I’ve spent many years testing the idea that a kit that contains as few items as possible is very satisfying because there’s fewer things to keep track of.

To that end, I like doing this in increasingly challenging conditions:

  • inclement weather
  • above the treeline
  • winter

(not all at once!)

Here’s the kit I’ve landed on for summer 2023 in the high mountains of the Central Rockies. Above the treeline when weather is reasonable:

I’m usually wearing a merino hoody, nylon pants, wool socks, trail running shoes, and carrying trekking poles.

In bear country, I add an Ursack. I’m waffling on a ground cloth during every trip (otherwise, it’s a Gossamer Gear Polycryo). The photo shows the Hexamid, but on this trip, it was paired with an MSR Pro Bivy (ground cloth and above-treeline-shelter).

But what makes this kit special is not the weight (which is usually around 5 pounds / 2.3 kg) but the reliability, durability, and high performance achieved at this weight, and the simplicity of only having to keep track of about a dozen items.

I’d like to learn about anyone else’s strategies for experimenting like this and where you have landed!