Outbound Collective logo

Big Dreams: Upgrading My Backpacking Gear

Although I do love my current gear, of course, I dream about upgrading my gear one day…

By: Kristen Fuller + Save to a List

The other day, my neighbor told me she was buying all new summer backcountry gear and was wondering if I had any suggestions….

“Oh yes, I have tons!”

Most of my gear is a few years old and it is not Ultra light, by any means. Although I do love my current gear, of course I dream about upgrading my gear one day…

Before you continue,

I have quite the extensive collection of blog posts that are dedicated to gear:

My Favorite Backpacking Essentials

Backcountry Technology 101

Ten Essentials Series

What’s in my Daypack?

Cheap Outdoor Gear for the Frugal Adventurer


I currently have the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 person tent

It is a bit on the heavy side weighing sub 4 pounds however it is great quality, easy to assemble and disassemble and holds up on all kinds of weather. It is also very spacious and easy to pack. I love the customer service that Cascade Designs provides (the Mom company of MSR) as they will speak to you on the phone and get any issue resolved. My tent pole recently broke and although I repaired it in the backcountry, it was a temporary fix and I reached out to them for a permanent fix. They were more than accommodating and even gave me kudos on doing a decent repair job in the backcountry.

If I were to upgrade I would look into the following 3 tents:

Nemo Hornet 2 person tent: This tent is a sub 3 pound tent but not freestanding

Big Agnes Copper Spur 2 person tent: This tent comes in at 3 pounds and IS freestanding

Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2 person tent: The lightest Big Agnes 3 season tent coming in right at 2 pounds and IS freestanding. This is their newest tent and probably the one I would purchase if I chose to upgrade.

In terms of Big Agnes, I will say a few things: Their customer service is fantastic. I know a few of their reps and they go above and beyond however their sleeping bags are mediocre and I would NOT recommend them but I would highly recommend their tents. Their sleeping pads are decent.


Sleeping pads

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xtherm: This is THE BEST inflatable sleeping pad on the market. I currently own this and will only continue to buy this. It has a R-value of 5.7 and is easily packable, inflatable and is rated for four seasons. There is a lighter version known as just the regular Therm-a-Rest NeoAir, which has a lower R-value and is a bit lighter and is considered a 3-season pad.

Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol: This is the best non-inflatable sleeping pad. Super lightweight but not super warm, however I choose to layer this as a bottom layer when I camp in the snow.


I am super lazy so I love the Jetboil however the MSR pocket rocket and SnowPeak stoves are fantastic and much lighter however they do not come with a push start lighter or wind guard. However the push start lighter is the first to go out on the JetBoil so I always carry a travel sized lighter in my first-aid kit. For a wind guard you can simply use a piece of aluminum foil. The SnowPeak and MSR stoves require a pot. I would recommend purchasing a lightweight titanium pot (SnowPeak makes great ones)


Trekking Poles

Black Diamond Z Poles Adjustable: Super lightweight however I am currently in a battle with the repair department, but it is a super great, foldable, lightweight and durable product.


Bear Canisters

Bearikade by Wild Idea: THIS IS A MUST. I have the Weekender and can fit 10 days of food for Moo and I. This bear canister is super lightweight due to its carbon fiber material, super easy to open and very durable. I have struggled over the years with the BearVault and do not recommend nor would I ever purchase. Also the owner of Bearikade is a super cool dude out of Santa Barnara.


Sleeping bags

I own a Kelty bag and have always used Kelty bags because they are warm (mine is a 20 degree), durable and light-ish. However, if I wanted to splurge I would look into Western Mountaineering (Mammoth Mountaineering carries this brand) or Feathered Friends. Both of these brands only support “mom and pop” stores are super lightweight and are customizable.

Down quilts are also “a thing” and are even lighter in weight. I have never personally used one but I have only heard positive things from so many people. I would highly recommend Enlightened Equipment for down backcountry quilts.

If you want a sleeping bag liner, I would recommend the SeatoSummit thermolite reactor, I have this and love using it in shoulder seasons and the winter. It adds about 15 degrees to my bag and also protects the lifespan of my bag. 

Down clothing

Goosefeetgear: This is small company with custom designed down clothing, ranging from gloves, hats and jackets to booties, pants and balaclava. My dream is to own a pair of their pants and booties one day!


Water filters

I will only and always and ever use the BeFree Water filter by Katadyn. I have the 1-liter filter bag. In terms of water reservoirs I use the Platypus 2 liter foldable bags since they are lightweight and do not take up volume when they are empty. They are also great for carrying alcohol. However in the winter, I do take a Nalgene bottle as they are double-walled so you can pour boiling water into it to stuff in your sleeping bag for warmth.



I have the Women’s Dueter 60+10 pack which is adjustable, and I have zero desire to change or “upgrade”. I love how it fits, I love the pockets and I love how it has a top and bottom compartment. And who doesn’t love a flower on their pack?!

So if you really are measuring ounces and want to go UL, I would look into the Z-packs backpacking bags since they weigh next to nothing, however they are not as durable and do not have the fancy pockets, zippers, etc. (since these things just add extra weight). However if you want to get fitted, you may be out of luck since Z-pack is not carried in retail stores.

Spoons, forks, pack towels, coffee mugs, pillows and etc.

SeaToSummit: This brand makes the best small luxury backcountry products. I own their bowels, pack towels, backpacking pillow, cutlery, coffee mug and dry bags. They probably even make a great poop shovel aka trowel.


I just discovered this brand called humangear and I am over the moon excited about it. They make backpacking storage containers, cutlery, cups, and mugs. I purchased GoBites “the click” which is a spoon and fork that snap together to make it an extra long utensil. This sliding-mechanism not only adds length but also makes them compact, easy to store and impossible to lose (since the click together). My mind is blown!

Thanks so much for reading!



We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Do you love the outdoors?

Yep, us too. That's why we send you the best local adventures, stories, and expert advice, right to your inbox.


A Full Guide to Running

The Outbound Collective

Car Camping Tips for Beginners

Adriana Garcia

Review: Sierra Designs Women’s Tepona Wind Jacket

Bethany Stivers

The Chaco Z/1 Classic Sandal needs to be in your go-to beach gear list.

Shea Donavan

Review: Darn Tough Hiking Socks

Ben Dawson