Arizona Trail – Post Trip Report – Gear Gone Right, Gear Gone Wrong!

Overall, I was extremely happy with my gear choices used March 3-24, 2015 on Passages 1-17 hiked SOBO. I’ve noted my changes in pink below. Comments about my experience are in italics. Link to my original gear post for the Arizona Trail.

Pack:

  • Gossamer Gear Mariposa
    • The pack easily had capacity for 8+ liters of water.
    • My body was not without complaint about carrying 37 pounds (Gossamer Gear recommends a maximum of 35 pounds).
    • I was extremely happy when water became more plentiful and I could reduce my weight to something much more appropriate.
  • Gossamer Gear Pack Liner Bags x2
    • We had several days of rain and my liner bags kept the contents dry

Sleep System:

  • ZPacks 10-Degree Sleeping Bag
    • Our trip included elevations from 2,500′ to 9,000′
    • We had heavy frost and freezing temperatures several nights. 
    • On warmer nights, I self regulated by unzipping my bag or using it as a quilt
  • Gossamer Gear 1/8″ Thinlight Pad
    • On cold nights I used this on top of my Air Beam mattress; on warm nights underneath.
    • During breaks I sat on this pad; however, I quickly learned with all the stickery prickeries it was best to use my ground sheet as the base layer
    • This pad is also part of my pack, replacing the sitpad against my back.
  • Gossamer Gear Air Beam Mattress
    • The ground of the desert is rocky and hard. I’m a side sleeper and was completely comfortable on this pad.
    • I’ve used this pad for about a year and am still leak free, even after the stickery prickeries of this trip.
    • Tip: mattress will be more comfortable if you under inflate
    • Tip: use the Thinlight pad on top of the mattress for additional warm
    • Tip: use the Thinlight pad underneath the mattress for slippage on unlevel ground

Tent:

  • Tarptent Rainbow, Solo
    • I’ve had this tent for about five years and love the side-entry, ease of set up and most important roominess of this tent.
    • One of the reasons I bought this tent was the option to set it up without ground stakes (using hiking poles on the ends). With the hard ground and rocky surface, I used the hiking pole option every night on the Arizona Trail.
    • During the night of heavy rain, I noticed my tent was not shedding water like it use to. Henry Shires, owner of Tarptent, recommended that I reapply Atsko Silicone Water-Guard.
      • Instructions: Set up the tent and get it nice and taut. Wipe it thoroughly with a wet towel to remove dust/grime and let dry before proceeding. Then pour/spray on the solution and thoroughly wet the surface, about 1/4 panel at a time. Rub/wipe in well with a paper towel to evenly distribute the solution. Let dry for an hour or so until it’s at least no longer wet to the touch. Repeat process so that you have applied two coatings. That will really help restore repellency and ability to bead water which makes it much easier to shake and be pretty much dry.
  • Gossamer Gear Polycro Ground Cloth
    • This stuff is tough!!!
    • Joan and I both used this as our first layer when taking breaks. 
    • I also used under my tent.
    • I was surprised that even with all the stickery prickeries it hardly showed any wear after a lot of abuse on this trail.

Water & Filtration:

  • Platypus Platy Bottle 2-Litre x3
    • I had some thread incompatibility issues with the Sawyer Mini (Platypus updated their threads but I don’t know how to tell which ones have been updated).
    • I marked one “dirty” and one “clean” as we were obtaining water from both dirty sources and clean water caches and since I don’t prefilter my water in these containers, it was extremely important to prevent cross contamination especially since we had so much cow feces water.
    • I liked the Platy bottles better than my previous Sawyer bottles
    • I eliminated one of the containers once we could carry less water (i.e. Summerhaven to Mexico Border)
  • Smartwater Bottle, 700mL
    • This bottle always had clean or filtered water
    • This was my gulping water, used primarily at breaks
    • I preferred the 700mL over the 1 liter size
    • I used the blue cap for flushing my filter (vs the syringe) (see below for instructions)
  • Sawyer Mini Filter
    • I use the Sawyer Mini as an inline filter 90% of the time, squeezing only to fill my Smartwater Bottle and to hydrate food.
    • I pre-filtered the water before using my Mini 80% of the time (see below for options)
    • I was not pleased with the performance of this filter. It was slow and needed maintenance more frequently than Joan’s Sawyer Squeeze. It also seemed the washer was worn out and wouldn’t hold a seal with the platypus bladders even after flipping the washer over. I switched to the Mini last year and had performance issues even when filtering watering from “perfect” backcountry sources. I contacted Sawyer but did not receive a satisfactory explanation and was not offered worthwhile options.
    • I switched to my back-up Sawyer Mini about half way through the trip and my experience was exactly the same
    • I do not have a lot of strength in my hands which can affect the pressure with which I’m able to squeeze water through and/or flush the system
    • For flushing, I’ve switched to using the blue flip cap found on the 700mL Smartwater bottles. Mount it on a clean water bag, stick the drinking tip side of the filter into the blue cap and squeeze vigorously through the filter. Now you can eliminate carrying the syringe.
    • I’ll be replacing my Sawyer Mini with a Sawyer Squeeze
  • AquaMira Drops
    • I’d say I double treated my water about 50-60% of the time due to the cow infested and/or green slime sources.
    • I first used the drops and then the filter. 
  • Scoop & PreFilter (bottom 1/3rd of a 1 liter Smart Water bottle for scoop and a knee high nylon as the filter)
    • I used this combination at probably 80% of water sources
    • It worked great but was not as efficient as Joan’s solution, to which I’ll be switching.
      • Small water container with the bottom cut off (i.e. .5 liter Platypus)
      • Push/Pull type lid (some platypus containers come with them, many water bottles have them, also dishwashing soap, etc.)
      • SteriPen Replacement Cartridge (glued inside the ring of the scoop container with the push/pull lid of the cartridge pointed toward the cut end of the container)

