You may know, I rave about fitting all of my gear into my magical stretchy 36L backpack. I will tell anyone who will listen, you will fill whatever size backpack or suitcase that you bring on a trip. So if you have a 55L or 65L pack, chances are you will fill it with all of the luxuries of backpacking. I've been getting a lot of skeptical responses lately, questioning my ability to fit all of my gear into my pack so here it is! And here is the list of all my gear so you can buy your own and then come backpacking with me! If you have any questions send me a message on my contact page or message me on Instagram.
Ultra Light Tent
Waterproof Stuff Sack 10L
Airporter Bag for Air Travel
Kahtoola Microspikes and Gaiters
Ultra Light Mini Stove and Pot
BV450 Bear Vault Canister
Mazama Water Bladder
Sawyer Mini Water Filter
My favorite freeze dried meals are; Pad Thai, Beef Stroganoff, Lasagna
Aleader Water Shoes with elastic laces or Water Shoes without laces
Leggings - favorites, worn in this video
Favorite undies for hiking
UV Button Up Shirt
Keen Hiking Boots
This is the daypack that I use.
How to hike to Carrauntoohil, the highest peak in Ireland: Rent a car in Dublin and drive on the wrong side of the road, for 3.5 hours to Killarney. Stroll the adorable Irish streets of Killarney and wish you had more time in this cute town full of bustling pubs, too bad there is just too much to see everywhere else in Ireland. The next day put on your hiking boots, trail runners will not do, grab your rain jacket, and drive to the trailhead ready to hike Carrauntoohil Mountain, Corrán Tuathail trail, via the Coomloughra Horseshoe Loop, and drive to the trailhead at the Hydro Track Car Park. Begin the ascent uphill and remember, the first mile is always the hardest, why is this so hard? Are vacations really meant for hiking difficult peaks? Reach the lakes and go left toward Beenkeragh Ridge. Notice the brightly colored sheep, painted for various reasons like their farmer's ownership, vaccines, and mating records, you've already noticed that you've been hiking in sheep droppings the whole time. Hike along the ridge and thank Mother Nature for not raining on you today while you scramble up miles of rocky boulders, which would otherwise be very slippery. Put on your rock climbing gloves and climb, hike, pull yourself up, and watch where you step as most big rocks are solid but some shift under your feet, as you go up what some refer to as the mountaineer's route. Finally reach the top of Carrauntoohil to find many other hikers who came up the other side which seems it must be shorter and easier. Enjoy the view, feel the cold Ireland temperatures, and feel proud that you traveled all the way to a far away country and hiked a big mountain. Don't get too comfortable because you still have two more little/big peaks ahead on this horseshoe loop. Descend down the ridge and back up to Caher Mountain, then descend again and ascend backup to Caher West Mountain, taking a break in between for a Sound of Music, green mountain arms out spin, oops wrong country but you forgot to have this moment in Switzerland. Begin your final climb down the mountain, your feet are exhausted and Irish beer never sounded better. Hike down, climb down, hike down, and get down that mountain. At the bottom take a great photo with the mountains that you conquered behind you. Pat yourself in the back, wish you had more days of hiking around here and carry on, on your trip around Ireland. Carrauntoohil is only 3,268 ft, you may laugh because back in California we climb 10,000 ft mountains regularly but this was still a 8 mile hike with over 3,700 elevation gain and a crazy, rocky scramble.
