GEAR:30 Podcast - Episode 4: Gearing up for the PCT, Part 2

GEAR:30 Podcast - Episode 4: Gearing up for the PCT, Part 2

Welcome to the GEAR:30 Podcast! 

This daily podcast explores outdoor adventure gear, trip reports, and interviews with athletes and industry professionals. 
On this episode we talk to GEAR:30 staff member and accomplished thru-hiker Bryden "Simba" Bowley about preparing for his PCT thru-hike in the summer of 2017.  This episode is about preparing physically for thru-hiking, backpacking food, nutrition, etc. 


Greg [00:00:12] You're listening to the Gear 30 podcast. A community, you could even call it a support group, for people addicted to outdoor adventuring and all the gear that goes with it. There is no shame here. In spite of what your spouse or partner may say, we believe it's OK to own 5 tents, 7 backpacks, and 18 jackets. Our slogan, inspired by the great Explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes is "there is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate gear." So if you're an aspiring outdoor adventure, a mountain guide, or anyone in between, you're in the right place. 

Bryden [00:01:12] Check, check, check, check, check, check, check, DJ Bryden Bowley. This is Gear 30. Gear:30 Radio, man. Wow!

Chase [00:01:31] Some people think he's a thru-hiker but he's actually a DJ. 

Bryden [00:01:35] this is one o three point five Gear 30 radio Podcast broadcast. 

Greg [00:01:40] He'll be here all day, ladies and gentlemen.

Bryden [00:01:48] Yeah. 

Greg [00:01:50] All right. So with that introduction, welcome to the gear 30 podcast. 

Bryden [00:01:56] I didn't know that was recorded. 

Greg [00:01:58] No, That's going in there for sure. 

Bryden [00:01:59] Okay. 

Greg [00:02:01] So welcome to the gear 30 podcast. Today we're joined by Chase and Bryden Bowley. This is kind of part two of you were interviewed and interviewing. Brian Bryden did. He's one of our employees here at year 30. He did the Pacific Crest Trail two years ago. And this year he's doing this CDT. In fact, he takes off in just a few days. 

Bryden [00:02:21] That's right. 

Greg [00:02:22] So we talked a little bit on the last podcast about some of the gear that used for the CBT and some of the gear that you're planning to do to use for the PCT. But also some of the gear that you're Panetti's for the CDC. Right. But I'm curious, take us through for people that are interested in through hiking, I'm one of them, but I've never done it before or not. You know, I've done some through hikes that are 10 days or something like that. I've never done months on end. So take us through what preparation looks like for something like that. 

Bryden [00:02:57] Okay. Yeah. So as far as a time span goes, if you're looking to do your first ever three hike, the first thing you're going to want to do is if you're at a point where you're interested in it, it's probably because you've heard about a specific trail. So if you are interested in something like the Pacific Crest Trail or the Continental Divide or the Appalachian or the John Muir or any of those like really popular trails in the United States. One thing to do I think would just be look on Google to see if there's some sort of a book on it. 

Bryden [00:03:33] One of the things I did for my prep for the Pacific Crest Trail is there is a thru hiker. Her name's Yogi and she's super accomplished through hiker. She's got like maybe twenty thousand something miles hiked in her life. And she produces these books on just prepping to hike the PCT, the AT or CDT, whatever it may be. She makes these books and it just takes you through pretty much any question that you could possibly have about what the trail is going to be like. Even down to like setting up a camp at night. Mosquitoes. Food resupply. Bears. Bear cans. Yeah, so she I mean, she's done a really phenomenal job with that. And I used her book for the PCT and I've used her book for the CDT. So that's one thing that you could do is use a book. Another thing is there's a lot of great stuff on YouTube of other thru hikers who have made videos answering various questions. That's one thing to do. 

Bryden [00:04:40] Yeah. I mean, books, YouTube, if you feel inclined to train for a long distance hike, you could obviously, like, start running. You get a pack and start walking every day or whenever you can. Eating healthier is one thing. Pretty much . . . It's very similar to prepping for, like, I don't know, a marathon or something like that. Anything that's gonna be strenuous physically, just training is definitely something that you could do. But yeah, that's kind of all that comes to mind right now. You think I'm missing anything? I don't know. 

