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Best in Backpacking

Outdoor guide Corinna Mokotoff picks her go-to gear

Corinna Mokotoff, a 21-year-old student at Appalachian State University, knows a thing or two about backpacking. From participating in multiple NOLS courses to guiding trips for the Outdoor Programs Department at ASU to countless overnight hikes with friends on the weekends, Mokotoff has spent her fair share of time backpacking, both locally and internationally.

In the summer of 2016, with no prior experience, the then 18-year-old Mokotoff took a giant leap and signed up for a four-week NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) backpacking trip through the backcountry of Wyoming.

“I fell in love with backpacking on that trip,” Mokotoff said. “It was just an awesome learning experience overall, from learning about backpacking to the wilderness around us to learning about myself even.”

Since that trip it’s been game on, Mokotoff explained, noting how a lot of her experience and knowledge in regards to packing has come from working as a leader and supervisor for backpacking trips led by the university. And her packing career hit a new high point just this summer backpacking in the mountains of Switzerland. With all that time on the trails and in the woods, Mokotoff has got her kit dialed…here’s what she says are some must-haves for any backpacking trip.

Osprey Aura 65

I highly recommend the Osprey Aura 65. Above all else, I use this backpack because of Osprey’s AntiGravity suspension backing. It just makes carrying heavy loads for long periods more comfortable and easy on your body. ($270)

Klymit V Static Sleeping Pad 

Based on its proven durability, compact size,  and overall comfort, the Klymit V Static Sleeping Pad is my favorite. I’ve had lots of different brands and models of sleeping pads and this thing outshines them all. ($40)

Salewa Ortles Light 2 Down Jacket 

A down jacket can provide warmth and comfort when out in the elements. Like most clothes, a jacket comes down to personal preference. Knowing the materials it is made from and how they fare against the environment can be crucial to having the right piece of gear in the right situation. ($135)

Salomon Authentic LTR Hiking Boots

 I’ve had great success with these boots. They’re durable, reliable, and hold up well to the wet, muddy conditions in Southern Appalachia. ($140)

Montbell Collapsible Chopsticks 

Having the chopsticks, especially the collapsible ones that take up like no space, actually forces you to slow down a little bit and not just scarf down everything as quick as possible. The slower pace makes the meal that much sweeter. ($22)

Aquamira Water Treatment

Staying hydrated can be accomplished through water filters (i.e. LifeStraw or Sawyer Squeeze) or water treatment (i.e. Aquamira or Iodine drops). “I’ve always gone with purifying over filtering,” Mokotoff said. “But it’s kind of a personal preference, I just like how well Aquamira works and it doesn’t leave the bad after taste like iodine.” ($15) 

More Gear

LifeProof Cooler Backpack, $70

LifeProof’s insulated Backpack Cooler holds 24 cans and keeps ice up to 48 hours. It also comes with a re-freezable ice pack to lock in the chill, built-in bottle opener and features a forward flip lid for easy access.

HYDY Water Bottle, $43 

Proud members of 1% For the Planet and BYOBottle, a music industry effort to turn the tide on plastic, HYDY water bottles are made from BPA-free stainless steel and designed for 12 hours hot thermal insulation and 24 hours cold thermal insulation. 

Patagonia Black Hole 100L Duffel, $179

Patagonia’s Black Hole collection is made from 100% recycled materials. The 100-liter Duffel is burly, lightweight, weather-resistant, and built for rugged and gear-intensive adventure travel. 

BioLite HeadLamp 330, $50

Weighing in at only 69 grams and offering a runtime of 40 hours, the fully adjustable BioLite 330 is built for trail running and long-distance adventure. The moisture-wicking fabric eliminates chafing, and its slim profile allows it to sit flush against the forehead.

Soundcast VG5 Bluetooth Speaker, $499

This portable, durable Bluetooth speaker provides clear, crisp sound and is built for the backcountry, featuring components for unbeatable durability, providing full protection against rusting, rain, snow, and sun. 

Adidas Terrex Agravic Flow – Designed to Flow from Trail to Pavement, $130

Built for a smooth roll-off on any surface, these shoes offer versatility for running on or off road. A responsive Boost midsole delivers endless energy while the smooth, flexible feel adapts to uneven terrain. 

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