How to get to Sam Mack Meadow, North fork Big Pine Creek, Eastern Sierras: A year before you do this hike, hike to the Big Pine Lakes and ask fellow hikers where they are hiking to. When they respond “Sam Mack Meadow,” pretend that you know what they are talking about, think it sounds far, and look it up later. Search the internet for any information on this place, which is really little information because most people just go to the picturesque Big Pine Lakes. Finally find a good map and begin planning. Obtain Big Pine permits exactly six months out to the day and round up hiking/backpacking friends. Begin the hike early in the morning and hike over 8 miles and 4000 feet in elevation gain, through a hot desert start, through beautiful forests full of wildflowers and butterflies, and past turquoise, jaw droppingly pretty lakes. Continue left past a sign that reads “glacier,” over an adorable footbridge, scramble up granite boulders, while an underground river flows beneath the granite rocks that look like a huge rock slide, and hike on very rocky trail. When you arrive at Sam Mack Meadow, exclaim, “Wow, now I know why people said go here!” Look for fairies, find large frogs, wonder where the trail goes, and set up camp towards the back of the meadow. After camp is set up it will start to hail, larger than pea sized hail, then it will start to pour rain. Complain, whine, and cry. How can the weather be this bad in such a beautiful place and why am I letting it get to me. Try to fill up a water bottle in the ice cold river and cry some more because it is the coldest water you have every felt. Thank your friend for saving the day and filling it up for you. Dig a trench to keep water away from your tent, huddle in you tiny tent with your fearless friends, play cards, fall asleep to the sound of rain. Wake up the next day with blue skies in one of the most beautiful places that you have ever been. Thank Mother Nature. Continue your adventure.
How to get to the Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada: Fly to Vancouver. Or in my case end an epic road trip around Washington State with you adventure besties and head north for a solo Canada trip. Take an Uber pool from the rental car return to the train station and, as fate has it, meet a new friend in the Uberpool who also happens to be going to Vancouver. Break it to her that we are actually taking the same Amtrak bus, even though she thought she had booked a train but sadly no, it is a bus. Bus to Canada, explore Vancouver and make plans to visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge the following day first thing in the morning at 8am. The night before, find out from the hostel how to take the bus to the bridge and get told that you are a crazy person for leaving the hostel so early in the morning. Leave the hostel at 7:20 am to walk to the bus stop, wait by the wrong bus stop until you realize it is on the other corner, read the sign and realize the first bus doesn't even come on Sundays until 8am so you won't get to the bridge until 8:30am not when it opens at 8am. Take the bus and make friends with a girl who works there and gets you into the park for free. Enter the park, stare at the beautiful bridge that you have been seeing pictures of for years and say to your new friends, “this is why we are here so early…” the bridge is empty. Take pictures with your friend and take hand holding pics of a very cute honeymoon couple on the bridge. Walk around the whole park, walk on little hanging bridges, visit baby ducklings at the pond, listen to a bird talk, and walk out on the cantilever bridge, Realize it is almost noon and now hundreds of people are on the bridge and this is why we came so early, to enjoy this magical place before the crowds. After the bridge take a very short bus ride to Grouse Mountain, enjoy the gondola ride, visit the Grizzly bear sanctuary, and watch the amusing lumberjack show. Enjoy Canada, British Columbia, and Vancouver.
Here is how to get to the Pink Lakes, Las Colorados, Yucatan, Mexico: Fly to Cancun, fly a red eye and start the big adventure right when you arrive. Before arriving book a driver with Happy Shuttles to take you the three hour drive. Politely tell your driver, "Yoni, quiero desayunar," and he will take you to a very welcoming side-of-the-road spot for carnitas quesadillas for breakfast. Drive through jungles, farms with many cows, and pueblitos all while practicing your Spanish with Yoni, who also speaks English, but that's no fun. Finally arrive at Las Calorados, where dozens of men eagerly await to charge you 200 pesos ($10) for entry. Enjoy the pink lakes, learn about the salt process, take a lot of photos, stare at the pink, think about pink, rosado, pink, salt, oh my! Think, "I go where I want to be!" Exclaim with your best friend and Yoni, how beautiful the day is! Say goodbye to the pink lake. Drive 20 minutes away to pueblito Rio Lagartos. Take a biosphere tour making friends with crocodiles, flamingos, and prehistoric horseshoe crabs. Stay at the Villa Pescadoes, which is across from the turquoise water and. Eat ceviche. Fall in love with Mexico! Get ready for the rest of your trip!
