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Speaking of luxury items... HELP!
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Angela Zukowski
(AngelaZ) - F

Locale: New England
Speaking of luxury items... HELP! on 03/25/2010 09:03:03 MDT Print View

I'm leaving for my thru-hike of the AT soon. (Pack weight is hovering around 26 lbs with 3-4 days food and a liter of water - I'll post a full gear list later - I haven't had time to weigh everything yet but I'm almost done. I have to narrow down food choices still too - haven't really gone over it with a fine tooth comb yet.)

So here's the problem:


(Don't laugh when you read them.)

I have a kindle (got it for free - birthday gift) an ancient ipod, my cell phone and a sketchbook/pen.

Now, I read every day, sometimes multiple times a day. The kindle is going to be awesome because I would lose my mind if I just had one measly book. And, it weighs the same as a book.

The ipod... well, I'm not a huge music person but I think 6 months without my own access to music would suck. I could get the tinier ipod shuffle... but that would mean spending money.

cell phone: I actually am not a phone person at all but it's nice to be able to text friends or my mom from time to time.

sketchbook: I'm an illustrator so this is kind of a must. the pad weighs an obscene 11 oz but I'm going to trim it down - or find a lighter option. this will be my journal, too.

So I feel torn. I don't NEED any of these items, and they add about 2 lbs to my pack. Tell me your thoughts. I'm seriously contemplating ditching the cell phone. I'd rather read than communicate! I may start with the ipod and then send it home if I don't use it often enough.

Am I being too self-indulgent? Or should I lay off the guilt trip?

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: Speaking of luxury items... HELP! on 03/25/2010 09:19:28 MDT Print View

Maybe it would be lighter to play mp3's from the phone. You could convert your proprietary kindle books to an open format and put those on a phone loaded with fbreader too. You could put maps on there too. but that's getting a bit techy. Then come the recharging issues...

My HTC touch diamond weighs 110g, and has built in GPS too. Spare batteries are small and light, but don't last long. A 10"x8" solar panel weighing 120g is plenty powerful enough to charge it.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Speaking of luxury items... HELP! on 03/25/2010 09:26:13 MDT Print View


In my life I did two 6-month epic trips. This was many, many years ago before any of these luxury items were availbable.

If I were to do a long thru hike today, I would not carry anything on your list. There are things on the trail to keep my mind occupied... and IMO these technology items separate you from the environment.

What I would do is bring a small journal and record the trip on paper. I would mail ahead small journals and mail home the completed ones. I think with a camera and journal, you won't have much time for anything else, but enjoy the journey.

Over the years I have brought small books, and have never read a single one. Keep in mind I am a voracious reader with an extensive library at home.

Angela Zukowski
(AngelaZ) - F

Locale: New England
Re: Re: Speaking of luxury items... HELP! on 03/25/2010 09:34:27 MDT Print View

Nick, that's a good point...

however I don't think the reading will distract me from my environment though because really, I would do most of it at night in my hammock. I can't decide if I will be able to handle not reading for such a long time. (I'm fine on shorter distance hikes but lose my mind at home if I don't read) I do have to admit though that I love nothing more than taking a long break outside in the sun with a good book. Still undecided!

I do agree that this is WAY too much technology though.

And for all you techie people out there - my phone is not very good - I can't put kindle books on it. And yes, I know if I had an iphone all these problems would be solved. Not happening, can't afford it :(

I might not bring the ipod. I'm wavering! If I make it to MA I can always get it from my house then.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: Re: Speaking of luxury items... HELP! on 03/25/2010 09:35:51 MDT Print View

Kath is a keen reader, and took her ebook reader on our last trip. And never used it... It may be different travelling alone though...

I think there was a thread here about using the kindle to access the internet and send email...

Edited by tallbloke on 03/25/2010 09:37:43 MDT.

b s
(smyth) - F
Re: Speaking of luxury items... HELP! on 03/25/2010 09:40:52 MDT Print View

I don't think your luxury items are that ridiculous at all. I started with a book, journal, and mp3 player. I decided to leave the cell phone home and canceled my plan to save some money. Glad I did as I didn't miss it at all and was able to check in with people via email or pay phone in most towns.

