Pack List: Highland Trail 2021

Next week I will be embarking on my FIRST ever backpacking trip. Okay, that’s not entirely true, I did lead a camp group through 7 days in Frontenac Provincial Park, but this is my first real adult backpacking trip.

I booked this trip a couple months ago with the original dates being June 7th to 9th but due to COVID it had to be rescheduled. I am so EXCITED, but also nervous?

After months of buying gear and planning (overkill for a 3-day trip? maybe.) getting out into the backcountry is just around the corner. There are a lot of ‘what ifs’ rolling around in my mind; what if my filter doesn’t filter the water and I DIE, what if I fall off a cliff and I DIE, or what if I hang my food wrong, a bear comes along, realizes I didn’t pack anything good and then eat me instead?????

Jokes aside, being nervous feels like a healthy reaction. I know I am packing more than enough to keep me alive for a THREE day backpacking trip in JUNE, but hey I listen to a lot of true crime, anything could happen.

I am 98% sure we will make it out alive and then I can continue on planning for my next trip to the Western Uplands trail!

Map courtesy of Jeff’s Maps . Lakes we will be staying on are highlighted
Trip Itinerary

Highland Trail has two loops on it. The first loop is a shorter 19km trail, and the second loop is the 35km trail. We will be completing the second longer loop. The campsites for the trail are spread out by lakes, this means that they are not spaced out evenly so we have one really long day followed by two shorter days.

When you reserve your campsites you are reserving a lake. When you get to each lake there are multiple campsites and each site is first come first served.

It is a little difficult to coordinate camp sites for a multiday trip on the Ontario Parks website as you need to find consecutive campsites that are close enough to reach in one day. I think if you call to reserve you may have an easier time, but for a 2-night trip it was not as difficult to plan.

The Algonquin Park website lists the trail as “Difficult. Steep climbs, side slopes and sharp turns.” Most blog articles I have read by other articles had similar descriptions with a few outliers. I saw one that even described it as a beginner backpacking trail (they did complete it in 1 day!).

My group and I will be taking 3 days and 2 nights to complete the trail because we are all beginners and wanted to have time to actually enjoy our time in the park. Here is the plan:

Day 1: Leave Toronto at 7am sharp, make it to the park by 11am and begin our trek to Harness Lake. This should be an 18.6km day and we are estimating it will take 6 to 7 hours to complete based on the map and other accounts of the same journey.

Day 2: Leave Harness Lake and head to Provoking West, a shorter 13km day.

Day 3: Leave Provoking West and head out of the park, a final 3.9km day.

The Gear

Planning for my dive into backpacking, I started purchasing gear a couple months ago, factoring in cost and weight. I didn’t have a huge budget for all the latest gear but I am super excited with the pack that I now have and can’t wait to put everything into action.

Electronics not pictured
Big Three


The pack I am bringing with me is this 50L Free Knight pack from Ali Express. It cost $24.56 and has super great reviews. I can fit all of my stuff in it easily and its pretty lightweight, about 19.5oz. I saw this bag recommended on some ultralight budget backpacking discussion boards so I figured for $25 I would give it a shot.

This was definitely one of the items I saved a lot from as most backpacks are in the hundreds of dollars range. It has a lot of straps and compartments, the sternum strap looks pretty sturdy and the hip belts are comfy. I am 5’11 (180cm) and it fits great.

I will be doing a full review of the bag after the trip and seeing how it holds up.


Shelter + Sleep System

The tent I will be using is the Six Moons Designs Skyscape Scout. This is a solo trekking pole tent, it weights just 40oz and cost $145USD. This weight excludes the trekking poles, stakes and ground sheet. Everything all together comes to 3.79lbs or 60.64oz

I did have to seam seal the tent on my own, so hopefully it withstands any rain that may come.

Sleep System

My sleep system includes a sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner, and sleeping pad. The sleeping bag I will be using is an old Mountain Warehouse sleeping bag. The comfort rating is 11-14°C, but I have used the bag in August and found I was quite cold even though the temperatures didn’t drop below that range. So, I have decided to include a Sea to Summit thermal sleeping bag liner which only added 8.8oz with an additional 8°C of warmth.

The sleeping pad I am using is the Hikenture UL inflatable sleeping pad (reviewed here). This will be my first time using the pad (outside of my bedroom for the review) so I am excited to see how comfortable it keeps me. It should also provide at least a little bit of insulation from the ground.

The total weight of my sleep system is 2.89lbs or 46.24oz.

Camp Kitchen
  • Odoland Camping Cookware Set
  • Sea to Summit Spork
  • MSR All Season Fuel
  • Butter knife from my kitchen
  • MEC Mug
  • BIC lighter
  • 50′ rope for bear hang
  • Carabiner
  • 20L dry bag for bear hang

Total weight: 2.57lbs

Safety/First Aid Kit
  • BeFree Katadyn Filter with 1L bladder
  • Nalgene 1L
  • 700ml Ethos plastic water bottle
  • Extra Bic Lighter
  • First Aid Kit
    • Ibuprofen
    • Afterbite wipes
    • alcohol wipes
    • Bandaids
    • Aquatabs
    • Gauze
    • Safety pins x3
  • Gear Aid Knife
  • Ben’s Bug spray
  • Coppertone Sunscreen
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Mask
  • Toothbrush
  • Toilet paper
  • Feminin Hygiene products
  • Deoderant

Total Weight: 1.34lbs


Worn clothes

  • Sport Tank top
  • Men’s running shorts
  • Exofficio briefs
  • Smartwool socks
  • Sports bra
  • Bucket hat from dollarama
    • Or buff if the bugs aren’t bad and I don’t need my head mesh
  • Merrell trail runners

Other Clothes

  • Sleep leggings
  • Sleep long sleeve
  • Extra underwear
  • Extra socks
  • No-see-um mesh bug suit
  • Frogg Toggs Rain Suit
  • Amoji garden clogs (fake crocs 🙂 )

Total weight: 3.71lbs

  • Solar power battery bank
  • Extra battery bank (will probably leave in car for ride home)
  • Charging cable
  • Phone
  • Kodak Disposable camera
  • Flashlight (Will switch out for headlamp if I can find mine!)

Total weight: 1.87lbs

  • Cards
  • Duct tape

My base weight is approximately 17lbs total.


My favourite part of any trip is of course, the food!


For breakfast we will be keeping it simple with some instant oatmeal and coffee. I’m also bringing some dried fruit and pop tarts for morning snacks on the go.


For lunch we will be having wraps with PB & J + Protein bars and snacks.


On day 1 we will be having Kraft Dinner with veggie dogs. On day 2 we will be having some Uncle Bens Instant Rice with Pataks Butter Chickpea instant meals.


I am not sure why I bought so many snacks but better safe than sorry!

  • Cheddar moon cheese
  • Noble Jerky
  • Dried Mangos
  • Pop tarts
  • Berry fruit squeezes
  • Cheeze its crackers
  • Lenny & Larrys complete cookies
  • Lara bars
  • Dandies Marshmallows


If I Don’t Write Again….

I didn’t make it out.

Kidding aside, I am super excited for this trip and will update once I am home. Leave a comment below with any items you think I’m missing or things I should leave at home. What’s your favourite trail snack?

2 thoughts on “Pack List: Highland Trail 2021

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