Here is my gear review from this summer on the Hayduke, Tahoe Rim, and Great Divide Trail. I updated quite a few items for this summer, so it took awhile to update this review. I was a bit heavier than past years and seem to have come in at a 13lb 10.2oz base pack weight. Many of my major gear items, I’ve now used for 2-3yrs over hundreds of days, so it is interesting to see which pieces have lasted the test of time. For a complete list of my evolution of gear, gear reviews, and current gear with prices and weights, you can go to my gear tab.

**An important note about my current gear listing though…I am updating it this weekend…some smaller items (ie stakes, headlamp, pocket knife) WILL NOT match this gear review. After my hikes ended this summer, I sent a box of gear home from Canada that I didn’t want to travel to Chicago with before returning home to Portland. Long story short, I was lax in my shipping routine after doing this for years with no problems at all. The box got stolen when it was accidentally delivered to my home porch with no one home. It had almost 40 small items I keep in my pack and bounce box over my hikes which totaled at least $700 worth of gear and personal items. Argh! I fortunately had my sentimental items, sleeping bag, backpack, and tent with me, so it could have been a lot worse. The two biggest ticket items I will need to replace are my GPS and my sleeping pad. I was fortunate that my awesome sponsors were able to replace a good chunk of the items for me. Some of them are even upgrades on old items I’ve had since my first hike and just never felt the need to update until the item wore out (or got stolen). I want to give a big THANK YOU to Gossamer Gear, Sawyer Products, Trail Designs, and Dirty Girl Gaiters for supporting me when I really needed it. As my followers know, I am not a walking commercial for gear and I use the gear that works best for me, not just what I can get for free. These are some reputable lightweight companies with really great gear, and I’m grateful to represent them and their gear on the trail. THANK YOU!!!!

I’ve attached links to some of the primary gear so you can easily click and find it online. I do want to say that gear preferences are a very personal thing and that everyone needs to find what fits them the best. Just because I use it doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to work for others. There’s a great variety out there and this is what has worked for me.

**This 60L pack was just updated (Fall 2014) with new, stronger material, and adjustments have been made with the shoulder straps to alleviate the discomfort some had with the earlier version.
Pros: I needed to be able to hold a lot on the Hayduke for long food and water carries and the Mariposa hung in there for me. It says it is made for 35lbs and less, but I was able to do more when needed for short periods and it worked just fine. The Mariposa is the only pack I’ve ever had that didn’t give me pain when it was fully loaded and there were times I didn’t even feel like I was wearing a pack! I like the variety in pockets and pouches of different sizes. There were multiple ways I could organize my gear/food/water as my weight and quantities changed over a leg. An added bonus is that the back pad can easily be removed and used as a sit pad or extension to my sleeping pad. 
Cons: Somehow the way I wear this pack, the side hip belt pockets got rubbed by the bottom of the shoulder strap. This is not a common occurrence for most other hikers and must be a combination of my size and the way I walk. Over time, and with the extreme use of a thru hiker, the strap can wear through the bottom of the shoulder straps near my hips or the side pocket zippers and I used duct tape to prevent it from rubbing through. I also feel like the pack looks big for me (I’m pretty small), and that I could downsize to the Gossamer Gear Gorilla (40L), but I love the option of all that storage when needed. On the Hayduke, all packs get torn up by the rocky surface that they are regularly scraped and pulled across. I should have gorilla taped the pocket bottoms ahead of time on that hike because they don’t have the thicker material that the bottom of the pack has. 

ZPacks Soloplex (1lb, 1.4oz, including 8 stakes) Pros: Light and spacious! It has become my favorite tent for a few reasons. A full bathtub floor and storm doors to make it fully enclosed. No need for a groundsheet so that saved weight too. Loved the space and the full side door with the option to leave the storm doors open (even in a light rain). I’ve used this tent for two seasons and well over 200 nights and it has held up! I’m hoping to make it through next season too.

