Here is a spreadsheet of my Arizona Trail gear.
Environmental conditions on the Arizona Trail
Temperatures varied substantially over the course of a day and with elevation. I know it's hard to imagine, but it dropped below freezing several nights (the northbounders we passed said it got into the 20s for them). We woke up with frost-covered tarps a couple times. Other nights stayed warmer. I’d often hike for the first hour in my down puffy coat and gloves, with long underwear bottoms or rainpants. At higher elevations, I’d keep my puffy handy to wear when we stopped at rest breaks. Do not underestimate how cold it will be on the Arizona Trail!
|Wearing all of our warm clothes while hiking during cold mornings. Photo by Jan.|
|Staying covered up and using my umbrella hands-free. Photo by Jan.|
Rain was more frequent than I’d expected— rained several days in the afternoon, and two nights we got a soaking rain. This was an unusually wet spring. Condensation soaked us a few nights when we camped down low.
I am a lightweight backpacker with a baseweight of 12 pounds. I carry a hammock because it allows me to sleep soundly, but I do NOT recommend a hammock on the AZT (see my article here). I carry a lot of insulation because I get cold easily.
Favorite gear items for the Arizona Trail: Umbrella, Comb, Tweezers, and Sunscreen
Umbrella: Chrome Dome (8 oz) (see my post for how to rig the umbrella on your pack)
Hands down my favorite piece of gear on the Arizona Trail was my umbrella. The sun out there is fierce, intense, and relentless. The umbrella kept me significantly cooler and allowed me to hike during the heat of the day without passing out from heat exhaustion. At rest breaks, it provided shade when none was available.
|Rest break under the shade of umbrellas.|
|I thought Arizona would be sunny all the time. So, what is this wet stuff falling from the sky?|
A comb removed cactus spines more easily than tweezers, but both were essential on the Arizona Trail. Jumping cholla and burrs could be brushed off immediately with the comb before they’d work themselves in further. Using your fingers for spine removal hurt too much--don't even think about it these spines have barbs. When you’ve got a cholla sticking out of your skin, you want it off RIGHT NOW. I kept my comb in the hipbelt pocket of my pack for easy and quick access.
|Removing a jumping cholla with my pink comb.|
Sunscreen: 3 oz bottle of Neutrogena Ultra sheer dry-touch SPF 70
I tend to be fairly thrifty, but I’ve learned not to skimp when it comes to sunscreen. This type has a non-offensive odor and goes on thick but doesn’t feel gross. I carry the 3 oz bottle because I need to apply it every two hours in copious amounts so I don’t burn to a crisp, even under my umbrella and hat. Do not underestimate the Arizona sun.
|If you are fair skinned like me, just suck it up and carry the 3 ounce bottle.|
Hiking shirt: Railriders adventure shirt (6.5 oz)
Loved this shirt! Great abrasion resistance for the brushy, thorny parts of the trail. It prevented my arms from getting slashed up. Provided great sun protection, side vents were good for cooling, roomy cut felt comfortable and breezy. My major complaint with this shirt is that the sleeves are too short.
Hiking skirt: DIY skirt (4.5 oz)
A skirt worked really well for me. Skirts are cooler, so prevent problems with heat rash. I also love the versatility of being able to take off or put on long underwear/ rainpants over or under my skirt. It also makes it very easy to go pee standing up.
Gaiters: DIY tall gaiters (3 oz)
These tall gaiters that I sewed myself were ESSENTIAL for protection from spines and nasty brush. I can not emphasize how overgrown some parts of the trail were, and how many prickery, pokey plants are out there waiting to attack your flesh. Having tall gaiters to protect my lower legs allowed me to wear a skirt, which together with the gaiters is a versatile system. This combination was cool in the heat, and then in the cold I would wear my long underwear under the tall gaiters.
Fleece Hoodie: Melanzana Micro grid (9 oz)
I love the warmth and coziness of sleeping in my fleece hoodie. The material feels great against my dirty, sweat-encrusted skin. The front pouch keeps my hands warm. Some people might get away with sleeping in just long underwear, but I sleep cold so prefer to sleep in my fleece layer.
Long underwear bottoms: Patagonia capilene 4 (5.5 oz)
Wore these every night and hiked in them the first hour or so in the cold.
Down coat: Montbell UL (7 oz)
Went with my lighter-weight down coat this trip and that worked well. Wore this for hiking the first hour every day, and used it at rest breaks at higher elevations. My down coat is an essential part of my sleep system because I use it as a hood with my top quilt.
Down booties: Goosefeet socks (2.8 oz)
Love my down booties! Keep my feet from freezing at night. I no longer question the extravagance. These are an essential part of getting a good nights sleep.
Down hat: Black Rock Down (1 oz)
OK so maybe this was excessive. But I wore it most nights and mornings, and it sure felt good to not be freezing cold. This hat provides lots of warmth for just an ounce. Love the band, and it stays on when I sleep.
Gloves: Surplus Wool Liner Gloves (1.5 oz)
Wore these while packing up and hiking the first hour.
Sun hat: Sunday afternoons sport hat (2.5 oz)
It was sometimes too windy for the umbrella, so the wide-bimmed hat was essential for sun protection.. This one has excellent coverage and ventilation. The chin strap held the hat on in strong wind.
Sun wristies: DIY fingerless (1 oz)
Essential for sun protection. Protected my hands from spines, abrasion, and windburn too.
Sunglasses: Oakley Juliet (1.8 oz)
Wrap around, good quality sunglasses were also essential. Also helped for wind, dust, and bug protection.
Raincoat and Rainpants: Zpacks Cuben jacket and pants
Just right for the few times it rained. Plus wore for extra warmth and while doing laundry.
|Raincoat, rainpants, and umbrella--because it does rain on the Arizona Trail.|
I prefer low-cut trail shoes that are highly breathable and NOT gortex. But I have major problems with finding shoes that fit my huge feet (they are so big I have to wear men’s shoes) and my bunions.
I love/hate both of these shoes. The keens give me blisters on my pinky toes when I carry more than 5 L of water. I got a stress fracture last summer while wearing the altras with microspikes, and while I thought my stress fracture had healed completely (hadn’t felt anything in 6 months), wearing the altras again started to aggravate the old stress fracture injury two weeks before I started this hike.
On the Arizona Trail, I started with the keens but got annoyed with how hot they felt and with my pinky toe blisters. So after 100 miles I picked up the altras and carried TWO pair of shoes, and alternated during the course of each day. It felt ridiculous carrying two shoes, but this was the healthiest option because I’ve struggled so much with my feet.
For future hikes, I dream of finding trail shoes that give me neither blisters nor stress fractures, and that don’t hurt my bunions. Is this too much to ask? If anyone has suggestions for me, please comment below...
That's it for the gear talk. As I said, my hammock gear was reviewed in another post, this post is on everything else, and I talk more about my water system for the Arizona Trail here. Let me know if you have any questions or comments!
Disclaimer: I am a Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador, and I got the Mariposa pack from them for free. All other gear was purchased by me.