Wednesday, October 4, 2023

White Mountains Autumn Backpacking Gear Listing Defined

The primary half of autumn, from mid-September by way of October, is one of the best time to go climbing and backpacking within the White Mountain Nationwide Forest which spans central New Hampshire and Western Maine. The temperatures are cooler, the bugs are gone, and the autumn foliage is spectacular in early October, reaching its peak on Columbus Day through the second week of October. Come November, the climate turns decidedly colder, and snowshoes are sometimes required to hike the upper peaks by Thanksgiving. After that winter often lasts into April and even later on the increased elevations.

I haven’t printed my gear record in ages and I assumed I’d write one up that particulars the backpacking gear I take advantage of in September and October for autumn backpacking (down to twenty levels at night time) earlier than I’ve to transition to colder climate pursuits.

October 1, 2020. Mt Chocorua.
Mt Chocorua and The Sisters

Gear Listing Abstract

Most of my journeys within the Whites are one and two-night backpacking journeys, usually solo, and lots of contain climbing 4000 footers, though I usually take off-trail detours to succeed in small fly fishing streams or bag trailless mountains.  I want wild tenting in dispersed campsites and cook dinner one-pot dinners on the finish of the day. I often swap from path runners to calmly insulated boots when daytime temperatures fall under freezing. I’m much less obsessive about gear weight than I was and lean extra in direction of wilderness immersion than crushing huge miles. I’m nonetheless a go-getter, however I’m so much much less keen on feats and extra keen on making reminiscences.

The overall base weight of my gear record is 14 lbs 10 oz, which is a couple of pound or two greater than I sometimes carry in summer season. My Tenkara Fly Fishing gear weighs a further 9.2 ounces, which is mostly a drop within the bucket when in comparison with extra conventional reel-based fly fishing.


I switched from a Gossamer Gear Gorilla 50 to a Zpacks Arc Haul Extremely 50 two years in the past as a result of I want carrying a backpack with a suspended mesh again panel for higher air flow. The previous two summers have been brutally sizzling and humid, a development which will effectively proceed for the remainder of my lifetime, and the Arc Haul is far more comfy to hold. It’s additionally made with Extremely, a extremely sturdy ultralight and waterproof material that has confirmed robust sufficient to face up to use within the White Mountain Nationwide Forest, the place most backpacks go to die.

The Zpacks Arc Haul 50 just isn’t a house run however I nonetheless prefer it higher than every other pack I personal. The roll high leaks in heavy all-day rain so I line it with an Exped Schnozzel which is a 44L stuff sack, I’ve put just a few holes within the entrance mesh pocket, and the facet compression system is inadequate for carrying heavy objects like snowshoes. I’m additionally getting uninterested in unpacking the roll high fully at any time when I want to seek out some gear buried deep within the pack. It will be far more handy if Zpacks put a zipper alongside one facet of the pack that offered one other entry methodology, however the identical may very well be stated of all roll-top backpack makers.

However the Arc Haul Extremely 50 hip belt supplies a superb wrap round my hips, the torso size is totally adjustable, and it has daisy chains sewn to the entrance of the shoulder straps, so it’s very comfy and handy to make use of with every kind of masses. I’ll swap to a hotter pack with higher exterior attachments within the winter, however the Arc Haul Extremely 50 continues to be a pleasure to make use of for the rest of the yr.


I swap forwards and backwards between hammocks and tents and tarps each few years and I’m again in a tent this autumn after utilizing a Hammock Gear Wanderlust Hammock System for just a few years. I’m at present utilizing a Durston Gear X-Mid 1 which I like as a result of it packs up small and provides me numerous further vestibule room for shoulder season climate after I need to maintain my gear underneath cowl and simply accessible inside my tent.

I take advantage of a Feathered Pals Tanager 20 hoodless sleeping bag in autumn as a result of it’s much less drafty than a quilt, with a Sea-to-Summit Insulated Etherlite XT sleeping pad and a Sea-to-Summit Aeros Down Pillow, which I’ve been utilizing happening 4 years now. I sleep very effectively with this setup and haven’t any plans to swap it out. I additionally carry just a few segments of a ZLite foam pad on journeys to make use of as a porch for my tent so my knees don’t get moist getting out and in and to be used as a sit pad when cooking meals.


Complete ESBIT cooking kit including vaseline dipped cotton balls and three ESBIT cubes for a fast overnight 1 night backpacking trip
Full ESBIT cooking package together with vaseline dipped cotton balls and three ESBIT cubes for a one night time backpacking journey

I cook dinner and boil water with Esbit gas cubes as a result of they’re light-weight to pack and at all times burn irrespective of how chilly it will get. I take advantage of 1 to 1.5 oz of gas per day and in contrast to canister gas or alcohol, there’s no empty gas container to lug round after the gas is gone. Whereas I do use a QiWiz cookset, it is rather minimal with a steel pot lid as a “range” to stop the Esbit cubes from burning the bottom, a wire range stand, and a titanium foil windscreen. Your entire cook dinner system matches into my historic Evernew Pasta Pot (M), which is sized completely for the one-pot meals I wish to cook dinner on the path.

