With all the big stuff out of the way, it’s time to focus on the important little guys. Sitting somewhere between Big 3 and Luxury, these Secondary Gear items fill in the gaps for other must-have things. Items for water purification, lighting, electronics, etc. You could argue some of these are luxury items too, but for my planning purposes, not really. These are things I know I will need on a daily basis, and although one could technically live in the woods for 5 months without them, it wouldn’t be pleasant. This isn’t Naked and Afraid people, its more like Limited but Happy. Hello Neiman!
And now for this Week’s Political Questions (as if we could not have at least one)…
Water Filter vs. Water Treatment
Can you drink the water straight up? Yes. Will I take that chance? No. Water purification options are plenty, and choosing one is tough. Some prefer a filter, others prefer a chemical treatment. Because of how heavy, cumbersome, and tiring filters are, I moved to water treatment many years ago. I do not like the taste of iodine (sorry Polar Pure fans), but a dash of chlorine isn’t bad. So, although the Sawyer Squeeze or Sawyer Mini are thru-hiker favorites, I will stick with Aqua Mira drops to begin. Unfortunately, though, these will run out after a few weeks – and when they do, I’ll decide whether to continue treating or switch.
Gun vs. Mace vs. Knife vs. Nothing
I am so sick of being asked whether or not I need to bring a form of protection. Although I understand others will feel different, I have no desire to carry a weapon. This is a beautiful trail and community, and I do not fear what a day’s hike will bring. The bear activity here is much different than the Rocky Mountain grizzly’s I am used to, and bear spray is not needed. I have never and will never feel the need to defend myself with a firearm, so there’s no way this is the reason I start. And this isn’t the jungles of the Vietnam War, no machete or hunting knife is adding to my safety. I will have a very small Swiss Army knife for utility use, but that’s it.
Secondary Gear Items
Bag Cover / Liner. Most people skip a cover and instead just use a trash compactor bag as a liner. Good cheap option, but they don’t consider the weight added by a watered-down pack. It isn’t perfect, but I like my Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Pack Cover and would rather use it to protect the bag too. If 5 days of straight rain eventually penetrate through, I’ll deal with it then. To be safe, I also have stuff sacks to protect important items on the inside (e.g. quilts, hammock).
Water Purification. As mentioned above, the chlorine flavored Aqua Mira drops are my water purification of choice. This 1 oz product will filter 30 gallons (120 water bottles), which should last a few weeks.
SPF Chapstick. I
don’t have many oddities to me. One of them is the need to always have a stick of chapstick in my pocket. Don’t know where it came from, but I’m just happier in life that way. A tiny SPF12 Chapstick will cure the OCD factor while also keeping my lips moist and happy all day long.
Knife. As mentioned above, the only blade I need is a small utility knife. The Victorinox Classic SD has been a staple in my bag all my life, it has everything I need day-to-day and comes with a bonus file, scissors, tweezer and toothpick (another OCD need). It may not thwart would-be attackers, but it covers everything else for which a sharp edge is required.
Night Items Stuff Sack. Nothing fancy, just a very small Sea to Summit Purple Stuff Sack to keep all my necessary night items together. I find it easier to just have one thing to grab when head to bed.
Ear Plugs. I’m a pretty light sleeper these days, so these Walgreens Super Light Foam Ear Plugs are a no-brainer when sleeping with 50 other people in a campsite.
Phone Wall Charger. I’ll need something with multiple USB inputs to handle the iPhone, Kindle, and/or Power Bank at the same time. I’ll also need one that allows the device to plug in and rest on top of it. And lastly, I need one that will fast charge for efficient use of time. The Ailkin Wall Charger checks all the boxes.
Phone Portable Charger. I’m not sure if a newer phone will still get the 3 charges out of this my old iPhone 6 does, but this Anker Astro E1 5200 mAh Battery should be enough to get me through 4 or 5 days if I keep the phone on airplane mode during the day.
Headphones. I’d love to upgrade to wireless air pods for this trip because, honestly, they are awesome. Seriously, I was a doubter too, but they are amazing and its time to forgive Apple for the weird looking design. Unfortunately though, that would be a silly waste of precious battery charge use, so standard Apple Ear Pods will have to do.
Mosquito Head Net. Ok, so the Dutch Chameleon has a built-in bug net, but for days when I sleep in a shelter and/or hike among black flies (very common in the NE states), a head net will be very nice to have. The Sea to Summit Mosquito Head Net is only 1 oz and could be considered a luxury item for how rarely I’ll use it, but sometimes peace of mind is more important.
Phone/Camera & Case. I’m still deciding on this one. I recently upgraded to the iPhone X but it is crazy big, expensive, and heavy. For a trip like this, it really doesn’t make sense (even with that beautiful new camera). I’ll most likely sell and downgrade to the 125gb iPhone SE with enough memory to download all the music, books, and podcasts I need. TBD.
Sunglasses & Case. The Maui Jim Sugar Beach Aviators are slick, offer great protection, lightweight … and most importantly, durable. They are more likely to blow off your face, but fortunately will not break when they float to the ground. Great specs, highly recommended.
Camp Shoes. These Croc Classic sandals are a staple in most people’s packs … if they opt for camp shoes. Many people leave these at home to go barefoot at the end of the day, but I like having them. And more importantly, they are great for river crossings and town walking when off-trail.
Headlamp. It doesn’t have a red light, which is helpful when sleeping in shelters, but I don’t plan to sleep in shelters much. This eGear LED Lighting EQ2 headlamp is super bright for its price ($10) and weight (1oz). The band allows you to wear it on your head or wrist, and the addition of a clip allows you to snap it on a hat bill or hammock ridgeline.