The Northville-Placid trail is a 138-mile footpath through the Adirondack Mountains—weaving through mountain passes, remote lakes and ponds, and dense forest. There are several factors to having an enjoyable and successful experience on the NPT, including making sure you have the proper gear.

Backpacking gear is extremely individual. Ultimately, it all comes down to the comfort, weight, and price you’re comfortable with. Starting with the ten essentials, I built my gear out with weight as a priority without completely sacrificing luxuries. After many hours of research and a shakedown trip, I was ready to hit the trial.

Here’s the important stuff I brought along on the Northville-Placid Trail.

Credit: Joanna MacIntyre


There are more than 40 lean-tos along the Northville-Placid Trail. Despite being able to stay at a shelter each night, there are some wonderful tent sites. Lean-tos are first-come first-serve and fit anywhere from 6 to 10 people. Still, I opted to bring my Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 in case a lean-to was full and to enjoy some of the tent sites along the way. For the small extra weight, the 2-person tent was great for extra room!

Sleep System

An inflatable sleeping pad for comfy nights in the lean-to was a must (I spent 6 of 11 nights in a lean-to—basically anytime the campsite had one available). Paired with a 35 degree bag, I stayed cozy the entire way north.


I wanted something light and comfortable, but wasn’t ready to go full frameless. The ULA Circuit checked all of my boxes with S-straps designed with women in mind, large hip belt pockets for snacks, and a main compartment suitable to fit a bear canister. I lined my pack with a compactor bag which kept everything dry through several downpours.

Food Storage & Kitchen

Hot coffee in the morning and a warm meal at night helped me start and end every day on a positive note. I opted to bring my MSR Pocket Rocket 2 with a pot and dedicated coffee cup. I carried the Backpackers Cache bear canister for the entire trail. NYSDEC requires that a bear can be used for food storage in the High Peaks Wilderness, the Long Lake to Lake Placid section of the trail. See the NYSDEC regulations here.

Credit: Joanna MacIntyre

Clothes & Shoes

Despite the trail being at lower elevation and it being late summer, mornings and evenings were cool. My fleece hoodie from Superior Fleece was the real MVP. I enjoyed having dedicated sleep clothes that I knew would be dry and warm at camp. For the mud and overall wetness of the trail, I opted to bring along two pairs and trail runners in lieu of boots.

Trekking Poles

Navigating the water crossings and soft mud sections of trail is made much easier with poles! I was happy to have them throughout the trail and never ended up putting this up on my pack.


The Garmin inReach Mini gave me huge peace of mind as I ventured into some of the most remote wilderness in the park. It was also nice to send messages back home, as there was rarely service on the trail. In fact, I only found myself with service near Long Lake and almost at the very end of the trail near Averyville Road. I kept everything charged with a 20,000 mAh battery pack, which was plenty and could definitely be downsized!

Credit: Joanna MacIntyre

Pack Towel

Almost every campsite provided the option to swim. My advice: Take the opportunity every time! I loved having a towel to dry off before putting on my sleep clothes. Swimming after a long day on trail was truly a joy.

Water filtration

The Sawyer Squeeze with a CNOC bag are popular for a reason. This collection and filtration system was incredibly quick and convenient for all of the ample water sources along the trail.


The savior of the trip, providing extra arch support when needed and keeping the blisters at bay!

Credit: Joanna MacIntyre

After completing the Northville-Placid Trail, I’ve tuned in my gear more to both reduce overall weight and better suit my needs. Here are the things I’ve changed and left behind when I returned to the trail this summer:

  1. I made the switch from a traditional sleeping bag to a quilt, saving over 1lb and remaining cozy!
  2. Swapped out my larger Anker power bank for a smaller 10,000 mAh bank.
  3. I gave in to the Crocs. Worth the hype and weight.
  4. Ditched the sunblock and sunglasses. During the summer, most of the trail is hiked under tree cover. I found myself skipping the sunblock and never wearing the glasses.
  5. A puffy jacket. Yes, even in the summer. My final night on trail was a cool one and I found myself waking up uncomfortable in a few instances. The EMS Feather Pack jacket is worth the weight in case I need the extra insulation!

You can reference my full Northville-Placid Trail gear-list here, where everything is weighed to the ounce!