This is the story of how I learned to go lighter in my travels. Let’s start in 2008…

Here I am in 2008 at the start of my first (failed) attempt to bike across the country. My journal reads: “The pace was much quicker than I thought I would be able to handle with my 80 lbs. of bike and odds and ends.”  Yep, 80 lbs. The good news is the weight was under me rather than on my back. Bicycle touring was a great way to make mistakes.


After crossing the Golden Gate Bridge in 2010 I still had a similar setup, but with the intention to pare it all down. I had a few thousand miles behind me and came to realize how little I actually needed. I was pretty stoked on my beard at this point, and cycled exclusively in moccasins.


My kit pared down, but ready for the Mojave in July/August with lots of water capacity. That book on my back rack is “Your Money Or Your Life”. I also had “Dharma Bums” in a front pannier. When I rode I rode, and when I didn’t I read. Both of these books were highly influential. 2010 was the most significant year of my life.


My setup in the final miles of my 2010 bicycle trip. Sleeping bag and tarp on top of my back rack, hammock and sleeping pad and everything else in my front panniers. After 5 months on the road I knew that all I did was ride and sleep, so all I needed was what I needed to keep riding and to sleep comfortably. I really just loved the constant motion and discovery. My last day reaching the Atlantic Ocean was 200 miles.


Road down the coast again to the start of the PCT in 2012. This is where I learned how to hike, using a similarly minimal setup but with lighter items. The first time I had ever hiked into a campsite was a few months earlier while cycling through Glacier NP. I found a school bag the previous day on the side of the road and used that in conjunction with one of my bike bags over my shoulder. It hurt, but it was awesome (and was very UL).


First thru hike! 2012, Pacific Crest Trail. Started slow but steady with a relatively small pack with a baseweight somewhere around 9lb. I knew with complete certainty that I would be hiking all the way to Canada so long as I didn’t get injured, so I focused my attention on staying healthy by establishing good walking habits.


I finished with pretty much the same setup, but with many gear changes on my mind. Hiking with people like legendary hiker Cam Honan made me realize how much further I could take it…


Started the CDT in 2015 with all new gear. I went full trail nerd while working in a cubicle and had gained a lot knowledge of trails and hikers and gear options. Baseweight was somewhere around 6lb, but I was also pretty uncomfortable at times.


Finished the AT in December 2015 using a pack Andrew Bentz made me that was a tight squeeze with my additional cold weather gear, with a weight up to 8.5lb (including my warmer clothes that were usually worn rather than carried).


Made my first good pack in March 2016 and used it on the AZT before heading to Utah to collaborate with Andrew.


One of the Pa’lante Packs prototypes, at this point pretty close to its final form. In this photo my pack contains a bear canister and 150 miles of food. As light as my pack was, I still had a pack shakedown a couple days later. It is always worth looking critically at what you carry, even when you feel confident with what you have. I am always re-examining habits and trying new things to find new solutions.


That brings it to current day. Check out my gear lists to see what I’m carrying these days.