This video shows an overview of all the gear that I will be taking with me on my 2017 Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike.
Enjoy and drop me a message in case of questions or remarks.
For a short list, look on my gear page.
This video shows an overview of all the gear that I will be taking with me on my 2017 Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike.
Enjoy and drop me a message in case of questions or remarks.
For a short list, look on my gear page.
One of the mantra’s of long distance hiking is;
HYOH: Hike Your Own Hike !
You see and hear it everywhere. It’s such a cliche… But you know, cliches are usually true…
I have always been a person following a path less traveled, always doing my own thing. So when someone said to me HYOH, I reacted defensively; “Of course, I will do my own thing! Don’t I always!” But usually when I choose my own path, there is a modelled path before me, so I can look at it and just wave my way through. The PCT is no such thing, there is no clear cut path to follow and all will be ok… It is not that simple! No, you really do have to figure it out yourself. It is a monstrous undertaking with thousands of variables…
A long distance hike like a PCT thru-hike brings it’s own challenges like the wide range in terrain and climate, choices in gear, the challenges of keeping your carrying weight down, resupply strategies, mail drops, water treatment, start date, different flight options… and many more decisions… Since I have never done something like this before, I am figuring it out as I go along… Luckily many people have gone before. And in this digital age, you can find a lot of information from these past thru-hikers to learn from. So I started reading books, blogs and Facebook pages. Pouring over maps. Studying hiker surveys. All to prepare myself for this massive undertaking. It will only give you an impression on how it might be and preparation will only get you so far. On trail, all bets are off and you will have to rely on your improvisation skills.
On Facebook I found my first PCT buddy; Paul, who was facing the same choices and dilemmas. We started finding our way together, bouncing ideas of each other and discussing the many dilemmas. Even though he had to postpone his plans for hiking, he helped me enormously in the first months of planning. Now in the last months of planning, I met two other Dutch hikers, Peter and Willeke, who are attempting a thru-hike in 2017. Awesome, because they face the same dilemmas as me; dealing with permits, flights, visas and resupply issues. We can share our pre-trail fun, and bounce ideas of each other.
I also started talking about my journey with people around me, but it’s very hard to make people understand the parameters on which these choices have to be made. Even though it is nice to have the people around you weigh in on your choices, in the end, you have to make the decisions yourself… It is your hike! You need to stay true to yourself. You have your own journey to make, both physically and mentally. It all comes down to what you find important. Nobody can tell you what to do or what to take with you. So HYOH!
When I try to explain it to people, I usually give this example;
A long distance hiker is called crazy for carrying five pounds of useless items. But when that item is a guitar, for example, making the six month journey more pleasant by sitting by the fire and playing each night, then those five pounds become priceless. Take it with you and enjoy the ride!! It’s worth the extra weight! These six months are not just a walk in the park! Punishing your body this much day by day for six months, you need something enjoyable to balance it out! Taking care of your mental side is as important as taking care of your body!
Everyone has their own kind of guitar, their own goals, their own priorities and their own mental uplifting things. HYOH!
I do not sleep a lot, which gives me time to think… I started to think about my guitar? What will help me through the tough times?
It started me thinking about the journey itself and my motivation… This is going to be a great adventure filled with beautiful memories, never to forget! But it is also a day by day struggle of putting one foot in front of the other, sleeping in a tent every night, while your whole body hurts and you are cold/hot and hungry all of the time. You are pushing your body daily to go beyond a point where you would normally go, way beyond comfort.
So why do it in the first place? What on earth attracted me to put myself through something like this?
I have been asked and asked myself this numerous times. Sure I like to do adventurous things. I like to push my body. But why this? Like I wrote before, the ball started rolling after reading this quote;
What’s worth doing, even if you fail?
– Brene Brown
It is actually based on another quote: What would you attempt to do, if you knew you could not fail.
I made a decision a couple of years ago to try and live my life as authentic to myself as I can. End goals became less important. My focus shifted to the road in between. You come into this world with nothing and you will leave it with nothing, it’s what in the middle that counts… That is why Brene’s version of the quote resonated so strongly with me; it is not about achieving some goal, but about appreciating that road with all its curves. It became my strongest motivation when making choices; I had to like that middle part, for that is where you spend most time! For example; I chose a skydive team, not to be the best in competitions, but friends training and growing together, enjoying every step of the way.
