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6 Tips to Backpacking Fast and Light

Fast and Light shelter and sleep system with the <a href=",d.cGU">Mountain Laurel Designs cuben fiber Solomid</a> (11 oz) and Brooks Range Cloak.
Fast and Light shelter and sleep system with the Mountain Laurel Designs cuben fiber Solomid (11 oz) and Brooks Range Cloak.

If you’re just thinking about getting into lightweight backpacking, or if you’re already light but are looking for lighter ways to roll, here are a few tips I wrote for our friends at Brooks Range Mountaineering about how you can take the heft out of your outdoor load.

My navigation tips in Backpacker

Navigating on the Inman 300 Urban LA Hike Photo by Gilbert Garcia
Navigating on the Inman 300 Urban LA Hike Photo by Gilbert Garcia

Learning to navigate is a life-long learning opportunity. There are always more things you can learn, more tips, tricks, and little know-hows to add to your quiver. I was honored by being asked by Backpacker Magazine for some tips on navigation. We all have to start somewhere when it comes to navigation, and I certainly remember when I first started hiking, I would easily get fooled to believe than an animal trail or water way was “the trail.” Hopefully, you will find these tips useful!

Check it out:

Women’s Backpacking Tips

Cover to Women’s Backpacking Tips by TRAILS Magazine!
Cover to Women’s Backpacking Tips by TRAILS Magazine!

I’ve made a lot of mistakes, wasted a lot of money, and ended up pretty messy and stinky–but through learning the hard way, here are some nuggets of wisdom that should give women out there the knowledge and skills to never do what I did again!

This was a story I shared with my good friends over at TRAILS Cultural Magazine in Japan. But don’t be frightened–the complete English text link is here!

Everything you’ve ever needed to know, wanted to know, or just are curious about with regards to being a woman backpacking.

Check it out!


A Trip Report in Four Meals: Good to Go Gourmet Backpacking Food Review

Badger enjoys the Marinara Penne for breakfast in the Sand Dunes
Badger enjoys the Marinara Penne for breakfast in the Sand Dunes

With new backpacking foods popping up on the market everywhere these days, a crew of long distance hikers and I wanted to test out some new flavors and varieties before outdoor season gets into full swing.

As big time foodies who also love backpacking, we were stoked to discover a relatively new company on the market, Good to Go, which calls itself a gourmet backpacking food—and for good reason! Founded by Iron Chef winner (and longtime owner of NY Times 4 star rated restaurant Annissa in NYC), Jennifer Scism, Good to Go is a new pre-packaged backpacking dinner that first appeared at Summer OR and is quickly hitting the shelves of specialty outfitters.

Good to Go offers four flavors: Thai Curry (380 calories per 3.8 oz), Smoked Three Bean Chili (vegetarian, 340 calories per 3.5 oz), Mushroom Risotto (410 calories per, Classic Marinara with Penne (460 calories for 3.5 oz)
Good to Go offers four flavors: Thai Curry (380 calories per 3.8 oz), Smoked Three Bean Chili (vegetarian, 340 calories per 3.5 oz), Mushroom Risotto (410 calories per, Classic Marinara with Penne (460 calories for 3.5 oz)

I had the chance to try a few bites of Good to Go at Winter OR—and was blown away by the restaurant quality flavor. But how would food prepared by a top chef perform in the backcountry when faced by a crew of hungry hikers? We took Good to Go on a three day backpacking trip in Great Sand Dunes National Park and the foothills of the Sangre to Cristo Range in Colorado to test our Good to Go’s flavors—Herbed Mushroom Risotto, Classic Marinara with Penne, Thai Curry, and Smoked Three Bean Chili.

I bring you a trip report told in the story of four meals. The abridged version is that while hikers generally enjoy eating, on a cold and wet trip, Good to Go raised our spirits and made the being outdoors experience even more beautiful.

Dinner: Smoked Three Bean Chili

As the chef at any American Long Distance Hiking Association West Gathering can tell you, long distances hikers have an appetite bigger than a college freshman football team. Yet, after spending the day walking as far as the eye could see climbing dunes, we still found the Good to Go portions if anything, generous. Unlike many other backpacking food companies, one container=one generous meal for one person. If you’re hiking with two, bring one for each of you.

