When we set out to hike 338 miles along the LA Aqueduct and film the journey, we never anticipated anyone would want to emulate our trip. Seventy days without a shower? Without seeing any friends or family members? Heck – Sam went days at a time without even the options to speak to anyone because cell phone service was limited. And she did it during the hottest months of the year in the desert.
And yet, once Sam began her trek, we learned that our crazy endeavor wasn’t so crazy after all. A short distance north of LA, the aqueduct overlaps with the Pacific Crest Trail, a popular backpacking trail that runs all the way from Mexico to Canada. And even after the trail and the aqueduct diverged, they ran parallel long enough that she frequently re-encountered PCT hikers.
So now we can acknowledge that some people may want to emulate the Longest Straw’s journey after all, so we thought we’d share our wealth of knowledge regarding on some of the equipment we found invaluable for our trip.
Of course, our most important goal was to keep Sam and her hiking buddies safe and well-hydrated, which is why every hiker needed to carry a 2 liter hydration bottle, a one liter plastic bottle, and a couple three liter collapsible bottles. When you consider the fact that a single liter of water weighs 2.2 pounds, and you can see how heavy our bags became!
When Sam was unlucky, the water in her bag was all she had to drink for three days at a time. When she was lucky, she’d find natural streams along the way. She carried a Steripen (a UV pen that kills bacteria in water) to sterilize it, as well as a camp stove, a can of propane, and a couple pots to boil water or to prepare meals.
So far, this is all standard camping gear. Other gear (that was specially designed to be lightweight) included our first aid kit, a headlamp, a sleeping bag and sleeping pad to make sleeping on the ground a bit more comfortable.
And then, there’s that gear that’s unique to an extended backpacking trip. Our team carried toiletries like soap, dry toothpaste (but no toothbrush – use your finger), and a towel that would serve as a washcloth, dish rag, and sponge all in one. Need to hit the bathroom? We had a trowel, a roll of toilet paper, and hand sanitizing gel.
Add to that food, snacks, and some nasty-tasting electrolyte tabs to dissolve into our water, and that’s your standard backpacking gear list. Of course, this wasn’t a standard backpacking trip. Sam also carried her camera, back-up batteries and data cards, and a portable solar panel to recharge all those batteries. When you look at this list, it’s no wonder Sam’s bag was twice as heavy as recommended for backpackers.