Magic’s 2023 AZT Gear List – Part 2
Most thru hikers limit themselves to one outfit for the entire duration of their journey. If you were only going to wear one outfit for months on end, you would want it to be functional and stylish. Trail fashion has evolved into one of the few areas of self-expression amongst hikers, and because of that each year the colors get brighter, the patterns get more outlandish, and the shorts get shorter.
I want to be comfortable while I’m hiking, look as fashionable as I can after not having showered for a week, and wear clothing that suits my needs. The most important thing I’ve found about hiking clothing is to make sure that articles of clothing are designed to wick moisture away from my body. The old saying is “cotton kills”, and I’ve found it is important to hike in synthetic clothing or merino wool, just something that is breathable and won’t trap moisture on your body. Here of a list of what I will be strutting down the Arizona Trail this spring.
Jolly Gear Triple Crown Button Down Short Sleeve, Jack o’ the Green with Flip-Flopper Sun Sleeves
If you have followed any hikers in recent years, you have likely seen a Jolly Gear shirt. These flamboyant shirts hit the scene in 2021 when creator Jolly hit the CDT in 2021 with his prototype, and in 2022 the shirts were released for public sale. Each year Jolly and his team release new patterns that center around vibrant colors and trail themed patterns. Not only are these shirts fun to look at, but they are also functional! They are a breathable sun shirt that offer SPF protection without compromising on style.
These shirts are available in short sleeves or long sleeves. I opted for a short sleeve shirt but also purchased the “flip flopper sun sleeves” so that I could have the best of both worlds. Purple is my favorite color, so I obviously had to get the “Jack o’ the Green” pattern!
The Trek Ramen Bomb Women’s Trail Shorts (Amber)
I wore a pair of bike shorts from Target on the AT, but I am excited to sport a new brand on the AZT! I’ve worn The Trek’s trail shorts on several day hikes thus far and don’t have any complaints. I like the fact that they have a drawstring to adjust the waistband as well as deep pockets. They don’t have a built-in liner, and I’m interested to see if my legs chafe at all while wearing them for long distances. I feel ridiculous with the contrast in patterns between my hiking shirt and shorts, but that’s half the fun while being on trail.
ExOfficio Women’s Give-N-Go® Sport Mesh Bikini Briefs
These are the hiking underwear I wore on the AT. They are advertised as being made from a breathable, moisture-wicking synthetic material that also helps reduce odor. I’ve found when thru hiking, nothing can be done to minimize the stink. I liked that these underwear and matching bralettes were quick drying, and their stylish fit made it easy to be doubled as a swimsuit.
ExOfficio Women’s Give-N-Go® 2.0 Bralettes
Again, this is the sports bar I wore on the AT. I liked that this bralette was lightweight and didn’t have padding, but I know for some of my well-endowed friends, a sports bra without padding is not an option. I liked that this bra and underwear duo looked pretty similar to a bathing suit, and I swam in many lakes and ponds in my undies without getting strange looks.
Altra Olympus 5 Women’s size 9
I tell people all the time that I will die in a pair of Altras! I love these shoes and feel passionate about trail runners. I wore hiking boots for years and was hesitant to switch to trail runners because I worried about the lack of stability, ankle support, and durability. I have found trail runners to be superior to boots because of how lightweight and quick-drying they are. Your feet get wet slogging through mud and braving creek crossings, and I found my trail runners to be invaluable because of how quickly they dried. My biggest worry about ditching my boots was that I would roll my ankle without additional support, but I found that I didn’t need ankle support. The added range of motion without the restriction of the boot helped to strengthen my ankles. There are certain brands of trail runners that do make a “high top” version for those that feel attached to ankle support.
My favorite thing about the Olympus is the amount of cushion it offers. I have found it to be comfortable while not compromising the amount of grip in the tread. I started the AT in a pair of Altra Lone Peaks and have found that I prefer the Olympus because of how cushy they are. The iconic “foot shape” of the Altras allows for my toes to have plenty of room in the toe box without feeling cramped. It took several weeks for my feet to get used to the 0 drop that Altra is famous for, but now that I’m used to 0 drop I don’t think I’d be happy in any other brand of shoe.
Darn Tough Women’s Micro Crew Lightweight Hiking Sock
I think Darn Tough is probably the most popular brand of hiking socks in the hiking community. Their lifetime warranty and easy replacement policy make them worth the price. I’ve tried other sock brands and have found Darn Tough’s durability and cushion are superior to others. Since they are part wool and synthetic, they dry quickly and still keep your feet warm even when wet.
I think gaiters are a must-have when hiking long distances just because they keep small rocks and twigs out of your shoes. I like the patterns offered by different brands like Dirty Girl, but I just bought whatever I found at a random outfitter on the AT and have been using these ever since.
This is the style of hat I used on the AT and typically wear when I’m guiding. I love all the fun patterns that Kavu makes as well as the breathable material. For the AZT, though, I may invest in a larger-brimmed hat just for added sun protection.
Shirt / Pants
REI Co-op Merino 185 Long-Sleeve Base Layer Top – Women’s / REI Co-op Merino 185 Base Layer Bottoms – Women’s
These base layers are lightweight and have kept me warm on numerous occasions. I mainly wear them to sleep in, but if it’s really cold I’ll wear them as a baselayer while hiking.
Smartwool Hike Classic Edition Full Cushion Crew Socks – Women’s
I’ve had these socks for years and mainly just wear them to sleep in just because they’re extra thick and help keep my feet warm.
REI Co-op Flash Insulated Hoodie – Women’s size medium
I love this puffy jacket! It’s lightweight and packs down really well. Since it’s a synthetic material, it can get wet but still serves its purpose compared to a full down jacket that becomes useless when wet. This jacket has kept me warm during many winter hikers and I think will do great during chilly nights on the AZT.
LightHeart Gear Women’s Fleece Hoodie -Medium
This hoodie has a similar style to other fleece hoodies on the market, but I love this brand in particular because it’s made locally in my hometown of Asheville, NC. My favorite features are the oversized kangaroo pouch and the turtle neck collar. LightHeart Gear also just has a variety of color combinations, I of course had to choose a purple one.
Frogg Toggs Women’s Ultra-Lite Rain Suit
During warmer weather, I don’t usually wear rain gear, but I always carry Frogg Toggs to use as an insulating layer when it’s cold. There is no so thing as waterproof, and no amount of rain gear is going to keep you totally dry. The downside to Frogg Toggs is that they are not breathable at all, which is why I don’t usually wear them while hiking. They do a fantastic job at keeping you warm, which is why I usually wear them at night as a final insulating layer or around camp, or even in town while doing laundry.
Stay tuned for my final gear article before heading out to Arizona where I’ll discuss the other last-minute items I’ll be taking with me.
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