I was reading a book by Brene Brown, in which she talks about this middle part and explains why you should not skip it. Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. When telling a story, people usually concentrate most on the end; for that is the big achievement and the point of telling the story. After that comes the beginning, because that explains the motivation and start of the story. The messy middle usually gets lost in the scrumble. But that is exactly where my interest lies. That is probably why I like books and movies, they are all about what happens in the middle. Same goes for people; I am not interested in bright and shiny, no. Dark and twisty, yes; the messy middle…
I read a lot of these stories from PCT hikers as well. “I decided to hike the PCT… it was a long road… and I made it, it was awesome!”
If I look at that sentence, the beginning is sort of interesting; for why would someone decide to do a thing like this. The end holds only little interest; for they complete (yeah!) or do not complete (oooh, how sad) their journey.
But the middle; “it was hard, it was fun”… that intrigues me! What happened? What were those experiences like? How did it feel halfway up the mountain? It holds infinite possibilities!! That is exactly what I want to experience;
The middle, for that is where the magic happens!
People ask me; “Why do you want to hike all that way? Why not go for something easier? If you want to go from San Diego to Vancouver, just take an airplane!”
I can now tell them; it is not about getting from point A to point B, it is about the beautiful mess in between!
That beautiful mess in between…
That is my guitar!
and I will take it with me!
Getting your body into shape is one of the most important prep for next year! For the past month I have concentrated on heat training, which consists of lots and lots of sauna time (terrible, I know ;)) alternating with a gym workout. But training outside every once in a while really is preferable!
So how better to close out the year than preparing for next year’s adventure! Together with Wouter from fall training in Norway, we walked around 20km through the Waterleidingduinen, a national park adjacent to the Dunes of Zandvoort and Vogelenzang.
Even though I live a 10 min drive away, I had never really been there. Did read about it in the paper the last couple of years, mentioning the big population of deer… That I can confirm! Around every corner you see 2 little does grazing, or big deer with huge antlers just casually walking along. Think we might have seen about 100 deer during our walk!!
It was a nice little walk in the park with great weather circumstances for this time of the year
it was very nice to meet up with you again and enjoy nature together!!
Next big outside training day will be januari 15th, where I will join up with two aspiring 2017-PCT hikers like myself!! Lots and lots to talk about!!
Up till then I will continue the heat training and not to forget the mental preparation!
Talk to you soon!
Preparations are going to plan. I’ve spend a couple of days in England doing some cityhiking, which was a lot of fun! And even though it was England, the weather was better than my fall training in norway 😉
This is going to be a BIG week…
A couple of weeks ago I received my new passport, which made it finally possible to prepare for the last big hurdle… The US visum application. An ordinary tourist visum for 3 months is no problem. But when you want to stay 6 months, it becomes a whole different thing… They want to know everything about you. From your religious convictions to your medical status to your criminal ties and actions. I answered an elaborate questionnaire stating I have never participated or been associated with any criminal behaviour, I am not a terrorist and I am definitely not traveling to Amerika to prostitute myself or participate in human trafficking…
Suddenly my life feels very boring…
I do wonder, though… Will actual criminals answer yes to any of these questions?
I also collected all my proof documents stating what I am planning to do in the US, my itinerary, proof that I have enough money to fund my stay and proof that I will in fact leave the US once I finished hiking. All these things I will need to bring to my interview at the US Consulate next Tuesday…
Since the entire adventure sort of depends on this visum, I am a little nervous… But thankfully some aspiring PCT Thru-hikers went before me and had little problem getting through the interview. So I have my hopes up!
Setting up the visum got me going on all the other paper work. I also arranged my California fire permit, arranged everything for a Canadian permit and read up on the PCT long distance hiking permit. The Canadian permit is just in case I finish hiking early and want to spend some time in Canada before flying back. It also comes in handy if I choose to decide to fly out from Vancouver instead of the USA. Also researched plane tickets yesterday, but haven’t made my mind up yet. The PCT hiking permit fixes your start date, which is pretty important when buying plane tickets… Unfortunately application for this permit opens in February. There are 50 starting permits for each day, as to spread out the hikers to protect nature and the resources.
I cannot wait to get out there!!!!
Just 3,5 months to go…
Let’s get back to work…
Budget is not complete and I still need to finish my research!!
But don’t forget to cross your fingers for me on Tuesday…
Drop a comment on my blog and I’ll talk to you soon,
Saturday was the big day!!
I’d like to thank everyone who made time in their busy schedules to share my pre-trail jitters and to support my crazy adventure!!
Your enthusiasm and support touched me deeply!!
I loved talking to you and showing you all my plans and gear!!