As we watched the storm roll in, we cooked up the Smoked Three Bean Chili. The meal was light in salt, but big on flavor. We loved the smokiness of the paprika mixed with the ancho chili powder. After getting pelted by wind and sand all day and not seeing a soul around, having a warm, gourmet meal really hit the spot and added to the epic-ness of our adventure.

Breakfast: Classic Marinara with Penne

So, it was harsh night out in the Dunes. Despite our efforts to find a wind-free spot, gusts of sand spit into our sleeping faces, we got snowed on, and one of our crew got lost in the Dunes doing some night photography.

We needed a breakfast pick me up. BAD. So we cooked up the Classic Marinara with Penne. As with all the Good to Go Meals, prep is simple enough it can be done when the brain is still in a pre-coffee state. We simply boiled up so water, tossed it in the pouch, and sealed it, and waited 20 minutes—enough time to get some coffee brewing!

I’m a big sucker for marinara—especially while backpacking. It’s a classic flavor, and one that is often botched in the backcountry. Good to Go’s marinara was spot on and I could just hear my Italian friends saying that it was like being back in their grandmother’s kitchen. Except not. We were in the middle of a Sand Dune getting snowed on.

Dinner: Herbed Mushroom Risotto

By 10 am, the weather had turned, and soon the snow was coming down hard. Temperatures and visibility dropped. It was snowing so hard, that we decided not to hike on in the afternoon. Luckily, we got out tents up in a relative break in the snow, and were able to hike around basecamp and enjoy the beauty of the snow for a few hours. But by dinner time, we were cold, wet, and ready for something to warm us from the inside out and give us the energy to keep our bodies toasty though the cold night ahead.

I’m always a big fan of risotto, and Good to Go’s cremini mushroom, garlic, white wine, walnut, and basil seemed rich enough to keep me snug all night. Amazingly, Good to Go actually uses Arborio rice like a true risotto, not like the mock risottos made of instant rice that I see in other backpacking foods and that I make myself. Good to Go Foods are all dehydrated, so they take a little longer to soak in boiling water than backpacking goods that are freeze dried and won’t work for those who go stoveless. If you’re impatient like me, or at altitude (water boils at a lower temperature at altitude, so backpacking dinners soaked at high altitude will take more soaking time), you can always stick your food in your pot and cook it for 5 minutes.

I’m not sure how they were able to turn Arborio rice into something that would rehydrate in the backcountry, but the result was creamy and hearty and just want our cold and wet crew needed.

Dinner: Thai Curry

After staying surprisingly comfortably warm all night (with only a heavy snow-covered branch falling right by our tent to disturb the night) we packed up our wet tents and headed out. We enjoyed a relatively warm and dry day watching the foot of snow melt and evaporate. To celebrate how we’d been able to make the best of the weekend—regardless of the weather—I cracked into the Thai Curry, which I knew from the beginning was going to be my favorite flavor of the four.

It’s filled with tons of veggies—green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, and peas. But the best part is the flavorful sauce of coconut milk, but also spices you never see in other backpacking foods– Kaffir lime, cardamom, tamarind, and lemongrass. That night, I went home but could only think of the months I spend each year hiking in remote places that don’t have ethnic food restaurants. How even tastier this meal would have tasted then!

In conclusion, Good to Go offers high quality ingredients (in fact—all pronounceable) in a gourmet style dehydrated backpacking food. You can check out their flavors and where you can get them at Good to Go. While some long distance hikers may find the food too gourmet (and pricey) to eat for every meal, it is the perfect treat for special trips such as the time you have to take your food picky mom out on her first backpacking trip, a hiking trip with a hot date you’re trying to impress, or the really hard part of the your long distance hike when you’re going to want a big pick me up.

