Inside the Pros Packs with Joshua “Bobcat” Stacy
I first met Joshua Stacy, better known in the trail community simply as “Bobcat”, at the Winter Outdoor Retailer earlier this year, amongst a larger crew of accomplished thru-hikers. Naturally, conversation quickly shifted toward our hiking resumes.
My answer, more or less, was summarized in two words, and pre-empted with a just as I quickly learned that I was low man on the trail totem pole in this crowd. When I returned the question, I could sense his hesitation- stemming from the fact that he didn’t know where to start- the same look you’d get if you asked Noam Chomsky what books he’s read.
To summarize his answer: a lot. (More on that below)
Bobcat is a triple crowner and the three long trails only account for roughly half of his total mileage. What impressed me most, however, was his humility. In a world where the Internet experiences a mini-earthquake when a thru-hike speed record is broken, Bobcat gave the impression that his accomplishments were no big deal. Although most don’t thru-hike for acclaim, walking the equivalent of the roundtrip distance from Key West to Anchorage, Alaska (plus a couple thousand miles) is extraordinary.
That’s why I felt compelled to dig inside Bobcat’s pack and mind to learn more.
Inside the Pros Packs with Joshua “Bobcat” Stacy
I wrapped up a Triple Crown of Long Distance Hiking in 2014 and have hiked over 12,000 miles. Other completions include the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Long Trail, Wonderland Trail, Lost Coast Trail, Lowest to Highest Route, C&O Canal, Rim to Rim to Rim of the Grand Canyon among others. I also designed and hiked the first ever urban thru-hike of San Francisco. My most recent hike was the Inman 300 in Los Angeles.
Why you backpack
Walking is my way of life, it heals me spiritually, emotionally and physically; it provides balance and perspective. Walking is not just some activity I do to complete a long trail. Walking brings me the deepest joys and sorrows; it is love and connection.
Read the longer answer to this question on his blog.
Favorite AT Story
I won’t go into all of the details but there was a time when a certain “hiker” stole my phone from Gifford State Park in Vermont. I trusted my gut, hiked him down at the next shelter and Jedi mind tricked him into getting my phone back. It’s all about the art of peaceful confrontation. I told him that I really needed his help and that I lost my phone. He said, “oh I have it” and turned it right over. He even left me a disgusting indecent photo on the phone. One of the very few ill intentioned people I’ve met on a long trail. On the flip side, It was quite inspiring to see the generous response from the Rangers and a Triple Crowner who were present at the park. They were all willing to aid a hiker at the drop of a hat.
Gear / Packing Philosophy
I guess, according to the old category delineations, a sub 10 base weight is ultralight, but it’s not really about the categories for me. I look at the needs I have in a particular season on the terrain I’ll be hiking and I determine what I need. Of course, I try to go as light as I can. Who likes to carry a ton of weight? At this point traveling fast and light is much more comfortable for me than the alternative. My whole system is based around being able to cover a good number of miles each day.
Preferably None, or ExOfficio Men’s Give-N-Go Boxer Brief if it’s colder
Shorts / hiking bottoms
Gloves / mittens
Rain / wind jacket
Explanation of preferred layering system
I’m often wearing my long sleeve REI Sahara Tech hiking shirt and Patagonia Baggies shorts. I wear long sleeves for sun protection and I just roll up the sleeves if they aren’t needed. If it’s a little chillier, I’ll throw on my Patagonia Houdini Windshirt or Montbell Dynamo Windpants. Even colder, I usually wear a Montbell Ex Light Jacket. In really frigid temps I wear various Patagonia Capilene base layers.
Water purification method
Preferably none, bleach if I have to.
High calorie, plenty of fat and protein. My staples are ProBars, Dehydrated beans, Chili mixes, Corn Chips, Justin’s Peanut Butter and usually some junk food treats. I try not to eat too much sugar. I often pack out a bag of spinach and eat it with the first couple days of a section. I also love to pack out pizza and subs.
Knife / multi-tool
Any other notes you’d like to include?
I don’t think about gear nearly as much as I used to. I’ve found what I like and what works really well for me. I’m sure I’ll continue to tinker in the future but it’s nice to be able to focus on other things beside gear. Also, there is no perfect gear, there’s just gear that is perfect for you on your particular adventure.
A massive thank you to Bobcat for letting us peer into his pack and brain. Be sure to check out his personal site, HoboKitten (winner of the best name ever award from Appalachian Trials).
Check out even more Inside the Pros Packs here.
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