Cons: It’s expensive ($535)! Even though it was stellar in a light or steady rain, it had some problems in the downpours and horizontally gusting rain. I get splashing and/or misting that gusted up under the elevated doors. This only happened a couple times in over 100 nights. Also, there is a small crack where the front storm doors don’t fully meet, so I would open my umbrella in the vestibule for added protection. I was fine and it only occurred a few times, but definitely worth mentioning. I had one night of a downpour for the whole night at the end of the summer and that is the only time the Soloplex showed its age. It seemed to get fully saturated in one corner and a small puddle developed, but it was an extreme situation and this tent is well used by now.
Bottom Line: If you have the $$ and want to save weight, this is the tent to get. A very close second is the Tarptent Protrail

ZPacks 10 Degree Down Sleeping Bag (1lb, 3.8oz)
Pros: It is sooo warm and puffy. Very  light and small. It doesn’t have a hood, but I was fine without it and use beanie, buff, and down hoodie if needed. It is very warm and I often would just use it as a blanket and not need to fully zip it. However, it was quite cold at night on the trails I did this summer, so it was great! I’ve had this bag for three seasons, and over 300 nights. It may have lost some loft over the years, but it was still great and I plan to use as is next year too. Just heavenly!
Cons: Expensive($400)…but worth it! The zipper does not extend all the way to the foot to save weight, but I like to stick my feet out the bottom as I sleep, so that was an adjustment. If this is a bit pricey for you, I recommend the Marmot Helium. 

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Women’s Sleeping Pad
Pros: Quite possibly my favorite piece of gear! Allowed me sink into the comfort of a bed every night. Light and compact. I upgraded to the XLite Women’s because it is lighter, shorter, and tapered so I had more room in my tent. Also, there is a reflective layer withing the pad that reflects body warmth back to the person laying on it. Really amazingly warm!

Cons: Also expensive, but totally worth it! People say they don’t like the crinkle of it at times, but I don’t move much and it doesn’t bother me. I know it could get a hole in it easier than other sleep pads, but I’ve only gotten two holes that were easy to repair over the lifetime of use of NeoAirs in over 500 nights of use. 

GoLite Chrome Dome Umbrella (8oz)
**GoLite is out of business, but other US retailers now sell it online. here is the Gossamer Gear link to buying this umbrella
Pros: I started using an umbrella a year ago and it’s now a must have piece of gear for me. I don’t know that I’ll ever hike a long trail again without it. This summer I used it as a sun shield often on the Hayduke and for that cold drizzle that often came on the Great Divide Trail. Then in snow on the Hayduke and the Tahoe Rim. With it, my core stayed dry, I didn’t have to put away my electronics, and I could take pictures as I pleased. I found a way to strap it to pack so it can be used hands free and loved it! As a bonus use, I’ve found it useful as extra protection from wind and rain when I open it up and prop it up in the vesibule of my tent. I do not use it in place of rain gear and I also use at least a light rain jacket when in cold rain.
Cons: It is technically a luxury item, but well worth it. I could see it being less useful in exposed high wind rain, but I’ve yet to have that problem. 

**NewTrent no longer makes batteries and this item is probably not easy to find at all online.
Pros: I often have the freedom to use my electronics all I want with this bad boy! I was able to use it to blog up to 10 days on the long legs I had this summer. It can charge anything that uses a USB and has two ports to be able to charge multiple devices at once. I also love that it has a meter that indicates in thirds how much the battery has left in it.  It is durable and reliable. I’ve now fully converted to this from using a solar charger as it’s only a few ounces heavier and well worth the ease of use. 
Cons: It can take overnight to charge it fully, but I just would plug it in while eating in town to top it off or overnight in the hotel and it would be fine. It is heavy (I called it “the brick”) and the big size isn’t necessary for most people.  This one would charge my iPhone ~7 times. My recommendation for chargers since NewTrent doesn’t make them anymore is Anker

Trail Designs Caldera Cone Stove Set
Pros: Light, efficient, simple, and sturdy. I’m a big fan of this setup and have used it since I started thru hiking.

Cons: Took some practice to use properly. It doesn’t have a simmer setting, so care is needed for doing more than boiling water. Hard plastic container can take up space, but I use the top as a cup. The base of the container gets way too dirty/sooty to use as a bowl as advertised. I bought a larger bottle to hold fuel for longer legs, but it still fits in the container. Sometimes the fuel would leak a bit through the threads of the tiny bottle, but it just evaporates when I open it.
Pros: Wonderful! Small, light, gets the job done.
Cons: Careful not to burn things to the thin bottom.

Sawyer and Platypus Water Bladders
Pros: Light and collapsible. I preferred the Platypus bags because the are slightly more durable and clear so I can see the contents.
Cons:  All bags used for squeezing eventually break at the seal where the bag connects to the mouth, but they did last half the hike this time. The Platypus bladders are sturdier, but the threads can be less adaptable to the Sawyer Squeeze and strip over time. Both bags will wear over time, and the Sawyer ones had a shorter lifespan. I knew ahead of time this wear and tear would happen, so I had new ones in my bounce every two months. I have found the Platypus bladders are also easier to tape up when they get a hole. 

Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter(3oz)

Pros: This was my third year using the Sawyer Squeeze. I chose to take the Squeeze over the Mini for the Hayduke because I knew I’d be filtering a large quantity. The extra ounce is worth having for more efficient filtering. I’m still in shock that something so light and small can accomplish such an amazing feat of filtering water! I also want to note a great trick to use when backflushing the Squeeze or Mini. I have a picture here as a visual aide. Many hikers try to find alternates to backflushing that would avoid carrying the syringe that comes with the Squeeze. I found out about a great one recently! If you carry a SmartWater water bottle, which many hikers do, there are some that have flip cap tops (.7L bottles). They coincidentally have a spout that fits perfectly with the Sawyer Squeeze spout. Instead of carrying the plunger, I now will just carry this extra cap I can put on my SmartWater bottle and I can squeeze the water from my clean water bottle through the Squeeze to backflush it….wonderful! Sawyer just came out with their Cleaning Coupling that does the same thing with just a Squeeze and not the mini…I still prefer my method, but nice to see they have made this adapter that will now come with the full Squeeze kit (not compatible with the mini).

Cons: For an impatient thru hiker not wanting to sit still, it takes time to filter through any filter and I preferred bleach drops to save time. I tended to use my filter when there were lots of debris, floaties, or contamination. With the really gritty stuff, my filter was slower, but that’s understandable. Take extra care to sleep with it at night when it’s below freezing so it doesn’t freeze. With the excessive filtering needed on a thru hike, you will need to replace the bags probably mid hike.
Bottom Line: It’s the best option out there for a light and efficient filter!

Gossamer Gear Ultralight Mini Dropper

I carry one little dropper of bleach for treating water…I don’t know what it will eventually do to my system, but I tend to be too lazy to sit down and filter if the water is clear and not in a cow pasture or other contaminated area. I put in two drops per liter and let it mix for 20mins before I drink. I’ve never gotten sick from water that I know of. On the Hayduke, I did have stomach issues, but I think it was from unavoidable alkaline water and minerals that can’t be filtered out or treated in those situations.

Panasonic Lumix DMC ZS35 & ZS25
Pros: LOVE this camera (ZS25 version) when it works! A great wide angle that captured more than any other camera I’ve ever had. Great quality video. Sturdy shutter over the lens that is less likely to get dented or stuck opening/shutting with the bumps of a thru hike. I loved the powerful zoom that also worked in video mode. Also, loved the ease with which I could take panoramic shots! I am frequently asked what camera I used by blog followers as the quality of the photos are excellent.

Cons: DO NOT get the ZS35!  I was really excited about the additional features of the newer version, but I had two of these in the ZS35 version this summer (lost one and the other one broke) and it does not take as quality photos as the ZS25. Plus, it broke more easily. I have a knack for breaking cameras, but the ZS35 really was finicky. I also think the Wifi in the ZS35 made it run much slower and I didn’t like the process of the transfers to my phone, so I used my Eye-Fi SD card anyway. One of my favorite features is the panoramic setting, but if the sun is shining at you, it can cause lighting issues and horizontal light strips on panoramas and that was annoying. Also, I’ve found these don’t want to function in below freezing temperatures.

Eye-Fi SD Wi-Fi Card
Note: I’ve been using the same card for 3yrs, but if I have to get their newer card (called Mobi), I think they now require a paid yearly subscription…check this before buying one! If this is true, look into other wi-fi sd cards you don’t have to pay a fee to use. That’s ridiculous!
Pros: Nifty little sd card that gives me the ability to transfer my pictures from my camera to my iPhone for blogging or sending out pictures.
Cons: This particular card would load ALL my pictures from the day, but I found out that you can set it to load individual photos, but it’s time consuming and not worth the pain. I heard other sd cards (EZ Share) let you choose individual photos and some cameras now have this function built into it. I’ve been fine with this and have just stuck with it for now. Just great that my camera quality photos can jump to my phone so easily!