Flavors: Thai Curry (380 calories per 3.8 oz), Smoked Three Bean Chili (vegetarian, 340 calories per 3.5 oz), Herbed Mushroom Risotto (410 calories per 3.5 oz), Classic Marinara with Penne (460 calories for 3.5 oz)



Continental Divide Trail Northbound Gearlist

Gearing up for a CDT thru-hike in Lordsburg, NM
Gearing up for a CDT thru-hike in Lordsburg, NM

Last month, I was in Silver City and Lordsburg, NM sending off this year’s crew of Northbound Continental Divide Trail hikers. Although I won’t be heading out on a CDT thru this year, time down in the Bootheel of New Mexico has given me the space to do some brainstorming on what gear I would—and did—bring out to the southern terminus of the CDT. Although all my miles on this trip have been daytrips or walking to water caches, and my camping has been in the backyard of a trail angel who lives on the CDT, I’m pretty sure this is the system I would bring out when I’m lucky enough to hike the CDT again.

Running dispatch for the CDT Shuttle from the Econo Lodge in Lordsburg, NM
Running dispatch for the CDT Shuttle from the Econo Lodge in Lordsburg, NM

Temps for the month have been in highs around 70, lows around 40, wind between 10 and 30 mph.

A few notes:

Despite the lack of rain, I opted for a full coverage shelter in the MLD Solomid. We’ve been having 30 mph winds in the afternoons and at night both south and north of Lordsburg, so I wanted a shelter that is tried and true in staying up in that kind of weather. Needless to say, I had no problem keeping my Solomid up and keeping the wind off my face at night in this shelter. Most importantly, it has been raining and snowing in the Gila, so even though we’re in New Mexico, rain gear and a good shelter are worth having.

With all the thorns, sands, and tumbleweed between the Southern terminus and Lordsburg, gaiters are a must for this trip. I also purposely opted not to bring an inflatable pad because of all the thorns in this section. I would potentially pick up an inflatable pad at Doc Campbell’s (a town where you can resupply before the Gila) before entering the higher altitude and cooler Gila Wilderness.

Much spikage and thornage on the section between Lordsburg and Silver City as evidenced by these <a href=" rel="no follow"">Altra Lone Peaks</a>
Much spikage and thornage on the section between Lordsburg and Silver City as evidenced by these Altra Lone Peaks

My Montbell windshirt was a must in this climate. Even though there was no rain while I was there, the NWAlpine Eyebright offered a breathable alternative to wearing my down jacket all day. Even though the trail starts in New Mexico, it can rain in the Spring and this year’s hikers got poured on! I would definitely carry my Mountain Laurel Designs rain kilt, which also makes a nice mini-ground sheet. I especially enjoyed my Montbell Down Parka early in the morning and in the evening—I slept in it all nights.

I would opt not to bring sleep socks (reflected in the gear list). I didn’t wear the tights, but know that they would be very useful in the Gila.

Also given the spikiness and cross-countryish nature of the section from the border to Lordsburg, I would seriously consider during the impossible and wearing pants instead of my Purple Rain Skirt, although I would switch back to my skirt as soon as the spiky cross country ceased.

My 28 degree MLD Spirit Quilt was just warm enough for the coldest nights, and perfect for the usual desert temperatures. Even though it only weighs 17 oz, the fabric is pretty tough and because it is synthetic, I never had to worry about feathers ending up everywhere as I tossed and turned off my groundsheet and onto spiky things in the night.

I’m trying out the GoMotion Fusion Backpack sternum strap light and felt that the desert would be the ideal place to use it. The GoMotion weighs more than I’m used to carrying for a headlamp, but hiking in the desert is easiest before the heat of the day sets in late into the evening, so I was willing to invest in a more robust headlamp. Plus, since the CDT has so much road walking, there is a lot of easy hiking that can be done at night by headlamp.

