Backpacking with heavy backpacks.


what I pack onto my back

I am interested in all things outdoor and I love hiking. Like most people, I overpacked my backpack on my first trip.

Hiking with a dog and a big overloaded backpack.
A picture of me balancing on a dead tree trunk with my light backpacking gear.

With each hike I gain more experience, acquire new skills and learn how to pack smart. You don't need everything but some things are essential.

What I have learned so far:
• cost, comfort, clime and conditions – make smart decisions
• always keep yourself warm, dry, fed and hydrated
• dress and sleep in layers
• go light and aim for a base weight of under 7 kg (15 lbs.)
• plan and pack 700-1000g (1.5-2 lbs.) of food per day
• take good care of your hiking essentials
• skills and mindset are as important as the gear in your backpack
• gear envy? let it be. Grandma Gatewood slept under a shower curtain.
• make use of what you have
• find your own comfort zone and learn to leave it behind
• try to have fun – even when you don't
• respect nature and Leave No Trace

I don't like expensive toys. I buy used gear and enjoy making my own stuff. I try to find a good balance between robust, sustainable and lightweight. I update my gear if necessary. I don't carry all of the following pieces of gear at the same time. I mix and match according to season, trip duration, destination, weather and personal preference.

Here is my current 3-season gear packing checklist:


All the modern necessities:

• ID card
• money
• bank card
• BahnCard
• smart phone and charger
• camera and charger
• keys

A smartphone with a hiking app, a compass and a map.


In addition to my smartphone app, I always carry a paper map. I buy a map of the hiking area or print my own.

• GPS app
• paper map
• compass

Madame Dog sitting on a bench next to my backpack.


I use my small 22 liters backpack for short hikes and my 48 liters pack for multi-day hikes were I have to carry all the essentials.

• Bach Roc 22 (daypack)
• Millet Prolighter 38+10 (multi-day pack)
• 2x OneTirgis water bottle pouches
• customized Fila chest pack

dry bag

A dry bag inside my backpack keeps all my gear dry while hiking in nasty weather or crossing waterways. I often use my bivvy bag as a pack liner and leave the dry bag at home.

• Outdoor Research 55l roll-top dry bag

stuff sacks

Lots – but not too many – of leightweight and water repellent sacks to organize and protect my stuff.

tarp set up on a meadow
tarp shelter on a bicycle tour
tarp with a view
A-frame tarp tent set up behind an old house.
elephant skin ground cover made by the German Bundeswehr


This is my most minimalist shelter. I love sleeping under a tarp. I am more in tune with nature and don't feel detached from my surroundings. Depending on the weather I pitch the tarp high and airy or low to the ground. If needed I can change the set up quickly.

• DD Tarp Solo
• accessory cord
• carabiner
• elephant skin – a ground sheet made by the German armed forces

Paria Outdoors tarp and mesh tent
Paria Outdoors tarp and mesh tent

tarp and mesh tent

There were a couple of little things that bothered me while tarp camping – mosquitoes and ticks! Those bugging biters. A tarp paired with a mesh tent offers protection against bloodsuckers and rain. This is a lightweight set up for one or two people.

• Paria Sanctuary SilTarp (Hex)
• Paria Breeze Mesh Tent
• accessory cord
• carabiner
• DIY tree saver

Jack Wolfskin Gossamer 1 tent

tunnel tent

My tunnel tent has a low profile and is very discreet. It is small but has still enough room for me, my dog and my gear. A good compromise between a roomy tent and a bivvy bag. This tent is a bit too heavy for me and my normal backpacking trips. But because it is easy to pitch, sturdy and reliable, it is great for solo wild camping trips where my shelter has to withstand all kinds of bad weather.

• Jack Wolfskin Gossamer tent

Flame's Creed Xunshang tent
Flame's Creed Xunshang tent fully closed

ultralight tarp tent

A lightweight tent for multi-day trips. I changed the guy lines and made my own tent poles.

• Flame's Creed Xunshang

tent pegs

• 10-12 lightweight aluminum or titanium tent pegs


• DIY polycro footprint

sleeping pads

sleeping pads

I sleep on trimmed and cut-down foam pads. I carry and layer a couple of them. They have a bigger pack size than inflatable ones. I strap one pad to the outside and use the other to stabilize the inside of my backpack. A foam pad is failsafe. I don't have to worry about punctures or a broken valve.

