I met Tanya Bajor, or as everyone in the backpacking community better knows her- “Gipcgirl” – approximately one month into my thru-hike. Gipcgirl was the sort of trail personality whose name you’d hear for dozens of miles before actually meeting. In some cases, this can be a bad thing (refer to this article for explanation). In this instance (and most), Gipcgirl’s larger than life reputation was earned only for positive reasons.
In 2010, after finishing 90% of the trail, Gipcgirl was forced to throw in the towel due to a devastating injury. Let’s take a second to consider how soul crushing it would be to hike 1,900 miles – and be forced to quit on your goal. Instead of picking up where she left off the following year (which would be admirable by all accounts), Gipcgirl instead started from scratch at Springer Mountain. She would successfully thru-hike the AT that year.
But it wasn’t just Gipcgirl’s story which made her such a beacon of the Trail, it was her personality. In the span of a 30-second conversation, one quickly gleans that she is intelligent, free-spirited, and possesses a top-notch sense of humor buried under a thick Australian accent. But what most stuck out to me was why she was hiking (surprise, surprise).
She wasn’t on the AT to pursue some goal or run away from an unsatisfactory lifestyle- which were both the case for me. She was hiking the AT simply because backpacking was her greatest life’s passion. In her off-trail world, Bajor earned a living as a very successful interior decorator – needing only to pick up a job every year or so to fund the next journey (which were plentiful, as you’ll read below). She was trading in wealth for the woods.
That’s why it was a no brainer to reach out to Gipcgirl for this week’s feature of Inside the Pro’s Packs. Because with an ocean of gear information available to you, sometimes the smartest way to pack your pack, is to mock the pros. Below is what’s inside Gipcgirl’s. Enjoy.
Inside the Pros Packs with Tanya “Gipcgirl” Bajor
Recent experience: 2012 Larapinta Trail 230 K’s Northern Territory Australia , PCT Mexican Border to Midpoint 1330 miles, Vermont to Katahdin (AT) 500 miles. 2011 Thru Hiked AT 2185 miles, plus Cape to Cape track West Australia 130 k’s. 2010 Almost thru hiked the AT 1900 miles. Bibbulmun Track West Australia 950 K’s. 2009 Australian Alpine Walking Track 630 K’s, Great Ocean Road walk,Victoria Australia. and Larapinta Trail. 2008 Kokoda track Papua New Guinea.
Favorite AT story
A fellow female hiker describing how she decided to pee in a ziplock bag whilst in her hammock as it was raining heavily outside. Think about it, not easy. Having manage to accomplish the event she then poured the contents of the ziplock bag out of her hammock straight into her hiking boots. The telling of that story was so funny.
Gear / packing philosophy
Pick up every item and feel the weight of it and really think about if you actually need it. Most wannabe hikers pick up an item and say Oh !! it only weighs a few ounces I’ll take it. Those few ounces sure have a way of adding up to pounds. I think Oh !!! it weighs a few ounces, do I really really need this item.
ULA Circuit size small, light and fits me perfectly a truly great pack.
MSR Hubba, I’ve had a number of different tents over my years of hiking, always end up going back to the Hubba I really like the fact that it has a side opening and a vestibule that’s big enough to cook under when its raining.
Western mountaineering down bag rated to -5 degree celcius, I use this bag summer and winter hiking in warmer weather I just sleep on top of it. Its now 7 years old so, so I’ve had really good use out of it.
I don’t need or use one.
Thermarest Neo-air small size. I love this pad and would not use anything else ever again.
I always hike in Keen sandals with a good thick pair of wool sox. They also double up as camp shoes without the sox. I like the sandals as I can feel the terrain and they are flexible, they are so much lighter than boots, and I don’t have to take them off to cross rivers, and yes I hike in the snow with them when wet wool sox still keep you warm.
One set to hike in, short sleeve wicking top, a skirt and little boy leg knickers underneath for summer, for winter the same just adding long leggings under the skirt and a wool long sleeve top, ultra light wind front zip top and a rain jacket. For camp all I have is one pair leggings and a long sleeve wicking top. Puffy down jacket. Thats it no spare anything, so often putting on the same smelly wet hiking clothes in the mornings.
Socks: Wool thick one pair only for hiking and one pair for sleeping.
Underwear: One pair little boy leg knickers and one pair merino wool leggings for winter hiking and one pair for sleeping/camp
Base layer: Wicking short sleeve top and knickers in the summer long sleeve wicking top winter and wool leggings in the winter.
Mid layer: long sleeve merino top
Outer heavy layer: Wool Beanie, wool balaclava, Rain jacket , Puffy down jacket.
Shorts: No I hike in a skirt.
Pants: merino leggings
Hat: Ball cap summer, winter a wool beanie
Rain Jacket: Marmott very light gortex. No rain pants
Stove: Katmandu (like a pocket rocket but smaller and lighter) and one small canister gas
Cookware: Titanium MSR pot with lid, one titanium spoon.
Hydration Reservoir: Platypus gravity filter with 3 litre capacity bladder of filtered water and a 3 litre bladder for collecting dirty water..
Water Bottle: Two plastic one litre bottles.
Electronics: Spot device, iPhone.
Luxury Items: A book to read.
Food: Is always the same dehydrated mash potato and one sachet of Tuna or salmon for dinner with dehydrate peas. Lunch is crackers with peanut butter, breakfast 2 x health bars. Gorp is raisins, walnuts, and m & m’s. Every day the same, then I eat big in the towns.
Misc: Pocket knife: Steralisation Tabs (back up) maps, hiking poles, I have recently tried out wearing a dress rather than a skirt and top and this seems to work well no bunching up at the hip belt area. Cheap polyester dresses from the good will stores work.
My overall pack weight with 2 litres of water and 5/6 days of food is usually around the 12/13 kilo’s (26 – 28lb).
Are you a backpacking pro or know someone who is? Let’s talk! theGoodBadger[at]gmail.com