For the other items, I think you'll just have to see how it goes. I ended up ditching the journal and the book after the first few weeks. I found I didn't have enough quality time for either and therefore they weren't worth carrying. I did hold on to my small mp3 player though and enjoyed it once in a while.

So if you think you might miss something, I'd say take it and then reevaluate after a few weeks on the trail. You'll be through town every few days so you can always send home anything you find you're not using.

Have a great hike!

Edit: I agree with what Nick says - there is so much out there to keep your mind occupied that you really don't need any of this stuff - that's pretty much what I realized after a few weeks on the trail.

Edited by smyth on 03/25/2010 09:47:04 MDT.

Scott S
(sschloss1) - F

Locale: New England
Re: Speaking of luxury items... HELP! on 03/25/2010 10:16:15 MDT Print View

Why not get an iphone? That could serve as ipod, ebook reader, and phone all at once.

I always carry books on my long hikes, but I usually take paperbacks and tear them into sections so I'm not carrying more than an ounce or two of books at a time. I just bounce the rest ahead.

One other thought: for the first couple of weeks of my long hikes, I usually found I was so tired, that I didn't have the energy for reading. On the AT I didn't start doing much reading until a couple of weeks in. On the PCT I didn't do any reading until over 1000 miles in. You could start without some of your luxury items and then pick them up a bit up the trail when you're in better shape and won't notice the extra weight.

/A .
(biointegra) - MLife

Locale: Puget Sound
Re: Re: Speaking of luxury items... HELP! on 03/25/2010 16:10:20 MDT Print View

+1 on the iphone.

I use it as an ebook reader more than anything else. It weighs around six ounces and will handle everything that the others will do, but perhaps not as well - especially the sketching. For sketching, there are some great apps, but it is probably not what you're aiming for. Perhaps using lightweight velum and a poly frame-sheet from/for your pack as the pad.

Nate Davis
(Knaight) - F

Locale: Western Massachusetts
Take 'em on 03/25/2010 17:41:00 MDT Print View

I think the reason most of us go ultralight is so that we can enjoy the trail more. You're going on a long hike. If reading, drawing, and listening to music will make it that much better, then go for it!

If it were me, I'd buy an Ipod Nano for cheap on Craigslist and take that. Hell, maybe someone will even trade you their Nano for your Ipod. The Kindle is an addition that I'd probably consider myself if I were thru-hiking. Although I've never had much use for cell phones on a trip, I do like having one for safety reasons and as a backup camera. Being a writer, I always take a pad to write on. Don't skip on the sketch pad.

I'm guessing before those items come into play, you've still got a baseweight of 10 - 12 lbs? If that's the case, maybe there's a way to pare down some of your other stuff to make up for it. Maybe you can post your entire list here?

Either way, 26 lbs isn't exactly terrible. It's light enough to keep you from being sore every day, which means you'll be able to focus on having a great time. I'm not sure anything else matters.

Countryman _
(noshroud) - F
Re Items of luxury on 03/26/2010 00:00:40 MDT Print View

-1 on iphone, original poster turned it down based on cost.
I'd have to agree; including service you looking at at least 500 bucks for a thru-hike, with a new contract. An ipod touch is much cheaper, and requires no contract. You can make calls at anywhere with internet using skype. The ipod touch/iphone can be a journal and many other things as everyone knows. You could get a touch for less than you would have if you sold your old ipod and saved what you would spend to continue to have your cell phone for your thru hike on a regular plan.

Cell phones have multiple uses and can a nice level of reassurance. I imagine it is also the lightest on this list. Depending on how often you resupply, and the model of your phone, you may be able to keep the phone turned off in your pack and just turn it on when you need to. Keep the charger in your bounce box and top off at resupply. They also have lightweight chargers that allow you to charge from AAA's. You could use that on the trail if you needed to. Switch to a pay as you go plan to save money.

I'd definitely drop the ipod. They are surprisingly heavy. You'll have to carry a charger too, and worry about keeping it charged. Batteries on ipods tend to be good for about 2 years of "average" use before the battery really starts to deteriorate; I'd check out how well long your battery really lasts and weight that in as swell.