Sandisk iXpand Flash Drive(64GB)
Pros: Oh the best toy I’ve gotten in awhile! It’s a flash drive that works with an iPhone. This drive was like my external hard drive backup all summer. It could hold maps, guidebooks, data sheets, songs, movies, photos, etc. It is 64GB worth of storage and it plugs into the charging port of the iPhone to be able to view or download whatever you like from one device to the next. There is an iXpand app that’s free that it runs through. It has a USB port so you load it and can transfer data also just like a regular flash drive. Sooo worth the 1.1oz addition to my pack weight! I know many of you will cringe at this, but I loved using it for movies and shows that I’ve downloaded to watch in my tent at night or during some downtime.
Cons: It does require charging through a USB port. When using it to watch movies on the iPhone, it plugs into the charging port, so you cannot charge while using the device…so I needed to plan ahead and have enough battery life to watch a show since I couldn’t charge it while watching. There were a few times a map file was too large to open on the iPhone. I don’t know if that was an app limitation or and iPhone limitation. I had to take my Lifeproof Case off to use it because the rubber strip below the inserted portion was too wide.

Sandisk Sansa Clip MP3 Player
Pros: She Sansa Clip has always been one of my favorite pieces of gear. It would greatly impact my hike if I didn’t have this little guy. Held all my songs and audiobooks easily. Also, small and clips to clothes or pack for easy use. Even takes mini sd cards so people were able to send me more songs and audiobooks. Saves me the battery usage on my phone. Usually less than $50, so easy to replace for people like me that tends to lose or break things often.
Cons: Doesn’t hold as many songs as more expensive players unless you buy a mini sd to put in it. I keep a file on my computer of all my songs to pull into it if I lose or break it and have to get a new one since it isn’t stored online like iTunes. This year I got the Sansa Sport and do not like it as much as the regular player. There isn’t a way to lock the Sansa Sport version, so it can get turned on in your pack if the power button is depressed and run the battery out without you knowing it. Big annoyance…

StickPic
I had a lot of people ask how I shoot my selfies and videos while I walk. I use the awesome StickPic. It allows you to attach your camera to the end of your hiking pole for both pictures and video. Love it! You can order it online. Careful, they are easy to lose, so I recommend putting it on a carabiner. Also, if you lose the nut that tightens it to your camera, you can use medical tape on the screw and it tightens just fine.

Gossamer Gear Shoulder Strap Pocket
Pros: Just the right sized external pocket for my camera or phone while hiking.
Cons: I somehow didn’t attach it correctly and the velcro rubbed on my shirt. In the damp and rainy conditions on the GDT, I felt like it sagged as the velcro was wearing out. I am getting a new one and will have to test it out again next summer to see if it was user error.

Pros: Loved this bag! Having a wide mouthed food bag is a nice convenience. I makes it easy to organize my food in it and it was waterproof. I used gallon and quart sized ziplocs to further organize my food in the bag. I hung almost every night on the GDT using the carabiner that came with it and it worked great!
Cons: Expensive…Over a thru hike, the cuben fiber it is made of will probably wear. I have found that I can make it two summers of 4-6 months of backpacking before I need to replace it. 

Loksak OPSAK
I got these odor proof sacks for my food in the Canadian Rockies. I used them in addition to the ZPacks Roll Top Food Bag. I got both the 12X20 and 4X7 size.
Pros: I don’t know if they truly are odor proof, but I didn’t have any bear problems and just felt better using them.
Cons: The ziploc feature can break over time, so take care of it and possibly send a new one mid hike in anticipation of one breaking. Putting shipping tape along the top helps to strengthen it a bit and extends the life. Also, make sure you buy the ones with double ziploc seals. I somehow got one set with the double seal that was great and then another set in the same packaging that just had on ziploc zipper across it and it did not seal as strong or as easily.


Sea to Summit Ultra Sil Dry Sacks
Pros: My sacks have lasted me four years and three complete thru hikes. They come in various sizes and colors for organizing small things. Light, resilient, and water resistant. Those who used Cuban fiber sacks had difficulty with them shredding apart.

Cons: Not waterproof…even if they say they are. The black one I had drove me nuts at night and in the early morning because I always had trouble finding it in my tent or pack.

Dyneema Ironwire (50′)
Note: This was an item I had stolen and I have recently replaced it with Dynaglide Bear Hanging Line.
Pros: Super light and durable string for hanging and other random uses. 
Cons: Thin and tight so it can hurt or cut your hand if you need to wrap it around your hand to pull it up and have a heavy bag. I probably would want something thicker and less painful if I knew I was hanging each night.

