Recommended Gear

Johnny on the Bearfence Mountain Rock Scramble at Shenandoah NP

Gear List for Solo Backpacker

I like to go light when possible, though by no means am I a minimalist. After
25-plus years of intensive backpacking I am well on the downward side of the gear acquisition curve. When you first get into it, you buy and try all sorts of gear, and peak out on the amount of gear you tote. Then you realize there is actually more that you don’t need than what you do need. You ultimately carry less stuff and use your head more. The following list would be ideal for a spring trip in the Southern Appalachians.



2 pair socks

1 pair short pants

1 pair long pants

short sleeve wool T-shirt:

Sierra Designs insulating Hoodie

long sleeve button up shirt

Arc’Teryx Gore-tex jacket


Merrell Boots

I use Merrell boots for
everything from casual day hikes, to light backpacks to snow
trips.  On my 1,100 mile thru hike of the Florida Trail
I used lightweight, drainable low tops, the Moab Ventilator.


Gear :

Osprey Backpack

8 x 10 ultra light tarp with cord

Sierra Designs 800 Down Quilt

3/4 length ultra light air mattress

closed cell foam pad

plastic stadium cup



small grill (very small, lightweight and portable)

small am/fm/weather radio


rechargeable batteries

cook kit: one pot, lid, pot holder, drip coffee filter holder

stove/lighter (Stove is optional, I usually cook over a fire)

40 feet cord

water bottle


map of area where I am

Personals: lotion, toilet paper, toothbrush, tooth paste, floss, aspirin,

Options: If in bug country, I would bring along a 3 x 3 x 6′ bug screen and bug dope.

No, I do not carry a first-aid kit. My theory is this: If you are not hurt badly, you do not need the kit, and if you are hurt really badly, your kit would not do any good.

Gear List for Multi-night Canoe Trip

This list can work for the Boundary Waters of Minnesota or the Everglades or the Buffalo River
of Arkansas.  For two paddlers.


Wenonah Spirit II Canoe

Johnny in a Wenonah
Spirit II

2 wooden paddles

2 cushions

1 dry bag for each person’s clothes and sleeping bag

large dry bag for common items such as tent

2 small dry bags for instantly accessible personal items

100 feet strong rope

2 plastic food storage boxes

3-4 man Sierra Designs tent with vestibule

12 x 10 tarp

5 day cooler

2 canoe seats

2  sleeping bags

2 closed cell foam pad, two 3/4 length air mattresses

2 cups, 2 spoons

2 knives

coffee pot for heating water over the fire

small grill with foldable legs

cook kit: two pots, lid, pot holder, drip coffee filter holder

stove/gas bottles/gas

Coleman backpacking lantern

2 water bottles

biodegradable soap

duct tape


2 fishing rods

tackle box with lures and spare line

portage yokes (for lake country)

maps/plastic map case

tie down straps for canoe

Personal: sunscreen, lotion, toilet paper, toothbrush, tooth paste, floss, aspirin, sunglasses, bug dope,cigars

Obviously, you can tote more in a canoe with less effort. The two main concerns are storage room and if you are going to be portaging frequently.
on river trips you can bring a cooler and dry ice, which
keeps stuff cool for a very long time!


3 pair socks

2 pairs short pants

1 pair long khaki pants

2 short sleeve T-shirts

long sleeve T-shirt

long sleeve button up shirt

Sierra Designs Gnar Lite down jacket

Arc’Teryx jacket


visor/ball cap

sun hat with large visor and neck protection

low-top Timberland walking shoes


Johnny’s paddling a Wenonah Spirit II
on Georgia’s Broad River

Meal Plan for 7 Night Backpack Trip

Rule #1: Do not follow directions on any of packaged foods.

Rule #2: Cook only in the dark or when bear is in the vicinity.

(just kidding)

Breakfast Drinks: coffee, hot chocolateLunch Drinks: sugar free ice tea mix, sugar free lemonade
Dinner Drinks: hot chocolate, coffee


2 Bagel / Cream Cheese P.B./preserves on Tortilla Hamburger

2 Oatmeal pies, Ice Tea

2 Bagel / Cream Cheese P.B. /preserves onTortilla, 2 packs raisins Slop dogs
Oatmeal/raisins P.B. /preserves onTortilla, 2 packs cup o’ soupcandy Kielbasa, 2 packages LiptonCajun rice/beans
oatmeal/raisins Sausage Roll, 1 sleevecrackers, banana chips 2 Packs Lipton Noodlesand sauce, pudding
Pancakes P.B./Honey on Tortilla2 packs raisins 2 packs mac/cheese, 4 packshot chocolate
Pancakes 2 Granola Bars, 2 Packs cupo’ soup, trail mix 1 box stuffing
Pancakes 1 sausage roll, 1 sleevecrackers, trail mix Tuna helper

Johnny cooking sausage
at Flat Rock campsite on the Missouri River in Montana

Master Food List:

16 coffee filters

1 pack of coffee

1 box fake sugar packets

1 large box dried milk

20 packs hot chocolate

4 servings 1 minute oatmeal (not packs of

1 large box pancake mix

1 jug syrup

6 large bagels

1 unit blueberry preserves

1 package oatmeal cream pies

large plastic jar peanut butter

1 6-pack unit of boxed raisins

1 box sleeved crackers

1 sausage roll

2 packs flour tortillas

package banana chips

1 box cup o’ soup

1 package licorice or other candy

1 box granola bars

2 medium bags trail mix

1 bag yogurt covered raisins

1 roll Scott tissue

1 sealed kielbasa

3 large onions (2 for cooking fish)

2 packs Cajun rice/beans

2 packs mac/cheese

2 packs Lipton noodles and sauce

1 squeezable margarine

1 box Stovetop stuffing

can of turkey

2 packages sugar free instant pudding


garlic powder


4 pre-pattied hamburgers

burger buns


8 hot dogs

can of brand X chili

small plastic container of mustard

large can of tuna

box of tuna helper