When Taylor and I determined that we’d spend 2019’s Fourth of July backpacking in Yellowstone National Park, we knew that several pieces of critical gear would ensure a successful trip.
Before we started packing though, we had to find a trail and determine its safety. We spent a great deal of time researching and preparing for our trip, you can read all about it here!
Once we were ready to pack, we took even more time determining what gear was important and getting it all packed in our two packs. This post lays out the gear that Taylor and I felt was the most important, why we picked it, and whether or not it performed as well as we had hoped.
The packs that so trustily carried our remaining gear were the Ascend MS 4400 and Kelty Coyote 80. This was Taylor's first time carrying her pack and my Ascend has seen pretty good use over the three years I have had it.
My bag has been stuffed to the brink of its capacity more than a few times. All of that use has lead to two non-major faults: The sternum strap detached from the shoulder straps and a five inch rip has opened up along the pack’s primary compartment seam. It's nothing too major, but I need to find some way to patch it soon.
Taylor’s Coyote 80 is a bit big for her, she again purchased this from REI’s sale section and she picked up a men’s pack. This causes it to sit about 2-3 inches too low on her hips, but it does carry more gear than my Ascend.
The weight of Taylor's bag almost caused a costly mistake later on in our trip. We learned a lot about carrying the correct weight and packing our bags properly. We wrote a "10 Things We Learned In the Backcountry" post, you can read it here to see what other useful knowledge we gained on our first trip.
The most important piece of gear inside our packs, aside from first aid - which we listed out in this separate blog post, was our tent. Taylor and I have had our Eureka Apex 2XT (2015 version) tent for almost 3 years now and it has been the most impressive piece of gear we’ve used on the trail..
We’ve used this hardy tent more than 30 times and have never had to deal with a tear, leak, or broken tent pole. The rain cover did a perfect job protecting us in Yellowstone’s backcountry and helps keep the heat in when the temperature drops.
Long days of hiking require plenty of drinking water, and water filtration is critical for mitigating the risks of drinking from flowing streams. Taylor and I purchased the LifeStraw Flex with gravity bag system before our trip into the backcountry, and we could not have been happier with its performance. The system filters up to one gallon at a time at a rate of roughly one liter per minute. We were nearly able to fill our respective 32 ounce Nalgene and RTIC water bottles and each of our two liter water bladders with one gravity bag full of water. The LifeStraw water filtration system is effective and leaves spring water tasting as delicious as it should.
When we didn’t want to stop to filter water, Taylor and I treated collected water with Potable Aqua iodine germicidal tablets. These tablets take 35 minutes to cleanse water of harmful agents and require careful proportioning. Taylor often passed her treated water off to me due to the unpleasant taste, and we have since decided that iodine tablets are best kept for emergency use.
Along with our filtered or treated water, Taylor and I carried and cooked dehydrated meals for the first time. We compared several different options and were very deliberate in our choosing Mary Jane’s Farm thanks to their low sodium content and variety options offered. Were thoroughly happy with our choice and were full every night. You can read about our decision process in this post!
There were some days where we would not have been able to boil water for these meals if it hadn’t been for our MSR PocketRocket and our Jetboil Jetpower 8.11 ounce fuel canisters. They have been lifesavers over the years when campfires are banned or weather conditions prevent them.
We also used it when we were driving around the park and car camping outside the park every night. It really helped make the dehydrated meals even more convenient.
Carrying food into Yellowstone’s backcountry requires careful storage to keep from attracting bears. Taylor and I purchased four Loksac Opsac scent locking 12” by 20” bags to keep our food and other scented items. We placed those filled bags in a 20 liter Earth Pak dry bag before using 100 feet of rope and carribbeaners to hang the bags out of reach.
Bears can also be encountered by chance on the trail. Taylor and I each carried large knives and 8.1 ounce cans of Counter Assault Bear Deterrent. The powerful pepper spray can reach a distance of 32 feet, and it gave us peace of mind as we ventured into bear country.
Though these were the critical pieces of gear that made our time in the backcountry safe and reasonably comfortable, we had much more on our backs each day. Here is a complete list of the rest of the gear we carried on our journey.
Talkin' 'bout Tacos:
I'm Taylor, aka Tacos! I am sharing my journeys and experiences from across the world hoping to inspire travel and adventure in all who read!