 Sawyer Stay Put Sunscreen 30 & 50 SPF
I am very pale and require a lot of sunscreen. I’m used to sweating the sunscreen off and reapplying it every couple of hours, but then I finally used the Sawyer Stay Put Sunscreen! It is awesome! I used the 50SPF on the the Hayduke in strong sun exposure and was completely safe. I carried the 8oz bottles for the long legs, but most could get away with just the small tubes. It is pricier than most sunscreens, but that is because just a little bit goes a long way and you don’t need to reapply. I always reapply halfway though the day, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t necessary. Sawyer’s site has great detailed videos on their products and how to use them. This is a highly reputable company and product. You can find it at REI, so I really recommend you give it a try and read/watch more about it.

Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent
I have always been paranoid about using Deet and the effects it can have. Sawyer uses Picaridin and I felt much better using it! I only used it a couple times this summer with a low bug year, but it was like magic when I did used it. I like that it comes in these small spray bottles basically the size of a marker. Again, Sawyer is a company that puts out quality products. They have detailed information on their technology and reasoning for the ingredients that they use and I recommend giving it a look to learn more about the quality of their products. They have a variety of insect repellents including lotions, so check it out.

iPhone5 (with LifeProof Case)
Pros: Amazing! Service is best with Verizon. It was my own personal computer, phone, camera, alarm clock, and GPS all in one. Quick and easy panoramic shots if I need and a good replacement of a camera if my actual camera was lost or broken. I love being able to Skype or FaceTime family or friends. Of course watching TV in my tent is a great plus! Just amazing, love it!

Cons: It can drain quickly using the GPS or having it on LTE (if you have Verizon). Just keep it in airplane mode whenever possible.

LifeProof Phone Case
Pros: A good reliable case I’ve used for years now.
Cons: Overall, I find it annoying to have to use a case, but it is worth it to keep the phone dry. I use my headphones to talk with the case on because it muffles my voice. Also, it will muffle sound if you are recording video with it on. In general, I find it easier to type without the case on, so I take it off when I blog. Be careful if you put the case in your pack without the phone in it and also when removing the phone from the case. I have broken two cases by trying to pop the camera out by pressing the plastic and pressing too hard and the plastic comes unsealed from the edge…will make sense when you have one. Just be nice to it. 

Petzel Tikka Plus 2 Headlamp
Note: This was an item that got stolen and I’ve recently replaced it with the Petzel e+Lite (Ultralight) Headlamp.

Did great! Honestly, I rarely used it and only changed the batteries once all trip. This was a new headlamp as I needed one with a red light at night so I wouldn’t disturb others around me with a bright light while I was in my tent at night. They don’t seem to make this version anymore so here’s what seems most compatible

DeLorme inReach SE Satellite Messenger
Pros: My favorite new piece of gear! Leaving home without it would be like not wearing a seat belt in my mind. The inReach allows you to text message or send coordinate tracks from just about anywhere that it isn’t covered from reaching the Iridium satellite system. I can’t say enough about this device that gave me and my family relief on these more remote trails I did this summer. More detailed product reviews are out there and comparisons to the next level up, the inReach Explorer, so my review is that IT WORKS! I liked knowing my messages or waypoints were received as it gave me notice when it was. Also, being able to communicate with someone in civilization for emergencies is gold. I found I was using it for arranging times for hitches. It was also great when the person I was communicating with had one too. Then we both could communicate where phones wouldn’t have service. Another great thing is that there is a weather service you can send a message to and they will automatically send you a forecast for the exact area your inReach has you in. Great battery life! Has a built in battery and I could just charge that in town, but it really does take a long time for the battery to go down if you are just using it to check in at night. You can pair it to your smartphone via the internal bluetooth on each device and then you can text like you normally would rather than using the clunky keys on the inReach.
Cons: At 6.7oz, it is slighty heavier and bulkier than my SPOT. It isn’t cheap ($300), but well worth it! You can look at the subscription options on their page (yearly and monthly options), but I chose the cheapest one ($12/mo) that will allow me to check-in an unlimited number of times with preset messages and coordinates to my family, four texts a month are free and then 50 cents after that. I will note that one catch is that if you want it to work with a public Trackleaders map like I have embedded on my site, you will need to send out a track point, and my subscription has that at 10 cents/track, which is reasonable. The screen is small, so I never used it as a GPS, but I’ve heard it isn’t ideal. The keys are archaic, clunky, and time consuming if you are trying to type a message, so I paired it by Bluetooth to my iPhone and texted that way.

