Let me be the first to tell you, I’m not a “gear head” nor a “gear junkie,” and I know one thing for sure, what works for one person won’t work for everybody! But after 1,100+ miles on the Appalachian Trail last year, I eventually learned what works for me (which is always subject to change)! Like most people, I started the trail with much too much, and my pack weighed way more than it needed to. There’s always the ability to minimalize more than I currently have, but this is as simple as I’m comfortable with at this time. However, after 2,200 more miles under my tread, this could change yet again!
Hey y’all! For the second part of this segment, I’m going to discuss any tools, utensils, and what not that make up my camp “kitchen” as well as what I’ll be using to purify my water. I’ll also be discussing all those items I’ll have at my disposal for bathroom breaks as well as items needed in order to keep me healthy.
Some people go for the pump filtration, others go for gravity filtration, I prefer the squeeze option! I carry with me two Smart Water bottles and the Sawyer Squeeze Filter. The Sawyer Squeeze fits right on top of the Smart Water bottles. There are other water bottles it will fit on as well, but Smart Water plastic bottles are lightweight and moderately sturdy. You can just stick an empty bottle under a stream, twist on the Sawyer, and you’re set to go!
Some people use an empty bottle to squeeze filtered water into so they can chug, since there is some resistance with the twist top (they call it Sawyer “Squeeze” for a reason)! I sometimes do this if I want to use a powdered mix drink (I always crave Gatorade on the trail), but I generally just carry two “dirty” water bottles and drink through the filter.
I have accidentally lost bits and pieces in the past, so I carry a sandwich bag containing an extra Smart Water bottle cap, a Sawyer mouthpiece, and an extra washer in case I need them. I also have the syringe in there too which is needed to flush out the occasional gunk that builds up in the filter to keep it working.
I won’t be discussing the actual food I’ll be bringing with me this time. I’ll discuss my “stoveless” ways another day, I promise! However, there are several little items that make up my camp “kitchen” (it’s a really small kitchen)! I don’t cook my food, so I don’t need fuel and don’t carry a stove. I also don’t carry a pot or a mug, although I did last year and cooked the occasional Ramen noodles over a fire. Instead I re-hydrate my food (the amount of time needed varies on the food) in a Talenti Sorbetto ice cream container.
Some people use a plastic peanut butter jar, but I don’t like peanut butter (not allergic, just weird), and I don’t really care much for ice cream either (not lactose intolerant, just weird), but it works for me!
I have a Sea To Summit Spork that I eat with, and used a larger plastic knife last year, but I’m going to try using the tiny one attached to the Swiss Army keychain (kept with my blister kit), I acquired instead for the sake of reducing my gear.
I have a Z-Packs Bear Bagging kit that I use to carry my food in.
I also keep an assortment of plastic baggies inside (for packing our trash and food storage), and also tuck away all my toiletries in it overnight when I need to hang it.
HEALTH & HYGIENE:
My “bathroom kit” consists of a roll of toilet paper and a small bottle of hand sanitizer in a plastic bag. I keep it on the outside of my pack for the very necessary for emergencies easy access! I brought a trowel with me last year, but I’m leaving it a home this time since I never used it. I always ended up using a stick or a rock to dig a hole instead.
Inside my pack I carry an Eagle Creek Pack It Toiletry Organizer (super lightweight at 1 oz.!) and that’s where I keep a traveler’s sized toothpaste and toothbrush, my gear repair kit (which I’ll discuss next time), a self-made blister repair kit (I have a history of angry feet), and a plethora of pills.
I’ll start with my blister kit, since I think the toothbrush and toothpaste is self-explanatory. If it isn’t and you aren’t familiar with them, don’t worry about it, because you’re probably missing all of your teeth by now anyway. If my feet had personality of their own, you wouldn’t want to be friends with them; they’re complete a**holes. That being the case, I have a hefty kit full with nail clippers, tweezers, padded blister Band-Aids, mini-scissors (included in the Swiss Army keychain), strips of KT Tape (way better than bandage tape in my book; knock-off brand works just fine too), and a mini Gold Bond body powder.
My plethora of pills? Given my stress fracture last year and that I’m not getting any younger, I decided to continue taking my daily multi-vitamin and D3 vitamins (apparently I’m deficient) even while I’m on the trail. It’s probably not a bad idea given that a hiker diet generally consists of garbage anyway. Otherwise, I’ll be carrying just a few DayQuil’s just to keep illness at bay, and good old Vitamin I (a term used for Ibuprofen) to ease the aches and pains at night. There were a few things I decided not to bring this year that I carried with me last year. I had brought an anti-diarrheal last time which I didn’t really need it unless I overindulged on cheap beer (I plan on doing way less of that this time around)! I’m not sure if it was due to exposure, but I also brought an antihistamine with me last time, but never experienced any outdoor allergies.
As far as bug spray, I carried a big bottle with me last year, but hardly needed it. I’m more concerned about the ticks, so I plan on treating my gear with Sawyer Permethrin Clothing Insect Repellent.
At home, the mosquitoes annihilate me, but I didn’t use it enough to justify bringing it. When you start smelling like McDonald’s kitchen grease, the mosquitoes (not so much the flies) tend to leave you be. On that note, I’ll answer the question that you might be thinking right now. “What about deodorant?” When you hike for long periods of time, you reach a new level of stick the deodorant just doesn’t penetrate. Don’t bother, leave it at home!
Next time, I’ll mention some wearable accessories and additional items such as my headlamp, trail guide and my poles. Click here to read about the clothes I’ll be wearing, or here to read about my big three (tent, pack, and sleep system). Thanks for reading!