The Most Unexpected Outdoor Equipment in the Wild

Before hiking miles and miles along the Pacific Coast Trail, Cheryl Strayed had to spend months planning, packing, and plotting to ensure she wouldn’t run into misfortune along her adventure. She often referred to the goods in her pack as “Monster.” If that’s any indication, outdoor equipment for 2,650 miles of trails can really weigh you down. Let’s take a look at what she had saddled on her back.

Blister Ointment

Thanks to hours of intense pressure between foot and boot, blister ointment became a necessary accessory along the route. It’s a topical skin treatment for cuts and sores that uses a combination of chemicals to create a polymeric layer that binds to the skin.

Ice Axe

While thoughts of the Pacific coast may lead one to believe the terrain is just beaches and wooded areas, the reality is that much of her hike involved finding her way out of the snow. As such, Strayed had to rely on an ice axe some of the way. She goes into great detail about the body of the axe, including the head, pick, adze, shaft, and spike. There are many factors that go into finding and axe that is suitable for the user’s height and build.

Iodine Drops

In a particularly frightening situation, Strayed found herself without fresh water. There were rumors afloat that there was a water source farther along the trail, so she decided to forego bringing water, which weighs a lot, along with her. Unfortunately, when she arrived, the water was gone. She had to hike further, only to find dirty, and therefore unsafe, water. This is where iodine drops came in. Since too much iodine is also a cause for concern, she had to wait 30 minutes after adding the iodine drops.

Hiking Boots

While it’s assumed this is a given for any hiker, finding the right boot takes more time than you’d think. It’s impossible to tell how well a hiking boot will really fit until a hiker has spent a lot of time in it. As for Strayed, she chose boots that fit too well. While this may seem smart, the terrain she hiked caused her to bear down on her toes, which led to far more blistering and pain. When going to an outdoor equipment retailer, it’s best to try on as many pairs as possible, and to walk on angled planks to get a sense of how the boots handle inclines. Look for extra room in the toe and, if possible, waterproof boots.

While you may not write a best-selling book about your escapades, there is something you can learn from this experience if you’re planning to hike the Pacific Coast Trail. Be sure to explore various outdoor equipment stores and stock items before making major decisions. Smart packing is the best packing!