Chase [00:05:17] I've never done it. 

Bryden [00:05:18] Yeah. Am I missing anything? 

Chase [00:05:21] Sounds like doing research is pretty key. Just doing research on what you're getting yourself into. 

Bryden [00:05:26] For sure. One thing that I kind of shot myself in the foot with on my PCT hike, though, was seeing how this was the PCT would have been or was my first ever backpacking trip. I definitely think I researched too much. So I had all these ideas of what it was going to be like and I was ready for those, ready for what I thought it would be like. All these assumptions were made right. So getting into those situations of what day to day would be like or what a town would be like or section would be like. I like had this idea and I'd be nervous about it or buying a certain piece of gear that I probably didn't really necessarily need or something like that. So I definitely researched too much. So if there was any recommendation, I could say or some advice was do your research and figure out the things you need to know but also having a little mystery is always really fun and going with the flow of what happens because when you research something that you've never done and then when you get out there, it's always pretty much different that what like what you find in your book or whatever you find online. 

Greg [00:06:35] Right. So we needed the PCT. Did you exercise ahead of time and get yourself in shape or did you just go after it. 

Bryden [00:06:45] A little bit. I got my pack all packed up and I walked down the Bonneville shoreline trail a couple times. Actually, one thing that I did that was really funny and Cody and Chase Birch and my friends make fun of me for to this day is I walked I got my pack all packed up, all my clothes on. I totally looked like a thru hiker while very novice through hiker. At this point and I walked from our house to Lucky Slice and got pizza. And then my friend drove me back home from the house. So there's this like a backpacker walk. It got twenty fifth street people are walking around. It's pretty fun. 

Bryden [00:07:24] So as far as training goes. Honestly, not really. 

Greg [00:07:29] And I mean, you were a pretty active person anyway. You and your buddies, you're out semi-pro snowboarders and snowboarding all the time. You're all active and right. But you just never really prepared for backpacking specifically. 

Bryden [00:07:43] Right. Yeah, I didn't . . . 

Greg [00:07:44] It's not like you were 300 pounds used to watch on TV on the couch. 

Bryden [00:07:50] No. I Definitely. . . Yeah. I'm a very active person. I snowboard five, six days a week sometimes and I was doing a little bit of running at the time and trying to eat a little bit healthier than I normally do. But yeah, as far as training goes, I didn't really do too much. Yeah. 

Greg [00:08:09] So what have you been doing to get ready for the CDT? Because the CDT is kind of a step up as far as difficulty, right? 

Bryden [00:08:18] Yeah, very much so. Yeah. I everything I'm about to say, I do not recommend to other people. 

Bryden [00:08:29] I've actually been doing a less physical preference for the CDC than I did for the PCT. And that isn't due to like laziness. It's actually because of my job. I've lately been juggling two different jobs and working on those on both those jobs full time. So I'm like pretty much all waking hours. I'm working on my computer and like, creating content for gear 30. And on top of that, juggling a snowboard project that I filmed all winter, so up until the past couple days, I've pretty much just been on my computer nonstop and trying to like sort through gear and getting my stuff together for the CDT. So it really sucks. But I have had almost no time to physically prep for the CDC. So I think that the first two weeks are really going to suck for me, but it's OK. I'm sure I'll get through it. Yeah. 

Greg [00:09:19] So for the the average active person isn't training specifically for it, but they're semi active, can they just go and just start hiking the trail and the other first two weeks sucks but your body gets used to it pretty quickly or?

[00:09:35] That's a really good question. And I want to answer in a way where I'm not just encouraging, "oh just go do this" and then someone gets injured. I do think that some. . . I'm all for someone like jumping into something. But as far as like a long distance hike. . . 

Greg [00:09:56] Maybe not the CDT? 

Bryden [00:09:57] Maybe not the CDT. I don't know. That's a really tough thing to answer. I think that someone . . . if you feel like you're mentally capable of something, I'm all for someone like accomplishing whatever objective they have. If they're mentally prepared. But it is going to suck for sure. Your body is going to take a while to get in shape. Your feet are going to hurt. You're gonna be so hungry. You're going to lose a lot of weight really fast and your legs are gonna be like so tired. 

