What’s in My Life, and on My Back
Indulging the inner obsessive and researcher, I had a lot of fun figuring out what gear I would take. As my goal to hike the PCT was my first real introduction to the world of backpacking or hiking, I had to buy everything, and I mean everything. I don’t think I even owned my own sleeping bag. But I had about a year to acquire everything I needed, over an hour of bus rides each day while I was at university. Each day or every few days I’d research a specific item to the best of my knowledge. It reduced the feeling of being overwhelmed by the selection of gear available.
I do pride myself on being selective and researching what I want to buy to certainty, but I still make mistakes. They were all due to not knowing about lighter options and not doing research about options in other countries. Case in point: my first buy was a backpack. I later learned that was a bad thing, because I didn’t know how much room all my stuff would take up. But that’s where I overpacked my fears. So I decided on an Osprey Aether 70. It’s not a bad pack, just my needs in a pack changed with more research. I thought it was perfect for hiking for days and days on end. This idea of having a massive backpack for the gear and abundance of food didn’t make as much sense as it once did.
My Big Three/Four
I’ll do a quick rundown of my Big Three, because that’s a good place to start. My backpack: I decided I would splash out and get it right… the second time. Initially, I could not settle on a pack; I wanted something tailored to me. The customization options of Superior Wilderness Design appealed to me and I knew what I wanted. Although the wait time was eight to 12 weeks it didn’t matter because it was winter here. I also wasn’t doing more than day hikes, so it was no issue. So I went for it and received a pack I was and still am truly happy with.
The tent I’ll be taking on my hike of the PCT is the Big Agnes Flycreek HV UL2. I was stuck between the one-person or two-person version of the tent for a week. And then, I was struck by some inspiration or a suggestion from my mum. “Why don’t you just mark out the area of the tent on the ground and base it off that?” Now most of you are probably thinking, “Couldn’t he just go into a local outfitter and see it there?” Well, the problem with that is that Big Agnes doesn’t supply any stores here. And yes, there are a lot of outfitters here, but none really do the ultralight or lightweight tents that would be totally suitable for long-distance hiking.
The Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20 is the sleeping bag I decided on. This bag is a good all-rounder based on weight and cost. There isn’t really much to say about it at this point as I really haven’t tested it in conditions that cold yet. For my sleeping pad I have a Sea to Summit Ultralight Insulated. This thing is really comfortable for me and easy to inflate with its stuff sack/inflation sack thing. I could have gone with a Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite, but for some reason they’re really expensive over here, so I could really justify spending close to double the price for a sleeping pad that was 150 grams lighter. I’ll have to see how it holds up with consistent use.
For cooking, I’ll be using a Soto Amicus stove with a Snow Peak 700 cook pot. I’ll be using a Toaks spork for my main utensil. As for food storage, I’ll be using a Zpacks bear bag kit and whatever ziplock bags I need for storage. I haven’t sorted out the bear can situation for the Sierra yet. As for water filtering I’ll be using a Sawyer Mini Squeeze, despite the bad reputation about flow rate, I think it performs well enough for me. For water storage, I’ll be using a mix of a two liter water bag/bladder and water bottles.
I’m not much of a clothing person, so I’ll gloss over them somewhat quickly. My clothing is fairly standard, with mostly Patagonia brand clothes, such as the windbreaker, T-shirt, and shorts I’ll be taking. I’m mixing it up with some Icebreaker brand clothes too, because they’re a New Zealand brand, so they’re pretty commonplace here. For a warm jacket I’ll be using the Enlightened Equipment Torrid Apex jacket. My raincoat is an Outdoor Research Helium 2 jacket. As for shoes, I’m still deciding between taking a pair of Altra Lone Peak 3.5s I own or a pair of Vivobarefoot Primus Trail FG shoes.
As for accessories and luxuries, there are not any that are pure luxury items. Most of them are just items that are heavier than the lightest possible versions for that item. For example: my tent, sleeping pad, pack. I also have some extra clothing and could drop a few hundred grams if I didn’t take them. Those small extras give me more satisfaction and make me feel cleaner, so it’s well worth the weight for me. The Zpacks multipack is a luxury that is more convenient for me and worth it for me. It holds my camera and other electronics. It also doubles as a small bag to use while not on trail, i.e., at the airport or around town.
My electronics are as follows: Anker Powercore+ 13400 mAh powerbank, a Samsung Galaxy S9 phone, a UCO vapor+ headlamp, and a Sony A6000 camera with two lenses. The Sony A6000 and the lenses would be one of the biggest luxury items I’m taking as it totals to about 800 grams. The two lens are a SMC Pentax 50mm f/2 lens and a Sigma mini wide 28mm f/2.8 lens. Both lens are mounted with a K mount adapter.
If there’s anything else that I forgot to mention or talk about, it’ll be here in my lighterpack. I forgot to mention trekking or hiking poles. I’m worried about having more breakable items while flying. Or the tips of the poles poking holes in my gear. As for a PLB, I’m getting it before I start the trail too. This is because I’m paranoid that if I got a PLB in New Zealand it might not work on trail.
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