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my big three picks | pros and cons

My picks | the details and the pros and cons

When I first started researching about backpacking, I wanted to know every bit of information that there was about every single piece of gear! I also wanted to know what gear people had and why they chose it. This is something that I wish I had seen for every single backpacker that I followed, so I thought in lieu of sharing the tell-all tips I needed to share this with yall!

Happy reading!

Weight: 3lbs 9 oz

Price: $116.73 (originally $179.95) @ REI

I use the Women's Gregory Amber 60 Pack and I think I hit the backpack lottery. I ordered my pack online and made the selection based on my personal experience with Gregory as a high-quality brand and the reviews on the pack (the price was also stellar).


  • The bag is large enough to fit all of my gear. I hiked in the bear country most recently and it was able to fit my BearVault BV450/500 perfectly in the pack.

  • The pack came with a rain cover. This reduced the extra amount of gear that I had to purchase.

  • The pack has an adjustable frame and hip belt that velcros down inside where the pack sits on your upper back and hips. The frame can move from XS to M. The hips belt can also be adjusted. I found this to be extremely helpful because I would have ordered a small to medium framed pack, but I have my pack set on the XS frame right now and it fits like a gem.

  • The pack can with hip belt pockets (see cons for my tiny rant).

  • The pack is hydration bladder compatible. I do not use one, but after one long backpacking trip, I am seriously considering buying one.

  • The pack has top and bottom access. The bottom compartment fits my sleeping bag, sleeping liner, and sleeping clothes in my compression bag perfectly so that I can keep it tucked away until sleep time!

  • The pack is top-loading so you can access all your necessities and also has a pocket on top to keep snacks and the day's food.

  • The pack has two water bottle side pockets. These fit my Nalgene's and assorted accessories well (headlamp, an extra towel, etc.)

  • It carries weight really well. My gear can range from 20lbs to 35 lbs and I never have problems other than the usual backpacking aches (hips, booty, and shoulders after a long day of hiking).

  • Plenty of gear loops on the backpack for attaching bandanas, hats, and my Chacos.


  • When carrying my bear can, I struggled to remove and replace my water bottles in the side pockets. Without my bear can, the water bottles are still hard to reach without setting my pack on the ground.

  • The hip belt pockets do not fit my iPhone 10 with an easy zip. The zippers also get stuck in the corners and are not a quick zip pocket to keep snacks in. I was worried about my ID and debit card falling out while on the trail.

Tent | Vango Banshee 200 - 2 Person Tent

Weight: appro. 5lbs

Price: $120 @ UK Amazon

I share a tent with my travel partner, Aaren Prody of What Do You Sea and she carried the tent during this backpacking trip. This tent is designed and marketed as a 2 person tent, but I would say that it is a spacious 1 person tent and a snug 2 person tent. The tent is waterproof and keeps 2 people very warm on chilly nights.


  • The tent is waterproof and windproof. It was built by the Scottish, so it is meant to withhold strong weather and rugged use.

  • Fits two people snugly and one person spaciously.

  • Keeps sleepers warm in colder climates. It is Tetons Range 10,500 ft elevation approved and Iceland approved.

  • Very durable.

  • Quick and simple set-up.

  • The tent has pockets sewn near the headspace for holding your phone and headlamp for easy access during the morning hours.


  • Not a lightweight tent.

  • The tent stakes that come with the tent are weak and not made for rocky soil.

  • Not compact when packed down.

  • No room for much more than two people. No room for storing your pack and keeping it dry if it were to snow or rain overnight.

  • Only one side has extra space for setting shoes or water bottles overnight.

Weight: 41 ounces

Price: $160.30 (originally $229.00) @ Kammock


  • Pinneco Mantle® synthetic insulation, a 100% recycled polyester fill, that offers breathable warmth in moderate temperatures.

  • Synthetic down, which will provide warmth even if the sleeping bag happens to get wet (to avoid this, I store mine in a 20L Osprey Dry Sack).

  • Soft sleeping bag material for a cozy sleep.

  • Adjustable footbeds. The CustomFit™ adjustments allow you to cinch tight to eliminate cold spots for maximum thermal efficiency.

  • Keeps me warm and cozy in the mountains and cool and breezy in the Ozarks. I add a liner for those chilly nights to ensure that I stay warm!

  • Has an adjustable hood to scrunch around your head (however, I don't recommend doing this because I woke up feeling suffocated and launched into a full-on panic while trying to get out of my bag).

  • Kammock is a sustainable brand that truly cares about their customers.


  • This bag can only safely allow me to sleep in 40-degree weather or warmer.

  • This sleeping bag is on the heavier side compared to other sleeping bag options!

Weight: 14 ounces

Price: $69.65 @ rei


  • In general, sleeping bag liners help you 1) keep your bag clean when you are dirty from hiking, 2) allow you sleeping bag to be more versatile, in that it can expand the range of temperatures that you can sleep comfortably in, and 3) can be used separately in warmer climates as a form of a bivvy sack.

  • Loads of reviews commented that the fabric is scratchy and rough, but this sleeping bag liner resembled a soft t-shirt fabric.


  • It can add extra weight in your pack (especially if you don't use it during your trip).

  • If you are shorter, like me, there will be extra fabric at the bottom. I did get tangled up a few times, which caused some panic, but it wouldn't stop me from purchasing this product or using it on the trail.

Weight: 9 ounces

Price: $19.95 @ REI


  • This is a lightweight sleeping pad option.

  • This is a cheaper sleeping pad option.

  • The design is "constructed with a pattern of ridges and valleys to trap dead air, increasing the insulation value" of the sleeping pad.

  • You don't have to fuss with blowing up your sleeping pad before setting up your sleeping situation.

  • "Aluminized surface reflects body heat back to your sleeping bag".

  • I am a stomach sleeper and this sleeping pad was surprisingly comfortable for the price!


  • It can take up more space than an inflatable sleeping pad. This sleeping pad attaches to the outside of your pack because it is a closed-cell foam sleeping pad.


I hope this helps!


Lea D. Hart


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