Some Gear, Glorious Gear.

What do we want?! To talk about gear! When do we want it?! Always! Now that my current gear list is posted, I’d share a few thoughts on how and why I selected some of my gear and what regular backpacking items I’m leaving behind. But first, for some perspective on outdoor gear and consumerism, I just finished Rachel S. Gross’ Shopping all the Way to the Woods. Some of the forest is lost for the trees and it’s a bit dense in it’s thoroughness, but I encourage everyone to at least skim it to learn more about the paradoxes within the outdoor industry and it’s cult of gear and consumption. Our outdoor ethos is tied to the junk we buy, and I struggled with my own gross consumerism that ramped up as I prepared for the PCT (so much single use plastic). I don’t have a grand takeaway other than that I hope you buy your gear intentionally and then use the shit out of it.

Why I Chose my Bra, my Shirt, and my Bag

1. Smartwool Active Crop Bra. Since I’ll be wearing it everyday for the next five months, I spent a hilarious amount of time researching which bra to wear on the trail.  I wanted something long-ish and with enough torso coverage that it could kinda-sorta work as a shirt on its own. I needed something with a high percentage of quality Merino Wool (this bra is 53% Merino Wool, 47% TENCEL Lyocell) with a simple and straightforward silhouette, and ideally with straps that would mostly line up with my pack’s shoulder straps. The Active Crop Bra checked all the boxes. It was between this and the Ridge Merino Send-It Seamless Merino Sports Bra (which looks to have a more sustainable fabrication, although it only has 30% Merino Wool and the fit wasn’t for me), so here we are.

2. Outdoor Research Women’s Astroman Air Sun Hoodie. Compared to my bra, I didn’t give any thought to which shirt I’d wear on the trail. I’ve worn my old sun hoodie on multiple adventures, and it really proved its worth last summer on a sweaty two-day (unsuccessful) summit attempt up Mount Rainier. Its durable, light, actually fits (I’m 5’10”), and has always protected my very fair, burnable skin. Bonus points for the extra long half-zip which makes it easy to dump excess heat. My old hoodie smells a little bit and has some gross stains, but I’m wearing it until it disintegrates.

3. Western Mountaineering UltraLite sleeping bag. This bag was my biggest purchase for the PCT (but not by much – looking at you, Big Agnes tent). The price is sky high, but I felt it was worth it because my two main concerns were weight and warmth. I get cold easily and my morale tanks when I’m not warm, snuggly, and well-rested (#boujee). My bag will hopefully keep me comfortable down to 20F, and the 6′ mummy style is only 29 ounces. Further justifying the price, the bag is also American-made and I think I can use it for the entire trail.

A few regular backpacking items I’m leaving behind

1. A Pillow. I’m just going to pile together whatever gear/food sack/etc. is around and rest my head on that. Will there be nights I regret it and I’m uncomfortable? Certainly. Are we forgoing it anyway? Yup. And since I’m saving lots and lots of weight by skipping a pillow, its easier to justify bringing my kindle and a cork massage ball for my pesky gluteus medius and psoas major muscles (Taylor Swift translation: for my “my hips and thighs and my whispered sighs”).

2. My dog. Trek friends, meet my dog, Salish. Please note the high boopability of her perfectly curved snoot.

My dog comes with me everywhere and is my most tried and true adventure buddy, apart from my boyfriend, Sean (hi honey!). She’s arguably my most versatile piece of gear (hands free heater! ice breaker with new trail friends! tent cuddle buddy! the list goes on). Is she a piece of gear? No, of course not, don’t be silly. But to me, she is essential and it feels genuinely weird to undertake an adventure without my pup. I sobbed the day I left her at home.

3. Stuff Sacks. I’m only bringing three sacks on the trail: one for my hygiene kit, one for tent poles, and a rodent proof Sea to Summit bag for my food.  All the other bags for my jacket, wallet, first aid kit, sleeping bag, tent, etc. will stay at home, and I’ll toss stuff in my bag willy nilly. Will stuff get co-mingled and gross? Yes. But leaving behind my usual stuff sacks has already helped me pare down my gear and pack weight, and I don’t have to spend the every morning for six months trying to shove my sleeping bag into a god-forsaken-too-damn-small sack. It’ll save me time, mental energy, and a few curse words, so I’m calling it an unorganized win.

4. Pants. Kind of. Remember when I told you that I have very fair skin and I burn easily? You’d think I’d want to cover up my legs with pants, right? Nope. I’m not bringing my traditional hiking pants and I’m instead opting for a pair of running shorts, although I am still bringing a base layer and the often recommended Body Wrappers Ripstop Pants. I’m not totally sold on these nylon dance pants, but they come highly recommended by fellow thru-hikers so I’m following the masses. I think the dance pants will either be a disaster or will make it all the way to Canada. Stay tuned.

Also, my friend Emma asked me to share whatever books I’m reading or listening to on trail. So, I just started The Greatest Beer Run Ever: a Memoir of Friendship, Loyalty, and War by Jon “Chick” Donohue and J.T. Molloy. I also have James S. A. Corey’s Leviathan Wakes queued up on audible.

Happy trails, ya’ll.

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Comments 1

  • Dad : Apr 12th

    Go get ’em, KT Bug! Great blog. We don’t need no stinkin pillows. And xtra credit for your bag Made in America!


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