Diabetes Gear for the PCT: What I’m Carrying and Why
As a Type 1 Diabetic, some of the most important gear that I carry is the stuff that, you know, keeps me alive. Just like with other gear, I think about which things need backups, when to carry more of something to avoid frequent post office trips, and how to keep it all safe.
So without further ado, here’s what I’m carrying when I start the PCT at Campo to cover my Diabetes needs!
Insulin (aka liquid gold)
We’re starting with the big kahuna- INSULIN. This is the thing that my pancreas cannot and will not produce, and that I give myself via an insulin pump. I’m planning on carrying two vials of fast acting insulin at a time. This gives me a backup vial if I somehow shatter one despite its VialSafe rubber protection. One vial typically lasts me about a month, and likely quite a bit longer on trail when I’m super active and insulin-sensitive.
The pen is long acting insulin. This is only necessary if I have an issue with my pump and need to switch to manual injections. Theoretically you could get by just injecting fast acting insulin but I’d rather not wake up every hour during the night for micro doses, so backup long acting pen it is!
All of this incredibly expensive insulin will be kept in this Frio pack on warm days. While it doesn’t actually need to be refrigerated, insulin cannot get too warm. The Frio pack has an inner sleeve with gel beads that get liquified when you soak it in water and keeps contents cool via evaporation. I’m also bringing a sun umbrella that will greatly reduce my pack temperature on hot days.
Glucagon (aka emergency juice)
Knock on wood…I’ve never experienced a low blood sugar that caused me to pass out, so I’ve always been able to treat them by ingesting sugar (i.e. sickening amounts of gummies). But in case I do pass out, I have this nasal glucagon that my brother can administer, which is quite the improvement over the classic glucagon pen (think epi pen stabbed into your thigh). I’ll keep this in my fanny pack for easy access.
Backup Blood Sugar Readings (aka RIP fingertips)
In case my Dexcom G6 continuous glucose sensor fails or my iPhone bricks (that’s what the Dexcom sends readings to), I have a manual finger pricking tester and a backup battery for that.
And if you think that lancet in the finger pricker isn’t extremely old, you’re not a diabetic. My diabuddies know what’s up.
Needles for Backup Insulin Giving (aka pokey things)
In case my Omnipod5 controller bricks or all of my pods fail, I have syringes to manually give myself fast acting insulin. I plan on carrying 10 syringes (don’t worry, they’re super light!).
The little pen needles are for the long acting insulin pen.
Insulin Pump Supplies (aka very important)
That phone-looking thing is the controller for my insulin pump. It looks like a phone because it’s literally an Android base that they put pump controller software onto (lol). It’s heavy but it is what it is! It needs a charge every couple of days, which I’ll do with my powerbank.
Between my brother and me, we’ll be carrying at least a month of pod supplies at a time. Since pods last 3 days, that means we’ll each be carrying 5 pods. Thanks bro!
Continuous Sensor Supplies (aka chunky monkeys)
These chunky monkeys are the sensors and applicators for my continuous glucose sensor. Yes, the applicators are ginormous. Each sensor lasts 10 days and we’ll each be carrying 2.
The transmitter that attaches to the sensor (so that you can view the readings on your phone) lasts 3 months. I’ll be carrying one of these at any point in time in case the previous one fails early.
The final weigh in for all of these supplies in my pack is around 1.4 lbs! I’m not including the pump controller in that weight since that will go in my fanny pack. While this weight would make an ultra-lighter projectile vomit for an hour straight, it’s totally fine with me since it allows me to actually hike the trail as a diabetic and provides enough margin around resupplies so that we aren’t constantly having to hike to post offices.
For the inevitable resupplies of the non-insulin stuff, my husband will either meet us with supplies at a trailhead or mail them in a food resupply box depending on how far we are from home. For insulin resupply, either my husband will bring the insulin along when he sees us (depending on where we’re at) or I will have my endocrinologist call in a prescription to a local pharmacy.
I’d love to talk Diabetes packing!
Let me know if you have any questions! Not all diabetics use the same gear and some people may prefer lighter weight over less frequent resupplies, so I’d love to talk options with any folks that are trying to dial in their Diabetes gear.
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