My Four Favorite Gear Additions for 2020!

Backpacking gear in the back of a truck.

Here are my favorite gear additions from 2020. While it was a rough year, there were opportunities to get out on the trail. Shorter hikes were a great chance to try new gear in preparation for 2021.

Toaks 750mm Pot
Toaks 750mm Pot

TOAKS Titanium 750ml Pot
(3.2 oz – $35)

It was hard to forsake my favorite cooking pot, but it was just too big. I never needed to boil 6 cups of water!

At a little over three ounces including the lid, tea cup handles and  ability to store a small fuel canister, it was a good addition!

Because of its size, I was concerned about cooking in it. Like most things, all that was needed was practice. My first Ramen Bomb on the Ozark Highland Trail was a culinary triumph!

The one downside, the pot gets too hot to drink your morning coffee without burning your lips. I need tougher lips or a pair of hot lips!

Sawyer Squeeze Filter

Swayer Squeeze Water Filter
(4 oz – $27)

This was more of an upgrade than addition. I had previously used a Swayer Mini. While it worked well, the slow flow rate made it frustrating to use. The problem compounded when the filter got sediment in it. Its rare to find clear water in the Ozarks.

I read that the full-size Squeeze was more efficient. I upgraded mid-Summer and was amazed at the difference.

With the Mini, filtering two liters of water took four to five minutes of heavy squeezing. The Squeeze completed the task in a little over one minute.

Totally worth the $27 to upgrade!

Sea to Summit Reactor Sleeping Bag Liner
Sea to Summit Reactor Sleeping Bag Liner

Sea To Summit Bag Liner
(8 oz – $63)

I purchased this liner for an early spring hike. I am a warm sleeper and was concerned my 20-degree bag would be pushing the limits.

As I took the flimsy liner out of the stuff sack, I had my doubts.

The first night using the liner I was beyond pleased! The temperature dropped into the mid-twenties and I was almost too warm!

While the liner adds some difficulty getting in and out of the sleeping bag, the extra warmth and the softness of the fabric was a welcome addition!

To me, the comfort to weight ratio is worth the extra ounces.

Altra Lone Peak 4.0 Trail Runners

A gift from friends (the best friends give you gear), the Altra Lone Peak 4.0 Trail Runners were my favorite gear addition of 2020.

It was hard to forsake my favorite hiking boots, but I could not believe the difference these shoes made! My first hike in the Altras felt like I was hiking in bedroom slippers.

The wide toe box kept me from the normal blisters I experience between my toes and my legs were noticeably less fatigued at the end of the day!

The rock plate protected my feet on the rocky Ozark trails. The thin upper fabric does not provide much protection if you are a stumble bum like me.

Still, at the end of the day, my favorite gear addition of 2020!

What gear items did you add in 2020?

My Five Favorite Pictures of 2020

These are my five favorite pictures from my 2020 hiking adventures!

#5 – First Trail Magic

My first ever trail magic!
My first ever trail magic!

To most people, this is a random picture of a can of Dr. Pepper. To me, it is my first ever “trail magic”!

In April I hiked the North Fork section of the Ozark Trail. As I finished breakfast and packed up my things at a trail-head, two men pulled up in an ancient pickup truck.

They were driving the back roads turkey hunting and asked if I had seen any! It amazed them that I was camping in the woods when it was so cold out. A brutal 33 degrees LOL.

When asked if I needed any food, I told them, “I am all set”. They offered water or a soda and blessed me with this can of Dr. Pepper.

As I packed my bag, I smiled thinking how I had just been given my first real trail magic!

#4 – Silly Video

A silly shot from a silly video!
A silly shot from a silly video!

It is impossible to talk about 2020 without mentioning COVID-19!

Restricted tourism in Arkansas most of the summer denied me access to my favorite trails.

This video is for everyone with the same repressed desire to be on the trail.

It became the most watched video on my YouTube channel. Eventually making it over 1,000 views.

Follow the link below to the video if you want to help me achieve Low Level YouTube Fame!

COVID-19 Self Quarantine Trail

#3 – Big Piney Cowboy Camp

Cowboy Camp on the Big Piney Trail
Cowboy Camp on the Big Piney Trail

The photo above is from an overnight on the Big Piney Trail. This is one of my favorite trails and I had passed this spot several times.

I camped on the bluff overlooking the Little Piney River. 

While I enjoy hiking alone, I do not like camping alone. For this hike, I purposed to work on relaxing and learning to enjoy “camp time”.

I enjoyed reading a book and watching the sunset in the valley below.

#2 – Mile Marker 91

91- Mile Marker
Connecting my steps at the 91-Mile Marker

In January of 2020 we planned a hike from the 84 to 104-mile marker on the Ozark Highlands Trail. We had to cut our hike short at the 91-mile marker.

Most of the spring I felt unfinished business to tend to. I had the 91-mile marker circled on my map and looked at the photo often.

In September, I made a solo hike to connect my steps to the 104-mile marker.

My efforts brought me 300 chigger bites and a case of ehrlichiosis from a tick bite. Such are the risks of hiking in Arkansas in the summer.

#1 – Hurricane Creek Crossing

Hurricane Creek Crossing
Hurricane Creek Crossing

This is the creek crossing on the Ozark Highlands Trail I wrote about in my fear mongering blog – link

When we started our hike, stories of this creek being chest deep and moving very fast filled my mind.

Nightmares of being swept downstream faded as we crossed the creek with dry feet…

When I look at this picture I think, “I hiked here.” Here I stood with an incredible group of men, in a beautiful place that few people would ever see.

The words I use to describe this picture are, “very blessed!”

Thank you for stopping by my site today!

OZARK HIGHLANDS TRAIL SECTION FIVE

Sign on the trail.

Connecting my steps on Section Five of the Ozark Highlands Trail.

Day 1 – Fort Douglas To Cedar Creek

The hike started from the trail-head at Fort Douglas in the early evening. It rained heavily that morning, which made for a very wet humid start to the hike. The humid conditions lasted all weekend. The plus of the rain was the trail passes numerous waterfalls.

Sunset - Ozark Highlands Trail
God’s Handiwork!

A little over a mile in, is Haw Creek Falls. These beautiful falls are in a State Recreation Area with nice camping sites. Planning this hike, I had concerns about crossing Haw Creek. Nowhere did it mention it was a low water bridge…

Continue reading “OZARK HIGHLANDS TRAIL SECTION FIVE”