Backpack, Shelter, Sleeping Bag, Sleeping Pad

backpackGossamer Gear Kumo17
waterproof pack coverGossamer Gear Pack Liner1.2
sleeping padGossamer Gear Nitelite Torso5.4
shelter+guylinesMountain Laurel Designs SoloMid11
shelter support (poles, etc.)(Using trekking poles)0
shelter stow sackMountain Laurel Designs cuben fiber large1.5
stakes (rubber banded)6 Toaks Titanium V-shaped stakes3
sleeping bag (no stuff sack)MLD Spirit Quilt17.2
ground sheet or bivy sackGossamer Gear polycryo - medium1.5
HipbeltGossamer Gear Kumo Hipbelt3.7

Clothing Carried:

underwear - bottomsEx Officio briefs1.5
long sleevesSmartwool PhD Arm Warmer3.4
base / wicking layer bottomUniqlo tights3.4
insulating topMontbell U.L. Down Parka 6.5
raingear topNW Alpine Eyebright5.4
raingear bottomsMountain Laurel Designs Rain Kilt1.7
windgear (soft shell) topMontbell Tachyon Windshirt M1.8
warm hatOutdoor Research Transcendent Down beanie1.7
spare socksDarn Tough Run/Bike ulralight 1/4 length1.2
clothing stuff sackMountain Laurel Designs Cuben fiber-size M0.3

Cooking and Hydration:

stoveTrail Designs Gram Cracker0.1
windscreenTrail Designs Caldera Ti-Tri0.9
fuel bottlenone - fuel tabs0
matches / lighterpaper matches 0.1
cook pot and lid Trail Designs Fosters Can Pot1.3
utensilsToaks Long Handled Spoon0.3
Food bagOdor and Critter Proof bag1.5
water storagePlatypus 2+L hydration bag1.5
water storageSawyer 2 Liter squeeze pouch1.3
More water storageSawyer 2l squeeze pouch1.3
Hydration hosePlatypus hydration drinking tube (trimmed to reduce weight)2.7
water treatmentSawyer Mini Filter1.4
Water treatment cleanerSawyer Mini Filter Cleaning Syringe1.1

Miscellaneous Gear:

LightGo Motion Fusion Backpack Sternum Strap Light3.5
trekking polesGossamer Gear Light Trek 4 two-piece hiking poles (2 of them)8.2
sunscreenSawyer Stay Put Sunscreen0.7
toothbrushCut off toothbrush0.2
toothpastePowdered toothpaste transferred into a tiny bottle.5
toilet paper2
hygienemicro bottle alcohol gel0.1
PillsImodium, Benadryl, ibuprofen, naproxin0.8
firestarting kitWetfire Fire Starter0.1
Gear Repair Gear Aid Tenacious Tape 0.2
Blister Care/Gear RepairLeukotape sports tape.5
CameraI'm still looking for a good one? Have any suggestions?5.0
Safety pin0.05
trowelQi Whiz original potty trowel0.6
Sun UmbrellaMontbell UL Trekking Umbrella5.4

Worn Items:

Trail Running ShoesAltra Lone Peak 2.0s
SocksDarn Tough Ultralight Run/Bike Merino
Pocketed SkirtPurple Rain Adventure Skirts
Long Sleeve, collared shirtStill looking for a good one. Any suggestions?
Sports braEx Officio Give N Go Crossover Bra

I’m still looking for a good camera and a good long sleeve collared shirt for the CDT. The sun was pretty intense, so I’d up my hat to something with 360 full brimmed coverage that would stay on my face during intense wind. Is there a model out there that you like that won’t require a trip to Australia to procure? I would probably look for a long sleeved shirt instead. I’ve increasingly been toying with sun gloves , too, but haven’t really experimented. Does anyone have a brand they like?

Are there any pieces of gear you would recommend for bringing on the CDT? What gear have you enjoyed carrying in the desert?

Transcript of my Speech at Backpacker Magazine

Loving nature. Photo by Barefoot Jake Morrison.
Loving nature. Photo by Barefoot Jake Morrison.

American Hiking Society is the only national organization that promotes and protects foot trails, their surrounding natural areas, and the hiking experience.

I was lucky enough to give a speech at Backpacker Magazine’s headquarters in Boulder, Colorado this spring at an event for American Hiking Society. Here, in my own words, I share why hiking is important to me and why it is so crucial that we protect our trails and natural places for future generations.