Since my last setback I replaced almost all of my gear. Thank god I kept an extensive gear list… Took me a while to track everything down again, but seeing everything together for the first time was such a high!! Cannot wait to get started!! I still have to wait 6 months, for I will leave at the end of March 2017, but there is still so much to arrange… Have to arrange my visa and plane ticket, sort out resupply stops, sort out food and calories, make a travel plan… Cannot wait to get to the next step!!
I cannot thank you enough for your support and donations!!! I don’t really know what to say; realizing that so many of my friends support me and my crazy adventure touches my heart and it makes me a little speechless…
Thanks to all of you I now have saved up to 62% of the total budget!! A huge leap!!
Because of all of you I won’t have to bite on a stick for half a year, but I can now plan it to be a safer and more comfortable journey with a bigger chance of success!!
Thank you Ger and Arienne, for organizing such a gift! You are such amazing people, I will be forever grateful!!
Seriously… THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH!!
Before BBQ After BBQ
Blue skies, happy trails!
Just returned back home after 4 months of traveling Europe and working.
The upside of doing research is that my timetable is more flexible than most people I know. The downside is that I don’t get a paycheck from it… So I really need to make time for paid work…
Let’s do a little recap and I’ll give you insight into my life for the last 4 months! It all started with giving up my rental home in June to save as much money as I could for 2017. I put all my stuff in storage and loaded up my car…
First up; camping near lake Balaton, Hungary. I decided to drive through Austria and make a stop at the Dachstein Gletscher.
I hiked all the way to the top over narrow paths. It is so weird when you are hiking for hours and suddenly see people in skis passing you by… 🙂
The Gletscher has a panorama bridge on the top, which is supposed to give you an awesome view of the Alps below. Unfortunately on this day the top was cloaked in clouds… So no awesome view, but the experience was still pretty awesome!! Like standing in the middle of the clouds!
Would have loved to spend more time on this gletscher…
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And many miles to go before I sleep
On to Hungary!
First time of setting up my new Nigor pio pio solo tent, which performed like a champ. Easy and quick to set up, no problems with condensation, wind or rain and even though it is a one-person-tent it is more than enough room for me and my backpack!! Just awesome!!
Two weeks of camping gave me an unique opportunity to test my Jetboil Flash lite cooking system. Time to figure out the amount of calories needed per day and try different meals.
Two weeks in Hungary were great, but after being in one
place for 2 weeks it was time to get moving again!!
A beautiful ride to Croatia followed! Next destination; Plitvice Lakes National Park.
I took a day off to do a serious practice hike. 30 kilometers of trees, beautiful lakes, awesome views and waterfalls. Lots and lots of waterfalls!!
Leaving Croatia behind after an awesome drive through the westlands to visit the Prostojna Caves in Slovenia. A little train ride into the caves to discover the most beautiful and diverse collection of stalactites and stalagmites… Miles of stone sculptures and beautiful formations. It is absolutely mesmerizing how many wonders lay deep beneath the surface…
So much beauty to discover in these countries… Unfortunately I had to press on to Venice for a Medical Legal Conference to present my medical research to an international crowd. Unfortunately just before the boat ride to Venice, some stuff got stolen out of my car. Suddenly a week of relaxed mind expansion turned into a week of frantic work around the clock…
The conference was great though! Nice to spend a couple of days with my colleagues and do some networking!
After the conference I had one day for sightseeing before I had to leave. Unfortunately a Saturday in Venice is not a good day to do some quiet sightseeing…
Zig-zagged through the town in a couple of hours. But after standing in line for an hour before an average bridge, I suddenly had enough… Back to the mountains!!
The long drive back through the Julier pass and the Fuorn pass. Two routes on the list of most beautiful auto routes in Europe. Simply beautiful… Mountain lakes, steep winding roads, stunning sunsets, lots of wild-life… The weather was not that great, but who cares?! I love the mountains!
Last stop was in Aachen to do some hiking to the three-land point with my friend Marc. A 2-hour-hike turned into a day’s walk, tasty food and good conversation! Just precious!!
But now it was time to return home…
Just a couple of days to rest… Spent the weekend packing parachutes at the Tomscat; a skydive tournament in the Netherlands.
A little sad I was not competing myself, but nice to hang out with friends!
Three days of work on my research aaaaand we’re off again! Onwards to Belgium… This time Jodi could join me!
As it always is with packing, the week was full of ups and downs. But this week was especially difficult… It reached an absolute low after we got word that a friend died in an accident… Of course the following day was the most warm and busiest day of the week… For the second time of my life I hit a brick wall while packing. A roller coaster of emotions…
Made it through the day with the help of some dear friends, but it was really rough…
Left to right: Ronald – Lianne – Ellen – Bas – Marc
The following week was a training week for my 4-way-formation skydiving team Bad Habits to get ready for the Belgian Nationals the following weekend. Unfortunately we had a lot of bad weather… In stead of the planned 40 jumps we were only able to make 8 training jumps :/
The weekend was also troubled with bad weather… Though Sunday above all expectation we were able to jump 5 rounds.
