When planning a weeklong backpacking trip, you scrutinize everything. Everything adds ounces, so if what you’re packing isn’t absolutely mandatory, it has to go. Is a second shirt worth it, or is it just an extra six ounces? Can you handle the smell of the armpits by Day 6 in the same shirt? We went light on everything as we hiked through the Wind River High Route in Wyoming (even food, sadly), and still had packs that felt way too heavy by the end of Day 1. List of Hiking Essentials for The Wind River High Route 1) Maps: Earthwalk Press North Wind River Range Hiking Map and Guide and Earthwalk Press South Wind River Range Hiking Map and Guide These are the paper maps I used on the Wind River Range. I highlighted our route before we headed out and used the Gaia GPS app for my iPhone as backup. 2) Pots: Sea to Summit X-Pot 5-Piece Cookset We took this cookset but ditched one of the bowls and one of the cups to save weight. I was skeptical about the non-metal sides, but the pot survived the whole trip without melting (even though I’m not the most careful of cooks). 3) Stove: MSR WhisperLite Universal Backpacking Stove I became a huge fan of this stove on this trip—it’s as reliable as the original WhisperLite, but with the option to use canister gas, and thusly the ability to adjust the flame. It is super stable, and I love the attachment to flip the fuel canister to maximize the flow of fuel to the stove. 4) Water filter: Platypus GravityWorks Water Filter System - 4 Liter A friend introduced me to this filter on a desert trip, and I bought one immediately afterward and haven’t looked back since. Over several trips, I’ve never seen mine get completely clogged by silt—you just backflush it to clear the filter, a 3-second process. The only problem I’ve ever had with it was as a result of some really disgusting algae-filled water in a cattle tank in Utah. 5) Water transportation: MSR Dromedary Bag - 4 liter I’m a huge fan of the Dromedary—it’s a big, tough bag that holds your water and shrinks as you use water (something your water bottles don’t do). If you camp a little ways from your water source, filling a GravityWorks filter bag plus a 4-liter Drom means you have two gallons to work with for dinner, breakfast, and drinking water for the next day. 6) Puffy jacket: Outdoor Research Transcendent Down Hoodie Jacket I can’t remember the last time I took a trip without this. From ski touring, to backpacking in the mountains, even bikepacking in the desert in the spring, there’s always a time for a down sweater with a hood. Usually every evening after the sun goes down. 7) Waterproof shell: Outdoor Research Axiom Jacket Like the Transcendent Hoodie, I take this shell with GORE-TEX Active fabric on almost every trip. When it’s not raining, it’s a windproof fortress. It’s lightweight, packable and I wore it most every night in the Wind River Range to help fend off mosquitoes. 8) Shoes: La Sportiva Synthesis Mid GORE-TEX SURROUND® Footwear Big surprise. You’ll be doing a lot of hiking on a trip like this. Make sure you gear up on durable hiking boots that are breathable and waterproof. Head Out to the High Route That should get you started—now go tell your boss you need a week off in August or September and go do it.
Brendan Leonard recently tackled Wyoming's Wind River High Route with his girlfriend. Check out the backpacking gear that made the whole trip possible.