After 4 months on the trail, I’m finally hitting that sweet spot between being prepared for everything and carrying too much.
With fall and winter on the way, I’m changing up my gear to lighten up, make my routine more efficient, and/or prepare for colder temps.
Here’s why I’m dropping, swapping, and picking up different things:
1. First aid kit:
Lightening up by getting rid of bulk: time for packaging and excess multiples to go! I haven’t used a bandaid or gauze in 4 months, so I probably don’t need more than 1 of each. And if I do… I’ll pick some up in the next town!
2. Hunting knife:
This beautiful knife is on loan to me from a dear friend and comes with the good vibes of her jaja— grandpa in polish. Alas, it’s very heavy, and although I loved the good vibes and that it looped into my hip belt, it’s time to pare things down. Swapping it out for a compact Swiss army style knife. The lighter you are, the further you can go!
4. Titanium wood stove + alcohol stove:
I struggled through 4 provinces with this alcohol stove, never seeming to get the fuel right. After chatting with the folks at MEC and confirming it’s the stove and not the operator, I decided to switch out my stove system entirely. Although I loved the wood/organics part of this dual stove system, the reality is that after hiking 8-12 hours a day, finding fuel (bark, twigs, small branches) for the wood stove & tending to the fire, especially in damp or wet conditions, just wasn’t happening.
Through the summer and spring conditions, warm food or a cup of tea wasn’t really critical, but with fall on the way, a quick and easy stove setup seems increasingly important. I considered keeping the wood stove piece of this system, but ultimately decided to drop it altogether given that the canister stove I’m switching to will add more weight than both of these pieces combined. Happy to have the wood stove in my kit for future adventures, though! 😺
5. Wool Ts:
Cutting one wool T-shirt from the lineup. As it gets cooler I’ll be mail-ordering a T2 wool long-sleeve to myself via my MEC Expedition Grant.Why wool? It’s breathable, handles sweat and bacteria much better than synthetics, and most importantly it stays holds heat when wet while synthetics don’t. I started out this journey with one synthetic and one wool shirt, but quickly dropped the synthetic in favour of a second wool shirt after only two weeks on trail. The synthetic shirt smelled awful after only a couple days of use, while wool handles sweat and bacteria no sweat!
6. Camp shoes:
Even though I loved these camp shoes, this is a straight drop rather than a swap. They were great for water crossings, lighter than crocs (which a lot of people use for camp shoes), durable enough to handle sharp rocks, and sturdy and comfortable enough to walk 10-15k around towns on off days.
Not entirely sure if this is a good idea or not, but with colder temps on the horizon I figured I’d be spending less time lounging around camp and when touring towns and cities, I’ll need a warmer shoe than this. I’m definitely not carrying two sets of boots, so at this point the plan is to wear my boots all the time. I’ll adjust as I feel out the fall. Wet weather could pose a problem — I’m thinking I’ll try plastic bags + socks for camp, but neoprene or goretex socks might be a good solution too if I find I need something more substantial.
7. Solar light:
This thing is amazing! A good friend gave me this Sun King solar light when we were in East Africa and I’ve been using it for several years. It charges extremely well, even in low sun, but sadly the beam isn’t as strong as a headlamp.
With the days getting shorter, I anticipate some early morning walking in the dark, and I’m thinking the elastic band + stronger beam of my headlamp will do the job just a bit better. Sad to be trading solar power for traditional batteries, though!!
8. Solar panel + battery:
I likewise love this piece of equipment. First of all, it’s super durable. My solar panel has survived a huge number of beatings and still works quite well, though not 100% due to a crack I put in it while trying to drop down a bit of a cliff in my early BC days ☺️🤷♂️. Two hours of full sun = a charge and a half for an average phone. The downside is that the panel is awkward to keep warm… not easy to wedge in your jacket with a backpack buckled on top, and awkward to keep in a sleeping bag at night, too. With the colder nights (and days!) I’ll get much more life out of my batteries by keeping them warm. I’m also expecting less sun and more grey and rainy days as we transition to fall, so I’m swapping the solar panel for a more compact, wall-charge battery pack. Bonus: I’ll be dropping a good 200g of weight while not sacrificing battery power by making the switch.
Swapping my blue bandana for this cat-print one I found in my effects while home for the birth of my newest family member. Because: style. 💁♀️