious, how did the two of you go about getting sponsored by Gossamer Gear and Big Agnes? I’m sure your blog and excellent photography had a lot to do with it, but do you mind sharing more of the details?


    (logged in as Emily, as usual)


    1. Thanks Eli! The day pack was useful for running errands in town. Whether you need a compression sack would depend on the size of your sleeping bag and backpack. If you line your pack with a trash compactor bag for waterproofing purposes, you can put your sleeping bag directly in the bottom of the trash compactor bag without any extra protection or compression, assuming there’s room. This sackless approach is nice and light. It’s what I ended up doing on the AT. North Star’s sleeping bag is bulkier and that’s why she used a compression sack.

      We approached each sponsor individually with our best foot forward. We let them know why we were interested in them particularly, and what we had to offer them. The blog, tent video, and book were definitely important. No big secrets other than that. Good luck!


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