Sierra Designs’ Clip Flashlight Tent
Clip Flashlight Tent (courtesy, Sierra Designs)

Can you help an overnight-hiking newbie choose some gear?

I an avid outdoors photographer, but I’m tired of shooting the se things that tourists shoot. The solution: an overnight (or two-night) hike. I’m a newbie at this, so what type of pack and other gear do I need for these trips? Bill Pasadena, California

Sierra Designs’ Clip Flashlight Tent

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Looking into my crystal ball, I see… I see… it’s becoming clear… I see a trip to your local outfitter in your future. Real soon. Take the debit card, and make sure you have plenty of room in the trunk, ‘cause you’re gonna need both.

Sierra Designs’ Clip Flashlight Tent

Sierra Designs’ Clip Flashlight Tent Clip Flashlight Tent

Here are the basics of what you’ll need:

Pack: Four thousand cubic inches ought to do it—maybe 4,500 if you take a lot of camera gear. Gregory’s new Baltoro ($269; is just the ticket with a 4,300 cubic-inch capacity for the medium-size pack, excellent suspension, lots of pockets and storage areas for extra camera supplies and fast access. Kelty’s Storm 3600 ($145; is a little smaller, but has enough room for two-night trips and offers a lot of value.

Tent: A solo tent should be fine. I really like REI’s Chrysalis UL ($159;, which is light (just over three pounds) and offers lots of room for one person. And Sierra Designs’ Clip Flashlight ($170; is a classic—a compact two-person tent that’s palatial for one. You have to stake it out, but in return you get a sturdy tent that weighs less than four pounds.

Boots: These will be key, of course, so make sure you get a pair that fit as opposed to buying what I or someone else recommend. That said, L.L. Bean’s Cresta Hikers ($169; are a reliable choice for weekend trips. So too is the Asolo FSN 95 GTX ($160; Montrail’s Torre GTX boots ($165; are a third solid choice. All of these are mid-weight backpacking boots that are perfect for weekend trips with a moderate load.

Sleeping bag: I think Marmot’s Arroyo ($249; is about the best all-purpose bag out there. It’s rated to 30 degrees, weighs just one pound, two ounces, and packs down to about the size of a softball. If the price is a bit steep, then the Mountain Hardwear Switch is a good choice in a synthetic-fill bag ($100; For either, the Therm-a-Rest Trail Lite pad ($50; will work great.

Cookwear: This can get a bit complicated. Jetboil’s Personal Cooking System ($79; is light and efficient. For more flexibility, a traditional cartridge-fuel stove such as Coleman’s Exponent F1 ($45; is great. GSI’s Hard Anodized Extreme Mess Kit ($34; takes care of dishes, pot, and pan.

Clothing: For a typical weekend in decent weather, I’d start with a set of light long underwear (REI Lightweight MTS runs $28 for bottoms, $24 for a T-shirt). Pack some light nylon shorts (Lands’ End Outrigger Cargo Shorts are great and cost $29; Then a mid-weight fleece jacket (L.L. Bean’s Knife Edge jacket works well for $79; Then a light rainproof layer, such as Marmot’s PreCip Jacket ($99) and Pants ($70). Add gloves, hat, and other accessories to suit the weather and your own needs.

Extras: Headlamp (Petzl Tikka—$26;, handy tool/knife (Swiss Army Camper—$27;, first-aid kit (Adventure Medical Personal Essentials—$38;, compass (Silva Guide 426—$20;, sunglasses and sunscreen, and you’re all set!

And the Light Shall Inherit the Earth: Click here for’s guide to building the perfect 20-pound summer backpacking kit.