Zion's Angel Landing Trail
Zion’s Angel Landing Trail. Source: CleverHiker.com

With the long Labor Day weekend on the horizon, my adventure instincts have kicked in, urging me to action. With endless destination possibilities for adventure at my fingertips, I finally settled on Zion National Park in St. George, Utah. I wanted to venture to Zion ever since I shared a photo from the Clever Hiker on the ACK Facebook Page, and I could feel the excitement building as I booked our tickets. My girlfriend, Andrea, who frequently accompanies me on my many outdoor excursions, will be joining me on this expedition. Setting up camp at the park’s Watchman campground, we plan to spend four days exploring the multitude of hiking trails the park has to offer. Over the last month, we have worked to get the details and schedule finalized. Now it’s time for the fun part – making my gear list!

I’m going to be honest with you. There is a good possibility that this is a good representation of what I probably looked like…

Gear Planning (Geeking)

When it comes to camping, my experience is mostly one or two night trips with my car about fifteen feet away. Luckily, most of my gear is fairly compact and lightweight which is important because without a vehicle we will be restricted to the gear we can carry. The trip is still a month away but I’ve been geeking out a bit while putting together our gear list. I’ve got everything you’d expect for our campsite (tent, sleeping bag and pad, lantern, etc.) but it’s my daypack and camp cooking supplies that I’m most excited about since I’ve made new additions to both!

Gearing Up for Camping & Day Hiking

Unlike backpacking, we wont be lugging our gear with us everywhere we go and will be able leave things like the main basecamp supplies behind.  We will be able to take the essentials for the day which means it will be important for us to have a good daypack that can carry water and food for lunch and snacks.

With this in mind, I was on the hunt for  daypack options. I found a discontinued Columbia pack that I was able to pick up for a steal in the Backpack Section in the ACK Outlet. It wasn’t exactly exactly what I had in mind but with a few improvements (AKA more new gear!), it will definitely work. It’s become an industry standard for brands like North Face and Columbia to include a pocket for water bladders and my bag was no exception. With the addition of a CamelBak reservoir, I could take care of any hydration needs. Next, I decided to strap a Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Panel to the  top of the pack so that I will be able to  charge my camera or phone while I’m hiking.

Gear Planning
Joseph is geeking out a bit over the gear for his trip.

Can’t Forget Food Gear!

Now I need to look at the food aspect. I  typically lean towards simplicity when it comes to camping and that includes eating. Of course I’d prefer a steak over the fire but even more than that, I’d prefer to not worry about a cooler, ice, fire starters and cooking utensils. Therefore a JetBoil Stove is a must!  With foods that simply require hot water (oatmeal, dehydrated meals, instant coffee, hot chocolate, etc.), we should be set. Packing these items actually brought back memories of my college days. Thankfully, the variety of Backpacker’s Pantry meals I have chosen are much tastier than the instant ramen I used to live off of. Having used Backpacker’s Pantry meals in the past, my experience has taught me that even though they are convenient, the bags are rather tall and getting to the bottom to stir or serve the food can be a little tricky. So what do I do? Pick up a Titanium Long Spoon from Optimus, of course. Problem solved!

Now the last and possibly most important aspect is keeping all this tasty food safe from critters. Adding the Backpacker’s Cache, which will store the majority of our food and make it impossible for animals to get into, was a no brainer. It’s a bit heavy duty for this trip but I can see myself using it on future trips so why not, right?

Ready to Go!

Well, it’s a month out and I certainly feel like I’ve done a good job choosing the gear I need for this trip. It will be interesting to see exactly what ends up being useful or just dead weight and what I wish I would have brought. I’ll be blogging about the different aspects of my trip including product reviews, tips I’ve learned and of course pictures so stay tuned!