Gear, Food and Prospective
Now that I have had two months on the trail I have had time to use my gear. I have learned that when I was home testing my different trail items in my living room, everything seemed to work great. I am now going to say “Very” loudly, the trail is not like my living room. I have since learned what works and what doesn’t work. Of course, this is different for each hiker. I have been asked to share my gear list by a few people, and now I think after 800 miles I can do this.
My gear is categorized into six sections; shelter, food/water, footwear, safety, clothes and backpack. Basically, I have tried to carry what I need to stay alive and semi comfortable, it is compiled of simply the basics.
My shelter consists of a free standing Big Agnes solo tent. It’s amazingly! I find it easy to set up, spacious enough to fit me and my pack. It has 5 different interior pockets for organizing my stuff. Trust me, a person like me needs these pockets to help keep me from misplacing things. The wind has shook and rattled my tent, but thankfully not rolled it. The rain/snow has stayed out and the condensation has been none. I have to say, I love this tent and would highly recommend it for future thru hikers.
My sleeping bag is rated for 10 degrees and it is a Z-Pack quilt. It’s light, easy to get in and out of and soft. Along with my quilt, I sleep on a thermarest Neoair pad. It also is light and holds up very well to cold from the ground.
Sleeping in the outdoors is different then my living room. Therefore, I found investing in the proper sleeping gear to be crucial. Warm and dry makes for a good night of sleep!
Food and water
The food area is probably one of the hardest things for me to manage. Basically, I eat whatever my body is craving. Backpacker meals are a favorite of mine, and are so easy to cook at the end of a long day. I have been eating a lot of tuna packets, chicken packets, peanut butter, pop tarts, crackers, cheese packets, and potato flakes. I’m sure many people get very creative with their trail menus, I just happen to be a person that keeps the menu pretty basic.
I use a gravity fed platypus water purification system. Again, this is a personal preference but since I was asked to share my gear list, this is what I have found to work best for me. I can purify a lot of water at one time and I can carry extra water in my purification bag if the water source is sparse.
Altra Olympus 4 have been my go to for my feet this far. The tread seems to prevent slipping and there is a nice thick layer of cushion to minimize rock bruising. I wear Injinji toe sock liners with a pair of Darn Tough mid weight hiking socks. I did experience blisters in the beginning of my trek but at that time I was not wearing the toe liner. I am now a firm believer in the toe liner to prevent blisters (and would like to thank my son for introducing thaws to me) and will never hike without them.
I carry the Petzl Avril Core headlamp. I really like this headlamp since it’s light and can be used with the rechargeable battery or triple A. I have found the rechargeable battery to work great and the brightness to be superb for night hiking.
The In Reach mini Garmin has been a great way to communicate with family and friends when there is no cell phone reception. The Garmin does require a monthly plan. It’s small and has an easy SOS button in case of an emergency. It has many features such as tracking and creating waypoints.
First of all I don’t ever have to waste a minute on deciding what to wear, it’s the same thing every day. That being said, I am very impressed with these items when it comes to consecutive days on the trail.
Ibex bras and underwear are quick drying and moisture wicking. Comfort level is an “A+” so I have been very pleased this far.
I have two shirts that are WOOLX. The shirts are 85 % merino and 12% nylon with 5% spandex. I have noticed these shirts are great at keeping odors to a minimum ( if that is possible out here) and they are quick to dry.
I have a Patagonia puffy with a hood that has kept me warm in the Smokies and on many other cold days. They have really cool colors too!
My rain gear is a jacket and pants made from frogg toggs. They are amazing in the rain, 100% polyethylene shell with 100% polypropylene lining. Great in the wind, rain and warm to sleep in on cold nights.
I am still working on finding shorts that I’m crazy about. I do know that for me a zip pocket on the leg is a must, and deep pockets. Presently, I’m hiking I a pair of shorts from LLBeans and though they are comfy, I’m not sure if they are my favorite. Maybe it’s because I’m still looking for a pair that will make the “Ups” easier.
I learned a very hard lesson. I left Maine with an altra lite pack. I thought this would save on weight, and though it did, I realized comfort was an issue. After 150 miles I couldn’t stand the pain in my shoulders, so I had to buy a new pack.
I am now hiking with an Osprey Viva 65 backpack. I love this pack! It can carry a heavy load, it has several different storage pockets, and it is beyond comfortable. It is pretty safe to say, if I hadn’t changed to this pack I probably wouldn’t have made it this far.
I hope this gear list has helped the people that have reached out to me. Please feel free to contact me with additional questions. As I mentioned before gear, food, etc., really boils down to what works best for each person. It takes time and mistakes to figure this out, but eventually it all comes together!
Listen to your body
Even with the best of gear I have been forced to listen to my body. After 800 miles, I have just now started to hike full days without constant pain. I did hike thru my pain as most have had to do, but rest is always needed. I have disciplined myself to take a nero into a zero around every 150 miles. Even if I think I don’t need it, I take it. Pain becomes part of each day so I’ve almost become oblivious to the fact that There is pain, a form of numbness takes over. As I have become aware of this, the importance of rest to prevent injury, let my muscles heal, and of course eat some off trail “Yummy” food has become a priority.
As each day occurs, I find it’s a big part of my day to mentally take a look around and make note of all the good things. Such as, I could dwell on the fact that it is raining or I could be happy my tent isn’t leaking. I could be upset that my coffee cup tipped over in my tent or I could be content that I already had half a cup. I could be frustrated that I still am wearing the same gross wet shirt from yesterday or I could be joyful that within miles , I will be in a town where I can give it a little wash.
It is perspective, just as it is in life! Today is a gift and a gift is always nice. The little daily positives make every mile easier and is a good reminder that every day has something special for me to receive and give from our Heavenly Father. With this I will hike on!
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