Usually, this blog is about water conservation, and with good reason.  The core idea of The Longest Straw is that we need to help people connect to the source of their water, and our backpacking trip up the Los Angeles Aqueduct was just the tool we used to show the journey our city’s water takes.

Of course, we’d never have had the idea to use this tool in the first place if we weren’t already fans of camping and hiking.  After all, what non-outdoorsy person would willingly choose to live in a tent in the desert for seventy days?

So yes, our crew is a bunch of hard-core outdoors enthusiasts who love a good stay in a tent and sleeping bag, and we will turn up our noses at glampers.  That said, there’s a difference between “roughing it” and “insanity,” and our hike wouldn’t have been possible without a handful of life-saving tools.  The great thing about all these bits of gear is that they’re easy to find at a local camping goods store – so after reading this post, you can stock up!

First and foremost, we need to give a shout-out to our sponsor, Steripen.  We were already familiar with Steripen before we began this journey, having used their products before, but we knew this trip would be particularly rugged and reached out to see if we could get a new wand – and they came through.


A Steripen is a small, lightweight device that emits UV light to kill illness-causing bacteria in water.  It saves the time and energy of having to boil all the water you gather and makes it possible to drink cool, fresh water almost straight from the stream without having to add nasty-tasting iodine tablets.

Another sponsor we couldn’t do without?  Brunton.  Not only did they provide an awesome portable solar panel that kept our camera, phone, GPS, and other electronics powered throughout our journey, but they generously threw in a cook stove so we’d never have to go hungry on our journey.

Before this post turns into a recap of our earlier sponsor-love post we’d like to note that most of our gear was bought and paid for on our own.  Some, we even made ourselves, like this DIY camera rig Sam put together out of PVC pipe.  You can skip to about the 3:00 mark to learn how to make one of your own, but the point is, who needs expensive camera gear when you can get the same results with some ingenuity and a bit of elbow grease?

Of course, this list only scratches the surface of the awesome gear that kept us healthy and alive during our journey.  For a more comprehensive list, check out our earlier post on the subject, and we’ll see you on the trails!