Close this search box.


Pyrenees Packing List

The obligatory pre-hike gear pic. I reserve the right to to change my mind about what I’ll take over and over again at the very last minute.

The Dance of the Overstuffed Backpack

Because I’ve been backpacking for some time, many of you might assume I have it “dialed in.” I should know exactly what to bring for every circumstance and just grab things from the gear closet and stuff ’em into my pack.

Of course I own a lot of go-to stuff, all listed neatly in my Gear Closet spreadsheet with weights and links.

The question is what will work best for this trip. The Pyrenees are unpredictable, and might have weather ranging from cold, drizzly, white-outs to energy-sucking heat waves. And even though I’ll pass gear shops along the way, it would behoove me not to spend a small fortune retuning my kit on the go.

So when I packed it all up yesterday, it seemed I was making good decisions balancing out needs with wants. But as you’ll see, it’s all about trade-offs.

Packing my Fears

Looking at the evidence, my new snappy, ultralight sandals weigh 5 ounces more than the Dollar Store Made-in-China flip-flops I’ve been using the past several years. But the sandals are far more practical for longer walks, they protect my feet better and pack down smaller – and let’s not forget, they’re snappy.

The thick, warm, cushiony blow-up mattress just sent to me from my friends at Sea-to-Summit is heavier though less bulky than my foam pad. I’ll likely appreciate the comfort when temps drop to freezing and the wind is howling. The “sobbing-all-night-while-shivering” factor is much lower with a blow-up mattress.

Snow is still lingering on the passes, so I dare not take traction which adds nearly a pound to my pack. For those hoping I return in one piece, inadequate traction accounts for a high number of accidents in the back country.

And then there’s the matter of my guidebook full of color photos printed on water-resist paper. I opted for an actual guide book rather than electronic because I simply like real books. Ask me if I feel the same in a week.

And so it goes.

Support the Mission

Am I packing my fears? Maybe. But taking everything on this list, which honestly is still TBD until 15 minutes before we drive to the airport, I’ve whittled the weight down to 17 pounds.

That’s “packed weight” by the by, and does not include variables like food, water and fuel…<forehead slap>

In the end, the key is to carry the bare minimum essentials to make this challenging hike doable. I certainly won’t fly over the passes, but I’m more likely to be able to face the myriad challenges that await me in a modicum of comfort (and snappiness)

So, after years of backpacking and many, many, hours mulling over what I’m going to need out there, I’ve settled on this list.

Check it out – and no poking fun!

Packing List


  • Granite Gear Crown2 60 liter (roomy and tough enough to carry all the extra cheese I’ll need for side summits)
  • Granite Gear bum bag (seems a bit extravagant and unnecessary, but I love it for its easy access to my phone and as a purse when in town)


  • Gossamer Gear “The One” (I struggled here in not taking their two-woman tent. In the end, I decided to save some ounces to trade for something else on my list)
  • polypro ground sheet

Trekking Poles

  • Leki Micro Vario carbon (I’m taking an ultralight pair that lost its wrist loops somewhere on the PCT. I could lose them in a river crossing, but they pack up smaller)

Sleep System

  • Sea-to-Summit Flame 25° down bag (I’ll likely bow to my fears and add a heavy S2S Reactor Extreme liner because I am terrified of being cold)
  • Sea-to-Summit Ether LiteXT insulated blow-up pad
  • Sea-to-Summit Aeros pillow w/cover 


  • Soto Amicus stove
  • Sea-to-Summit spoon
  • mini Swiss Army knife
  • Snowpeak titanium pot w/lame handmade cozy (that works great!)
  • Sawyer Squeeze


  • iPhone 13 pro-max
  • Garmin in reach mini
  • Rav power bank + European adapter (weighs nearly as much as my tent but lasts 7-8 days)
  • Black Diamond Spot rechargeable headlamp
  • Kobo eReader
  • Shure UL noise-cancelling earbuds (may not take but must have earplugs!)


  • Townshirt hoodie
  • REI Trailmade hiking pants
  • Balega Enduro Socks
  • Inov8 Trailfly shoes
  • Xero Z-trail EV sandals
  • Columbia outcry raincoat (fat and heavy but this puppy worked wonders in rainy Scotland and NZ…)
  • Mountain Laurel rain mitts
  • Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer puffy
  • Outdoor Vitals Vario jacket
  • tights, Jockey undies, Tee
  • gloves, blaklava, hat
  • baseball cap
  • Ombraz sunglasses (armless!)
  • Snowline microspikes


  • Sawyer Stay-Put sunscreen
  • Blistex Lip Vibrance
  • Kula Cloth (pee rag)
  • Deuce UL Trowel (poop shovel)
  • toiletries and first aid
  • Rawlogy cork massage ball
  • fold-up reading glasses (nope, Alison, you cannot read maps anymore)
  • toe separator/toe caps
  • whistle
  • compression sleeve (anti-lymphedema) 
  • contractor garbage bag (waterproofing) 
  • guidebook (stupidly heavy but I can always rip out pages as I go)
  • Webo mini-wallet passport, Euros, various cards (see: “pass gear shops along the way” above)

5 Responses

  1. Thanks for the picture of all the gear it takes to “more-than-a-day” hike. I had some fantasies of thru hiking the Superior Hiking trail, but at age 78, I think my continuing to section hike the trail with a day pack is a more realistic goal. From now on===I will carry extra granola bars on my day hikes for any thru-hikers I meet.

    1. I love being able to sleep in the beautiful places I hike too, but I sure love coming home to a bed and shower!

      I am amazed with your stamina, friend. You have so got this – and what kindness to share bars with the thru-hikers. Savor every step. 🥾🥾

  2. I thoroughly read your list. Sounds very reasonable . . . .and am surprised it only adds up to 17#. I hope you’re going to supply us with a map of this hike! Bon voyage . . .may at least 85% of it all be wonderful!!

  3. I’m so impressed with you right now, sweet girl. You helped me tremendously with your words on fear. You have a wonderful grasp on life and its hardships. Methodical and passionate is a great combination to have for this adventure. Have a blast! 💥

    1. You sweet thing! Already this ‘hike’ (relaxing a few days first) has overwhelmed me with surprises and generosity. I sometimes grasp too tight and need to let go and allow. That’s when the magic occurs.

      It also helps me discern when I should act decisively because there are moments not to hang back.

      It’s a dance!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Follow in blissful footsteps

Sign up for the newsletter,
and don’t miss a single step!

Follow in blissful footsteps

Sign up for the newsletter,
and don’t miss a single step!