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Te Araroa Trail Gear Review

te araroa trail gear review

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This is my Lightweight Te Araroa Trail Gear review that may come in handy for any hiker wanting to hike the Te Araroa Trail in the future. Any hiker that wants to attempt the Te araroa Trail should endeavour to reduce the base weight of their hiking gear to prevent injury and fatigue.

This can be done by replacing any very heavy items of gear with the latest ultra light gear or getting rid of the luxury items. Thru Hiking is incredibly demanding on both the hiker and equipment.

A hiker using good, lightweight equipment has a better chance of finishing a hike than one overloaded with poor gear.

The total base weight of the gear in this Te Araroa Trail Gear Review is around 6kg (13lb). This is significantly lighter than most hikers but it is not in the ultra light category.

The gear I used on the my Te Araroa Trail Thru Hike is a great balance between cost, durability and quality outdoor companies with great warranties. Most of my gear has been used on other thru hikes and due to the rough treatment they have received, a lot of the gear will be retired now that I have finished the hike. I will be replacing most of my gear before my next long distance hike.

Shelter + Pack + Sleep System

Nemo Hornet 2 Person Tent – 910 Grams – 32oz

Overview – I started using Nemo Hornet tents on the Continental Divide Trail several years ago. Since then I have loved using this tent. I have used both the 2 person Nemo Hornet and the 1 person Nemo Hornet. The 1 person is big enough to fit me and my gear inside the tent, just. But I prefer the 2 person version. In my opinion this is one of the best lightweight freestanding tent on the market. All up this tent is lightweight and strong enough to last around 3 long distance thru hikes. 
Pros – Very Lightweight. I loved the side entry and vestibule. Easy to set up. Great warranty.
Cons – Tent pegs are easily bent when hammering them into hard ground.
Check Prices – REINemo – Amazon

My Te Araroa Gear Review – Very Highly recommended.

If you want more information on the best lightweight tents on the market today then check out my gear review of The Best Lightweight Tents.

Osprey Exos 48 – 900 grams 32Oz (minus the brain lid)

Overview –  This is the 3rd thru hike I have used the Osprey Exos 48, I previously used it on the Continental Divide Trail and the Appalachian Trail. I used the Osprey Exos 58 on the Pacific Crest Trail. I loved the Osprey Exos 48 on the other trails and loved it on this trail. The pack was very comfortable with the kind of loads I carry and if I ever needed to carry 7 days worth of food and a couple of litres of water this pack was still comfortable. One thing I do not like, the side panels on the pack which house my water bottles and tent poles have seen a lot of wear and tear and they started to rip. I wish the new model had hip belt pockets.
Pros – Super comfortable. Lightweight. Great for carrying heavy loads when needed. Lifetime guarantee from Osprey.
Cons – Outside mesh pockets are prone to ripping (fixed in 2019 model) and no hip belt pockets in 2019 model.
Check Prices – REIAmazon

My Te Araroa Trail Gear Review – Very Highly recommended.

If you want more information on the Best Lightweight Backpacks on the market today then check out my constantly updated gear review of the Best Lightweight Hiking Backpacks

Nemo Nocturne Sleeping Bag – 1060 grams 37Oz

Overview – Again this is the 3rd thru hike I have used this sleeping bag. With a rating of 15F / -9C I had little need for such a cold rated sleeping bag on this trail. Most people use a -1C (30F) rated sleeping bag which is perfect for most people on the Te Araroa trail.

Unless starting the hike very early or very late there will be few nights below this temperature.

The bag is lightweight but I might have been better served by one of the lightweight quilt style sleeping bags. I will consider an upgrade to one of these in the future.
Pros – It is a wide bag with plenty of room inside to stretch out. Material is resistant to the damp. Lots of loft. Flap for a pillow inside the hood.
Cons – Slightly heavy compared to the new range of lightweight quilts on the market. A -1C (30F) bag is sufficient for hiking the Te Araroa Trail.
Check Prices –REIAmazon

My Te Araroa Trail Gear Review – Recommended.

