Magic’s 2023 AZT Gear List – Part 3
Living out of a backpack for months on end is intimidating and seems impossible for most, but for a select few brave souls, it can be one of the most empowering and liberating experiences. Maybe you’ve heard the phrase “everything but the kitchen sink”, and that’s pretty much what long-distance backpackers have to carry. You hike with your house, entire wardrobe, kitchen, bathroom, and all the odds and ends needed for everyday life. The fact that everything can fit on your back is incredible, but obviously thru hikers have to downsize many of their possessions and make tough decisions about what to bring along the trail.
Gear can be broken down into multiple categories, usually starting with the “big three” (shelter, sleep system, pack), and narrowing down to clothing and then other miscellaneous items. I’ve already outed myself as the opposite of “ultralight” in previous articles, and I carry some items that other more weight conscious thru hikers would leave at home. This final blog post in my gear series will dive into the last random pieces of gear that I’ve decided I can’t live without and will be carrying with me along the Arizona Trail in the spring of 2023.
TheTentLab The Deuce #2 UL Backcountry Trowel
If you spend much time in the backcountry, the inevitable will happen and you will have to poop in the woods. Leave No Trace prompts us to dispose of waste properly, meaning that human waste (aka poop and toilet paper) is buried 6-8 inches in the ground. To dig a cat hole, hikers need a way to dig! Some ultralight folks just use their trekking poles, tent stakes, or even a stick, but I’ve found it’s easier to just carry a lightweight trowel.
I think The Deuce serves its purpose just fine, and to my knowledge is one of the lightest products of this kind. Along with my trowel, I also carry toilet paper to wipe. I know a handful of people that use a backcountry bidet rather than using toilet paper, but I haven’t gotten that brace yet.
I love using a pee cloth because it prevents me from having to “drip dry” when I pee. Kula Cloth did a great job designing an antimicrobial pee cloth that keeps me clean and dry down there. I like the variety of patterns and the fact that it snaps to my pack for quick access.
Dr. Bronner’s – Pure-Castile Liquid Soap (Travel Size, 2 ounce)
I carry Dr. Bronner’s to use specifically when I’m in town. If I stay somewhere that doesn’t have soap or shampoo in the shower, I can use my own. I wear contacts and like having the option to wash my hands before putting them in each morning (although I usually just opt for hand sanitizer).
Hightail Designs The Ultralight Fanny Pack “Dirty Avocado”
This is the perfect piece of equipment to use as a catch-all. I keep things like my phone, portable charger, pocket knife, ID, etc. in my fanny pack while I hike just for quick access. When I’m in town I like that I can use my fanny pack to keep my must have personal items handy. Hightail Designs is my favorite brand because their products are made to be waterproof, so I don’t have to worry about my electronics getting wet. Hightail Designs also has so many fun patterns, and my fanny pack and Kula Cloth both feature avocados.
REI Co-op Flash Carbon Compact Trekking Poles – Pair
Personally, I think trekking poles are trekking poles, I don’t have a strong preference for brands on this one. I like my REI trekking poles just fine because they are carbon which makes them super lightweight. I always keep duct tape and leukotape wrapped around my trekking poles for quick field repairs.
Anker 525 Power Bank (PowerCore 20K)
If you spend an extended period of time in the woods, you have to have some kind of power bank to charge your electronics. Especially since phone apps like FarOut are so popular, it’s important to keep your electronics charged and accessible. I bought this particular power bank from a fellow hiker on the AT and think it’s just fine. Mine is an older model and feels like a brick, I know there are more lightweight and smaller options on the market that could be a good upgrade to make in the future.
Gossamer Gear Lightrek Hiking (Chrome) Umbrella
The AZT will be my first long hike using a hiking umbrella. On the east coast where I have done most of my hiking, you are pretty much always under tree cover. I’ve never been on a fully exposed trail, but I know the Arizona sun can be unrelenting. I wanted to have something that provided additional sun protection, and a hiking umbrella made the most sense. I opted to purchase the additional shoulder strap to clip the umbrella to my pack so that I could use it hands-free while hiking. We will see if I use it as much as I envision I will, I worry it won’t be practical if it’s windy.
