On our first thru-hike of the Trans-Catalina Trail back in the spring of 2010, we carried our gear. That trip was one of our shake-down trips to prepare for the John Muir Trail, so we carried everything–tent, stove, fuel, food, sleeping bags–basically everything we would be carrying on the JMT.
In October 2018, we thru-hiked the TCT again. The trail had been realigned in 2017, and our trail guide needed an update. This time around, we opted to try out the gear haul service offered by Catalina Backcountry.
Benefits of Gear Haul Service
In Europe, hiking hut-to-hut or village-to-village is commonplace, letting you carry a daypack with water, some food for the hike, and the essentials. Using Catalina Backcountry’s gear haul service on Catalina is very similar.
We carried daypacks with water, food for our hike that day, a rain shell and the ten essentials. The remainder of our gear was transported from campsite to campsite.
What’s so awesome about gear haul service? You don’t have to travel light. We brought our huge, double-wide Big Agnes Air Core mattress and the super-bulky (but awesome for car camping) Big Agnes Dream Island sleeping bag, and on top of that a cooler filled with ice, cold beverages, and fresh food rather than dehydrated.
And of course, hiking was pleasant. We arrived at camp early in the afternoon with energy and time to explore.
How it worked
We started from Avalon, where we were attending a friend’s wedding the weekend before. Catalina Backcountry knew which hotel we had stayed at, and which campsites we had reserved. We left our gear in the lobby and hit the trail with our much lighter daypacks.
When we arrived at Blackjack campground that afternoon, our gear was waiting for us at our reserved campsite, plus a couple of camp chairs were setup by the fire ring.
Each morning, we would pack lunch and water in our day packs and head out. By the time we arrived at our next campsite, our gear would be there waiting for us. They even topped off the ice in our cooler when it needed more.
Catalina Backcountry offers other services in addition to gear hauls. They provide complete camp setup services, providing the gear and setting it up for you. They offer camp meals, both catered and cooked on site. And they offer guided hikes and custom island excursions.
Good to know
On our second day, we stopped at the airport for an early lunch on our way to Little Harbor, and ran into the co-owner Larina. She was born and raised in Avalon, and her grandmother first moved to Catalina back in the early 1900s. I appreciated supporting a local business, especially one run by a family with such deep roots on the island.
The Bottom Line
Gear haul service has a cost, but the charges are based on the trip, not the number of people. It really pays off if you have four or more people to split the cost. For a trip like the Trans-Catalina Trail, gear haul service is great option, letting you do a glamping-style trip that’s a lot of fun.
Backcountry Catalina did a great job. Our gear was right where expected to be, and they even offered to pick-up additional supplies for us if we needed anything. We would definitely use them again, especially for a group trip.
For more information, visit their website or call:
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