Gear Review: Cameras, Solar Panel, Apps, and Phones


Our Pacific Crest Trail gear review continues. This time we’ll talk about our electronic gadgets, many of which helped us update this blog while hiking.

North Star uploads a post from a high point

Smartphone = Apple iPhone 4S 4.8 oz. Our phones were the most versatile items we carried on our thru hike. They enabled us to check our location, view the latest water, fire, weather, and trail condition reports, take notes, update this blog from the trail, learn about our surroundings, and talk with friends and family.

We protected our phones from knocks with Incipio cases. On rainy days, we operated them through waterproof Aloksaks. Because we were careful with them, our phones were none the worse for wear after 2600 miles, and we will definitely be carrying them on the Appalachian Trail.

Apps = Here are the apps we used most frequently on the PCT: 

Gear Review: Ultralight Backpacking Kitchen

Here are our thoughts (and a demo video!) about the cooking gear we used while thru hiking the 2,660-mile Pacific Crest Trail.

Aluminum can stove

Stove and windscreen/pot stand = Trail Designs Classic Caldera Ti-Tri cooking system 2.5 oz. This incredibly light stove is made from an aluminum can. It burns denatured alcohol, available at any hardware store, or HEET, a gas-line antifreeze commonly found at gas stations. We found these fuels at almost every town we visited on the PCT.

The thin titanium windscreen is custom-sized to hold our Evernew pot, forming a wide stable base. The windscreen also optimizes airflow, increasing the the stove’s fuel efficiency.

While hiking, we packed the stove in the pot for protection. We stored the windscreen wrapped around the fuel bottle, secured with a rubber band. The stove got slightly crunched one day from packing too much food around it in the pot, but it still worked fine. Overall the Caldera system preformed flawlessly during the entire trip.

Gear Review: Water Filters and Containers for Ultralight Backpacking

In the past year, we used three different lightweight backcountry water filters: the SteriPEN, the Sawyer 3-Way Inline Water Filter, and the Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter. Here we share our experiences with each of these water treatment methods.