If you want more information on the Best Lightweight Sleeping Bags and quilts on the market today then check out my constantly updated gear review of the Best Lightweight Sleeping Bags and Quilts

Nemo Tensor 20R Insulated Sleeping Mat – 410 grams 14.5oz

Insulated Sleeping Mat – 410 grams 14.5oz – I used a couple of Nemo Sleeping mats over the years. They have two distinct advantages over the others, they are quiet and they are great for side sleepers like myself. There is no noisy crinkly sounds such as what happens when using the Thermarest Neo Air. This version of the Nemo Tensor was the insulated version which is only a couple of ounces heavier than the regular mattress.

Overall I liked this mattress but I had a problem with a couple of holes in the material where the baffles are located. The holes lines up all the way along the glued section where the baffles join the base of the mattress. There were about 6 very small holes within less than 1cm. This same issue happened in two separate places on the mattress. This is not the normal place to get a hole from a sharp object.

Also, the inside of the mattress is developing spots of black mould which I am unable to remove. This same problem also occurred on my previous Theremarest Neo Air and is not a fault of the mattress. It is caused by the long exposure to damp conditions. On a long distance thru hike it is not always easy to store the mattress when it is completely dry. I really want to like this mattress but I’m not too happy about the holes. On a positive note, Nemo have a great Lifetime Warranty.
Pros – Lightweight, insulated and very quiet, Limited Lifetime Warranty.
Cons – Holes where the baffles join the base of the mattress.
Check Prices – REIAmazon

My Te Araroa Trail Gear Review – Neutral

Nemo Elite Pillow – 78 grams 2.5oz

Overview – My Therm-a-Rest Stuff Sack Pillow– started to show its age and needed replacing after 600+ nights of use a couple of years ago. I upgraded to the Elite Pillow. This dedicated pillow is inflatable, soft to the touch, lightweight and most of all silent when I rub my beard or stubble on the soft fabric. A pillow could be called a luxury item by some people but now I do not need to roll up clothes and use them as a pillow. Also, I loved that it packed up smaller than the size of a closed fist.
Pros – Light, soft to the touch and silent, great if you have a beard or stubble. Small pack size.
Cons – Nil, although it is a luxury Item.
Check Prices – REIAmazon

Te Araroa Trail Gear Review – Highly Recommended luxury item.

Sea to Summit Dry Sack – 78 grams – 2.7oz

Overview –  New Zealand has a reputation for being rainy. There are also hundreds, maybe even thousands of river crossings that need to be crossed as part of the Te Araroa trail. I needed a waterproof sack to store my down sleeping bag. I needed to know that if I fell into a river, my sleeping bag would remain dry. Although I never found myself submerged and floating down a river, I was regularly dumped on by heavy rainstorms.

My Sleeping bag remained dry for the whole hike. This stuff sack did the job it was required to do. It is light, waterproof and a perfect fit for my sleeping bag.
Pros – Light and fully waterproof
Cons – Nil
Check Prices – REIAmazon

My Te Araroa Trail Gear Review – Recommended


I used 3 different types of Trail Running Shoes for my Te Araroa trail hike. All the shoes were from well known Trail Running shoe company, Altra.

The Te Araroa trail is very hard on shoes, more so than almost any other thru hike. Most people hike the Te Araroa Trail with heavy hiking boots because that is what they are told they need.

I am here to tell you that you NOT NOT NEED heavy hiking boots to hike the Te Araroa Trail.

For the past couple of Trails I’ve used the Vasque Breeze 3 which are an awesome lightweight hiking shoe which I would highly recommend. But it was time to lighten up the footwear and move into the world of Trail Runners.

Moving to Trail Runners was one of the best decisions I have made. They are very breathable which helps prevent fatigue and most importantly they help prevent blisters. I did not get one blister on the Te Araroa Trail. Another advantage of Trail Running shoes is the comfort.

A lot of people say you need hiking boots on the Te Araroa Trail, despite the fact that they have never hiked on trails like this with trail runners. Most people in Boots needed camp shoes at night, adding even more unnecessary weight to their packs. I left my shoes on at camp as they were still comfortable.

Altra Lone Peak 4.0 606grams 21oz (Pair)

Overview – When I first started using this shoe my achilles and calves felt slightly sore and fatigued. The Altra shoes have zero drop, which means there is no heal lift, think of the extreme version of heal lift being ladies high heal shoes. With a little extra stretching my legs enjoyed the freedom and light weight of these shoes.

