Who are you, what do you do?
Many people know me by Russ Dresher, but I have some aliases. On the trail, I am known as Night Terror. On the internet I am known as Backpacking Engineer for the site that I host, I work as an R&D Engineer specializing in electronic medical device design. My job can be quite stressful so I spend as much time as possible traipsing through the wilderness to unwind. Besides backpacking, I like to figure out how things work (especially gear), and I am an avid fitness buff.
Where do you hike mostly?
The obvious answer is close to home! Lucky for me, I have some great regions to hike within a 3 hour drive. This includes the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, the Green Mountains of Vermont, the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the rest of the Appalachian Mountain range in Maine. However, you can find me anywhere on the Appalachian or Long Trails throughout the year. My favorite places to hike are any of the mountains in Maine for their amazing scenery and the challenges they bring. I also hold a special place in my heart for the rocky terrain in Pennsylvania as it was my childhood stomping grounds.
What do you take on the trail?
My gear list constantly evolves and also changes depending on the trip. In general, I am somewhere between ultra-lightweight and lightweight. Some of my usual suspects include:
- ULA CDT or Circuit backpack – full of features yet lightweight
- Big Agnes QSL or Therm-a-rest Neoair sleeping pad – comfortable, warm and lightweight
- Western Mountaineering Ultralite sleeping bag – keeps me toasty warm on a cold winter’s night
- Brasslite alcohol stove – no fuss, durable stove with simmering capability
- LaSportiva Wildcat trail runners – perfect, never a blister and works well on all sorts of terrain (even snow)
- Buff – amazing versatility including a cap, scarf, balaclava and I place it around my clothes bag at night to make a cozy pillow
What would be some of your ideal kit?
I am pretty happy with my current gear setup. Sure, I am always replacing items here or there when something lighter hits the market, but I have no major complaints. I wish someone made a 3 season, roomy, free-standing, yet durable 2 person tent that weighs less than 1 lb. My wife and I like the privacy of a tent and the simplicity of a free-standing design. This is the heaviest gear item we have, and we are always looking for ways to get this weight down without compromising the other creature comforts.