Marie Kondo: Backpacker edition
So, Marie. I have a question or two.
Let’s say that I have downsized all of my belongings to the point that they fit into a Northface Terra 65 backpack. I held each item, I took trips down memory lane, and I may have even shed a few tears while I passed over my favorite (cotton) Harry Potter tee shirt. I literally had to take my favorite plaid button down and put it another room so I would stop thinking about it. I narrowed my collection of bandanas down to three that I simply can’t part with for REASONS. They all sparked joy, each and every one, and I’ll fight anyone who says differently.
I settled Marie.
I did the damn thing, and it was awful.
She looks so disappointed…
This is what was left.
Polyester/Spandex tee shirts x2
Long sleeve “fishing” shirt
Base layer compression shirt
Quarter-zip lightweight fleece pullover
Leggings Compression pants x2 #masculinitysofragile
Nylon shell pants
Socks x3 (pair, not individual. We don’t talk about “spare” socks on the trail…)
Now, you may be asking yourself “Self, I wonder why he is telling me this?” Well, dear friend, this is significant because these clothing items will be all I wear for the next six-ish months. Crazy, huh? So, while all of these items did indeed spark joy, they more importantly all serve multiple purposes. The basis for this list came from an article I ran across by Andrew Skurka that was incredibly helpful. I think him and Marie would actually be pretty tight, now that I think about it, but I digress. Between these items, I feel comfortably prepared for most three season weather conditions. Obviously, it’s quite easy to get more naked when it get’s too hot, and that’s something I’m naturally good at! I loooove the heat. I like it so hot my skin pulsates. On the other side of that, I am not the biggest fan of cold weather at all. I blame it on having a summer birthday, and Bonnaroo. On cold mornings/nights though, I can layer my compression shirt (which is insulated), the fleece pullover, and the rain shell on top. Then double up on the
leggings manly compression pants, with the nylon pants on top for wind. This combination worked really well for me on my chilly (but stunning) hike to Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park this past Spring.
All in all, I think Marie Kondo would be pretty impressed with my clothing list. I feel pretty confident about it, but I’m by no means too stubborn to ship that extra shirt and pair of leggings back home as soon as I hit Monson!
Clothing wasn’t much of a challenge for me. The rest of the junk I’ve crammed in here though…?
In the backpacking world, every single ounce counts. Some people go to such extremes as tearing the tags off of their clothing, shaving down straps that are too long, and get their bag packed down to absolutely vital things for survival only. I am not that person (yet). On my shorter trips, my setup has served me well. However, comparing my small amount of experience to a total thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail is like comparing, well, something very small to something very large.
Cellphone (GPS and camera)
Bug destroyer stuff
I absolutely love my tent. It’s worked for me on many trips, is lightweight, durable, and I like the versatility it offers as far as setup and ventilation. The sleeping quilt is new, and it was comfortable on my shakedown hike through Linville Gorge. This is my first backpacking quilt, compared to a traditional sleeping bag. I have high hopes for it, and also really like the green color. The sleeping pad I’ve had for a while now, and it is decently comfortable for a night or two. Of all my gear, I anticipate this piece to be the first thing I end up replacing.
Pocket Rocket Stove
Collapsible rubber cup
I’ll be honest here, I have very little experience with hanging a bear bag at night. I’ve either slept with food in my tent, left it nearby, or just left it in my pack outside my tent. Pretty much any irresponsible way to deal with food, is my typical MO. However, I have pledged to follow LNT principles this trip, and part of that means I need to do my part in keeping wildlife uninterested in my campsites. So, I bought an “odor-proof” dry bag with an easy to use pulley system for hanging food. Maybe this will make it the whole trip, maybe I will switch to something different. Honestly, I’m more worried about critters smaller than a bear getting to my precious trail mix than I am bears. In addition, the Appalachian Trail volunteers and organizations have been amazing by installing bear boxes/cables/lockers in many of the shelters to help with this issue. I’m confident, however, that along the way I will have plenty of time to figure out what system is going to work best for my food.
Other junk that Marie and Skurka would tell me to rethink.
Well, maybe. This stuff is what I have struggled to bring weight down with most. I want the bigger tube of toothpaste. Since I quit smoking I am obsessed with fresh teeth. I want my contacts AND my glasses, and the protective case for them. I want my heavy ass power bank because it looks cool and has solar charging. I’ve been told this won’t matter, considering the Appalachian Trail is also known as the green tunnel, but hey. First aid wise I’m bringing all the ibuprofen, some antibiotics just in case, antihistamines, multivitamins, fish oil vitamins, antibiotic ointment, band aids, a few alcohol wipes, and a pair of sterile gloves. This, my friends, is what they apparently in the backpacking world call “Packing your fears.” I probably won’t need most of these things, but I’d rather carry them and not need them kinda thing. We shall see. Other junk include a camp towel, no less than 3 bandanas, and my hemp and beads to make bracelets. I intend on making them while chilling at camp or wherever and handing them out along the way to people who give me hitches, or really whoever really. Also, a tiny notebook for journaling/getting names and numbers, and the like. I am far from ultralight. Very far. But, all things considered, my pack with 6 days worth of food and 2 liters of water comes in at….
It’s going to be really interesting to see how this changes as my hike progresses. Any bets on what goes first??? If anyone has ANY advice, or questions that I didn’t answer well, I would love to hear from you. Also, I hope this might one day be able to help someone else. Trust me, none of us really know what we are doing out in the woods with a huge backpack for 6 months; well, we don’t until we get out there and do it. 🙂
One week from today and my journey begins!
Send me the prayers/love/good vibes/energy/light. I’ll be sending out as much as I can, and I can’t think of a better place to take it in.
Peace, love, and Harry Potter
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