He's back at it!

People who know me know that I belong on the Trail. I've thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail (twice),the Pacific Crest Trail and the mighty Continental Divide Trail. I've hiked many of the long trails here in Michigan including being the first to hike both the Ironwood Trail and the Great Lake To Lake Trail. In 2017, I hiked the Israel National Trail and the Golan Heights Trail. My next goal is to be the first person ever to hike the Baja Divide Trail.

The purpose of this blog is to keep anyone who is interested informed of my progress and to encourage those who are able to support me in this endeavor.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

My Three Favorite Pieces of Gear

Lots of hikers have written about the ‘big three’: Backpack, tent and sleeping bag (I’m currently carrying this tentthis pack, and this quilt instead of a sleeping bag). Those  items are certainly important but, for me, they change from hike to hike depending on where and how far I’m hiking.  I want to tell you about three pieces of gear that not everyone uses but I’ve carried them with me on every hike I’ve ever done. 

First is my handy piece of Tyvek. 

I use it mostly as a ground cloth - especially if I’m ‘cowboy camping’ (that is, sleeping under the stars with no tent) but it’s super versatile. During heavy snow, I’m more likely to put it over my tent rather than under. Or even, between the tent and the rain fly for extra protection and warmth. During my thru-hike of the PCT in ‘12, my sister sewed a huge piece of Tyvek into kind of a pocket. Perfect as a makeshift bivvy.  The piece I have now is about 8’X 4’ and it has about 2,500 miles on it. Super durable.  

Next, is my Thermarest Z-Lite pad. 

I’ve been through about three or four of these over the years. Not that they’re not durable but it gets used a lot - I sleep on one every single night. I sit on it when the ground is wet or I even use it like a picnic blanket to stop and cook up a meal. When it’s really cold, I combine it with an inflatable mattress to keep me warm at night. 

Finally, I always bring bug netting.

Bug, sun and bullet proof!

Especially handy when the black flies and mosquitoes are swarming, I use this even if the gnats are getting in my eyes. Or on the Appalachian Trail, early in the morning when your face is breaking every spider web strung across the trail. Or even in the winter when the blowing snow is stinging your face and getting in your eyes. Put on your bug net for temporary relief.  

So, what say you? What do you bring that other hikers might not? Leave me a comment below!


Christina Ray said...

I never would have thought about using a big net in the winter!

Christina Ray said...


Anonymous said...

Chris, keep up the good work. The sunsets and sunrises look amazing! Lee

Christopher Hillier said...

It works for a little while but you have to keep clearing the snow off it. Ski goggles would be better (but heavier).

Christopher Hillier said...

Thank you!

Martha said...

Ah, I remember that first piece of tyvek "borrowed" from a new build next door to the Dearborn Dairy Queen. We we're so sneaky!

Jim Stafford said...

Getting along with your cart any better?

Christopher Hillier said...

No! I still hate it. I mostly hate that I can’t do without it. I’ll never try to hike while pushing a cart again!

Brian Hillier said...

For all my urban hiking I do, I always wear my Palladium waterproof boots, and my Chrome Storm Cobra 2.0 shell. The boots are so comfortable, I even wear them at work. (I'm a bartender, and I am ALWAYS on my feet.) The jacket is impenatrable, and has reflective hits for safety at night. When it's cold, I also wear a Marmot Zeus down liner.

Christopher Hillier said...

I remember that! That’s the one Carol sewed into a ‘pocket’ for me. That was awesome!

Christopher Hillier said...

You’re turning into a regular ‘gear junkie’! We need to get you out on the trail.