**I had one night when the inReach wouldn’t turn on at all. Completely dead. It turns out that is a common glitch and it isn’t permanently broken. It happens sometimes and there is a soft reset to fix it. Just hold down the X button and the down button simultaneously for 1min and then power it up and it works! Hopefully, Delorme is fixing that glitch.

Sea to Summit Insect Shield Head Net

Pros: It saves you from bugs!
Cons: This is probably the one piece of gear I carry that I hardly ever use (I’ve been fortunate the last few years), but it’s a life saver when needed. Don’t accidentally rub your eyes with the head net…trust me! Using a fully brimmed hat is the most effective. My neck and ears get bit unless I use my buff to cover them.

Leatherman Style CS Multitool
Note: This is one of the items I had stolen, so I’ve recently replaced it with the Gossamer Gear Backpacking Pocket Knife.
Pros: Small, light, has multiple tools (including scissors!), and has a carabiner to clip it to my bag for easy access.

Cons: Could be considered by some to be a luxury item that just adds extra weight…but those were the same hikers who borrowed mine many times!

 iFlash 4 USB Quad Port Charger
Pros: Allowed me to charge four different things at the same time from one outlet.
Cons: Added weight and took up space in my pack. Didn’t charge as fast as directly plugging one USB into a socket because it splits the charge.
Bottom Line: It’s a luxury item, but one I use frequently!

Qiwiz Big Dig Ultralight Trowel
Note: this is an item that was stolen and I’ve recently replaced it with the Deuce Backpacking Trowel.
Pros: Light…normally I would just use my hiking pole to dig a hole, but now I have a tent requiring both polls for setup.
Cons: If it’s a hard packed area or desert terrain, this may not be as effective as a hiking pole or a more sturdy trowel.

MSR Groundhog Mini
Note: This is an item I had stolen and I have recently replaced it with Gossamer Gear Titanium V Stakes
Pros: I have been using these stakes for three years and enjoy them. I like how they are light, three pronged for better grip in the ground, and red to easily find them if dropped.
Cons: The tops can easily break off if you use a rock to hit the stake into a very hard ground. Also, the strings can break off if you yank too hard on them.


OR Helium II Rain Jacket
Pros: VERY light (5.5oz) and compact.

Cons: If you sweat a lot, it may not be the jacket for you because it has no vents. Also, to save weight, there are no side pockets. I used it many mornings as a quick warm up layer and it’s definitely my stinkiest piece of gear, ha! It is as good as any other rain jacket and I’ve used a version of it on each of my thru hikes(except the GDT where I got a heavier rain jacket). I combined it with an umbrella on the AT and it was perfect! Not sure I’d have it as my only rain protection without an umbrella on a thru hike again. I did it on the PCT and got lucky. It’s a bit thinner and less insulated than other heavier jackets.
Bottom Line: Great jacket! It is not meant for cold heavy rain. If you use on a thru hike and find yourself finishing closer to October, I recommend sending yourself a warmer jacket up north or waterproof it again before you hit the northern rain.

Montbell Torrent Flier Rain Jacket (8oz)
I used the Montbell Torrent Flier on the GDT because of the cold wet weather in the Canadian Rockies. This is a heavier duty rain jacket and I’m so glad I used it! It worked great and, on the GDT, I had to wear my rain gear for full days some days. The only times it seemed to soak through was when I was pushing through soaking wet brush. It would soak through on the arms at times with all the friction and rubbing, which I think is normal. It dried fairly quickly too. I liked having the pit zips and the chest pocket is a must have for me in a rain jacket. It did a good job of keeping my camera and maps dry. I completely recommend this as a heavier duty rain jacket.

Sierra Design Hurricane Rain Pants

Pros: I love these rain pants! I have always used these pants and they work great. I have never worn rain gear as much as I did on the GDT and these pants were solid! I’ve had them for three years and they started to soak through towards the end of the summer, but that is to be expected after so many years of use. 
Cons: The ankle zippers can get stuck if you get too much mud and grit in them. Try to rinse them out when you can. 

Mountain Hardware Ghost :Whisperer Jacket
Pros: I’ve had this jacket for three years and it still works! Small, light, compact, warm, resilient, awesome! I think it is still the lightest down jacket on the market. Made for a great pillow at  night too! 

Cons: Expensive.
Bottom Line: Loved it! I used the one with the hood because I get cold easily, but many hikers saved the weight without the hood.