They also have a very wide toe box with plenty of room for the feet. I had NO BLISTERS using these shoes. These shoes are not waterproof but they dried very quickly after being submerged in a river crossing or when it stopped raining.

They were extremely comfortable, unlike the hikers that used heavy uncomfortable boots I did not feel any need to carry camp shoes. These shoes were still so comfortable at the end of the day that I didn’t feel the need to take them off to rest my feet. The tread was good enough for most conditions and showed good wear.

The shoes lasted quite a bit longer than expected. Small holes started to appear at around 500 miles (800km) and the sole was just starting to show wear. I hiked 950 miles (1500km) in total with one pair of these shoes, much longer than I expected.
Pros – Comfortable, lightweight, much stronger than expected and quick drying. Good grip. Very wide fit with lots of toe room.
Cons – Hard to get in New Zealand.
Check Prices – REIAmazon

My Te Araroa Trail Gear Review – Very Highly recommended.

Altra Timp 632grams 22oz (Pair)

Overview – I used the Altra Timp directly after using the Lone Peak. They have the same zero drop, wide toe box, comfort and fit of the Lone Peak shoes. Although the fit was exactly the same these shoes had a little bit more padding at the bottom. The tread and grip were good but they started to develop holes on the side of my toes by the second day of use.

By the end of the first week both shoes had serious holes on either side of the toe box. I continued using these shoes for about 500 miles (800km) before replacing them. In the end they were dangerously unusable. I feel it is almost unnecessary to mention the good points such as comfort, lack of blisters and lightweight because these shoes were not durable enough for thru hiking. I will avoid these shoes in future. 
Pros – Lightweight, comfortable, lots of room in the toe box.
Cons – Not strong enough for thru hiking, too easy to develop holes.
Check Prices – REIAmazon

My Te Araroa Trail Gear Review – Not Recommended for Thru Hiking, Avoid.

Altra Olympus 2.5 650grams 23oz

Overview – After my incredibly positive time hiking in the Altra Lone Peak 4.0 and my very negative experience hiking with the Altra Timp and I was keen to get into the Altra Olympus. Initially it felt like I was floating in these shoes. Rarely could I feel rocks under my feet due to the very high level of padding. Unlike some shoes with lots of padding it did not seem to compress and wear out over time. I was suitably impressed.

These shoes are a bit taller than the other shoes which caused my ankle to roll on a couple of occasions. My ankles were not damaged by this rolling and I suspect it can only serve to strengthen my ankles over time. I did not trust the grip on the bottom of the Olympus shoe as much as the Lone Peak or Timp, this is something I would like to see improved in the future.

They were lightweight and did not start to show wear in the form of holes in the toe box area until about 350 miles (500km) of use. The holes did not get any worse when I finished the trail after 500 miles (800km) of use. I will sew them up and continue using these shoes.

What shoe did I like best out of the Lone Peak, Timp or Olympus. I preferred the Lone Peak (just) ahead of the Olympus. If the Olympus had better grip on the sole that inspired my confidence while hiking on slippery terrain then I would have preferred them. Maybe they will improve this in future models, until then the Lone Peak were awesome.
Pros – Very comfortable, lots of room in the toe area, lightweight, lots of soft padding under the feet.
Cons – Hard to get in New Zealand
Check Prices – REIAmazon

My Te Araroa Trail Gear Review – Highly Recommended.

Darn Tough Merino Wool Socks – 48 grams 1.7oz

Overview – The perfect hiking sock. I’ve used these socks for 4 thru hikes (not the same ones) and love them. Usually I carry 2-3 pairs of socks and they are tough enough to last for the whole thru hike and more. The socks I used on the Te Araroa Trail had already completed a thru hike on the Appalachian trail and 6 months of bicycle touring. After such use they are now completely worn out. That’s a lot of use from a pair of socks! Do your socks last that long? Love these socks.
Pros – Comfortable. Lightweight. Tough. Lifetime Warranty.
Cons – Cannot be purchased in New Zealand.
Check Prices – REIAmazon

My Te Araroa Trail Gear Review – Very Highly recommended.


