November 12, 2009, 12:16 pm / Categories: Packs
By STEPHEN REGENOLD
Sunlight burned the desert. Rod Johnson kicked sand, hiking north from the Mexican boarder, one foot in front of the next from the southern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail. Ahead, snaking north for 2,650 miles, the PCT would climb mountains, ford rivers, and push for weeks through wilderness from California to Washington state.
Johnson, owner and founder of Midwest Mountaineering, an outdoors shop in Minneapolis, began his quest on the trail last April wearing nothing more than a vest crammed with gear. His goal: To hike the PCT with the least amount of equipment as humanly possible to survive. “It would be an ultimate gear test,” said Johnson, who turned 60 during his three-month trip.
Many backpackers carry at least 40 pounds of equipment, food and water for a multiday leg of the PCT. They wear big backpacks with tents and sleeping pads stuffed inside, their boots laced tight for the day’s hike of 20 miles or more.
From the trail’s start in the desert, Johnson trekked north alone in shorts and running shoes. His VestPack — an eight-pocket shirt of his own invention — stowed gear and food. He was a backpacker without a pack.
He wore a sun hat and clutched carbon-fiber hiking poles. His total extra weight from the start — including food, stove, fuel, first aid, water, clothing, and gear — was a meager 9 pounds. “Every ounce or gram of extra weight was trimmed away,” said Johnson, who switched out his sleeping pad for a sheet of bubble-wrap envelope padding.
Going as light as possible is nothing new in backpacking circles. But Johnson’s unorthodox techniques cut every corner — and then they trim the edge back some more.
continued on next page…
- Latest Articles
- Are You Man Enough? Patagonia Launches 'Technical Knickers' (we test them out)
- Toddlers Compete On Push-Bikes... Strider Launches 'National Championship' Series
- 'Slide Un Cable En SpeedRiding'
- 10 Lantern Giveaway: Goal Zero Products Up For Grabs (10 readers will Win!)
- Active Lifestyle Luxury Goods, All Made In USA (major trend in 2014?)
- Carabiner Has Built-In 'Hook'
- American Wins Boston Marathon… Wearing Skechers Shoes
- This Light Powered By Sack Of Rocks
- Boston Marathon Winner Wore Names Of Victims On Bib
- Running Paris: Salomon 'CityTrail' Video
- Popular Articles
- Innovative Axe Design Revolutionizes Wood-Chopping Technology
- Not A Mummy: Zipper-less Design Offers New Sleeping Bag Experience
- American Wins Boston Marathon… Wearing Skechers shoes
- Taco Cat Is A Bike-Only Taco Delivery Service
- World's 10 Most Dangerous Mountains
- 1,000-Year-Old Native American Canoe
- Huff, Puff And Power Your Gizmos: Portable Wind Turbine Made For Outdoors
- Goal Zero Camp Lantern Provides Light, Built-In Charging Station
- 12 Good Boots: Find Your Perfect Hiking Footwear For Spring 2014
- No Reel Needed: Patagonia Fly Fishing Kit Is Simple, Light And Effective
- Friends of Gear Junkie
- Monopoint Media
- Adventure Blog
- Adventure Journal
- Outside Online
- Cold Splinters
- Sender Films
- Elevation Outdoors
- Rock and Ice Magazine
- Trail Runner Magazine
- REI Blog
- Weekly E-Newsletter
Sign up for our e-news for a weekly update on new gear, adventure travel, and prize giveaways.