Balega Socks
I loved these socks. They are just basic running socks. My feet have bad reactions to wool and these were great. They don’t last as long as thicker socks, but I stretch them as long as I can and have them in my resupplies.

Seirus Hyperlite All-Weather Gloves

I really liked these gloves! No gloves are truly waterproof, so I suggest getting a pack of Nitrile gloves to wear over the gloves in the rain or in the mornings when taking down a wet tent. The Nitrile ones lasted a long time, but I threw a new set in each resupply just in case I tore them. A simple thing that made my days so much more enjoyable!

ExOfficio Underwear

Loved em! I only needed two pairs that I rotated on the trip.

Diva Cup-Feminine Hygiene
Okay ladies, just like you, I worried about how I’d handle my monthly period on the trail. If you have to deal with it, then I suggest the Diva Cup. Look it up. I would definitely practice using it before going on the trail if you’ve never used it before. I like it because it’s minimal, I don’t have to worry about accumulating trash, and depending on the day, I could go the whole day without having to worry about it. I love that it is environmentally better AND saves me money. I have converted to using it in everyday life and I really recommend it.

Nike Pro Core Sports Bra

I had just one I wore all trip and it was great. Also, it doubles as a great swim top.

Lotion Infused Lounge Socks (Sleep Socks)
Heaven:) OMG, such wonderfulness!

Teva Mush II Thong Sandals

Pros: Some consider camp shoes a luxury. I can’t imagine enjoying backpacking if I didn’t have dry clean sandals to put on at the end of the day and middle of the night for bathroom runs. I saved a lot of weight switching to these from Crocs and they were super comfy!
Cons: Wearing them with socks is a pain. I usually just slipped all my toes to the side of the thong when I needed to walk at camp.

Montrail Mountain Masochist Hiking Shoe

My most difficult piece of gear to find this year was a new shoe after my old Montrail shoe was discontinued and no longer available. I have wide feet, so I tried the Masochists in the men’s version and they never worked for me. They hurt and also didn’t seem to give me the support, comfort, or space I was used to. I stuck it out for about 1000mi figuring it was my best option, until a new pair completely deflated on me out of nowhere after a couple hundred miles on them. I went to the store and thankfully found the Salomon XR Crossmax.

Salomon XR Crossmax 1.0 Hiking Shoe

It was a gamble to get these Salomon’s midhike having never hiked in them, but they were really comfortable in the store and I had to get something with my Masochists unusable. Again, I bought the wider men’s version. They were AWESOME! I felt really comfortable in them and I might even like them more than my Montrail AT Plus shoes I’d worn the first four years of my thru hiking. There are two minor problems. The laces are are a drawstring and not able to be tied. It took me awhile to find the right adjustment and comfort on that and I would prefer regular laces. The other problem is that they seem to wear thin and tear on the toebox at the bottom of the toes and I wonder if that is due to the conditions I was hiking in or if they do that regularly…either way, I’m still wearing them!

Lynco L405 Sports Orthotic Insoles
I need some type of added support to hike the trail and another hiker told me about the Lynco Insoles. I am a neutral walker and tend to need something for the ball of my foot. These are very unique and I recommend using them for a good month before the trail if your feet are new to them. They have a lump under the upper part of the arch of your foot. There are other styles for different needs. The unique form takes some getting used to, but I found them to feel great and also relieve a lot of the pressure on the ball of my foot. Expensive, but totally worth the price for me. I would get a new pair every 750-1000mi. It’s a matter of personal preference. I know these have helped some hikers with plantar fasciitis.

Fizan Compact Trekking Poles

Pros: For the first time in all my hiking, I tried twist lock poles and these were great!!! I had my doubts going into a desert hike that would require a lot of rough hiking and these poles made it through without a problem! I also used them nightly for my tent poles. I did replace the tips with Black Diamond tips because I like to use the StickPic take photos and it doesn’t fit these poles yet…so I cannot speak to the durability of the pole tips. I can say the Black Diamond tips still look good as new and I’m impressed with all the hard rock surfaces I was on this year. These were 7oz lighter than my Black Diamond poles.
Cons: I wish they had cork handles. The black material would rub off on my hands when my hands were damp or sweaty. Also, my old Black Diamond poles were ergonomically angled and I would prefer that.

 White Sierra Teton Trail Convertible Pants

Awesome pants! These are the only hiking pants I’ve ever used. The only pants I could find that weren’t form fitting and tight in the thighs. Yes, they are baggy on me, but I like that. I’ve had pairs last multiple hikes with minor sewing repairs. It was nice to have the option of shorts or pants with the zip offs. They have lots of pockets for my gadgets and snacks. I wish they came in XS because they are slightly big for me.