Outdoor Research Filament Hooded Jacket – 281 Grams

Overview – I bought this jacket to hike the Appalachian Trail. It served me well on that trail and served me well on the Te Araroa Trail. It was very lightweight and certainly warm enough for those cool nights and mornings. The only down side of this jacket was the lack of down fill, I wish it was filled with more down and was more puffy and insulated that it was. I love the lifetime warranty of this company.
Pros – Lightweight. Warm. Lifetime warranty.
Cons –
Could be filled with me down insulation.
Check Prices – REIAmazon

My Te Araroa Trail Gear Review – Recommended.

Reebok Unpadded Cycle Shorts – 85 grams

Overview – I only used one pair of underwear while hiking the Te Araroa Trail, no spares, no underwear for sleeping in. Yes, gross. That is a lot of constant wear and tear to put on a pair of underwear. The lycra prevented a lot of potential thigh rash but during exposure to lots of wet weather or very hot sweaty days I did get thigh rash.

I used Vagisil to cure the rash when I got it, this stuff works amazing. Nothing more to be said, they worked great! After one thru hike they are worn out and I need to buy another pair. That seems like fair wear for something worn 24 hours a day for 115 days.
Pros –
Lightweight. Comfortable. Strong
Cons –
Check Prices – REIAmazon

My Te Araroa Trail Gear Review – Highly recommended

Other Clothing

  • Cheap No name Merino wool thermal Pants – 150 grams
  • Cheap No name Merino LS thermal Shirt- 155 grams.
  • Cheap No name merino beanie – 60 grams
  • No name running shorts – 100grams
  • No name running Shirt – 150 grams
  • Gloves – 65 grams
  • Sunhat 55 grams
  • Sunglasses – 50 grams
  • All these el-cheapo items worked well, with the exception of my el-cheapo sunglasses. I had to replace a couple of pairs along the way.

Rain Gear

Outdoor Research Hellium II Jacket – 180 Grams

Overview – This is the 4th long distance thru hike that I have used this rain jacket. I also used it for 22000 miles (35000km) of bicycle touring. It is light, rainproof and windproof. In warm weather when it rains the sweat will still make me wet (Goretex is not much better) but that is normal of ALL rain jackets. I like the small pack size, it folds up into its own internal pocket. Outdoor Research has one of the best lifetime warranties in the business. This jacket was recently replaced because the seam sealing started to wear out. It was replaced free of charge, that is great service from a great company in my opinion.
Pros – Lightweight. Packs to a small size. Waterproof. Windproof. Lifetime warranty.
Cons – Not too breathable in hot weather and heavy rain but sufficient for lightweight hiking
Check Prices – REIAmazon

My Te Araroa Trail Gear Review – Highly Recommended.

Outdoor Research Helium Pants – 153 Grams

Overview – Again these pants have been used on 4 long distance thru hikes and 22000 miles (35000km) of bicycle touring. A total of 31000 miles (50000km) of use. I only used these pants early on the trail when the potential for cold rain was high. I think I only wore them 2-3 times on the whole trail. Maybe I could have hiked the whole trail without rain pants and just let my shorts get wet.
Pros – Lightweight. Packs to a small size. Waterproof. Windproof. Lifetime warranty.
Cons – Sufficient for lightweight hiking but not always necessary.
Check Prices – REIAmazon

My Te Araroa Trail Gear Review – Recommended.

Sea to Summit Hiking Umbrella – 227 Grams

Overview – This was the most disappointing item I carried on this hike. In fact, it was so bad I got rid of it within the first couple of weeks. It was not very strong and the slightest wind would cause it to collapse. Normally I am a fan of using hiking umbrellas in all but the most windy or overgrown trail conditions. I used the Six Moon Design Umbrella on the Appalachian Trail. That umbrella was awesome and highly recommended. The Sea to Summit was not good. 
Pros – Kept me dry in calm weather.
Cons – Not great in any type of wind.
Check Prices – REIAmazon

My Te Araroa Trail Gear Review – Not recommended, the Six Moon Design Umbrella is a much better option.

Trekking Poles and Camping Gear

Leki Micro Vario Carbon Trekking Poles – 413 Grams

Overview – These are some of the lightest, highest quality trekking poles on the market. They are comfortable to use. Probably the best feature for me is the small folding size. As somebody who travels with their hiking poles this is a very necessary option. I loved these poles but they are not the best trekking pole for the Te Araroa Trail.