Check it out!

Speaking at the AHS event at Backpacker HQ. Photo by John Cactus McKinny
Speaking at the AHS event at Backpacker HQ. Photo by John Cactus McKinny

10 Tips for Navigation

Liz Thomas checking directions with assistance from the carefully planned route on Google Maps. Photo by <a href="">Kevin Steele.</a>
Liz Thomas checking directions with assistance from the carefully planned route on Google Maps. Photo by Kevin Steele.

I was honored and stoked to be featured in the May 2015 issue of Backpacker Magazine in an article called “Navigate Like a Pro.” I’m including 10 more navigation tips that didn’t make the cut for the magazine (plus my #1 tip):

  • MOST IMPORTANT TIP: Let your brain be the one in control. It’s really hard to navigate if you’re hungry, thirsty, cold, hot, or in pain. Take care of your needs first, then navigate. Just like being “hangry” (hungry+angry) can make you crabby and snappy at your most beloved friends, so too, can low blood sugar, temperature extremes, or pain distract you from making good decisions.
  • Take a map with you—even if you’re visiting a trail you’ve done before. I used to think that the most experienced people don’t need maps in the words. I’ve now learned that the most experienced outdoors people are map dorks who carry and check their maps wherever they go. Using maps in a known place is a great practice and way to learn navigation almost by osmosis.
  • As you hike, track where you are on the map. Even if you are visiting a trail you’re familiar with, it’s amazing how much you learn “on the job” about navigation just by tracking. When you really need those skills when you’re in a pinch, you’ll be surprised how much paying attention can make a difference.
Carrying my map along the CDT in Montana
Carrying my map along the CDT in Montana
  • Keep your map handy and check it often. I often hike with a map in my sweaty hand, pocket of my Purple Rain Adventure Skirt, or (a little embarrassing) stuffed in my sports bra. This means that it’s super easy for me to check at any time where I am on the map, without even having to stop moving.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and landmarks. Do you see rivers? Roads? Mountains? Buildings? Trail intersections? Even if you’re not great with reading a map, you can use these major pointers to use the process of elimination and deduce where you are on the map. A great way to practice this is at home in the city. Where I live in Denver, the mountains are always west. When I lived in the Inland Empire east of LA, the (big) mountains were always north. I would practice this way of thinking about direction on my bike, in my car, and on my way to get ice cream. It was a great way to train my mind for how I would need to think in the backcountry.
Cross country through the snow in the Crystal Range. Photo by Brian G.
Cross country through the snow in the Crystal Range. Photo by Brian G.
  • Sleep on it. If you are lost while backpacking and it is towards the end of the day, sometimes, it is worth it just to camp early, let your mind rest, and try again in the morning.
  • Be careful of distractions. It’s easy to miss turns while you’re having a great time chatting with a buddy or rocking out to some tunes on your mp3 player.
  • Use a high spot. If you’re on trail and know where you are, don’t just use that scenic viewpoint for taking photos. It can also be a great to scout out your route. If you’re lost or just doing some cross country, observing your surroundings from a highpoint can also give you perspective of where you’ve been from and where you want to go.
  • Jimmy looks down at Le Salle Lake in the Humphreys Basin, Sierra. Photo by Alejandro P.
    Jimmy looks down at Le Salle Lake in the Humphreys Basin, Sierra. Photo by Alejandro P.
  • Use your watch. Sometimes it helps to mark what time you were at what landmark or intersection to get an idea of how quickly you are moving across the terrain and to help you remember what time you were last certain of where you were.
  • Know your mph. You can often figure out where you are on a map based on knowing your pace and the amount of time that has passed since you last knew where you were. Be careful, though, since your miles per hour won’t always be the same—just like your car slows down when you go uphill or over rocky roads, your hiking speed will go down significantly when you’re climbing mountains or crossing snow, rocks, roots, and mud.