Since I’m in black bear territory, I take advantage of a Bearvault 425 bear canister to guard my meals and the bears at night time. I additionally use it to retailer my cook dinner pot and toiletries to maintain smells out of camp. It matches properly close to the highest of my pack as a result of it’s so small (it’s the smallest canister that Bearvault makes). Sadly, Ursacks are not authorized to be used within the White Mountain Forest, and utilizing a bear canister provides appreciable weight to my gear record. However a bear canister is far more handy to make use of than making an attempt to hold a bear bag at night time (which is the opposite authorized methodology), particularly in autumn when the times are shorter.


The Platypus QuickDraw Water filter works with all platypus soft bottles.
The Platypus QuickDraw Water filter works with all platypus gentle bottles.

I’ve been utilizing the Platypus QuickDraw water filter once more this yr at the side of Platypus 2L and 1L gentle water bottles. I just like the caps at each ends of the filter, which helps stop cross-contamination of the clear finish and prevents the filter from making all of your different gear moist when it’s packed away. It has a quick circulate price and lets me use my Platypus bottles, that are gusseted on the underside and get up by themselves.

I want utilizing the Platypus gentle bottles for lengthy water carries, which I do more and more usually to seek out dispersed campsites. They maintain their form higher than different gentle bottles when full, which makes them simpler to hold. For instance, I sometimes carry 5L of water for dry tenting, and Platy bottles flop round much less when carried in my pack’s entrance mesh pocket, than say a CNOC bottle which is far softer and extra pliable.

I additionally switched to utilizing 1-liter wide-mouth UL Nalgene bottles (3.8 oz every) two years in the past. I often carry two on journeys. I switched to them as a result of I stored shedding taller bottles, together with Smartwater bottles after I hike off-trail, which I do on virtually each hike I take with a fishing rod. The squatter Nalgenes don’t get pulled out of my facet water bottle pockets. In autumn, they’re additionally useful as a result of you possibly can put sizzling drinks in them they usually have quantity measurements on the facet. It’s very nice to have the ability to warmth up a full liter of tea on a chilly morning and sip it whereas ready for my sizzling cereal to warmth up on a chilly morning. You’ll be able to’t do this with a Smartwater bottle!


Suunto M3 Compass
Suunto M3 Compass

The workplace is the brains of this operation and encompasses navigation, communications, pictures, lighting, and energy. I’m a map and compass particular person at coronary heart and maintain my Suunto M3 declination adjustable compass shut at hand to verify my path and determine distant terrain options. I additionally put on a solar-powered Casio Professional-Trek ABC watch and use the barometric altimeter quite a bit when climbing, so I don’t must get my telephone out to verify my elevation with a GPS. I virtually by no means take this watch off, so possibly it must be thought of as “clothes worn.”

Nonetheless, it’s good to have Smartphone apps with GPS-encoded maps, so I can verify my place and think about maps on the telephone that I don’t need to carry. I do a good quantity of off-trail climbing along with on-trail as a way to attain distant trout streams, so it helps to have a big selection of maps out there in a telephone app. By way of apps, I take advantage of GaiaGPS for off-trail navigation, Farout’s White Mountain Nationwide Forest App for on-trail navigation, and Avenza Maps for navigating with historic USGS maps encoded as GeoPDFs or maps printed by path conferences that don’t use the Farout app.

I carry a Garmin inReach Mini2, so I can textual content the particular person I depart my journey plan with if I’m overdue or I’m injured. My iPhone 14 additionally has a SAR satellite tv for pc messenger operate, so I suppose the Mini 2 is redundant, however it’s far more durably made than my Smartphone.

Images: I take advantage of my iPhone 14 for all of my pictures for the reason that image high quality is so good and carry a small Anker battery to recharge it with if I run low on energy.

Headlamp. I’m nonetheless utilizing a Nitecore NU 20 (not bought) as a result of it’s small and doesn’t have a fancy set of lighting controls. My UK climbing buddy Martin beneficial it to me a number of years in the past and I’ve been utilizing it ever since.

First Assist Equipment

Band-aid Hydro-seal blister bandages review

My first assist kits have at all times been self-assembled and are fairly minimal. I put probably the most effort into blister prevention and therapy, utilizing Leukotape to stop hotspots and long-lasting, padded, Band-aid Hydro-seal bandages if I get blisters. These are tremendous sticky bandages that don’t come off for days and assist heal the wound. They’re the identical factor as Compeed bandages, bought within the UK, however a lot inexpensive.