Your notepad is really heavy. Could you keep a stash in a bounce box and just take a few sheets in a big ziploc or something? If your paper is larger investigate some kind of tube. Maybe keep a journal on lighter paper?

The ebook reader sounds cool. How much does it weigh? How long does the battery last? Does it have any other uses, like perhaps the ability to journal? Are books free, or do you have to buy them? Do you have to add them all before you leave? (Sorry for all the questions) Depending on your answers to these questions, and whether or not your are emotionally attached to it because it was a gift, you could sell it and go for a device that will do it all.

I carry typically about 2-3 lbs. in luxury items, with a baseweight of 7-10 lbs before I add them. I often bring a small guitar (about 30 ozs), a book, a more robust cooking kit with pot, fry pan, 2 stoves (10oz), or fishing kit. None of these items are totally singular in use. Books (when protected from water) make great fire starters. I've never made one outside of practice, but guitar strings make a decent snare.

Angela Zukowski
(AngelaZ) - F

Locale: New England
Re: Re Items of luxury on 03/26/2010 07:50:35 MDT Print View

Darn. Never even thought of the ipod touch. I'm pretty technologically ignorant. In retrospect, that would have been way better than my current plan.

That being said the e-reader is AWESOME. Like bringing a library on your hike, rather than just a single book! Battery lasts over a week for me, reading every night for about an hour. Books range in price from free (tons of classics for free) to 9 bucks for new/best sellers and current hardcovers. So you save money after the initial expense. It is NOT light though. You can add new books anywhere there is wifi. (there is a much lighter e-reader called the Opus, though. I think it weighs about 6 oz.)

Thanks for weighing (ha) in everyone. I'll post a gear list soon. I think the idea of using a bounce box or swapping items out via mail is a good idea. I feel better now that I've vented!

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
My metaphysical advice: on 03/26/2010 10:01:06 MDT Print View


My metaphysical advice:

Do NOT take ANY of those items. Simply leave them behind. (at least for some stretches)

Our culture is addicted to these things. And reading your comments, this "addiction" is apparent in your words. I'm guilty of these additions too, so I understand.

A spiritual master on a mountain top (which I am NOT) would tell his students to fast. This is my outlook on the wilderness experience. It is a FASTING of our oppressive cultural influence.

You wrote:
"I would lose my mind if I just had one measly book..."

My reply:
That is NOT true. You will do just fine! The Wilderness is an environment of such beauty and such spiritual richness, that you can fully sustain yourself at a soul level.

I challenge you (encourage you, implore you) to step outside your comfort zone. Take NONE of those items (for some sections) and simply appreciate the beauty and challenges that surround you (the sights, sounds, smells, etc).

Please, re-read your comments in the first post. 6 months is a LONG time true enough, and you'll be able to mail any of these items to any of your drop-boxes along the way.

(and find a tiny sketchbook, they exist)

Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
RE: Speaking of luxury items... HELP! on 03/26/2010 10:24:30 MDT Print View

For a long trip like this, the Kindle and sketchbook seems worth the weight, and a cell phone is worth the weight for emergencies (even though not totally reliable).

Maybe you can cut back your other gear some to compensate for these items?

John Drollette
(tradja) - F

Locale: Central Oregon
AT lux on 03/26/2010 10:40:45 MDT Print View

Angela, we're in a similar boat -- Jessie and I are packing for the PCT this year, and I'm gobsmacked by the assortment of solar chargers, cords, and gizmos. I've thru-hiked 4x before WITHOUT all this crap and somehow survived. We brought a simple MD player (80% audiobooks/20% music) on the CDT in 2006, but at 50+hrs on 1xAA, the logistics were much easier.

You've already identified your priorities:

-- you ARE a huge reader, so the Kindle is a good priority. I was intrigued by the suggestion to load books onto your phone, but then I thought about actually trying to READ books on your phone. Depending on your summer reading list, a series of single slim paperbacks would be lighter still and require no charger.

-- you ARE NOT a (self-professed) huge music nut, but you anticipate that you MAY want your music. Again, the idea of some MP3s on your phone is pretty neat. Another low-cost option would be to get one of those cheapo $10-$15 2GB MP3 players from eBay (look like a flash drive, less than an once with earbuds). I found that just having a few albums available for occasional use was all it took -- I wasn't listening for hours every day.

