My Gear List for a Self-Supported Hike on the San Luis Loop
Editor’s Note: In light of the COVID crisis, The Trek is committed to following all CDC and trail organization recommendations. As trails open up and longer hikes become possible, it’s important to modify plans for self sufficiency. Stay up to date here.
Winnowing down gear for a thru-hike can be stressful enough, but add the pressure of no town stops or aid and logistics get a bit overwhelming. Hear is my gear list for my self-supported thru-hike of the San Luis Loop.
For this hike I will be bringing my Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2. While not as light as some setups, I have been really happy with the balance of weight, space, and durability for use when hiking with my dogs. I love my trusty Copper Spur UL1, which has sheltered me on both the CT and GDT, but it just doesn’t provide the space necessary to comfortably sleep with a German Shepherd after a long day of hiking.
Again, like my tent, I could go lighter and pack smaller, but I have to balance cost and durability into the equation. With that said, I am sticking with my ZLite and REI Lumen 25 degree sleeping bag for me. I will also be carrying a Costco Black Diamond quilt for the dogs, which weighs roughly a pound. As it is summer and both dogs are hardy they won’t need a sleeping pad for this trip.
Last year I was lucky enough to win an awesome giveaway that included a Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest pack. To say I am in love with this pack would be an understatement. Not only did it survive the abuse of some really intense bushwhacks on the GDT, but it is able to carry everything I need to hike with the dogs for four days at a time.
The pack is simple, which prevents me from overpacking and yet the roll-top allows me to condense as I eat all my food. Another pro to its smaller size is that it doesn’t stick way up over my head. Since I’m pretty short, I don’t like tall, skinny packs that make me feel off balance. As much as I love my Gregory Deva, this pack is way lighter and can carry similar weights comfortably with better adaptability.
Food and Water
I like eating. Eating is important when you walk all day. Therefore, this is an important part of my setup.
I considered going stoveless for a hot second before remembering that the dogs are going to slow me down. Since I will have more breaks and more time in camp, I would like to eat better meals. Also, unless a miracle happens, I won’t get to eat any town food on this hike, especially after Red River, New Mexico. That means I better enjoy my on-trail food, otherwise I’m going to go crazy!
For food storage, I’m sticking with the tried and true Ursak/Opsack combo. Plain and simple, the trees in Colorado SUCK for proper bear hangs and I am NOT carrying a bear can.
This one is definitely important as there will be some hot, dry stretches on our route. While I am planning to cache some water in the Rio Grande National Monument, the Cochetopas can also be pretty sparse on the water front.
With this in mind, I will be carrying three one-liter SmartWater bottles (or similar). One for me, one for the dogs, and one for cooking/refills. I will also have my two two-liter Platypus water bags for filtering and storage in dry stretches. For filtering, I have a Sawyer Squeeze.
Water is always one of the most stressful parts about hiking with dogs, particularly in arid places like the lower elevations of Colorado and New Mexico, so the weight sacrifice is worth the piece of mind.
What I’m Carrying
I found out pretty darn quick on the Colorado Trail that having Prima (the GSD) carry the dog food is a BIG mistake. Keeping the weight off her goes a long way toward keeping her happy on trail. As such, I will be carrying the large majority of the dog gear, including food and water.
Other things I will be carrying for the dogs include: Ruffwear Swampcooler Coats, poop bags, and their quilt (already mentioned). On the same tangent as getting stressed out about dog water, the cooling coats will help me to feel better about some of the hot and dry sections. The Cochetopas definitely come to mind here, as well as the areas close to Durango where it is a bit more arid.
All in all, not bad!
What Prima Is Carrying
Prima will be carrying most of the rest of her stuff in her Groundbird Gear Roll Top Pack, which is pretty light weight. She will carry two collapsible bowls (one for her and one for Skittles), dog booties for her and Skittles, Musher’s secret, leashes, her toy, towels to dry off when wet, and bandaging supplies.
The dogs have their own special bandaging supplies for their feet. Since I used to work at a vet clinic, I know how to wrap their feet properly if they get a laceration, so I bring all the necessary supplies for that scenario.
There are some special considerations I am taking on this hike that I have either not needed in the past or are especially relevant to maintaining self-sufficiency during COVID-19.
This year I will be caching ALL of my food for both me and the dogs, even in the towns that I will be walking directly through. This was partly to keep my food carries down to about four days and also to eliminate contact with other people. There won’t be any hitching or shopping in stores; everything I need will be in these heavy-duty ammo cans.
I have been really happy with my Anker battery the past few years. While it is probably much heavier than I need, it can last approximately ten days for me. In order to eliminate the need to charge it in town, I purchased the ECEEN solar panel on Amazon. I will put the panel on top of my pack (it sits nicely on my Z-lite) and charge my Anker with it. Then at night, I can charge my other devices off the Anker. After a few test runs, I am really happy with this solar panel so far!
I have deliberated buying a PLB for quite some time since I spend most of my time adventuring solo. With this trip being so far off the beaten path and an impending move to Alaska (both the drive and my future solo adventures there), I knew it was finally time to pony up and buy my own PLB. The deciding factor was winning the Seek Your Adventure Award through Fort Lewis College’s Outdoor Pursuits club. Thanks to the club and sponsors for offering this opportunity!
It wasn’t hard to settle on the Garmin inReach Mini Every hiker I’ve met with one has loved theirs.
Odds and Ends
Rather than explain every. single. piece. of. gear, I’ll just leave a list here and you can comment if you want to know more:
Awesome Sloth Hawaiian Shirt, Space shorts, Sloth Hat, Smartwool Crew (sleeping) and no-show socks (hiking), Dirty Girl Gaiters, Altra Lone Peak 3.5 trail runners
REI Sahara Zip off pants, Leggings (Walmart brand), Goodwill fleece, Montbell Puffy, Buff, Glove Liners, REI Mitten Shells, REI Element Rainpants (undecided), Outdoor Research rain jacket
Write in the Rain journal, pencil, USB cords, wall charger (just in case), book (undecided), camera, camera battery charger, Sloth mascot, Nat Geo topo maps, phone
Bandana, The Deuce shovel, Body Glide, Climb On! salve, toothpaste, toothbrush, sunscreen
Gossamer Gear umbrella, prescription sunglasses, first aid kit, Sloth camp shoes, Black Diamond trekking poles, headlamp
Have questions or suggestions? Leave a comment!
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