The Big Three

Pack: Ultralight Adventure Equipment – Circuit
The ULA Ohm 2.0 that my partner uses was the first backpacking pack I ever used – he
“accidentally” let me use it on my first trip to the ADZPCTKO – and it was more than adequate for my 7-day road trip needs. Originally, that pack was the one I wanted to get for my PCT trek, and I would have gotten it but for the legal requirement of a bear can through the Sierra Nevada. After my partner took the Ohm away and handed me a Circuit to use instead, I quickly fell in love, though it was (and still is) a little big for my needs.

I’ve tried to mitigate that extra space – and therefore, extra weight – by removing the hydration bladder sleeve, the handloops (I’m carrying trekking poles), a fair bit of extra strap length on the load lifters, shoulder straps, and hip belt (I’m like to get smaller, not bigger), as well as a number of the bungee straps I found myself never using during shakedown hikes.

Sleeping Bag: Mountain Hardwear Men’s Phantom 15 (California, Oregon), Phantom Torch 3 (Washington)
SO WARM. SO FLUFFY. I got a men’s because, at 5’11”, I’m juuust too tall for a women’s bag, but I’m not sleeping any colder for that slight change. The draft collar and draft tube down the zipper are super solid, which helps; the bag also features hydrophobic down to get the condensation from my breath away from my body. I loved the fact that there were pockets – a velcro pocket and a zip pocket that held my headlamp and earplugs respectively, so they’re not just wandering around in the bag. My favorite part? It’s stupid warm, in the best way possible. The 3F version is even fluffier and warmer. I lurve these bags.

Tent: Mountain Hardwear Ghost UL 2
This tent, when you’re not an idiot and you pitch it correctly into the wind, come on, get it together, is bombproof. Even with all my gear in it, it’s still super roomy. It’s freestanding, but I definitely like it better staked out. For a freestanding shelter that is also bombproof, it’s also super lightweight, which helps. I was really happy with this shelter, and it held up to my abuses – including time on the outside of my pack without a bag – for all 2650 miles, and only suffered a teeny tiny hole in the door’s mesh. I wouldn’t necessarily sleep two in it for a long thruhike; it was fine for a couple of days with Spesh and I, but I probably wouldn’t go for more than a week like that. For one, though, it was lovely, and big enough that I didn’t go stir crazy when I was stuck in the rain.

Backcountry Kitchen • Sleep System • Weatherproofing • Accoutrements
Bonus: Worn or Carried

4 thoughts on “The Big Three

  1. outdoorsyarchivist says:

    I have to saw, I’m loving the color on the ULA pack! How did you get that? So snazzy. Also, I’m enjoying your writing, and can’t wait to follow along on your adventures! I’m currently assessing my gear for a JMT thru-hike over the summer, and will probably switch from my Gossamer Pack to a ULA Catalyst, to deal with the massive bear canister I need for 9-10 days worth of food. Good times!


    • Brown Girl says:

      Heh, thanks! For the last couple years, ULA has ordered crazy colored fabric over the winter and not only made things like entirely orange backpacks (which, to be honest, I was into) but also let people custom design/order in various colors. My pack is a result of that.

      Awesome that you’re hiking the JMT this summer! That should be an excellent adventure, even if you do have to lug around a bear can. Just so you know, ULA’s Circuit (what I’ve got) will also fit a bear can – it’s their smallest that will do so, though they do have smaller packs. While prepping for the Colorado Trail, I didn’t want to have to order another pack for the PCT, so I got the Circuit.


      • outdoorsyarchivist says:

        So rad! Oddly, I think I’d also be into the orange pack. Especially considering I have an irrational fear of hunters during my fall backpacking trips (or maybe that’s so not irrational….). Honestly, I’ve been going back and forth on the circuit or the catalyst, because I already have a Gossamer Gear Mariposa that I love, but which I also hate with anything over 30 lbs. I THINK I’m going to end up getting the big Bearikade Expedition canister to deal with 9+ days of food because I’m not convinced I can fit it all into the weekender. I don’t carry a ton of other heavy stuff though, so we’ll see! In theory, I also kind of want a “big truckin” pack, so I can sometimes bring more on my fun weekend trips (i.e more booze/good food). On the plus side, I live in Portland, OR where I can actually go to stores and try the packs on, because this place is full of dorky backpackers! Either way, I’ve always been intrigued by the ULA packs, and it’ll be fun to nerd out on them.

        Also, I’ve had the CT on my radar for a few years now, it’s been fun to read about your trip. Can’t wait read more about your PCT plans also. I think I’m going to end up section hiking that bad boy over a few years (perhaps starting in 2017 even).


  2. Vanessa says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your adventure with us — like I just said in my comment on your post announcing your finish (CONGRATS AGAIN!), I found your blog via Carrot Quinn and it is one of my favorite PCT blogs around. I am planning for an upcoming PCT hike and just want to make sure I understand correctly — the ULA Ohm 2.0 doesn’t fit any bear canisters? I’ve been debating between the Ohm and the Circuit but this would be the dealbreaker. Thank you in advance if you get to answering this — I’m so looking forward to reading the rest of your posts.


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