AZT Day -4: Gear Prep


As the day of departure draws closer, I keep thinking man I need to get my gear together! Tomorrow. Yeah. Tomorrow is the day I do this. Before it’s literally too late.

Sooo… I’ve kind of been putting this one off. I have my normal backpacking setup that I plan to bring, and figure I’ll tweak a few things at the last minute, add a few thangs, and call it a day.

A few gear items I plan to add for the AZT:

– Reflective umbrella. Gotta keep that blazing sun off my back. (I have an older version of this one)
– Tiny black light. For finding scorpions at night! I don’t want one of those stinging buggers hiding out in my tent
– Panty hose water prefilter. For getting any algae goop out of the water before filtering
Aquamira. Water treatment in tiny containers to use as post filter water treatment for any extra sketchy water sources
– Plenty of water bladders & bottles. For extra water carrying capacity
– Garmin inReach mini. Satellite tracking, satellite texting, emergency beacon, etc. Safety!
Pepper spray. To keep on hand when hitching a ride.

A few maybe gear items depending on conditions and situations:

– Down booties. If it’s really cold, I’ll pack ’em
– Sleeping bag liner. Same as above
– Bear spray. A recent bear attack in southern Arizona makes me think I might want to carry some…

Some thoughts: If I can set up my hammock like a tent, using trekking poles (aka on the ground in addition to normal tree setup), I will be bringing it instead of a tent. The only problem is, it is a bottom entry hammock, so I’m not really sure if that’s feasible… I may carry the Big Agnes Copper Spur 2-person tent, but it is a full pound heavier than the hammock. My shoes will likely wear out somewhere along the trail. After that happens I may try the Hoka Speedgoats. Hokas are incredibly comfortable. I have Hoka running shoes that I have been wearing for well over 2 years and they are still comfortable and haven’t worn out yet. I’m packing heavy baselayers. If the weather is warmer than expected, I can always switch out to something lighter. I’m still working on the perfect shirt-jacket combo (t-shirt+wind jacket+rain jacket or maybe long sleeved sun shirt+rain jacket?). I’m sure a few things will change along the way, but this should get me started.

And also, my normal gear list looks mostly something like this:

(Big 3+)
Sleeping bag
Feathered Friends Egret (20 degree)
Sleeping pad
Thermarest Neoair
Hennesy Hammock Asym Ultralight
Pack ULA Circuit
(Clothes worn)
Brooks Cascadias
Socks Darn toughs
Short sleeved shirt Under armor
Patagonia running shorts
Sports bra
Underware Exofficio
(Clothes in pack)
Sleep pants
Patagonia capilene
rain jacket OR Helium II
wind jacket
Patagonia houdini
Camp jacket
Feathered friends Daybreak hoodie
Sleep top
Patagonia capilene 4
Bandana x 2
Thin warm hat
Extra socks x 2 Darn toughs
Extra underware x 2
Extra sportsbra
Camp shoes flip flops Teva flip flops
Rain pants Silnylon
baseball hat/sun hat
pee bandana
stove, windscreen, lighter Pocket rocket
MSR titanium something
Long handled titanium
Sea to summit collapsible
ursacks and opsacks
Knife or multi tool tiny leatherman
Bottles tbd
bladder tbd
filter Sawyer squeeze
(First aid)
athletic tape KT tape
chamois butter
emergency blanket
(Personal items)
TP, trowel, hand sani
baby wipes
Trekking poles
Cell phone Moto x4
Solar charger Suntactics
Black Diamond reVolt

And that’s about it. Questions? Comments? Please feel free to add below.

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First ultralight gear made: dry bag!

Ultralight cuben fiber dry sack!
Ultralight cuben fiber dry sack weighing in at a teeny weeny 10 grams

Gear: 8-Liter 0.33 oz/sqyd Cuben Fiber Roll-Top Dry Sack.

Weight: 10 grams.

Dimensions: 10″ x 20″

Cost to make: $10. Comparable retail cost: $20-$30. Savings: about $10-$20 (100-200%)

Use: Dry bag for quilt, clothes, or small sleeping bag.

Will I use it?: Yes, as soon as I make myself a quilt! Right now my sleeping bag is too big to fit inside…

Taped seams
Taped seams

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, this post is about gear making (Aka MYOG, or Make Your Own Gear). I confess – I haven’t been in the mountains much lately. Instead of hitting the hills, I’ve been climbing indoors at Vertical World, running (including a hilly 5k in Interlaken Park), and making gear for my next adventure! Yes, I’ve officially caught the ultralight bug.

This is my first piece of ultralight gear – a Cuben fiber roll-top dry sack with the lightest possible cuben fiber out there (at 0.33 oz/sqyd).

So what is cuben fiber? It’s an amazing super light fabric used in ultralight gear making, among other things. “Cuben Fiber is a high-performance, non-woven, rip-stop, composite laminate developed in the 1990s by a nuclear weapons physicist and an aerospace composite engineer.  Originally designed for use in world-class sailing, it is ideal for certain applications in lightweight and ultralight outdoor gear due to its unmatched strength-to-weight ratio”, according to lightweight gear makers at Hyperlight Mountain Gear. “Technically speaking, Cuben fiber is a laminated fabric made using patented technologies with unidirectional prepregnated tapes of in-line plasma treated fibers that are spread into mono-filament level films.  In more simple terms, Cuben fiber is made by sandwiching Spectra or Dyneema polyethylene fiber filaments a thousandth of an inch thick, in various arrangements between thin outer layers of polyester film.  The “sandwich” is then melded together in a high-pressure autoclave. Cuben fiber is lightweight, highly durable, and is 50-70% lighter than Kevlar, four times stronger than Kevlar, and allows flex without losing strength.  It is also less than half the weight of silnylon, has low specific gravity (floats on water), high chemical resistance, excellent UV resistance and is 100% waterproof.”

Square sewn and taped bottom construction
Square sewn and taped bottom construction

In short – ultralight, ultra strong, and waterproof. Perfect for tents, tarps, dry bags, stuff sacks, etc. It comes in weights ranging from 0.33 oz/sqyd-1.43 oz/sqyd plus as a hybrid with other materials.

This dry bag is constructed with the lightest possible cuben – 0.33 oz/sqyd. Most of the seams are taped with double sided cuben tape. I folded the bottom and sewed the corners in order to get a box like shape, then taped the outside with single sided cuben tape for waterproofing. The top edge is reinforced with more 0.33 oz/sqyd cuben rolled/folded over, then taped with single sided cuben tape on which a buckle is attached for closure.

It works well and will hold a small quilt. Because it is so likely to puncture, I consider it highly water resistant as opposed to fully waterproof. In fact, upon testing (filling with water!), there were a few teeny tiny holes through which water seeped over time. It should function well inside a pack in rainy conditions, but probably not fully submerged in a river (which I don’t intend to do).

So overall – first ultralight gear making was a success! Next on the horizon: tiny bug mesh tent, tyvek ground cloth with toe splash guard, 2 person tarp, and tarp/poncho…