This week was a just reflection of the year… Lots of bad weather and some injuries plagued our entire season… But we were very happy we managed to win the Bronze medal with an average of 8.8 points. Considering the slow draw and complicated jumps, we were pretty happy and have shown progress compared to the tournaments from last year!
One night in the beautiful Haarlem, switching stuff aaaaaand we’re off again!!!
On to Spa, Belgium for a week of camping and hiking.
The weather predictions were horrible, so went for a day of hiking in Valkenburg…
Bad luck struck again… My backpack and laptop were stolen from my car :'( …
Learing from last burglary I hiked 20 miles carrying 40 kg worth of stuff… but the minute I get back and put it in the trunk of my car it’s just gone… The worse thing was, I was just 100m away drinking a cup of coffee with some nice people… Car was in full view, but they parked a van in between so I didn’t see a thing… 🙁
Like I said in an earlier post; I was really gutted, but it also made me more determined than I ever was before!!
And I am also grateful, that Jodi was with me!!
Back to Switzerland!!
One week of packing parachutes at Mountain Gravity…
Just beautiful in the middle of the mountains!
My only regret is that I couldn’t stay longer for hiking…
It has been an incredible journey...
ups and downs…
But it made me so excited for my Pacific Crest Trail adventure!!
Just cannot wait for 6 months of uninterrupted nature… The beauty, the hardship, the rough, the mesmerizing, the unforgiving, the rewarding qualities of nature…
Hope to see you all at the
Thank you so much for sharing my adventure and for helping me make it happen. Unfortunately I encountered a major setback yesterday when my backpack including some of my gear got stolen from my car. It hit me hard… My gear was almost complete… And I do not understand why people would steal from others… I worked so hard to gather everything…
Even though I am very disappointed, sad and angry… Most of all I feel determined!
You can take my stuff, but I will walk this trail and complete it! Barefoot if I must!!
Thanks to Kris and Hans, I just reached 27% of my budget goal!!
27% means I’ll reach mile 700; Kennedy Meadows!!! This means getting ready for spotting bears! There are mainly two kinds of bears; the black and the brown. Black bear; make a lot of noise, then run. Brown bear; DO NOT RUN!! But most importantly; do not spook the bears! This is the place from where you will need to carry a bear vault through the Sierra’s, so they will not follow the smell of food.
I know it sounds weird, but cannot wait for my first bear encounter, preferably in the distance, mind you!
Getting to the 700th mile mark means only 60 more miles to go until I reach Mount Whitney!! Whitney is the highest mountain of the united states and lies on the edge of the trail, beckoning… I already got a hiking buddy to make a day trip up the summit! It is said to have one of the most breathtaking of views… A sunrise summit climb…
Just ordered the last gear that I will need for practice runs this summer. I will leave in 2 weeks for a 3 month off-and-on camping/working trip. Time to experience life in my new tent, try out the cooking and water systems, experience trail food and try out my solar/energy choices!
After hours and hours of researching all different kinds of energy sources… I finally settled on bringing a solar panel! I am taking photo/video equipment, a phone which has my maps on it and a rechargeable headlamp, so I would not prefer running out of energy. And what better way to recharge your batteries while walking out in the sun all day?! But which one? There are literately a hundred different kinds… Big/Small, Heavy/Light, Powerful/Durable…
With the advise of some good friends who know their way around gadgets and energy, my choice settled on the Yolk Solar Paper.
An ultra-thin, ultralight kind of solar panel, which is waterproof, small, light and easily attachable to your backpack! You can link the individual panels together by magnets to increase Wattage.
It is manufactured by a company in Japan through a Kickstarter campaign. This makes most people nervous, but it is such highly specialized equipment and being made “by hikers” “for hikers”, makes it actually uniquely qualified!! Cannot wait until it arrives!!
Thanks Max for the suggestion! And thank you Hans, for guiding my decision and sponsoring it!
Happy developments!! Other than that it has been a busy week… My work in medical research has just skyrocketed, trying to tie up all loose ends. Also I am moving out of my home, so packing and cleaning take up every free minute.
Packing up your stuff when you’re moving is always a moment of reminiscence and profound thought… Throwing stuff away, remembering, closing boxes… It’s amazing the clarity one gets from shedding material things!