Smartwool Microweight Pajama Top/Bottom
It took me forever to buy these pricey pajamas, but they were perfect and saved me many ounces off what I was using before. The pants are slightly sheer and I’d only wear them in my tent.  Both could be used in emergency for extra warmth. I have had these for three years and they finally wore holes in them enough that I will be buying new ones for next summer. 

Andiamo skins (unpadded) biker shorts(black)

Great for added warmth and those who experience chafing. They were also great to wear for swimming. A suggestion from the maker is that if they are being used for hiking, cut off the tight elastic band on the thighs. Just don’t cut them too high as they will ride up on the thighs if you do. I’ve always used these and they save me from a lot of chafing issues.
Pros: Love em! I recommend buying two pairs and switching halfway on long hikes.  I once tried to go a week without them and I couldn’t stand all the debris that got in my shoes. Also, without them, my socks were quick to get holes in them. Just a fun company and unique patterns to fit everyone’s personality.
Cons: I had a lot of sandy hiking and wet hiking this year, and for the first time in all my years using them, had issued with the adhesive coming off for the velro on the shoe. I carried extra velcro that comes with the gaiters, but have never had to use it so much. Using shoe goo or gorilla glue helps keep them on there.

Garmin eTrex 20 GPS 

I last used the eTrex 20 on my CDT hike and I have a lot of information on how to setup the eTrex there. Here I will just comment on how it functioned as a GPS. I have to say it drives me nuts to use it after using a smartphone GPS app. It is a lot slower than apps, less visually pleasing, and less user friendly. On both the Hayduke and the GDT, I had the eTrek completely blank on me and not show the data I had loaded into it. This also happened to two of the hiking partners I had this summer. In one case, it required going back into town to fix it. I just want to stress that these electronic devices can go out and that they should not be used as the primary source of navigation. I don’t know what glitch causes it to happen, but I found sometimes it helped to remove the mini sd card and reinsert it if your data isn’t showing up that you know was loaded on there and was showing up the day before. What I can say is positive about the eTrex is the battery life. It lasts for days (25hrs) if you use the Energizer Ultimate Lithium Batteries….not the Advanced…the Ultimate.

GAIA GPS App
The trails I did this summer required a lot more navigation than the general Triple Crown trails. In addition to the GPS, I used the GAIA GPS App.
Pros: This is a really great one to use once you learn how to use it. I found it to be quick and easy to both load and use. New this year on iPhones, you don’t have to turn off the airplane mode to use GPS anymore. Great feature! Just make sure you close the app out after using so it doesn’t drain the phone while you hike. I soo prefer this to the GPS! It is colorful, user friendly, and time efficient in loading. If battery wasn’t an issue I’d be using this as my main GPS.
Cons: It can use phone battery quickly if used over an extended amount of time. It also uses a lot of storage depending on how many maps and tracks you load. Only an issue if you have a phone with little extra storage space. I feel like the maps could have been better in detail…especially in Canada, but it worked just fine for what I needed, which was to see that I was close to a general track.

BlogTouch Pro App

Pros: You would think I’d have this figured out, but I don’t and am sooo frustrated by blogging apps! The best of the poor options for blogging from my iPhone for a Blogspot hosted blog. It will also work for WordPress and other hosts, but I don’t know how it compares to the WordPress apps. The app that is a runner up is BlogPress. The advantage this app has over BlogPress is that I can post photos in better resolution on BlogTouch Pro. I don’t think they are in full resolution(they improved it greatly mid summer), but it is close. Unlike some apps, it DOES save text and photos offline. I can do the whole post offline and just press upload when I get service. Editing posts is easy and it also allows me to edit my tabs/pages easily. 
Cons: TIME CONSUMING. This app is not as intuitive as it could be and it takes way too many touches to do simple things. It requires that you put in each picture one at a time and if you want to size it larger, each one is done individually and very time consuming. I much preferred BlogPress in ease of use, but the photos were in a very low resolution and I had to login to my blog online to adjust resolutions before I posted them.The problem with BlogTouch Pro is that it is a better resolution, but I can’t tell if it is full resolution because the script does not indicate it on the html. I am in contact with the developer and hope for improvements in the off season because it’s a good start. It just needs to be made more efficient.

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