The big 3 often refers to Backpack, Shelter (tent, tarp, etc) and sleeping system including sleeping bag and pad.

The set up I have works and is comfortable, but comes in at about 15lbs. The backpack carries nicely the 50-70lbs I’ve subjected it to. It weights 3.17lbs. It is 60 liters, large enough for most of the troop style hikes we went on.

Old backpack.

My go-to search for stuff is usually Ebay or Amazon and I found a 55 liter internal framed backpack on Amazon for $25. Figuring it was worth the gamble I ordered it. To my surprise it’s been a decent backpack, weighing only 2.42lbs. Comfortable to carry and plenty of room for most any light weight set up. The cons include hip belt pouches are so small that they are useless. And only outside secure place is the top cover zippered pocket. On the other hand the side pouches will hold 2, 1-liter smart water bottles on each side.

I bought the Green version. The new edition.

The sleeping system, consisted of an Academy Sports and Outdoor 40 degree synthetic sleeping bag. Coming in at 3lbs! I’m now using a Costco down throw that I’ve converted into a quilt with a toe box. It’s a lot easier than it sounds here’s a link to Joe Brewer‘s video on YouTube. Add a micro fleece sleeping bag liner and an SOL Escape Bivy and I have a modular system for summer and cooler months. The sleeping pad I used was very comfortable for only a 3/4 size self inflating Coleman pad. But very big and bulky at 3lbs as well. I first purchased the Outdoorsman Labs inflatable sleep pad. Weighing in at a mere 15oz this pad is a deal at $47. One of the  draw backs for me is I sleep on my side and just couldn’t get this to sleep comfortable. Even inflated my shoulder and hips would hit the ground, only allowing a few hrs of sleep before the pain awoke you to turn over and repeat.  The other is it has a R-value of 1.3. This pad would work great for a back sleeper. I won’t get rid of it. But its not my go to pad.

Outdoorsman Labs inflatable air mattress. Great for back sleepers. Coming in at only 15oz.

Being a member of MassDrop is a very cool thing- more on MassDrop in another blog entry. I ended up getting a Klymit V pad 17oz, R-value coming in at 4.4 and  sleeps much nicer for $65. Its 2.5″ when blown up and I sleep much better on my side with this pad. This has become my go to pad for backpacking. I would love to have a Therma-Rest but at $159 for the one I want…this seems to be the fit at this time.

Klymit V R-value 4.4 and weights 17oz.


My tent was a whopping 7lbs! An Academy Sports and Outdoors 3 person dome tent. It had plenty of room. But again I don’t want to carry this thing 100 miles up and down the Appalachian Trail (AT).

I watched a youtube video by ‘Darwin On The Trail’ in a series he was doing on low cost lightweight gear. The GeerTop 1 person tent looked like a compromise coming in at only 2.7 lbs. sets up with your hiking poles, and for $99 it was worth the risk. Did I mention I still have one semester to pay for Jordan and a wedding in the summer to pay for. So in plain english I’m looking for the low cost or DIY route. The little tent proved to be a good purchase. Well….the only thing I have against it is space. Yes this is a one person tent with no room for anything else. But more on that later.

So with a little research and DIY one can get lighter without spending a mortgage payment. Thanks for checking out the blog -also don’t forget to go over to YouTube and check out the video’s I’m putting up. Please subscribe to everything so we can all keep up with the journey. Here’s a link to my Big 3 video.