“I went into the woods to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life. And see if I could not learn what it had to teach. And not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived”
– Thoreau –
Time to bite that stick and keep grinding forwards!!
Finally… after hours and hours of research I made up my mind about what I want as my big 3!
Let me explain… The big 3:
3. Sleeping System
These 3 things will dictate a lot of your pack weight, since they are the biggest and usually the most heavy items you will be carrying. To stick with the Ultra Light plan; my goal was to keep the weight of these 4 under the 3kg. Anyone that knows a little about camping gear, knows that thát is a real stretch… Any one of those items will weigh in at about 2kg each in a regular camping store… Time for some more research!
After hours of comparing specifications, reading gear reviews and counting grams… I finally figured out how I want to built up my shelter!
1. The Backpack:
I’ve decided on the ULA Circuit.
Pro’s: very light at 1163 grams, very roomy with 68L, very comfy, mostly water resistant, has side pockets/front mesh/hipbelt/strap loops ánd it comes in orange!
con’s: only opens at the top, only sells in the USA…
Luckily after some emails back and forth, the people from ULA were very great by suggesting General Delivery so an awesome friend of mine could pick it up and bring it to the Netherlands with him!! Heroes!! Very very thankful!!
One down… 2 to go…
This again gave me a lot of headache…
I do really like the privacy of a tent that is (semi-) freestanding; no tarps and hammocks are out of the question due to the terrain. Most durable tents weigh around 2-2.5kg :/ which is way over my limit! A lot of the hikers are going for a 2 person tent for extra space. These are even more heavy and since this is the only time my height (or the lack of it) is in my favor, I decided; solo tent it is for me!!
Most camping stores in the Netherlands pointed me in the direction of Hilleberg, who make awesome durable tents, but 700 euros is way (waaaaaay) over budget for me, also they weigh around 1.5kg… After days of pondering this dilemma I settled on importing from USA again… But which one? Most hikers use Big Agnes or MSR; Also quite expensive, but lighter! Until I came in contact with this awesome company from Utrecht, the Netherlands, of all places… Nigor. I had been searching for months, while all the while the answer was right in my backyard!
Nigor makes this awesome tent called the piopio solo; which is exactly what I’m looking for!!! A 2 layered semi-freestanding tent, made from parachute fabric (who knew, right!) with this awesome silicon layer which makes it water proof and nearly indestructible! It can withstand wind speed up to 167 km/h, so at least I know I will be safe! Also very very spacious with 260x160x120; more than enough room for me ánd my backpack! You can also set up the inner tent without the rain fly over it, so I can enjoy the stars in the desert section!! And you know the best part? It weighs only 794 grams… Wait… let me repeat that: IT WEIGHS ONLY 794 GRAMS!!
OMG… I’ve turned into one of those crazy gear groupies…
This company really gets extreme sports, high quality stuff and very durable. Just perfect! I almost couldn’t contain my excitement walking through their store. Just cannot wait to try it out for the first time!!!!!
3. Sleeping system
My sleeping system is comprised of a sleeping mat and sleeping quilt. I opted for a quilt over a sleeping bag because of weight and functionality. I’ve chosen a down quilt, and the power of down lays in it’s pocket isolation. So when you lay in your sleeping bag, flattening the pocket on your bag; it will no longer isolate you. So I’ve chosen the quilt with it’s open back and complete my system with a good isolating mat.
King under the Sleeping Mats is of course ThermARest! But still so many choices… Since I am a cold sleeper, I decided on the X-therm. Both light and durable and with an R (isolation) value of 5.7! Since I am only 1m58 and am a side-sleeper, I decided on the Small version. It’s only 1m60 long, but with my backpack at my feet, I will not run out of room!
As for the Quilt… Again looking to the USA, just hardly any ultralight equipment in the Netherlands :/ Germany and Sweden have some nice companies, but after hours of research I choose Enlightened Equipment. They make custom quilts to your precise specifications! I chose a Revelation Quilt filled with DownTek water repellent down, 850 fill power. Up to -17C, Xshort but wide and with water resistant stripes to limit condensation.
And…. wait for it… 505 grams… 😐 OMG…
and you know the best part??? It comes in ORANGE AND GREEN!!
Only downside is that they have 14-18 weeks of manufacturing time :/ But at least the order is in!!
The big three are complete! Huray!! At least they will be after the backpack and quilt get in… The gathering of the rest of the gear is also going very well. Look at my Gear Page for the latest updates!
Next item of research? Solar panels!
Preparation and research is definitely a lot of pre-trail-fun!!!
Blue skies and Happy Trails!