Carbon Fibre is very strong and light but rather than bend under the pressure of a fall, they shatter and break. I think Aluminium is a better material for the Te Araroa Trail. About 50% of hikers broke or bent their trekking poles on this trail. I broke both my poles within a week of each other on the South Island. You have been warned!
Pros –
Lightweight. Folds to a small size. Great for the traveling hiker.
Cons –
Expensive. As I found out the hard and expensive way, Carbon Fibre breaks easily.
Check Prices – REIAmazon

My Te Araroa Trail Gear Review – Recommended, however, Te Araroa Trail is very harsh on trekking poles. Consider cheaper aluminium poles. That tip might save you a lot of money!

Petzl Tikka Headlamp – 85 Grams

Overview I found myself using this headlamp much more than I expected and much more than on any previous thru hikes. I think it was because I spent so much time in huts which were much darker in the evenings or mornings than in a tent. I used the USB rechargeable battery version which is a much better option than throw away batteries.
Pros – Lightweight. UBS Rechargeable battery.
Cons – Nil, however, I could have used the light on my phone if needed.
Check Prices – REIAmazon

My Te Araroa Trail Gear Review – Recommended. Worked great when I did use it.


Titanium Gas Stove – 25 Grams (1oz)

Overview – A good lightweight, Titanium stove that worked well and boiled water in about 3-4 minutes. At times I wish I had a Jetboil which has everything I would need to boil water for coffee or cook my hot breakfast and dinner meals. When will Jetboil bring back the titanium version of their stove? I also love my Evernew Ti DX Titanium Alcohol Stove, but on the Te Araroa Trail there is an abundance of gas canisters which make them a better option.
I hiked ‘stoveless‘ for a couple of hundred miles of the Appalachian Trail to see what it was like. I must admit that I missed my hot coffee in the morning and hot meal at night.
Pros – Lightweight, cheap, simple and good availability of gas canisters on trail.
Cons – Nil.
Check Prices – REIAmazon

My Te Araroa Trail Gear Review – Recommended, another option could be a Jetboil.

Snow Peak 900 Titanium Cookset – 114 Grams (minus the lid)

Overview – A good reliable titanium pot that has served me well for many years and more than 31000miles (50000km) of hiking and cycle touring. I use the lid when cycle touring but not when hiking to save weight.
Pros – Lightweight. Titanium. Simple cooking pot.
Cons – Food can burn easily and stick to the inside of the pot.
Check Prices – REIAmazon

My Te Araroa Trail Gear Review – Recommended.

Sea to Summit X-Mug – 78 Grams

Overview – For many this is a luxury item. I could have used my cooking pot as a cup or even a disposable coffee cup.  I loved how it folds up into a small, flat profile for easy storage.
Pros – Packs up small.
Cons – A heavy luxury item
Check Prices – REI – Amazon

My Te Araroa Trail Gear Review – Recommended.

Titanium Spoon 12 Grams  I simple, lightweight spoon. Recommended.

Gerber STL 2.0 Knife 28 Grams – Lightweight and functional but I lost it somewhere and replaced it with a Swiss Army Knife – Spartan. Recommended.

Water Filtration

Steripen Rechargeable- 140grams 5oz

Overview – I have a love / hate relationship with the Steripen. I love that it has rechargeable batteries and I love that it is a relatively quick method to treat water. But I dislike the fact that it is a breakable electronic product and it will not remove sediment from the water.

I had very bad service from their warranty staff when it stopped working several years ago after only a couple of months use, that left me unhappy with the company.

And I have gotten sick from water borne diseases such as giardia while using the steripen in the past. So why have I persisted using it? I did not have access to a Sawyer water filter before starting the trail, simple as that.

It performed well on the Te Araroa trail and I did not get sick from any water that I drank. Even when drinking water contaminated by cow poo. Having said that, while hiking on the south island I rarely filtered my water. The clear mountain streams were perfect to drink from. 
Pro – Rechargeable batteries, quick and simple to use, good value for money in the long term.
Cons – Does not remove sediment, poor customer service department.
Check Prices – REIAmazon

My Te Araroa Trail Gear Review – Neutral. I’ve used many options of treating water over the years. This worked for me and I didn’t get sick from bad water.

Katadyn Micropur Water Purifier Tabs – 20 Grams

Overview – I carried them as a backup and didn’t use them on this hike. Bleach also makes a great backup for water treatment and it’s cheaper.
Pros – Effective backup water treatment
Cons – Expensive. Does not remove debris from water.
Check Prices – REIAmazon

My Te Araroa Trail Gear Review – Recommended as a back up, but consider a cheaper options such as bleach.

