3 Ridiculous Luxury Items I Refuse to Hike Without on the Pacific Crest Trail
If someone held a gun to my head and told me to drop my total pack weight by 4 pounds, I could do it in less than ten seconds. Not by gorging food, but instead removing a few simple ‘luxury’ items that I refuse to hike without. Some individuals consider things such as a slightly heavier sleeping pad to be a luxury, while others feel even a lightweight pillow is a necessity. I do not pertain to either of these groups. At a base weight (the weight of all of your gear minus consumables) of nine pounds, my Mountain Laurel Designs Pack exudes an ultralight facade, but deep inside lie three stupidly heavy items that I refuse to go without on the Pacific Crest Trail.
1. My 1.5-pound Nikon D3400 Camera
If I had a nickel for every time an individual has said to me “You lugged that all the way up here?” Yes, yes I did. A DSLR interchangeable lens camera is not unheard of on a long-distance trail. However, in recent years Apple has truncated most people’s need for a camera with the release of the iPhone 11 and 12. While I will always admire the quality produced by these little boxes, the photographer inside of me desires the quality of a DSLR camera, and will not settle for anything less. I have had my Nikon D3400 since the age of 12. Five years later and it has traveled to three different continents, 16 different states, and an absurd amount of summits. It has also been dropped off several cliffs. It is still in perfect, working condition. Was I going to replace it with a smaller point and shoot camera with comparable quality? Yes, yes I was. But I’m broke. And trying to baby a new 1000 dollar camera on the Pacific Crest Trail would have been hell, so I’ll stick with the 1.5-pound weight penalty.
2. “The Mammoth Book of Mountain Disasters” 500 Page Paper Book
If I were to depict my love for backpacking in a set of photos, most of the images would show me relaxing by a lake, or high up on a cliff-side, reading my paper-back nature/mountaineering novel. On the Pacific Crest Trail, my days will be a little different than the lackadaisical days I experienced on previous backpacking trips. Instead of 10 mile days, I’ll generally be pumping 20-30 mile days, sunrise to sunset. Regardless, I will be beginning my thru-hike with my backpacking classic, “The Mammoth Book of Mountain Disasters.” Don’t let the title or the page count intimidate you, it’s actually quite a small book and truly not as gruesome as the title suggests. The book weighs in at one pound, but the entertainment it will provide in the first weeks of 10 mile days and later in Sierra snowstorms will compensate for its chunkiness. Don’t try and sell me on reading on my phone or a kindle, that’s just absurd.
3. 1 Pound Jar of Biscoff Cookie Butter
While not included in my base weight, my one-pound jar of Biscoff Cookie Butter takes the crown for the most outrageous thing in my pack. If you’re not familiar with cookie butter, you will never understand my reasoning behind lugging it to Canada. Biscoff Cookie Butter is made with Biscoff cookies and carries the same consistency as peanut butter. It’s a vegan, nut-free Belgian delight that is worth its weight in gold. I can’t say I’ve ever had it on bread (the ‘correct’ way to eat it), but I opt instead for a by-the-spoonful technique. Two tablespoons of cookie butter provides you with 170 calories, 1 gram of protein, 17 grams of carbs, 11 grams of fat, and 11 grams of sugar. You can show me lighter, more caloric/nutrient-dense snacks all day, but my Biscoff butter will forever hold its place in my shoulder pocket.
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