Xero Z-Trail EV – Women size 9
I carried Crocs on the AT, but upgraded to a more lightweight sandal for the AZT. I think these sandals will stay on my feet better than Crocs and will be better to wear around town. I know some folks that hike in these shoes instead of trail runners, so maybe that’s in my future if I need to let the dogs out for the day.
Water Bottle Holder
I rigged up a water bottle holder on my shoulder strap on the AT using zip ties and bungee cords just because I was cheap and didn’t want to purchase an actual water bottle holder. For the AZT my mother-in-law gifted me with two water bottle holders to attach to my shoulder straps. I’m not sure if I’ll use both of these, but I know I will use at least one. I’ve found that I get much more dehydrated when I don’t have quick access to water. I usually carry a Smart Water bottle on my shoulder strap and buy a bottle that has a sports cap so that I can fit a piece of tubbing in the tip to serve as a straw, that way I can walk and drink without having to hold a bottle. I’ve found this to be a better option for me instead of using a bladder bag in my pack just because they take up so much space. My rigging of the water bottle allows me to still use a straw and be hands-free without losing space in my pack.
Rawlogy “OG” Cork Massage Ball
I didn’t carry a cork ball on the AT, but I met many fellow hikers that found these little balls to be invaluable. I want to focus on taking care of my body while putting it through the wringer, so this seemed like a lightweight option to massage my aching muscles and feet at the end of each day.
I just use a generic pack cover that came off an old Osprey I have. I always recommend carrying a pack cover even if there’s a low chance of rain because having wet stuff, especially a sleeping bag, can get dangerous quickly.
Granite Gear Dry Sack (got from hiker box in 2021, not sure size)
I found this food bag in a hiker box pretty quickly on the AT. It was free and in good condition, and it’s pretty light compared to the bulky dry pack I was using from Walmart.
I upgraded my stove to a more lightweight option for the AZT. I previously carried an MSR Pocket Rocket and loved it, but this BRS stove is teeny tiny and weighs next to nothing. I have several friends that have carried this stove and love it. It was super cheap on Amazon and all the instructions are not in English, but it works well so far!
Toaks Light Titanium 550ML pot
This is another upgrade for the AZT. I had been carrying a semi-bulky GSI pot, but my brother-in-law bought me this titanium pot to save a little weight. Toaks is a really popular brand that I’ve heard nothing but good things about. It seems like this is the lightest option before ditching the pot/stove altogether and going stoveless and cold soaking.
GSI Outdoors Essential Spoon- Long
I LOVE this spoon! Having a long handle spoon is essential to get into the bottom of bags of Knorr Rice Sides or Mountain House Meals. This spoon particularly is nice because it has a rubber lining that doubles as a pot scraper, making cleaning my pot quick and easy. Some people feel passionate about sporks over spoons, but I’ve found my spoon to work just fine.
I don’t care which brand of fuel I use, I just always try to purchase the smallest canister size available so that it can fit inside my pot to save space in my food bag.
There are a variety of filtration systems on the market, but I’ve just found the BeFree to work best for me. Some people love Sawyer, others love Platypus, but all gravity filters are pretty similar. In my personal opinion, I think the BeFree filter is one of the fastest and easiest to clean. The only downside is you can’t backflush these filters, but I’ve found keeping it clean by swirling it in water regularly works just as well.
Dirty Water Bag
HydraPak 3L Seeker Collapsible Water Container – 100 fl. Oz.
I like this dirty water bag because it fits the thread of my BeFree filter. It is super big, but for long water carries that are likely on the AZT I think it will be beneficial to have the capacity to carry this much water.
I am sure there are items I may have forgotten, but this concludes my mini gear series for the AZT. Overall it’s pretty similar to what I carried on the AT, and I just want to be equipped to deal with whatever the trail throws at me. My pack certainly isn’t the lightest, but I’ve tried to keep my setup as lightweight as possible to ensure that I’m comfortable hiking hundreds of miles.
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