The date of my attempt at hiking the length of the Pacific Crest Trail is nearing. The reason I am hiking from Mexico to Canada is to raise awareness and funds to stop human trafficking and child prostitution. (Click HERE and HERE for more on my story regarding this topic)
Right now, though, I want to take a moment and acknowledge, in their own special post, those companies that have been so gracious in their sponsorships. Without their help, this hike might not have become a reality. Please take a moment to check out my sponsors websites, and maybe even laugh, as I’m featured on some of them!
AlpineAire Foods / TyRy, Inc.
AlpineAire Foods makes healthy, great tasting foods that really thrive in places like the Pacific Crest Trail. Popular with backpackers, climbers, kayakers, adventure racers, sailing teams, extreme sport athletes and those that like to keep food on their shelf for emergencies. Their food has been requested by the crew of the NASA Space Shuttle program, as well as used by members of the US Armed Forces, and been the main food eaten on around-the-world sailing attempts. Their list of sponsored athletes is impressive, and I feel fortunate to be counted as one of them. (Check out their website here)
Gen Shimizu at Alpinlite Gear has been more than just a gearmaker to me over the months since he agreed to become one of my sponsors. Dude is awesome. His encouragement in general and concern for just the right gear has been something that has really lifted me at times. I’m excited to use his gear on the trail, and have no doubt it will hold up to the rigors of the PCT. Alpinlite Designs specializes in lightweight tarps, bug shelters, poncho tarps, as well as other specialty items. Not only that, he put my funny looking mug right on the front page of his website. Brave guy! (Check out their website here)
Highly esteemed makers of all things warm and downy, Jack Tier and Jack Meyer make up Jacks’R'Better. After talking with them, they decided to sponsor me and I was told the last guy they sponsored was Francis Tapon, noted adventurer and author. I quipped that I’m not sure if there will be a book coming out from this adventure, but they aren’t interested in those things. These are two solid, God-fearing men who make amazing equipment. They are well known for their hammock systems, as well as other lightweight gear items. Because of their generosity I won’t be cold at night. That’s pretty cool. (Check out their website here)
Gringo Bandito Hot Sauce
OK, this was my very first sponsor. I was doing research just after deciding to hike the PCT, and came across something about Dexter Holland, lead singer/guitarist for the band “The Offspring,” making his own hot sauce. I checked into it, and sure enough…it was getting rave reviews in Southern California, where it is mainly distributed. So I wrote, and they replied immediately. I’ve been using it on everything from mac & cheese to Mexican food, even hot dogs, and it rocks. It’s not just a gimmick… it really is very good! It’s still mainly in So Cal and Vegas, but if you write to them, they’ll ship it anywhere. I’ll be carrying a bottle of it throughout my journey, because I like it! (Check out their website here)
McHale Packs has been custom making backcountry packs for decades, and at this point not many could argue that anyone does it better than Dan McHale. He’s in the conversation of the ‘Who’s Who’ of packmakers worldwide. He spent time with me talking over what pack might be best for me based on experience, hiking style, height/weight, expected load weights, and terrain. We eventually settled on his ‘Windsauk’ design, with water bottle holders on each side. Since his bags are custom built for the wearer, he works through a series of consultations, complete with pictures or video of you wearing a pack…then the demo pack he sends out…then finally the pack in it’s complete state. Really good stuff. (Check out their website here)
Mountainfitter was one of the first to offer sponsorship. One of the things I was really thankful for was the owner, Lawson Kline, telling me that he had wanted to get involved with fighting human trafficking for a while, and felt that this was a perfect partnership. Mountainfitter specializes in working with cuben fiber, which is a super-lightweight material developed by the United States America’s Cup racing team for their sail material. Use of the material has branched into other areas, most notably backpacking. It is a difficult material to work with, yet Lawson is on the leading edge of cuben fiber craftsmanship. Mountainfitter specializes in cuben fiber tarps, dry bags, bear bagging systems, as well as other specialty items. (Check out their website here)
After finding out I would be using an Apple device (in my case the iPod Touch) to document my journey, Nuclear Neckware offered their sponsorship. They make a system that keeps your cell phone/music player safely around your neck. This will come in handy as I’ll want to keep my ‘Touch’ as accessible as possible while hiking. (Check out their website here)
Splice Video Editor
A good friend of mine, Steve Appel, has developed a movie editing app for your iPhone or iPod Touch that is currently outranking Apple’s movie editing app. Called “Splice,” the app has, in my experience so far, been much more intuitive, easy to work with, and has just as many bells and whistles as the iMovie app. It really makes it easy to create a great looking video. My initial uses for it so far have been to put together my PCT Prep videos that I’m posting on my YouTube channel (ThruHike4Freedom), as well as gear reviews. I will also be using it extensively to put together my video updates from the trail. I highly recommend this app. (Check out their website here)
I had been admiring the StickPic for a while since discovering it online and seeing glowing reviews from Backpacker Magazine to YouTube. Then Rod Java, one of the two developers of the StickPic, contacted me after seeing my videos on YouTube, and asked if I would be interested in being sponsored by them. I was going to refuse? I think not! The StickPic is a little device that resembles a little toy ring, that fits on the end of a trekking pole. Your camera attaches to the end of it like a tripod, and you can use it to take some very cool pictures, and more natural, flattering angles. No crazy “up-the-nose” video shots! It makes an amazing minimalist photographic tool. Much of the video you will see of me while hiking will be using the StickPic. (Check out their website here)
Thom Darrah is the founder of TrailLite Designs, and was very willing to become a sponsor for my hike. TrailLite Designs specializes in lightweight camping and fishing gear. I will be utilizing their “Cloud Kilt,” which is a rain cover which wraps around the hikers waist and helps keeps the lower half dry. Made of cuben fiber, it weighs 1.6 ounces, and offers excellent ventilation while worn, as well as weight savings. Thom is designing more cuting edge cuben fiber gear, and for more —> (Check out their website here)
Joe Valesko, owner of ZPacks, makes some of the most popular lightweight tents and tarps in the light and ultralight weight backpacking community. He is also very talented with his work making cuben fiber accesories as well, and I am fortunate enough to be able to use several pieces of Joes’ handiwork. His shoulder strap bag will keep my little digitial camera at my fingertips. My food bag will be the ZPacks “Blast,” and I’m trusting it to keep my food safe from little furry varmints that would like to grub on my crucial munchie stash. Larger furry varmints…not much I can do about them! (Check out their website here)