Any Season Overnighter: Opal Creek Wilderness, Oregon (family friendly)

I’m finally getting around to writing up about some hikes in 2014, and one of the most memorable happened on a cold, rainy mid-October day in Central Oregon. I was visiting my good friend, Whitney “Allgood” LaRuffa, and our original plan had been to hike the Timberline Trail, but 50 mph winds and rain that resulted in swelling of Big Sandy River and the other creeks made us change our minds to the good-in-any-weather Opal Creek Wilderness: the largest intact stand of old growth trees (500-1,000 year old trees are not uncommon) in the Cascades.


When we pulled up to the Opal Creek trailhead, the parking lot was fairly crowded—with good reason. The trail itself starts with three miles of wide, family-friendly, easy-graded former gravel road to a rustic, adorable eco-friendly camp (the Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center) that provides organic, vegetarian meals and adorable housing. For those with kids or family members who want to overnight in the woods, but don’t want a long hard walk or to carry a backpack, the hike to the Center may be the most perfect overnighter in the world.

On the way to the camp, we passed multiple brilliant blue swimming holes and cascades that would have begged a swim had it not been October. Not far from the Opal Creek camp is Opal Pool, a turquoise cascade, with an ideally placed bridge over it to take photos.

Though I knew Opal Creek would be beautiful, what intrigued me the most about the Opal Creek Wilderness was its history. Two miles up the trail at Jawbone flats, hikers walk past remnants of an old milling plant. It’s humbling to look at these huge metal forces of manmade-ness standing alongside the forest, which is slowly taking over the old plant. Together, they give a beauty to Opal Creek that is haunting.

The most striking history of Opal Creek, though, is its battleground status during the logging debates of 1990s. In 1993, a logging company applied for a permit with the Forest Service to log old growth forest in Opal Creek area. Environmentalists, in protest, chained themselves to trees and lived in trees.

Eventually the place was saved and in 1996, all privately held land in the area was turned into the Opal Creek Wilderness, Opal Creek Recreation area, and the Elkhorn River that runs through it was designated a Wild and Scenic River. To learn more about Opal Creek’s history, check out David Seideman’s Showdown at Opal Creek: the Battle for America’s Last Wilderness.

Opal Creek is the setting for another favorite story of mine: In January 2013, Allgood set aside a weekend to hike in Opal Creek with some friends, but at the last minute, found that he was the only person who could make it. He headed off nonetheless with his four-footed companion, Karluk. Unexpectedly, Allgood rolled his ankle, and years of backcountry medical training came back to warn him that this was bad. He knew he had to get to the car back. Yet the trail was covered in blowdowns. Karluk knew something was wrong, and Allgood says that he guided him through the blowdowns, waiting as the injured hiker hobbled along. As Allgood hobbled 20 miles on steep, wet, raviney, rooty, rocky terrain, Karluk provided companionship and encouragement. To read the story in Allgood’s own words, check out his amazing story of his dog’s backcountry skills and faithfulness.

Allgood and my trip to Opal Creek was his first time back since he broke his ankle, and while it was fun, it was not without trouble. After a climb up to Thunderhead Mountain, a rocky and windy summit that used to house a lookout tower, Allgood and I took a side-trail to a spring, setting our packs down by the intersection. When we returned to our packs, however, some local residents were not so happy about our pack placement: Allgood and Karluk was attacked by wasps. I escaped their wrath by running away. Allgood concluded, “Every time I come to Opal Creek, it shows me that it hates me because I’m in the lumber business.”

Although we packed gear and had every intention of turning Opal Creek into an overnighter, towards the end of the day, we had no luck finding a flat spot to camp. As we continued on our path, searching for campspots by headlamp, we realized we were ¼ mile from the car. Pretty soaked from the day’s adventures, we opted to head back to the heated car and hit up a Dairy Queen. Nonetheless, I felt humbled and honored to walk in the presence of not only such great trees, but in the footsteps of those who worked to save such a magical place.

All the good photos in here were taken by Allgood.

How to Hike On/Near/and By Private Land

Tomato and Fancy walking the road–a narrow strip of public access land surrounded by private land on the Chinook Trail.
Tomato and Fancy walking the road–a narrow strip of public access land surrounded by private land on the Chinook Trail.

