Gear, boy is this going to be a tough article to write up. The thing is, I spent months, yes several months, reading/researching/testing different types of equipment and gear. It is very hard trying to nail down the most practical and useful gear while keeping it all within a reasonable budget. I was fortunate enough to get a chance to test my stuff throughout the winter months. This gave me an opportunity to change certain items, tweak some of my choices and sometimes get rid of stuff all together.
What I am trying to get at is this; in the process of testing my gear in the field during the winter months, I have found out what works for me. It may or may not work for others and that is understandable. It’s not a one size fits all in the world of multiday backpacking trips.
When it comes to hiking, some people are ultra light hikers, then others are simply light hikers, while a few brave souls venture into the heavyweight backpacking. Ultralight (aka ounce wienies) are on the far end of the spectrum. These guys count every single ounce and gram that is put into their bags. They ravage through their equipment looking to remove any excess weight, kinda like the IRS searching through your taxes looking for ways to catch you. Ultra hikers even cut off the tags sown onto your clothes. You know those tags with instructions on how to wash your shirt? Yep, thats gotta go! All of that is a little too extreme for me. I myself am fall into the category of ‘light hiker’. I don’t want to sleep on the ground rolled up in a Tyvek tarp and eat cold uncooked meals all day long. I’d rather carry the extra few pounds and sleep in a tent on top of a blow up pad while using my pocket rocket stove to make some hot chocolate. My pack is reasonably light and has some creature comforts that I am not ashamed of. There is a fine line every hiker treads when it comes to weight vs comfort.
However, heavyweight backpacking is too extreme also. Totally on the other side of the spectrum. I personally knew two guys that carried 80+ lbs on their backs! Seriously! I was sitting next to my cozy fire one night when these guys came marching into my primitive camping spot hauling around these massive packs loaded with beer and sirloin steaks. I was like “Seriously?!” They definitely had it made while I ate my soup-in-a-cup starring jealously at them. Still, that kind of weight is too much for me, even for my massively huge legs.
Let me get off my soap box and tell you what works for me. Its not perfect but here it is:
I am not going to get super specific about my items, just the general overview.
REI backpack 60L
Rain pack cover
One person Tent
Sleeping bag liner
Toiletries: tooth brush, soap, tooth paste…
First aid kit: from bandaids to a small snake bite kit
Sleeping clothes – socks, light pants and shirt
Hiking clothes – socks, pants, shirt, raincoat
Electronics: Iphone, Gopro, portable charger, head lamp
Ditty bag: batteries, emergency blanket, super glue…
Water filter and collapsible water containers
Deodorant (yes I am bringing some)
Food bag with canister and pocket rocket stove
New Balance Minimus shoes
And last but not least, my trail mascot: Chuck Norris
The details don’t really matter when it comes to knowing exactly what type of brand items I have, how much I bought them for, and how much each item weighs. Honestly, that requires a whole lot of typing and I am kinda lazy.
However, I do want to tell everyone about sponsor for this trip: New Balance! Yep, you heard right, this guy is sponsored by New Balance. I asked Team New Balance if they would sponsor me on this trip and they said YES! Man was I stoked! The thing is, I absolutely love their minimal footwear and personally own several pairs that I swap out for work and sports. They asked me what type of shoe I was looking to use and I picked the MT10BS2 without any hesitation. This minimal shoe is the ultimate well rounded shoe that can handle all kinds of terrain.
I hear a lot of people always telling me “you must wear boots!” and “Ankle support is crucial in footwear!”. But that is not the case. It is a common misconception among many. The reason why you need flexible shoes that can bend, twist and move with your natural foot motion is so you can feel the ground and what it’s doing when you put weight on it. There is a big word called ‘proprioception’ which pretty much means knowing exactly where you body part is at any given moment. Shoes that have thick soles and high ankle support often give you a false sense of security. One may think that their foot is stable but when your foot can not feel the the terrain very well then there is a higher risk for ankle sprains and such. Minimus foot wear allows you to quickly adjust to loose rock or uneven terrain in a split second. You get quick response times because the nerves in your foot are unhindered and can feel more.
Have you ever wondered why your foot is so ticklish? Why in the world did God design your foot to be so sensitive? The answer is simple, so you can feel the ground underneath you. Listen people, do your feet a favor. don’t buy shoes that put your foot in a cast/splint. Get yourself some minimal footwear, preferably from New Balance, and enjoy the freedom they offer. Before 1970s, when Nike invented the first modern tennis shoe, people did just fine in their minimal footwear. If the Indians ran up and down the Appalachian Mountains in nothing but moccasins and the Roman soldiers conquered half the world while wearing nothing more than sandals, then you can do that plus more with the right pair of shoes.