In the Christmas season, we are inundated with articles in magazines and websites imploring us to consider the “gear that thruhikers can’t live without.” Sometimes they list ultralight items that cost hundreds of dollars. I’ll admit that I often carry some of these pricey items. $500 cuben fiber tents are nice, but they are not neccessary. Thruhikers can be successful spending a lot of money on gear, but it’s not all that important. Thruhiking is for the wealthy and those not so economically blessed. The items on this list most hikers will find useful, cost efficient and welcome this holiday season.
1. Ziploc Bags ($2-$6 )
My favorite are the XL bags (4 pack) that I use instead of stuff sacks. They double as my pack liner as well. The XL can fit your tent and your sleeping bag. Even though the dopey picture on the box shows it holding basketballs and ice skates, I wouldn’t suggest that. Ice skates are highly impractical for thruhikers anyway. Ziplocs are good in the quart and gallon size too. I prefer the one with the actual zipper, and I think it’s the same with other hikers.
2. Duct Tape ($3–$8)
I’m not advocating that you purchase just any cheapo Duct Tape. There are smaller rolls out there that come with perforations ever cm or so. They are the Rolls Royce of tapes. They make better bandages and make repairs on your gear a snap. Some hikers like Leukotape which is excellent on blisters but slightly more expensive and less versatile.
3. Sawyer Filter Bags ($8.95)
Sawyer water filtration system is the most popular water purification on American long distance trails. The bags for collecting water that come with the squeeze filter can breakdown fairly quickly. Thruhikers are always looking to upgrade. You can get new bags at some retail locations or at popular websites. Some hikers opt to replace the bags altogether and use bladders with their Sawyer Squeeze. A 32 oz bladder from a brand like Platypus, might cost $10-$15.
4. Talenti Gelato (Free)
Hikers don’t even need the gelato! These containers are sought after for cooking, holding drink mixes and coffee and a slew of other uses. If you gift a thruhiker the container with the gelato in it, they will appreciate it. These are closing in on 1 liter Smartwater bottles as the most popular food containers on the trail.
5. Tyvek Sheet (Free or close to it)
You can get a sheet from a contractor friend or in your garage. They make an excellent groundsheet, bivy, tarp, or rain poncho. If there isn’t any in your house and you don’t feel like sneaking into your neighbors garage, they can be purchased in a hardware store for a buck or two for a single sheet.
*Bonus Pick* Gatorade 32 oz bottle.
Make great tent urinals for the thruhiking man in your life.