When it comes to trails, not only do I love hiking, but I also am a huge policy geek. I love understanding how our national landscape system has come to be, and as a result, have come to realize what an enormous privilege it is that we as Americans have long tracts of land where just any ol’ person can go and hike!

Part of what makes this difficult, though, is that there is often private land around the public areas we love to recreate. And while we hikers dream that one day, there will be more public access areas to hike, we have to do our part to be respectful to the people and ways of life associated with private land. While this is plain kindness, it also makes landowners feel more comfortable with hikers and helps our trail organizations maybe one day make an agreement to protect more scenic areas.

I wrote these tips based on my own experiences hiking near private land. I hope you will read this tips and think about them next time you’re out on a trail near private land!

Check it out:







Pacific Crest Trail Gearlist

Five years ago, I started hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. My friend Jenna came to see me off.
Five years ago, I started hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. My friend Jenna came to see me off.

This weekend marked the 5 year anniversary of my PCT thru-hike. Although I’ve been back there and have about half the PCT miles done as section hikes since then, nothing quite beats the trepidation, excitement, and the unknown of the first time. In honor of that day, I’m posting my gearlist from 2009. Surprisingly, I would change very few things. Since this gear is old, this would also make a fantastic discount ultralight gear list–many things on this list are older models, but still work great. Hope you enjoy this ArcBlast from the past!


ItemBrandModelWeight (oz)General Notes
backpackGossamer GearG57.8Carried from Sierra to the end, really torn up at the end, hydration pocket and side pockets are nice design, cuben fiber hot on back
pack linerHeftyTrash Compactor Bag (white)2Sent myself a new one in mail drop resupply boxes every 500 miles

The G5 already had a PCT thru-hike on it and after another hiker improperly handled it, developed a tear. I switched out to the Z-packs Arcblast and carried that from Kennedy Meadows until the end.


ItemBrandModelWeight (oz)General Notes
down sleeping bagWestern MountaineeringUltralite Mummy Bag (20 degree)29I love this bag. It was a bit hot for a week in NorCal only
BivyMountain Laurel DesignsEarly version of the Superlite Bivyuperlite Bivy7Worked well for bugs. Most nights on the PCT, cowboy camped with the bivy and didn't use the shelter. Useful for hot days when the sleeping bag was too hot, too!
sleeping padGossamer GearGossamer Gear5Was enough insulation for the PCT.
Pack explosion in Southern California
Pack explosion in Southern California


ItemBrandModelWeightGeneral Notes
tarp / ponchoSix Moon DesignsGatewood CapeGatewood Cape11Used it maybe 7 nights the whole trip. Not advisable for 2 people.
stakesMountain Laurel Designs6 x Titanium & 4 x one gram stakes1.7
guylinesBackpacking LightAirCore NANO Dyneema Cord Kit0.8
mini-biners for linesMountain Laurel Designs8 x Superfly min biners1
The top of Forester Pass, the highest point on the PCT
The top of Forester Pass, the highest point on the PCT

Food / Hydration

ItemBrandModelWeightGeneral Notes
food bagMountain Laurel DesignSpectralite 1500 cL0.39
Daily snack bagZiploclarge freezer bag0.1
trash ZiplocZiploclarge freezer bag0.1
Bags that hold dinner and snacksZiplocQuart size0.15
eating utensilLight My Fire Titanium Spork0.4
Rehydration ContainerPlastic frosting container with screw on cap Used for rehydrating food. Doesn't take long to rehydrate food in the desert--very long in the Sierra. Beware exploding pea soup.
Hydration bagPlatypusPlatypus 2.0 Hoser Hydration system4
Water treatmentAqua MiraChlorine Dioxide Water Purification Treatment Drops3Not sold in Cali. Buy in bulk and stick in bounce box
Wearing the Gatewood Cape as raingear on my last day on the PCT
Wearing the Gatewood Cape as raingear on my last day on the PCT

First Aid / Toiletries

ItemBrandModelWeightGeneral Notes
anti-inflammatoriesIbuprofen 200mg x 10 (in Ziploc)0.1
sunscreen for hands, facehigh SPF1Buy small bottles in bulk and send in mail drops
hygienePurellMini Purell handsanitizer .5 oz container0.5Buy in bulk and send in mail drops
toothbrushbroken in half0.2
toothpaste / soapDr. Bronner's Small dropper bottle filled with a little Dr. B0.2If you can get used to the different taste, it is multiuse!
anti-diarrheageneric x 6 (in Ziploc w/other pills)0.05
Muir Hut on top of Muir Pass.
Muir Hut on top of Muir Pass.


