As I went into my first thru hike ever, I had quite a few experiments going on in terms of gear and strategy. These are the things that have and have not worked in my thru hike.
Gear Sent Home (Not Used or Needed)
- Dutchware Hammock & Enlightened Equipment Hammock Under Quilt: I brought my hammock for the glorious sleep it provides. Since I’m so tired at the end of each day, I sleep gloriously on the ground now, so the 2.8 lb penalty for my hammock rig is unnecessary.
- Patagonia Cap 4 Base Layer: Was concerned about shoulder season temps, but was a non issue.
- Patagonia R1 Hoody Mid Layer: I’ve always used mid layers, but in summer, my puffy is sufficient.
- Marmot Essence Rain Pants: Only used these twice. Will reconsider rain pants up North if there is sufficient rain and cold temps.
- DeFeet Dura Wool Gloves: Only used these once, temps just aren’t low enough and can use extra socks as gloves in a pinch.
- Parafoil 2 Kite: Not even enough wind on Mt. Whitney …. later!
- Higonokami Knife: Sweet knife, figured I would send it home and I was right.
- Platypus 1L Water Storage: No more desert means, few to little extended water carries.
- Tripod: Never used.
- Extra Stuff Sacks: Less gear and better organization means less stuff sacks.
- Suunto M-3 G Compass: I’m usually the guy saying always bring your compass as a best practice, but let’s be honest, unless you’re going off trail, the PCT is too well marked to need a compass. What if I get lost? Valhalla, obviously…. bring it!
- Survival Mirror: Too much traffic on trail should there be an issue to need this.
Gear Updated and Replaced
- Top Quilt: A Katabatic Gear Sawatch 20° quilt has replaced my Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20° quilt. The EE Revelation was a complete nightmare as it suffered from significant down shifting issues that required daily manipulation of down that usually still resulted in cold spots and significant down shifting by the morning. In hindsight, I mistakenly thought I had a down distribution issue, when I had a down loft issue, which resulted in down distribution issues due to less loft. After a conversation with a down buyer and a little research, it looks like longevity / loft issues are an inherent weakness in hydrophobic down products. I no longer use hydrophobic down if I can help it and many down specialty companies refuse to work with it for these reasons.
- Tarp: A Hyperlite Mountain Gear Echo II Tarp replaced my Hammock Gear Hammock Tarp since I sent my hammock rig home.
- Sleeping Pad: A Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite size small replaced the Klymit X-Lite Recon 3/4 length pad that I started with. The cut outs / exoskeleton on the Klymit X-Lite proved to be cold spots, even in the 40s, no bueno.
- Ground Sheet: A Zpacks Ultralight Bivy replaced the tyvek, which had previously replaced polycro. Tyvek worked well but for an extra 1.4 ounces, I have the added wind and bug protection provided by the bivy. I initially started out with polycro, which was horrible and immediately started ripping and tearing on day one. Just say no to disposable gear!
- Water Treatment: A Sawyer Squeeze water filter replaced my Aquamira Drops. The squeeze is more convenient for the many, many times I have to filter water each day!
- Macbook: I was bouncing my Macbook Pro a week ahead at a time, but was a slave to the post office hours of operation. My new Macbook is amazing and light at 2.2 lbs with case and charger!
- Therm-a-Rest Sit Pad: Having a sit pad keeps your butt out of the dirt on breaks. It’s also nice to put your pack against a berm or dirt wall and lean against it for a quick nap while sitting on your sit pad!
Strategy Failures and Changes
- No Cook Meals: I no longer eat meals for breakfast or lunch that require cooking or washing of my pot.
- Going Stoveless: I sent my stove home and went stoveless for a while, but found out that many noodles, like macaroni, don’t hydrate without heat. Got my stove back and good to go!
- Hammocking: Sleep well on ground, so need for unnecessary weight and comfort of hammock.
- Resupply Boxes: I was bouncing a box with supplies and one with my laptop. Worst idea ever. Every time I opened my boxes, shit went everywhere and I was overwhelmed. It didn’t make sense to me from a strategy or cost perspective. I was also a slave to post office hours, which meant running the last 7 miles into Tehachapi to get to the post office by their 2:00 Saturday close time so I didn’t have to wait till Tuesday to get my box (they were closed Sunday and Monday was a holiday).
Favorite Pieces of Gear
- Bandana: What haven’t I wiped on this thing? Easily cleaned and clutch when you have a beard the size of a small dog living on your face.
- Sit Pad: My butt is delicate and fragile, like me. Not going to sit in the the dirt brah!