[00:10:29] I actually have stretch marks on my legs to this day because my muscles grew so rapidly. I have stretch marks on my thighs from the PCT. 

Greg [00:10:38] Really? 

Bryden [00:10:38] Yeah. 

Greg [00:10:39] They grew that much even when you were snowboarding that night. 

Bryden [00:10:42] Yeah. Yeah, yeah, for sure I think. Yeah. When I hike the PCT like right here on my thighs like near my groins and stuff like that, I have little stretch marks and I and that's from the PCT because like I was walking's all of a sudden walking so much a huge contract to how much I walk. 

Bryden [00:10:59] When I was on the PCT and before that I think I might musset like my legs lost so much weight and gain so much muscles, so much fat, so fast. I like yeah, I have these little stretch marks. It's kind of weird. Crazy. 

[00:11:12] Yeah. What are you most intimidated by going into the CDT? 

Chase and Brandon [00:11:17] Bears! 

Bryden [00:11:21] These guys are super afraid of bears. I yeah, about bears. 

Bryden [00:11:26] I'm a little nervous about bears. I mean, that's definitely a reality. 

Greg [00:11:29] Do you have to carry a bear box or bear bags or how are you handling that? 

Bryden [00:11:33] You don't have to carry a bear, but bear can on the CDT, as far as I know. And if I do, I have one that could be shipped to me. But I'm not too worried about bears. I'll have bear spray, but I'll also be with people. I think one of the things that I'm most nervous about for the CDT is getting lost. It's definitely a thing on the CDT. Yeah. I use guthooks app on my phone for navigation and apparently it's not like the PCT where you can just wander off in your head and walk for hours at a time. It's more of this thing that you need to check your phone like every 15 to 20 minutes, make sure you're on the right trail. You need to make sure you're going the right direction. So that's one thing I'm nervous about. And then another thing is, I just I wish I was someone who slept really warm, but I sleep so cold. So I'm when I get cold at night, cause I've had some scary nights where I'm very cold. It just like freaks me out. I'm going to get hypothermia or something like that. But I'm just nervous about. Getting caught in a lot of weather and just getting cold. Those are two things for me. 

Greg [00:12:53] So what do you do, too? What do you specifically do to combat the cold? Because I know I've been a scout leader multiple times. I've taken all my kids out. I've been backpacking my entire life. I at one point in my life, did a lot of alpinism and stuff like that. And so when I would go to bed, I'd always drink some hot chocolate, eat some food right before bed and stuff to help me keep warm, make sure I'm completely hydrated and stuff like that.  What do you do to try to combat the cold, if you're a cold sleeper? 

Bryden [00:13:23] A good way to answer that would just be going over my sleep system. So in that episode, before I have the twenty degree Western mountaineering ultralight. Then on top of that I pack a base layer leggings and a base layer top. And they'll keep me warm. And then I also have a down jacket and a winter hat. I usually carry up another pair of socks just to sleep in, but my feet don't really get cold. So I've never felt like all my feet are so cold I need socks, so I carry them just in case. But but I don't really get really cold feet. It's more in my torso that I get really cold. So that's what I sleep in. And then another thing that I carry is I always carry an emergency blanket. I think I think the material is called like mylar or something like that. I think it weighs maybe two or three ounces, something that is really important and not going to mess up your base weight or something like that. So I just carry that at the bottom of my pack, even below where I pack my tent and it's just there just in case. But I always have that emergency blanket because it suddenly saved my life before from getting really, really cold. So that's that's what I have so far, staying warm. 

Greg [00:14:50] Cool. Have you ever tried that as far as like dietary things right before bed, eating some food, drink, lots water, making sure hydrated? 

Bryden [00:14:58] No, I actually I'm sure I've done that. But I didn't realize what I was doing in the moment. So I think so if you eat food before you go sleep . . . 