ItemBrandModelWeightGeneral Notes
walletALL-ETTJunior Billfold0.1
cards & cashdriver's license, debit card, cash (passport for Canada)0.3
Cell phone and charger2.7Verizon probably has better coverage. I had AT&T and was fine in most places, though.
LED headlampPetzlTikka XP3.1Easy to nighthike on the PCT (minus bears and rattlers), nice to have for that
Mp3 playerRCA Lyra mp3 player (including 1 AAA battery)2I carried an ipod nano with a solar panel until Tahoe, but it didn't work well and destoryed my ipod. The lyra (a model which isn't sold anymore that runs on batteries) is a great thru-hiking mp3 player
extra lithium batteriesfor mp3 player and headlamp2I became enamored with lithiums on the CDT. They cost more, but weigh a lot less and last longer.
cameraNikonNikon Coolpix4It was light and cheap and survived the trail despite rain and sand. Could've taken better photos, but not for the price.
resupply Listnumbered reference list of items to be mailed to me0.1
Oregon Washington highpoint
Oregon Washington highpoint


ItemBrandModelWeightSierra or desert extra weightGeneral Notes
Guidebook bagZiploclarge freezer bag0.2
Yogi's PCT Handbookuse margins for journal 5A must.
journalBicpen (use guidebook for journal & phonecard info)0.1
Resupply boxes in Etna, CA
Resupply boxes in Etna, CA

Extra Clothing

ItemBrandModelWeightGeneral Notes
wind shirtPatagoniaHoudini Windshirt3Carried this jacket for the whole Triple Crown. The new model is slightly heavier.
raingearGatewood capeponcho (see Shelter)0A bit billowy, but given that it barely rains on the PCT, worth the weight and cost.
Long sleeve shirtSmartwoolMicroweight Longsleeve Crew4Great warmth to weight ratio, but could last longer
Warm head layerBuffNational Geographic Buff1.5Essential for keeping neck and face warm in addition to head.
tights NikeNike Fit tights7Wore from Kennedy Meadows north. I was very happy to have something cover my legs in the Sierra, though if I were to it again, would probably choose something lighter. The spandex stretchiness was nice, though
socks wornSmartwoolpHd ultralight merino running sock1Nice to have extra socks in the Sierra
puffy jacketWestern MountaineeringFlash Jacket8Wore from Kennedy Meadows north
The LT3 poles in the desert. My favorite photo from the whole trail.
The LT3 poles in the desert. My favorite photo from the whole trail.

Items Worn / Carried

ItemBrandModelWeightGeneral Notes
primary torso base layerREItank top0.7
shortsRoyal RobbinsWomen's backcountry shorts5Stylish and fit well
hat with full coverageExOfficioBugs Away Mesh Cape Hat3Kept away bugs, kept away the sun, stayed on my head in the wind.
sunglassesGas station2I lost my sunglasses many times
socks wornSmartwoolRun Ultralight Micro PhD1Great warmth to weight ratio. Didn't smell. Could have lasted longer.
shoesSalomonTrail Runner XA Pro3d shoes16Great grip in the Sierra.
watchTimexIronman2Useful for planning the day
underwearEx OfficioGive N Go Bikini Briefs2
hiking poles Gossamer GearLightTrek 3s (2 of them)Carried Idyllwild to Etna. Also held up the shelter.
Tunnel Falls up the Eagle Creek Trail
Tunnel Falls up the Eagle Creek Trail


Worn or carried4.9