How to get to the Kelso Sand Dunes, Mojave National Preserve, California: Pack up the car with hiking gear, camping gear, and camping food. Look up the weather and think "32 degrees in December, I can handle that." Drive past large joshua trees, stopping for a skate sesh, then to the Kelso Depot Visitor Center, listen to the rangers call us crazy for camping this time of year and share they don't think the sunset from the dunes is that great. Detour, dirt road, to the Mojave Lava Tubes and take ghostly cave photos. Continue on and drive more dirt/sand roads to the Kelso Dunes to find a camping spot which is basically just a pile of rocks that have surrounded fires before. Set up tent by a few RVs and set out on the sand dune trek. Hike among the cute rodent tracks in the sand, plants that miraculously grow in sand with less than 4 inches of rain a year, and march up an incredibly steep dune that your friend describes as the hardest thing she has ever done in her life. Sink deep into sand, fill your boots with sand, enjoy the beauty and expansive dunes, appreciate great friends and thank Mother Nature for all her glory. Watch your adventure besties take beautiful sand dune photos in a sand dune photo shoot and take a few dune photos yourself. At the top turn around and gasp at one of the top 5 most beautiful pink, orange, red, sunsets that you have ever seen. When the chill and darkness sets in, return down the dune, listening to the hum of sand avalanching down the steep side. Hike back in the dark except for the light of a Space X satellite launch, a crescent moon and our headlamps. Light a campfire, shiver in freezing temperatures and make friends with the most adorable Desert Kit Fox that you have ever seen. Refrain from sharing people food, because we don't feed wild animals but do share a cup of fresh water with the thirsty creature. Attempt camping in the what feels like the coldest camping situation ever and swear never to camp again this time of year in this location but secretly hope you'll be back next year. Plan next camping and hiking trip!
How to get to The Wave in Paria Canyon, Coyote Buttes Wilderness North, Arizona: Apply for permits online, three months prior. Tell your best friend that we won permits and laugh as she screams with excitement and the fellow diner diners think she's just been proposed to. Round up the girls and head east, first stop Vegas. Skateboard and go bouldering at Red Rock Canyon then drive the 4.5 hrs to Page, AZ. Visit Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon and of course The Wave. Prepare for the epic hike and get to The Wave trailhead at sunrise. Hike from Utah to Arizona, a few miles past cone shaped, whip cream dallop shaped, mushroom shaped, white, orange, red buttes, expansive red mountains, along animal tracks, and through a lot of sand. The trail is hard to stay on so veer right, veer left, go right, then straight, go over the saddle past a cone butte past several more, go right, look up, look down, go past another cone shaped mountain, fill your boots with sand, climb a mountain, round a corner, and then you'll be there and then turn around, and then politely ask the sun god to light up the striped rocks and then smile. Then enjoy the view, enjoy life, thank mother nature and be grateful for the great outdoors and your awesome friends. Don't forget Buckskin Gulch before heading out of the wilderness for a much needed healthy (fried) dinner.
How snorkel the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark-Ray Alley, Belize: Fly to Belize City. Before you head to the Belize Islands for Island life, lobster, and snorkeling, go to the Jungle. Book a Pacz Tours driver and be picked up from the airport to go straight to a river, cave, tubing tour, which is amazing. Stay in San Ignacio. Plan to do the well known ATM cave tour but luck has it, it's rained out, so enjoy the town of San Ignacio. Have Pacz tours take you to Guatemala to visit the Ancient Mayan ruins of Tikal. Stay in the national park where the hotel only has electricity from 6am-9am and 6pm-9pm. Enjoy the ruins, hike in the jungle, listen to the guide's stories, listen to the monkey's howls, enjoy your jungle hotel, walk back to the ruins at sunset for amazing life changing views. The next day, be picked up for the drive back to Belize City, with a stop at the surprisingly amazing Belize Zoo, full of rescued animals. Take the ferry to Caye Caulker Island. You heard that San Pedro (from the Madonna song), is mostly big resorts and families and choose Caye Caulker the "backpacker's island." When you get there, walk around to all the snorkel/dive shops and get the down low on these snorkel tours which all run about the equivalent of $60 and do not need to be pre booked. Learn that it is better to snorkel and visit five spots on the tour than to dive where you have to do a little dive training, and visit only two or three spots, for the already shallow reef that doesn't require scuba diving. The next day show up at one of the snorkel shops and get ready for one of the most amazing days of your life. Enjoy the warm Atlantic ocean as your boat tour takes you to the area that fishermen collect conch and meet an 80 year old sea turtle that is there every day. Next visit the coral reef, watch out as some areas get as shallow as a few feet. Admire the brightly colored coral and fish and be thankful the devastating coral bleaching hasn't reached here yet. Visit another spot where it is a little deeper and you have the opportunity to try to free dive about 15' down to the sand between the coral. Visit a sunken barge. And of course, visit Shark-Ray Alley. Jump off the boat into a swarm of dozens of vicious looking, but surprisingly tame, and uninterested in you, nurse sharks. Swim with the nurse sharks and giant rays in awe that you can safely get so close to these animals. After the tour enjoy an island sunset, $10 lobster dinner, and island life! Since this was the best snorkel experience you have ever had, the next day walk up to another snorkel shop and book the same tour again, but with a different company this time. Seriously you are now snorkel obsessed, shark obsessed, sea turtle obsessed, and ray obsessed. Enjoy the ocean again, make friends with fellow snorkelers on the tour, think how much you love Belize. Enjoy this remote, beautiful, friendly, natural, magical place and promise to return.