• Thermarest Z Lite (9 panels)
• Quechua Trek100 (mummy shaped)
• Quechua Trek200 (torso length)
• Quechua Trek200 (torso length with cutouts)

sleeping bag and quilt

• Deuter Dreamlite 500 L
• Therm-a-Rest Juno Blanket

bivvy bag

My bivvy bag ads an extra layer of protection and warmth to my sleeping bag.

• Alpkit Hunka bivvy bag
• normani SleeBag

outdoor wear

Depending on the season, destination and weather, the following are the clothes I bring and wear on my hikes.

My base layers
• buff
• sport tank top
• four pairs of cotton underwear
• one pair of merino underwear
• two pairs of thin socks
• two pairs of thick socks

My mid layers
• T-shirt
• merino wool long sleeve
• shorts
• tights

My outer layers
• base cap
• rain jacket
• trail running shoes

My extra layers of warmth
I add these to my pack whenever colder or wetter conditions are forecast.
• merino beanie
• merino buff
• second merino wool long sleeve
• fleece jacket
• puffy jacket
• rain pants
• gloves
• leg warmers
• wool felt insoles

I sleep in a clean top and add dry socks, the beanie, a buff and warm tights in cold nights.

My pocket knife and my flashlight.

pocket knife and flashlight

My Grandpa always carried a little pocket knife, and so do I.
The small customized Opinel is my favorite EDC.

I clip my tiny pocket flashlight to my base cap and use it as a headlight.

• customized Opinel No. 6
• Ledlenser P3
• two AAA batteries

My repair and my fire kit

light my fire

I use matches and stuff a couple packs in different pockets. I bought a plastic lighter years ago but I don't want to waste it. I carry it as a back up.

• matches
• Bic lighter

repair kit

Small repairs on the go.

• folding scissors
• dukt tape
• needle, thread and dental floss
• repair patches
• accessory cord

Making tea with a DIY alcohol stove.
DIY alcohol stove, pot stand and windscreen

cook systems

I own and use two different cook systems: An alcohol stove and a micro gas camping stove. I carry one or the other. I prefer my DIY stove.

DIY alcohol stove
• DIY pot stand
• DIY wind screen
• fuel bottle
• measuring cup
• matches

cooking with camping gas stove
Alpkit Kraku camping gas stove

• Alpkit Kraku camping stove
• gas canister
• matches

Toaks titanium pot
Making coffee on the trail.

camp kitchen

In the morning, after a cold night in the tent,
may the coffee be hot and strong in my cup.

• Toaks titanium pot
   900ml (solo) or 1350ml (for two)
• heldenstuff enamel mug
• Recup coffee cup
• Forclaz Trek 500 bowl
• Toaks titanium short handle spoon
• knitted dishcloth & potholder
• biodegradable dish soap


I carry food in recycled plastic containers, use them for pre-soaking or to carry leftovers. I reuse my bread plastic bags for all kinds of stuff.

• plastic containers
• bread plastic bags

reusable stainless steel water bottles

water bottle

I tried a water bladder, aluminum and plastic bottles. I dislike them. My favorite bottles are made from stainless heavy metal. But I will use Tritan plastic bottles if I have to watch my backpacking weight.

• Kleen Kanteen Reflect 800 ml
• 360° degrees 1000 ml
• 2x Quechua Tritan Bottles 800ml

first aid kit

Outdoors a small cut can turn into a nasty infection.

• band-aids
• dressing material
• hydrogen peroxide
• painkiller
• tweezers
• tick card
• eye drops
• tampons
• gloves
• face mask
• tyvek bag

toiletry kit

This little kit helps me to stay fresh – or at least a little bit fresher – on the trail. I use bandanas as lightweight towels. One for me and one for the tent and my camp kitchen.

• bamboo toothbrush
• toothpaste tablets
• wooden comb
• hair tie
• natron / baking soda
• organic soap
• lip balm
• cotton swabs
• sunscreen & bug repellent
• mirror
• two bandanas


• pepper spray
• whistle
• personal alarm
• knife

mojo bag

My mojo bag contains stuff that might be useful and I might carry on occasion.

• small camouflage tarp
• small blanket
• mosquito net
• my fire kit
• mini tent light

my dogs gear

• 2m (80") DIY leash
• foldable dog bowl (made from a silicone baking cup)
• dog fleece jacket
• tick & flea comb
• DIY sleeping pad
• towel
• food bags
• poop bags

camp loo

Last but not least – my camp toilet.

• DIY pee rag
• toilet paper
• hand sanitizer
• biodegradable and compostable waste bags

Always remember: dig, do & bury.

Please send me an email if you do have a question:
team ⓐ heldenstuff . red
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