I have spent the past year immersed in the Appalachian Trail (AT), sleeping, breathing, and eating it (no really, I’ve eaten more trail food these past 6 months). Now I am down to the wire and need to make my final purchases and organize my gear so as not to forget anything.
The first and most important part of my gear is my “Base” gear which includes my pack, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and pillow. I feel I’ve done a great job picking what meets my needs and still keeps the weight on the lower end. It’s challenging to make a choice regarding comfort vs. necessity when you are not yet on the trail. When it came down to my tent I wanted one which would allow me to store both my pack and my dog inside with me. I had two tents I was wavering between, the Mountain Hardwear SuperMega UL2 and the MSR Hubba Hubba NX. It took me setting them up side by side and crawling around inside of them. Thank you once again CrossFit Bona Fide for supporting my hiking habits and providing me with space to test out my gear!
The SuperMega UL2 was VERY cozy and very light, at 2 lbs 11 oz. As you can see here there is room for my sleeping pad with my pack stuffed in alongside down at my feet and if Star doesn’t mind snuggling there is puppy room right at the entrance. I climbed in and tested out the height, at 5’10” I had about an inch clearance while sitting on my sleeping pad, this was a good start. I went ahead and stretched out and as I lay there debating all the pros and cons. Having not tried the other tent I realized I wasn’t doing much comparison and decided to rectify the situation immediately. Feeling like a modern day outdoorsy version of Goldilocks I scrambled out of the tent. I grabbed my gear and moved next door into the Hubba Hubba. As I crawled in the enduring words of Goldilocks went through my mind “that’s just right!” I had moved into a yacht of a tent, there was room to stretch out and move about. My bag was no longer crushed between my feet and the tent wall and Star would even have room to stretch out into her favorite pretzel position for sleeping. After about a minute of contemplation upon my green mat of unlimited possibilities I decided I wanted the yacht over the canoe.
Next on my list of gear is my kitchen supplies, which are still lacking (need to get out and buy a PocketRocket and a titanium spoon), BUT I am excited to say I tried out a new toy today and it works perfectly!
Today I used my freezer bag cozy! I ordered this simple cozy from a fellow hiker, I have heard so many great things about cooking with this method on the trail. You take your dehydrated food put it in a freezer bag, pour hot (not boiling) water over your food, seal up the bag and close the cozy over it. Let it “cook” for 15-20 minutes and your meal is done! You eat it right out of the bag meaning you have no dishes and you just need to dispose of the Ziploc when you hit a town.
The idea behind freezer bag food is you just dehydrate whatever complete meal you want and pack it away until you’re ready to rehydrate.
My roommate was home and with very little prompting I convinced her to take this journey with me. I took my dehydrated leftovers from the night before and placed them in a Ziploc filled with water wrapped in the most awesome pink and black zebra stripped cozy on the east coast. The red dahl with coconut milk rice was a delicious meal if I must say so myself, one I’d be thrilled to eat on the trail. My roomie even went so far as to say “I would have NEVER known it was from a dehydrated meal if you hadn’t told me!”
Because I am responsible for my dog it only seems reasonable that I spend as much money on her as I do myself (I am after all carrying an extra half pound so she can sleep IN the tent with me). I gave up trying to adapt or modify Star’s pack to be “acceptable” for the trail. She will be joining me on the trail because I have decided WE are doing it not because she volunteered to come along. I splurged! I went online to this awesome small time business called Groundbird Gear (GBG) and ordered a custom made pack for her. We had more fun measuring and preparing to send out all the info to get this pack put together just for her.
I couldn’t believe it when less than a week out from our order I was informed the pack was in the mail and on it’s way. I was a giddy child running out to the porch everyday looking for the box which would contain the goods. Yesterday was a busy day and I arrived home late and it was by pure chance I glanced down the porch and noticed the small packing envelope sitting by the stoop. I dashed outside in my socks and grabbed the package barely making it back through the door before I started ripping it apart. As I drew the harness and pack out I was shocked by how light is was. It was almost as though I was holding nothing, a big treat for this young lady! I am in LOVE with the colors!
I am so happy I went with this pack system. I haven’t even gotten a chance to load it up yet but already I feel it is the proper size for her. The roll top pouches aren’t huge so she will be able to move around comfortably in it. We are in mid design adaptation as the harness doesn’t fit quite right so it is being sent back for one with a larger chest yolk so as to prevent any chance of chaffing. It has been very easy to communicate with GBG and figure out what needs to be done so Star can be comfortable. I will post pictures when we have the full system with a proper fit.
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN SUPPORTING OUR JOURNEY PLEASE FEEL FREE TO LOOK AT MY Amazon Wish List (HERE).
I have placed numerous food items on this list as I will be making much of my food over the next couple of weeks. I will be shipping packages to myself along the trail so I can meet the needs of my dietary restrictions.