Food:

Clothing:

  • For Sleeping: Icebreaker Bodyfit 200 Tights, Smartwool NTS Long-Sleeve Shirt, Merino Socks, Buff
    • Wore every night
  • For Rotation: Smartwool Toe Socks x1, Smartwool Lightweight Socks x1, underwear x1
    • With water a luxury in many places, rotated every few days and only got to wash occasionally
    • Recommend baby diaper pins for hanging drying laundry from pack
  • For Layering: Polar Fleece Beanie, Smartwool Glove Liners, Visor, Buff
  • For Hiking:
    • Pants (Mountain Hardwear, style no longer available)
      • I like these because they have a gusseted crotch lined with a soft fabric, same soft fabric around waistband.
      • I turn the pants into crop length by rolling the legs when hot or when I’m cooling feet in a creek.
      • These were great as a defense against stickery prickeries.
    • Shirts
    • Sports Bra
      • Looking for a better option as this one stretched out after a couple of days
    • Underwear (Jockey seamless)
      • Looking forward to fitting back into my Patagonia ones
    • Socks (Smartwool Toe Socks layered with Smartwool Lightweight Socks)
      • No blisters, no complaints
    • Gaiters (Dirty Girl Gaiters)
      • Kept the debris out of my shoes
    • Shoes (Altra Lone Peak 2.0)
      • No blisters, no complaints
      • Tip: cut off the mud flap before wearing to prevent the sole from separating from the shoe
      • Tip: cut off the velcro cover if you are planning to wear Dirty Girls regularly
      • Tip: keep the laces loosely tied. I had started getting a tiny blood blister at the tip of my long toe so on my last day I tightened my laces considerably as we had a long steep downhill section. As a result I got a severe irritation along my upper arch. I’m not sure how I would have hiked the next day.

Electronics:

  • Camera (Sony Cybershot DSC RX-100) with ez Share WiFi Card
    • I’d planned to blog live using the WiFi card to transfer photos to my camera, but it was too time consuming, wasting batteries on both my camera and phone.
  • DeLorme InReach SE
    • I’m on the $12 per month basic plan which allows me to send 3 customized preset messages with unlimited frequencies to unlimited recipients, plus it posts these messages and track points on an internet map I can share with others. This plan includes 5 free on-the-fly messages, incoming or outcoming; additional messages at a very reasonable price. We used this option when arranging rendezvous times and points with Joan’s parents.
  • Phone (Motorola Droid Maxx)
    • Used the Trimble Outdoors app with the AZT track and way points for navigation
  • Suntactics 5 Solar Charger
    • This was extra weight I could have skipped as I primarily used the external battery; however, I consider it insurance.
    • With little tree cover and lots of sun, this trail is a perfect one for solar chargers
    • Tip: many electronics will not accept trickle charge thus wasting recharging efforts; it’s better to charge an external battery and then recharge your other electronics from that source. I’m still in search of a lightweight external option for this purpose.
  • New Trent External Battery
    • Heavy but reliable
  • USB Cable, Wall Charger & Ear Buds

Toiletries:

  • Lotion
    • I used Eucerin Original Healing 1oz container which seemed to have a nice balance of being sufficiently liquid and lubricating.
    • I replaced at every resupply.
    • I only use unscented product on and off trail.
  • Sunscreen
    • I used Dermatone with Z-cote 36SPF 1 oz container
    • I needed a LOT more than I’ve ever used and was happy for Amazon as I ordered more for my resupply boxes.
    • I’m happy to report this was a sunburn free trip
  • Foot care lubricant (Aquaphor)
    • I’m sure this saved me from blisters and other problems (thanks Joan)
    • I used this every morning and night before putting on my socks; I recommend during the day for problems.
    • Also good for hands, especially cuticles.
    • I used one vial every few days and replaced at every resupply.
  • Toothbrush, Toothpaste & Floss
    • I make a tooth powder out of baking soda and sweetener
  • Stainless Steel Deodorant Bar
    • I can’t say how much I love this option
    • I don’t like underarm odor and this solves the problem
    • I wiped my pits and the bar with wet wipes (tip: both must be wet)
  • Medications & Vitamins
  • Eyeglass Cleaner (1/day)
  • Daily facial/body wipes, dried (1/day)
    • Would replace these with wet wipes in future areas with few water resources
  • Wet Anti-Bacterial Wipes (1-2/day)
    • Essential in the desert when lack of water is a reality
    • Really important to keep feet clean
    • Also need to get the grime and sweat off to prevent abrasions (i.e. from pack rub)
  • Poo Bag (Trowel, Bidet Bottle, Dr. Bonner soap, disposable glove & dried wipe x1/day)
    • I’m going to trial replacing the glove with a doggie poo bag and/or reusing a food baggie

Emergency Preparedness:

  • First Aid Kit (including Leukotape, gauze, needle, tweezers, etc)
    • Joan used the Leukotape for blister care (she was having to wear compromise shoes)
    • The tweezers for cactus spine and bee stinger removal incidents
    • The needle was used for releasing an impedded cactus spine
    • Tip: Transfer Leukotape onto unwaxed parchment paper or tape backing paper (i.e. postage tape); it’s not like duck tape that can be rolled onto itself.
  • Medications (including Benadryl, antibiotics for bacterial infections, etc.)
    • Benadryl was used for bee sting and heat rash
    • Neosporin was used for cactus spine incidents and a knife cut 
    • Ibuprofen was needed in much larger quantities than I’d planned due to the water weight caused aches and pains
  • Comb
    • An absolute necessity for jumping cholla removal
    • We used it several times. One day I had four cholla attacks!
  • Mosquito Repellent & Net 
    • Our timing was such we experienced NO bugs
  • Emergency Blanket  
    • Decided to save the weight and space
  • Rain Skirt (trash bag)
    • Never used but good insurance
    • May replace with zPacks rain pants
  • Mini Bic Lighter & Fire Starter
    • We never made any fires, but it’s always good to have these in case of hypothermia or other injury.
  • Maps, Compass, with Data Book, Water Report and Profile info printed on the back of each applicable map page
    • The data pages I’d put together were invaluable. We used them to plan our daily mileage, water carries, food resupplies, camp locations, etc.

Other:

  • Chrome Dome Umbrella
    • With the intense direct sun, a life saver in my opinion. I got near heat exhaustion a couple of times when I couldn’t use the umbrella.
    • Had used Joan’s method of attaching to my pack last year, but it was in the rain for a short period and it was not working with my fully loaded pack.
    • Spent the day we slack-packed devising a new hands-free solution, but once again with a fully loaded pack it was a failure.
    • Dru had devised her own solution which worked for me! She added a carabiner to a loop near the top of her shoulder strap. The shaft of the umbrella can be popped into the carabiner, then the bottom of the shaft can be wrapped around the sternum strap before it’s snapped in place. I have a 1″ piece of plumbing foam inserted on the shaft which I place near my collarbone.
  • Petzl Zipka Plus Headlamp
    • Didn’t know that AAA batteries were available as Lithiums. Highly recommend!
  • Leatherman Multi-Tool
    • Used the knife, scissors and tweezers
  • Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles
    • I’ve used these as my 3rd and 4th legs for the past 5 years. They are a bit heavier than some, but I prefer cork handles and I need the adjustability for my tent.

Disclaimer: as a Gossamer Gear Ambassador, I was given the Mariposa pack (and would not use if it wasn’t my preference). I purchased all other gear.

If you have any questions or need additional information, please give me a shout. Use either the comment section or send me an email at jansjaunts-wordpress@yahoo.com.

Tips and Resources:

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7 thoughts on “Arizona Trail – Post Trip Report – Gear Gone Right, Gear Gone Wrong!

  1. Jan,

    Excellent advice. Thank you for the detailed and practical ideas. I’m considering the same trail after I finish my last PCT section this August. Your experience with heat reminds me of Southern California hiking.

    See you on the trail,
    Dana Law
    “Magician”

    • I still feel so lucky about our timing with the recent rains. I’m hearing horrific stories from some we passed going north and others who started north in April. This desert is not forgiving!

  2. Jan

    I am intrigued by your mention of the stainless steel bar. I have heard of these but doubted their effectiveness. Can you comment more on their usefulness while hiking please?

    much appreciated

    Jools

    • I recommend trialing at home first. Reviews say it doesn’t work for everyone. It took my body a while to adapt, not sure if it was psychological or not. I use it in the shower. I find it’s most comfortable when both body and bar are wet. In some water conditions (I think soft) you may need to use soap to obtain the gliding action. Here’s a link to the full size bar I’ve been using at home for the past 5 years. http://amzn.to/1Ymqmgg

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