Pacific Crest Trail, pct, hiking, hiker, thru-hike, Appalachian Trail, travel guide, travel, podcast, podcast travel,

In this episode, the host gives a tongue-in-cheek listicle to help hiker gearheads, which includes some items rarely talked about by thousands of other content creators.


(BACKGROUND: “El Fuego” by Polyrhythmics. License.)

Josh: Hi, folks. Welcome to the fourth minicast of “Before A to B”, my so-called prequel series to my upcoming Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike, where I plan on releasing a 12-part podcast series called “Between A to B”. Check out my website if you want to see more,, or check out my social properties. I got stuff on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, blah, blah, blah. Share it, like it, you get the drill.

So today's episode is about gear. A lot has already been written about what someone should bring with them on a thru-hike. There are entire forums dedicated to the topic, lots of videos, blogs, social posts, etc. etc. Almost every hiker I know seems to have some sort of opinion on gear. Well, so do I.

I wanted to give the topic of gear my own spin, my own outlook, of what one needs to succeed on the trail. And I admit, it's something of a personal list. So if you're looking for something comprehensive, don't take this seriously.

(BACKGROUND: Corporate music you might hear on PP presentation.)

Nine Things You'll Need for a Thru-Hike Success

  1. A Good Light Weight Tent: Because of lack of tree coverage and less than ideal situations, you should have a tent that can be erected on rock as well as dirt. Ultimately, you'll need a tent shelter able to keep out the snow, rain and the swarm's of pests that revolve around a hiker's head. You'll also need enough room to store a pack and an outside chamber of rank shoes and socks.

  2. A Sleeping System: Either a foam or air pad will keep your body off the ground, help keep you warm and give you extra comfort. Round out your sleeping system with a good mummy bag rated for cold weather and long enough to fit your frame. Taller men, especially, should pay attention to length. Bag liners are an extra perk to keep your bag clean, and can be used on those extra warm nights when a sleeping bag's heat may seem like overkill. On cold nights, heat up some water, put it in a bottle and throw it in the bottom of your bag.

  3. The Ability to Be Alone for Long Periods of Time: A night alone is either a great gift – an opportunity to learn or explore – or it can a burden, the weight of ennui and isolation. Get used to both.

  4. Hiking Shoes: The type of shoe you'll need varies according to opinion. Some choose lighter trail runners. Others a stiffer high-top boot. Either way, you'll need a good tread for traction, a size large enough to allow your feet to grow and tight enough to eliminate constant rubbing and the threat of blisters. A good tip is to wear them beforehand to make sure the assume the shape of your foot before hiking hundreds of miles. To show how smart you are on the trail, always brag about your shoe brand and repeat this adage often “One pound on your foot equals five on your back.”

  5. Stubbornness: No need for explanation. I inherited mine from a family of self-proclaimed bullheads.

  6. A Well-Fitted Pack: When putting on a pack, you'll want the weight resting comfortably on your hips. Straps should be used to keep the pack from falling backwards. Keep your load lifters pulled tight. And the straps across your chest should be used to avoid any potential mishaps. Most bags these days are equipped with an internal frame. It should be big enough to store all your shit. If you decide to use an external frame, people will make fun of you.

  7. A Disagreeable Past: The more you feel like an outside, the better you'll fit on the trail. For example -- a series of dead-end careers, working at failing and stagnant newspapers, writing stories about local politicians and little old ladies, writing technical marketing materials on topics I know little to nothing about, myriad failures, thousands of rewrites -- these make me a great addition to trail culture. Bonus tip: if you want to feel like a true thru-hiker, talk softly to yourself at every chance, brag about the multiple years you've spent on trails and always hike without a shirt. There's nothing that says “I'm fucking crazy” more than hiking without a shirt.

  8. Hope: A corollary: Don't keep too much hope because chances are that you'll quit a thru-hike if you start one. However, hope can keep you going longer than most and may even push you to start a thru-hike because, in your head, it may jump-start a potential career, which will lead to stability, meaning and the opportunity to have a life that doesn't revolve around one bedroom apartments and feelings of depression.

  9. A Ukulele: To keep the hike entertaining and to scare away mountain lions and hobos.

(BACKGROUND: Ukulele playing “If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out” originally performed by Cat Stevens. This version is performed by Josh Ellerbrock)

Thanks for listening. Just so y'all know, I don't plan on releasing a minicast next week because I will be putting all my stuff into boxes and driving 18 hours across the country in order to spend a few weeks home before taking off for California. In other words, expect the next minicast on March 6. Once again, thanks for listening.