Saturday, November 5, 2016

Arizona Trail Gear Review

There's always a demand for Gear Lists and reviews after a thru-hike, so here is a brief review of the gear I used on my Arizona Trail Self-Supported FKT in October 2016. This is not an exhaustive list, primarily things I haven't reviewed before.

  • OPsack: Once again this worked well to keep my food safe from animals 
  • Bamboo spoon: I never knew I had expectations from a spoon until I started backpacking. This one meets or exceeds them all! I'm glad I switched over from Lexan. Long enough to keep your hands out of your food, lightweight, and a natural material to boot. 
  • Ultimate Direction Body Bottle Plus: I used this for making up my Nuun electrolyte drink. It worked well and collapsed down to the size of the cap when not in use. No weird mold or other growth in it despite not washing it for 3 weeks. Didn't puncture despite the pokiness of the desert.
  • Black Diamond Icon headlamp: I bought this for Barkley last year and it was incredible there. While nighthiking on the AZT I repeatedly thought, "If only I'd had this on the PCT and AT!" It's overkill unless you're doing hours and hours of night hiking since it's pretty heavy, but with lithium batteries it was bright for 3-4 hours of use 5 days in a row.
  • Gossamer Gear Nightlight pad: I'm a side sleeper and I definitely had sore hips using this on the hard desert ground. The nights I found good camp under pine trees or in washes it was comfy. However, I have that issue with any closed cell foam pad. As far as insulation this was perfect.
  • Sawyer All-In-One filter with Inline Adapter: This filter works great when installed using the inline adapter (sold separately). However, I cut the hose to the wrong length at home and had issues getting good flow. I ended up screwing the filter directly to the bladder and only using the clean side of the adapter with the remaining hose. I recommend practicing with your pack fully loaded at home so you get the filter mounted in the right place to begin with.
  • Sawyer 64 oz pouches (2): It was important to me to have a max capacity that was more than I anticipated ever needing. I carried these in addition to a platypus 2 liter for a total of a gallon and a half. I only carried that much once, but one of the Sawyer pouches did spring a leak 2 days from the end and I was glad I had a backup. It seemed like it got punctured by some desert plant. 
  • Ibex Balance Bralette:  One could say I'm getting more sophisticated. For the first time in about 10 years I wore something other than a bikini top as a hiking bra. I finally had to admit that the behind the neck ties were putting a lot of strain on my neck so I searched for an alternative. In the desert the wool was the perfect balance of warmth when it was cold, and wicking comfort when it was hot. Super comfortable I forgot it was there. Supportive enough for hiking, but definitely not for running.
  • Gossamer Gear Polycro groundcloth: I've been using these for years. 3 FKT's and counting now. In fact, I used the same one on the AZT that I used on the AT. So, any question of durability has been answered. 
  • Ultimate Direction Desert hat: Exactly what you need on your head in the desert. My only caveat was that you can't button it closed under the chin to keep it in place when it's windy.
  • Point 6 Ultra light compression socks: These were my saving grace every night. I looked forward to pulling off the gnarly hiking socks and shoes at the end of the day and getting these compression socks on. My feet felt like a million bucks every morning after a night of recovery in these!
  • Ultimate Direction Ultra jacket: The lightest rain jacket I own and perfect for squalls on the AZT. Kept me warm as an external shell on windy cold days as well. Not as good as a true hardshell during the snow/sleet/rain event on my second day, but although I still ended up wet it did keep me warm.
  • Mariposa 60 Lightweight Backpack: The new updates to this pack are great. I definitely felt that the integrated stays helped transition weight from shoulders to hips when I had a heavy load, which was often. I regularly carried a 30+lb pack due to the amount of water and food I had to pack. I also discovered load lifters for the first time ever. It was a magical moment.
  • Altra Paradigm shoes: As a Lone Peak girl I went back and forth over my choice to wear the Paradigm (a road shoe) on the AZT. In the end it worked out, but not without some serious issues. The first pair wore perfectly since the northern 400 miles is mostly dirt road. However, the southern half chewed up and spit out the second pair. Far more rocky. Comfort-wise they were a great choice and I'd wear them again, I'd just do three pair or wear a Lone Peak for the Mazatzal and Superstition Wildernesses.
  • Montbell Tachyon Jacket: This jacket was perfect for windy days and chilly mornings/nights. Critical as my warm layer.


  1. Great information--thank you for sharing. Next summer I will be going on several long backpacking trips in the PNW, so your intel is really helpful. Cheers!

  2. Very interesting and well articulated. Thanks for sharing. What sleeping bag and tent/tarp did you use?

  3. Thanks for the reviews, Anish, and congratulations on your new record!

  4. Thanks! Congratulations on your FKT. Hope you are doing well. It's finally stating to cool off down here in AZ. Yay!:-)


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