Greg [00:15:06] So, if you're dehydrated or your calorie depleted electrolyte depletion. All that stuff make plays a role in being able to stay warm and stuff like that. Wow. So just being dehydrated alone will make you sleep colder. 

Bryden [00:15:21] Wow. 

Greg [00:15:21] And then. So I always . . . I like to. . . That's probably the main reason why I take hot chocolate with me is for the calories. And it's something warm right before bed. 

Bryden [00:15:33] Oh, yeah. 

Greg [00:15:34] And then I, you know, eat some jerky or I'll eat some sort of protein or something fatty something that's going to last a while. Yeah. And a little bit of a sugar right before bed. That's quick energy to start feeling warm and stuff. Cheese is great. All those things. But being dehydrated and calorie depleted. . . 

Bryden [00:15:52] OK. Yeah. I'll keep that in mind because the hot chocolate thing, I do carry hot chocolate. It's really great. It's really yummy. On the trail and stuff like that. So maybe I'll start to eat, eat hot chocolate, drink hot chocolate before I go to sleep. But . . . 

Greg [00:16:06] I've noticed for myself, like I've got twenty degree, I got a 20 degrees sleeping bag that I've been cold in at 30 degrees and that I've been too warm in at 15 degrees, Just based on what I've eaten or haven't eaten yet. 

Bryden [00:16:21] This is yeah, this is good information for me. I've never thought of it like that. 

Chase [00:16:26] Pack a few extra snickers. 

Bryden [00:16:29] Too many snickers. 

Chase [00:16:30] I think you need more. 

Bryden [00:16:32] I think I need more? 

Greg [00:16:32] You can't have too many snickers. I don't think that's the thing. 

Bryden [00:16:36] Yeah. 

Greg [00:16:37] Oh, cool. So what type of food are you going to gonna be using? Are you trying out some new stuff this time around? 

Bryden [00:16:44] Yes. I got some meals from a brand called Good to Go, which I'm really excited about. They're really tasteful meals. Really, really good and really nutritious. Nutritious. That's a weird word. But yes, I got some meals from them, which I'm excited about. And then other than that, I'll just be doing the same stuff I did on the PCT, like the Knorr-brand rice sides and pasta that are a dollar in the grocery store. 

Greg [00:17:15] Nice. 

Bryden [00:17:15] Ramen noodles is a big one for me. Tortillas, peanut butter, granola, that kind of thing. I'm actually going to surprisingly, Chase will be surprised with this, but I'm going to cut back on like the amount of candy that I'm eating and more and amplify the amount of like nuts and peanut butter and stuff like that that I'm eating, because I think that in the long run, the candy in the moment, it's giving me this like boost of energy and I can hike like feel strong for maybe an hour and a half and then it's time for like another piece of candy, whereas the nuts, I think will last longer and there's a lot more fat. And those that are it's healthy for you. And I don't know, I'm going to experiment. It takes a lifetime to really dial in what you're eating on long-Distance trials. 

Greg [00:18:07] Right. So I know for me when I'm when I'm eating healthy fats, healthy proteins and carbs, you know, it's real popular these days to think that somehow carbs are bad and you need a lot of fat and protein. It's like, bullcrap. Carbs are great. Now, processed sugars and process carbs aren't necessarily the healthiest thing. But carbs in general, you can't just cut that out, right? But if your body can get used to ketosis, which is what your body goes into when it starts burning fats, when it's gone through all your glycogen stores and stuff and your muscles and starts burning fats, you go into ketosis. And for most people, they're not used to it because their body is just used to burning carbs only. And when you get into ketosis, if you're not used to it, it can make you feel sick. But if your body can get used to it, it'll burn fats. And it's a great source of energy. And, you know, Kilian Jornet or . . .  I don't know how to say his last name, the famous ultra runner mountaineer guy that's setting records all over the world for the fastest time, up Everest, fast time up Denali and Kilimanjaro and all this other stuff. 

Bryden [00:19:18] Whoa, That's impressive. 

Greg [00:19:20] He he did Denali with like one energy bar and a liter of water from base camp to the summit to base camp over the course of 10 hours. What? And it's just because he's trained his body to run efficiently off of ketosis, just burning fats that are in his body. 

