MARK SIREK Administrator Posts: 317
edited March 4 in THE GEAR LAB

Words and Photos from Eszter Horanyi @eszter IG -@ez_gone_coddiwompling

Our pal Eszter Horanyi has been hanging out outside, riding a bike for as long as she can remember, and is also an avid packrafter and photographer. She found her 15-minutes of fame in bikepacking, racing and setting women’s records on a variety of courses over the years, including Tour Divide, Colorado Trail Race, Iditarod Invitational, and the Arizona Trail 300. Recently, she set a new unsupported FKT on Nolan’s 14These days, Eszter is much more likely to be found puttering around with a camera and taking photos of people going fast than actually trying to go fast herself. She’s found that this involves far less suffering and brings her a similar amount of joy. She’s written for various bike and outside-related publications–including many a post on The Trailhead– over the years and is excited to help others bring their stories to life. We’re always stoked to hear her well-earned thoughts about what kinds of gear helps her go places.


Whether I'm headed out for a multi-day packrafting trip that involves wandering through canyons and scrambling on the slickrock of the high deserts of the Colorado Plateau or wandering around the high peaks of Colorado's San Juan mountains, my Southwest 70 often ends up getting called to action. For packrafting especially, after I shove a boat and all of the accouterments associated with the sport inside, I'm always pleased to find that there's space for camping stuff, extra clothes, and plenty of snacks and water. Plus, the paddles fit so well in the outer pockets, and the PFD goes just so over the top. Maybe I'm old school, but I still very much like the little mesh pocket on the inside of the pack, probably designed to hold a bladder, but for me, it's the home for any permits I need for a trip, a wallet, and anything else that I hope not to touch for the duration of the trip but that I'd be real sad if I lost. 

And for shorter trips, I'm not terribly fussed just folding the top down to make it act like a smaller pack.

I'm also a big fan of my Summit 30. Not only does it come along for bikepacking trips and shorter fastpacks, but it also has often served as my pack for carrying a camera around for photo shoots and event photography. 


Some people love quilts. I am not one of these people, and I don't understand them. I love nothing more than getting to the end of my day, burrowing myself deep into my sleeping bag, cinching the hood over my head so that only my nose and mouth are sticking out, and sleeping so happily. Life without a hood is not a life that I'm interested in. 


My trip partners used to, and still do, really, laugh at me as I would dump out all of my food on a seven-day trip and spend an inordinate amount of time digging through it all to find what I needed for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. While I still do some level of dumping of my stuff, Pods have been crucial in food organization for longer trips. Camp food goes in one. Snack food goes in another. The snacks I want accessible come out each morning and get stuffed into the side pockets of my pack. Putting a little effort into organization has improved my not-always-organized life.

I'd love to say that my junk drawer Pod isn't exactly that, a Pod of junk, but it is what it is, and at least I don't have a bunch of loose stuff floating around my pack. Into a single Pod normally goes all of my electronics, including cache batteries and cords, camera batteries, and cleaning supplies, unused wag bags, boat repair kits if packrafts are involved, headlamp, first-aid kit, bathroom stuff, and all of the other bits and bobs that make it into my kit. It's not organized, but since I can open the Pod up completely to find what I need, I don't care. It perfectly fits my disorganized organization. 


I took a Mid-1 on a rainy Wind Rivers trip with two people. We reasoned that we were small people and we would fit. While we did, in fact, fit, this is not a recommended way to save a few ounces of weight!


I've spent far too many nights of my life on a piece of Reflectix, that horrid silver insulation that provides an outsized amount of warmth for what it is but no comfort whatsoever, so I'm all about sleeping comfortably so that I'm not tired in the morning. The Thermoair Neoair Xlite has been a trusty companion for a lot of years. While there are pads that are lighter and smaller, this one has actually stood up to many, many nights out in the backcountry and seems to be pretty durable if you're willing to take a little care to protect it. 

I'm old now and carry a camp pillow. I used to forgo this lovely piece of gear, using my walking clothes in a stuff sack as a substitute right up until the day I arrived at camp with everything I owned, except for my sleeping clothes, completely soaked. I had no pillow that night as everything was out drying, and now I unashamedly carry one on every trip, regardless of how lightweight we're going. 


When Eastern Mountain Sports went out of business in Boulder, CO, after REI moved in sometime in 2005, I bought an MSR Pocket Rocket. It's still kicking, and while I could replace it with countless other lighter and more efficient options, I kind of like that this one has been with me for so many trips. 

I've played with alcohol stoves exactly enough to know that I don't have the patience for them. 


For trips where I'm taking a stove, which is by no means all of them, I take along a little 550ml titanium pot. I bought it–non-researched–after I lost my other pot in a relationship split and I needed one pronto for a trip I was heading on. Little did I realize at the time that 550ml is on the small size for pots, not even holding enough water for some bigger dehydrated meals. I kicked myself when it first showed up, but it's kind of grown on me. It's tiny and light and cute!

For trips that don't require a stove, nothing beats a Talenti ice cream container. Cold-soaked oats? No problem. Recovery mix that needs to be shaken? No problem. Ramen? Just the right size. And, as an added bonus, Talenti is delicious, and you can never have too many jars on hand. 

I eye the long-handled titanium sporks every time I'm in an outdoor store, but I have an old plastic spork that has been around for all of my trips since 2014. I will lose it eventually and upgrade, but for now, it serves the incredibly important function of moving food into my mouth. 


The cyclist in me loves bladders. The runner in me loves soft flasks. The backpacker in me can't make up her mind. I have no strong opinions on the matter except that I've yet to adopt the screw-top bottle as many have. 


The Katadyn BeFree has been a game changer in the ultrarunning world and is starting to catch on in the cycling sphere as well. And for good reason. When they're new, they're super convenient. And then they clog up and make for some very sad panda moments where filtering water seems to take eons. I've taken a mindset that these filters are somewhat a disposable product that need to be replaced regularly, and it's the price of admission for them. 


I'll fully admit to being a full-on wool snob. The lightweight long-sleeve wool hoody is my favorite piece of clothing item right now. Running shorts, tights, whatever is temperature-appropriate for bottoms. Wool if I can swing it. Running shorts with a wool liner are the best thing ever! I'm not great at laundry, whether on the trail or in real life, so if I can wear clothing over and over without having to wash it, I'm all for it. 

Unlike many, I'm a fan of down over synthetic insulation jackets. They're lighter, pack smaller, and if you pay even an iota of attention to keeping it dry, they're warmer. 

I'm willing to overcarry when it comes to rain gear. I want to be able to trust it to keep me dry if I get stuck in a downpour. It's not a place I'm willing to choose something lightweight that may or may not work. It's a safety thing in my mind. Rain pants are also great for extra warmth. 


I'm on the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" train with my headlamps. I have a pair of old Petzl lights that run off three AAA batteries I've had for longer than I can remember adventuring outside. They both still work, and while I often threaten to upgrade to something with a rechargeable battery, I've yet to actually get around to doing so. 


Wool clothing to prevent stink. Hand sanitizer. Swim in bodies of water whenever possible. Is there anything else you really need?