How to get to Le Mont Saint Michele, France: Fly to the Dinard Brittany Airport, there is one, one hour, flight a day from London where I was flying from. You will need to pre book a taxi/car to pick you up from the airport, taxis do not wait there and there is no Uber, or you can rent a car. Stay your first night in St. Malo, since you won't have time to get to Mont St Michel the same day. I recommend staying in the city center, a very cool, old, walled city, beautiful views, and great food. Enjoy a curry crepe, yum, and pop in and out of the tourist shops all while it is raining in June. Enjoy the most amazing fancy, french dinner of fresh crab and rich pasta, with the friendliest french staff, and dream about this dinner for years to come after. The next day you have several options to get to Le Mont St Michel; a once a day tour bus that leaves in the morning and returns the same day. This tour is not available if you are staying the night there. If you would like to stay the night there, which I highly recommend, renting and driving a rental car, this way you can stop at sights each way, or you can take a taxi, or take a bus to the train station, then a train to another city, then bus the rest of the way, we were told this is very complicated. We took a taxi but I wish we had rented a car and stopped by more sea side towns on the way. When you get to Le Mont St Michel, at the parking lot, It may be pouring rain so you can take cover at the visitor center. Then, you will take a shuttle the rest of the way, almost, then walk up in awe of the beautiful sight that is Le Mont Saint Michele. If you are staying the night, pack light, you will be carrying your luggage around the crowded cobblestone allies and up many stairs. There are three tours of the Abbey each day in English, which we felt very well informed us about the history and the religious significance of Le Mont Saint Michele. If you stay the night you can watch the high tide come in, which was 6am and 6pm when we were there. Watch the pink sunset over high tide and think how lucky you are to be at this place that you have dreamed of visiting for years. A few times a year the tide gets so high that for a short time, the island is surrounded by water and no one can come or go. There are also tours of the low tide, we just walked low tide by ourselves, and remember to wear shoes that you can get very sandy/muddy! There are a lot of delicious restaurants for lunch and only two open for dinner. Enjoy this amazing, historical, beautiful experience, It really is magical!
How to get to Aare Gorge, Aareschlucht, Meiringen, Switzerland: Fly to Zurich, rent a car drive one hour to Lucerne then about one more hour to the Aare Gorge. Pay a small entrance fee at the visitor center. Enter the gorge and walk along very well constructed and they have to be sturdy paths, right? Walk along the gorge with tall limestone walls towering high above and the turquoise alpine river rushing far below. Walk through wet caves and through cracks in the gorge where it just happens to be 3 feet wide for the path. Wonder how was this possibly built? Has anyone ever fallen in the water? And why is the water such a beautiful turquoise blue? You know why, it is the limestone rock particles in the water! Enjoy the 1 mile stroll to the end of the gorge where there is a beautiful Switzerland view and then walk the one mile back. Smile at tourists speaking many different foreign languages and take pictures for happy families. Get back in the car and drive the 30 more minutes to Interlaken, thinking “yay, I actually went to this place that I found on Pinterest and it was awesome!”