Bryden [00:19:36] That is unbelievable. So I wish you should try something like that. 

Bryden [00:19:41] I'm going to hike the whole city with one Clif bar. 

Chase [00:19:45] Maybe two liters of water though. 

Bryden [00:19:46] Two liters of water this time. 

Greg [00:19:48]  But it's really true. You can train your body to to burn fats more efficiently. It it does take a little time to get used to it. But eating those healthy fats and nuts and stuff, some of those types of things will kind of help get you into that. But I don't necessarily think you should go into it with the goal of "I'm and I'm going to run off a ketosis." 

Bryden [00:20:10] Yeah, I know. It's something that's over time. Maybe I could get into or something like that. 

Greg [00:20:16] Yeah. Healthy, healthy carbs from fruits and stuff. Russia. Whole grains and everything. That's that's all great stuff. Yeah. Mm hmm. Cool. Well, is there anything that from your trip that you'd like to add that you're excited about, that you're. I mean that you think would be interesting for us to to know. Well and I should say. Well anyway, you answer that question. 

[00:20:42] Yes. Yeah. I mean I'm just excited for the day to day. I'm excited to be in the best shape of my life and see the most beautiful places that you can only see if you walk on the trail for days upon end. Yeah, I'm just excited for the day to day. It's an amazing lifestyle. That's like I don't know, I've been trying to get back to ever since I did the PCT two years ago, and I'm really excited. For that, I'm really yeah, I'm really thankful for Gear 30 for supporting me, and I'm just I don't know, I'm just stoked. 

Greg [00:21:18] Well we're excited for you. Now, as you're hiking along the trail, you're testing out gear, you're going to be doing some reviews and stuff like that for us for Gear 30, in addition to, kind of your own stuff. How can people follow you or what can we expect to see from you in the future that we can look forward to? 

Bryden [00:21:37] Right. So if you want to be checking in with me while I hike the trail, I think the best way would just to be follow my personal Instagram, which is @brydenbowley. I'll also be checking in on the gear 30 Instagram story and posts and website blog here and there throughout the trial. So that's another way to follow me. But after the trail, I'll be producing these gear reviews and also producing these short films from the trail on my YouTube channel. So there'll be a lot of stuff coming out. 

Greg [00:22:12] I know, I'm super excited about that because I've I've had a life full of gear testing and stuff like that. But I've never been able to test gear over thousands of miles. 

Bryden [00:22:24] Yeah. Yeah. 

Greg [00:22:25] That'll be for me. Super cool to see how it all holds up after five hundred miles. After a thousand miles. 

Bryden [00:22:30] Yeah. And yeah. I mean this is a perfect opportunity for people to see what gear is actually going to like withstand five hundred miles of hiking or a thousand or like so on and so forth. You know, I mean it really does take doing something like this to really see what actually can withstand these. I don't know. Endeavors or putting them to the test. Can't think of the right word for that. 

Bryden [00:22:58] But yeah, I'm really excited. 

Greg [00:23:00] Cool. Awesome. Well, best of luck on your. Thank you. On your trip. And I know we'll be following closely. We'll be excited for the listeners. Well, as well. 

Bryden [00:23:09] Yeah. Yeah, I'll be checking in regularly. Regularly. 

Greg [00:23:12] Cool. All right. So that's the that's the episode for today for the Gear 30 podcast. If you would like to follow Gear 30 on Instagram, our handle is @gear_30 and our web site is And on the next episode, Chase and I are going to be discussing Mystery Ranch. They're an Amazing backpack company out of Bozeman, Montana. And so we're excited to hear about the new stuff that they have come. 

Chase [00:23:45] Join us for the next episode. We'll see out the. 

[00:23:52] Thanks for joining us today for the Gear 30 podcast. Gear 30 is a specialty outdoor retail store at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains in Ogden, Utah. Like us on Facebook, follow and interact with us on Instagram @gear_30 and visit our website For amazing deals on the best outdoor gear around. That's gear 30 spelled out G E A R T H I R T Y dot com. Don't forget to subscribe to this podcast. Leave us a review comment, ask questions and participate. 



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