-- phone. I am one of the last people without a cell. I will probably not have one on the PCT this year.

-- sketchbook. This sounds like a professional necessity for you, and I get that. I am not an artist, so I'm surprised to hear that 11oz is as light it can get to have some paper to draw on. Perhaps a few pages at a time?

There you have it: a slim paperback in each maildrop, a few pages of sketching paper, and a $10 eBay MP3 player. Way less than 2lbs. Have a great hike!

Thomas Burns
(nerdboy52) - MLife

Locale: "Alas, poor Yogi.I knew him well."
iPod touch on 03/26/2010 11:28:37 MDT Print View

+1 on the iPod Touch plus cell phone.

Really, an iPhone is your best bet, since it combines all of the functions you need.

However, my Touch does everything (book reader, note taker, movie watcher, audio-book listener, classical music/ opera enthusiast, especially when climbing that last mountain of the day or falling asleep,, etc.), except for the phone function. I throw the phone, turned off, in the bottom of my BP for emergencies -- and to assure my family occasionally and briefly that I have not fallen to my death ;-) ).

I have a Kindle, too, but its function is fulfilled completely by the Touch, especially if you're trying to save weight. The only reason I don't get an iPhone and chuck the rest of this stuff is that I'm stuck with this danged Verizon contract for another cursed year.

BTW, I also have a very light universal charger for iPhone/ iPod that works from normal wall current, USB port, and (most importantly) plugged-in 9-volt battery. Can't remember who makes it, but I carry a couple of batteries with me, and I can usually buy them along the way, as well. Very slick. For a few oz. carry weight, you can rest assured that you'll always be able to read/listen to your iPod/ iPhone.


Stargazer (a guy who needs a little literature on the trail to fall asleep)

Edited by nerdboy52 on 03/26/2010 12:13:12 MDT.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: AT lux on 03/26/2010 11:58:53 MDT Print View

I have some small, light iPod shuffle knockoff. Got it free with something I bought. You can have it if you want it, just let me know.

Angela Zukowski
(AngelaZ) - F

Locale: New England
Re: Re: AT lux on 03/26/2010 13:20:47 MDT Print View

Thank you so much Douglas! That's really kind. To tell you the truth... I just convinced a friend to put his 6,000+ songs on my ipod. That was really the one big draw towards bringing it! I think if I had been stuck with my own tunes I never would have thought to bring it!

I've got to mull things over (darn you mike clelland! ha kidding of course) but I wanted to acknowledge that - very kind of you.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: My metaphysical advice: on 03/26/2010 17:20:22 MDT Print View

"That is NOT true. You will do just fine! The Wilderness is an environment of such beauty and such spiritual richness, that you can fully sustain yourself at a soul level.

I challenge you (encourage you, implore you) to step outside your comfort zone. Take NONE of those items (for some sections) and simply appreciate the beauty and challenges that surround you (the sights, sounds, smells, etc)."

+1 Well said and on the mark.

On a practical note: You mentioned in another thread having knee issues. Every pound you carry increases the likelihood of aggravating your knee(s), especially on a hike of the magnitude you are undertaking.

Edited by ouzel on 03/26/2010 17:23:55 MDT.

Adan Lopez
(Lopez) - F

Locale: San Gabriel Valley
Take only what YOU need... on 03/26/2010 17:55:50 MDT Print View

Like everything else, it's such a personal thing.

Mike Clelland's strict "fasting" advice works perfectly for me, in fact I thrive off of the isolation and would not enjoy reading or listening to music out there.

But for many of my hiking partners, their enjoyment of the trip would be less without some "stuff to do". If you will crave these things alot when you're out there, then complete "fasting" might actually ruin your trip. You're either a nature hippie or your not.

So instead of "take only what you NEED"... I say, "take only what YOU need".

Gary Boyd
(debiant) - F

Locale: Mid-west
I've tried... on 03/27/2010 18:54:01 MDT Print View

to bring my nook with me and I just don't feel the desire to read on the trail. That being said has it been brought up already that your kindle should have mp3 player built in?