All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Carbon Z’s

Dear Santa…

Santa Claus: And what do you want for Christmas?

Me: I want official Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z lightweight 9 ounce, 100% carbon fiber, trekking poles!

Santa Claus: You’ll make me broke, kid (and you might poke your eye out). 

Hiking in Grinch territory.

I sent my parents our Christmas list this week, and they nearly had a heart attack. We have invested in most of our gear throughout this past year, and all I see are $$$ as well. My sweet mother has instilled in me to never spend over $20 on an article of clothing, and now I find myself adding a $65 tank top to my Christmas list. She doesn’t understand the reasons behind it, and it pains me to spend that much money on a stupid tank top as well. But what she doesn’t realize is how much I must place my trust in these items to last me for the next six months. I must weigh everything (literally). Are they packable, do they hold onto stench? Is this durable enough? These are questions she cannot wrap her mind around, and truly, I barely can either. 

REI Quarter Dome Tent; it has sheltered us through many magical moments.

Gear Junkie

So, let’s talk about gear. Everyone’s favorite subject. Except mine. Probably my least favorite topic to research; it makes my head spin. Do I invest in an ultralight tent or do I stick with my trusty REI Quarter Dome? Should I bite the bullet and spend $190 on  Smartwool base-layers or do I cave into buying a polyester shirt that will absorb every bit of odor in each woven fiber.

Everyone’s budget is different. Every hiker’s approach will vary in what they believe a dirtbag should invest in. People swear by certain brands, gear, luxury items, or even how to properly treat a blister. Boots vs trail runners. Sleeping bag vs. quilt. Tent vs. Bivys. Z Packs vs. Gossamer Gear. Every single person has their opinions and places value in different items. No one is right, and no one is wrong. But after all of our research, here is what Parkes and I have decided to place value in… 

Luxury Items

Garmin Inreach Explorer+ (safety first, you’re welcome mom)

Gossamer Gear Backpack

Ghost Whisperer Mountain Hardwear

Ultra Trail Running Shoes

Black Diamond Carbon Z Trekking Poles 

IceBreaker Base layers 


Gossamer Gear Umbrellas

Standard Items – Items We Did Not Spend Bookoos of Money On

REI Quarter Dome Tent (will split between the two of us to save on weight)

Cooking stove and pot 

Headlamp (best $20 I’ve ever spent) 

Rain gear (the cheapest of cheap) 

30 degree REI Magma sleeping bag (will bring sleeping bag liner for cold nights)

A couple things we have decided to go without to save on weight.

  • Pillow (will use stuff sack with clothes instead) 
  • Sleeping pad (will use a Nemo Switchback)
  • Deodorant (there is no amount of antiperspirant to hide the fact that we smell like a butthole) 
  • Toilet paper (I prefer to use a nice smooth rock anyway) 
  • Bug spray (we surrender and succumb to all bug bites)
  • Towel / wash rag  

Some people will read this article and think we are insane for not investing in certain items. But who cares! Hike your own hike! We can prepare as much as we can but I bet you within the first week, some of your “must-have” items will end up in the hiker box. We live and we learn. Let us make mistakes (and trust me, we will make a whole lot of them). This whole journey is so we can challenge ourselves and learn what to place value in. Some will carry a 15-pound home, others may be pushing 45, and that is OK. To those carrying above 45 pounds, I will pray for you and your beloved knees on those steep descents. 

Can’t wait to steal all your goodies from the hiker boxes.

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Comments 6

  • Kevin Neft : Nov 29th

    Loved the Christmas Story take on the article! I always cringe when people ask me what I want for Christmas or my birthday, a lot of it boils down to items for the PCT and they certainly aren’t cheap.

    • Emily and Parkes : Nov 30th

      Oh same, I feel so guilty! And then they ask me what other things I want but I literally can only accept items from my hiking list! There is no need for new clothes for work, lotions and perfumes, etc. Just get me dehydrated meals and a plethora of hiking socks ?

  • Shannon : Nov 29th

    Well-done! I love to compare lists of “luxury” items. I think you did a nice job of showcasing our adult hiking Christmas lists?

    • Emily and Parkes : Nov 30th

      Why thank you! What are some of your “luxury items”? I get a kick out of comparing lists as well!

  • Shannon Ryker : Jan 11th

    I love my REI quarter dome! if I was hiking with my spouse I split the weight and carry it! The gear issue has been a roller coaster ride. I some items I splurged on and others I absolutely refuse to buy because of the over hype. Altra’s are on my refuse to buy list. I’ve been using Brooks Caldera’s and Cascadia’s for several years and don’t think I should switch it up now. Gear is such a personal choice as long as the person carrying it is happy nothing else matters.

    • Emily and Parkes : Jan 12th

      Thats exactly what my husband and I plan on doing with the tent since it’s a bit on the heavier side compared to most others. He will carry the tent poles and stakes, I will carry the tent and rainfly. I must admit I have caved on the Altra’s haha but I have been hiking in them for about 6 months now and have truly loved them! I also scored another pair at the REI Garage sale for $18. Once I go through these 2 pairs on the trail, we will see if I have changed my opinion on them haha


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