Along with foot care, I carry the same old antihistamines, ache relievers, and anti-diarrhea capsules. If you happen to’re freaked out by sounds at night time, earplugs are helpful in autumn for blocking the sound of falling leaves. I additionally carry an N95 masks on my hikes to guard myself from Covid if I’ve to get near somebody, say an injured hiker I don’t know who wants assist, or if I’ve to enter a construction with different folks.

Clothes Carried

September 24, 2020. The Great Gulf Wilderness
September 24. The Nice Gulf Wilderness

I carry a reasonably commonplace set of layers for autumn climate. My rain gear doubles as wind safety above treeline and supplies a thermal envelope when worn over a mid-layer. Searching season begins in September, so it’s additionally good that my rain jacket is blaze orange in shade. It’s loopy that extra corporations don’t make blaze orange out of doors gear for hikers, isn’t it? I additionally carry a light-weight down puffy pullover that I primarily put on in camp or in my sleeping bag at night time if I really feel chilly. Gloves and a heat hat are additionally good to hold, particularly for above-treeline use or on chilly mornings.

I’m a giant believer in carrying a separate pair of dry sleeping garments, which I alter into after I get to camp so I can heat up over dinner. They’re good to have available in case your daytime clothes will get moist on wet days and if it’s worthwhile to heat up. In addition they maintain your sleep insulation from getting funky, particularly in the event you can’t wash up earlier than going to mattress.

I suppose I’m courting myself through the use of clothes from Patagonia that’s not made, however I haven’t been ready to determine in the event that they promote something that’s akin to the light-weight layers I already personal, given their terribly complicated and always altering product naming scheme.

Clothes Worn

September 26, 2020 Kinsman Ridge
September 26 Kinsman Ridge

I’m at present carrying a pair of Saucony Peregrines 11s ($65/pair) which I stockpiled just a few years in the past, despite the fact that Saucony is promoting Peregrine 13s ($140/pair) at this level. Shopping for surplus, previous mannequin, path runners is a good way to save cash in the event you blow by way of a number of pairs per season. I’ll maintain carrying the 11s till I want to modify to waterproof mids when the climate turns colder in late October.

I wore REI Sahara Convertible Mountain climbing Pants (for the shorts) most of this summer season however have switched to Railrider Bone Flats Pants because the climate has gotten cooler. These ventilate higher than the Railrider’s EcoMesh pants I utilized in years previous, one other adaption to the hotter and extra humid summers we’ve been having. The Bone Flat Pants usually are not pre-treated with Insect Protect, so it’s a must to ship them out to InsectShield your self or spray them with Sawyer’s Permethrin if you wish to stop tick and bug bites.

Tenkara Fly Fishing Gear

Brook Trout
Brook Trout

With all this discuss fly fishing, you’re most likely questioning what it’s I do carry. The reply just isn’t a lot, as you possibly can see above. That’s the great thing about Tenkara. It’s very elemental and easy. I can fish all spring, summer season, and autumn with simply 9.2 ounces of fly fishing gear.

I take advantage of a light-weight telescoping carbon fiber rod that’s made in Japan known as the Tenkara USA Iwana and catch trout which might be usually underneath 10″ in size. I’m strictly a catch-and-release fisherman and I take advantage of barbless hooks, that are straightforward to take away. I don’t at all times carry Tenkara Gear on hikes particularly if I’m climbing with somebody who simply needs to go climbing or just isn’t a fisherperson. However after I hike alone, I often carry my fishing gear, and virtually at all times after I go backpacking.

Wrap Up

Whew! There’s plenty of data there. If in case you have any questions on any of the gear I take advantage of or why I carry what I do, be happy to go away a remark under along with your questions. I’m additionally completely happy to reply any questions you’ve about climbing or backpacking within the Whites in autumn.

Concerning the writer

Philip Werner has hiked and backpacked over 8500 miles in america and the UK and written over 3000 articles because the founding father of, famous for its backpacking gear evaluations and climbing FAQs. A devotee of New Hampshire and Maine climbing and backpacking, Philip has hiked all 650+ trails within the White Mountains twice and has accomplished 10 rounds of the 48 peaks on the White Mountains 4000 footer record with over 540 summits in all 4 seasons. He’s additionally the writer of Backpacking the White Mountain 4000 Footers, a free on-line guidebook of one of the best backpacking journeys within the White Mountains in New Hampshire and Maine. He lives in New Hampshire. Click on right here to subscribe to the SectionHiker publication.

SectionHiker is reader-supported. We solely earn a living if you are going to buy a product by way of our affiliate hyperlinks. Assist us proceed to check and write unsponsored and unbiased gear evaluations, newbie FAQs, and free climbing guides.

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