Nalgene 1 Litre Water Bottle

Overview – Most people use the much lighter water bottles from grocery stores. The main reason I like the Nalgene Bottle is that I can fill it with boiling water if needed to warm my sleeping bag. I can also use the boiling water to dry my wet clothes by wrapping them around the bottle.

This is too heavy and not necessary for most hikers, but for me the extra weight is worth it for the ability to fill it with boiling water. Also, when the weather is hot, I regularly fill it with powdered milk, coffee and hot chocolate for a mid morning energy boost.

After 5 hard years of use I dropped the bottle on a sharp rock and it developed a small crack and will need to be replaced. 5 years with one bottle is not too bad.
Pros – Strong, can be filled with boiling water, wide mouth is good for filling up.
Cons – Heavy.
Check Prices – REIAmazon

My Te Araroa Trail Gear Review – Recommended

Platypus 2 Litre folding container – 1.25oz – 36 Grams

Overview – Several sections of the trail require long water carries between water sources.  I had a capacity of 3 litres which was more than enough for the Te Araroa Trail. It was also convenient at camp to carry extra water for dinner and breakfast. A great, lightweight option.
Pros – Lightweight. Collapsible.
Cons – Not the same thread as a Sawyer water filter for those using that water filter.
Check Prices – REIAmazon

My Te Araroa Trail Gear Review – Recommended

Electronics and Camera

Samsung S9 Plus Smartphone

Overview – My phone was possibly the most important item on my gear list. I recently bought the new Samsung S9+ because of its large storage capacity, great camera and most importantly, IT IS WATERPROOF to 2 meters.

Myself and many other have destroyed their phones due to water damage, with this phone, no more. I love the waterproof phone. It survived being submerged for several minutes underwater when I fell out of my canoe on the Whanganui River.

It was in my pocket at the time. I use the phone for everything, to write my blog, listen to music and podcasts and most importantly to listen to audiobooks.
Pros –  Waterproof to 2 meters, large storage, great camera, cheaper than iPhone, a necessity for the modern lightweight hiker.
Cons –
Expensive (but still cheaper than an iPhone)
Check Prices – Amazon

My Te Araroa Trail Gear Review – Highly recommended.

Anker 21000 mAh battery – 12.5oz – 354 Gram.

Overview – This battery is more than big enough to keep my phone and electronics charged 7-12 days while hiking, longer if I am careful. The GPS on the phone is the biggest user of batteries and I was glad to have this big battery which meant I didn’t need to worry about conserving batteries on any of my electronics. If my phone ran out of battery I would loose my maps, GPS and more. Due to the availability of charging outlets in most towns and hostels the new Anker Powercore II 10000mAh version would have been sufficient.
Important Note: Recently, Anker upgraded its battery range with an even quicker charging system. The battery charges quicker from outlets and the output charges devices much quicker than before. I will upgrade my battery to the new Anker Powercore II 20000 version before my next hike.
Pro – Reliable. Cheap. Lightweight for its capacity.
Cons – Maybe I could have made do with a smaller capacity, lighter battery.
My Appalachian Trail Gear Review – Highly Recommended
Check Prices – Amazon

My Te Araroa Trail Gear Review – Highly Recommended

Anker 24W Dual USB Wall Charger  + cables – 65 grams

Overview – I used a wall charger similar to this that fits the electrical outlets of New Zealand. It is cheaper and lighter to buy an outlet locally rather than bring something to convert to the local plug. New Zealand uses the same electrical outlets as Australia, China and Argentina.
Pros – Lightweight. Reliable. Fast charging.
Cons – Nil
Check Prices – Amazon

My Te Araroa Trail Gear Review – Recommended

If you have any questions about the gear I used, let me know in the comments section below.

You might also like read more about the Te Araroa Trail:

Complete Guide to the Te Araroa Trail
Te Araroa Trail Resupply Guide

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About the Author:
Brad is an Australian who has completed the hiking Triple Crown after he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail. He has hiked on every continent (except Antarctica) and has cycled from Alaska to Ecuador. He is an expert on outdoor gear currently living in Chile.

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