Who are you, what do you do?

I am Lawton Grinter a.k.a. Disco. I’m a Forestry Consultant by day where I help Colorado landowners create healthy forests and homeowners mitigate against future wildfires. My passion is hiking and I have been lucky enough to hike some of the longer trails in these United States (AT, PCT, CDT) and even a few shorter trails including the Colorado Trail and the Grand Enchantment Trail.

My need for creativity has resulted in a book, a documentary, and The Trail Show, a podcast I host with 3 other amazing thru-hikers. My website serves as a clearinghouse of sorts to all the spokes on that wheel.

Where do you hike mostly?

Most of my hiking is right here in Colorado. As a Denver resident, I take every opportunity to get out of town and up into the mountains along the Continental Divide. I love the Maroon Bells Wilderness Area north of Crested Butte. I’ve also had the opportunity to do some stellar hiking in Hawaii over the last few winters. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention southern Utah—there is so much stellar hiking and terrain down there. The petroglyphs and pictographs keep pulling me back. The rock, sage, juniper, and wide open spaces set against blue sky cloud my mind during long days at work. I can’t wait for my next jaunt down there.

What do you take on the trail?

You’d think after 10,000 miles of hiking that I’d have my gear dialed in—I don’t. I’m constantly fiddling and tweaking my gear list to find the perfect kit. It doesn’t exist. Having said that, there are some items I’ve stuck with over the years and continue to use:

  • Western Mountaineering UltraLite 20 Deg Down Sleeping Bag: I’ve easily put 6,000+ miles on this bag and it keeps performing night after night. I wash and dry it once or twice a year, which keeps it lofted and ready to go for the next trip.
  • Gossamer Gear Backpacks: I’ve been a big fan of Gossamer Gear backpacks since my 2006 CDT thru-hike. I use the GG Murmur on shorter length trips and really love the GG Gorilla on longer trips or trips where I’ll be carrying a lot of water weight.
  • EuroSchirm Lite Trek Umbrella: I’ve been an umbrella user since my 1999 AT thru-hike. It makes hiking in the rain so much more enjoyable.
  • Victorinox Swiss Army Classic: All the knife that I’ve ever needed for thru-hikes.
  • Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap: Love a good breathable hat and when it gets really hot and sunny, the sun flaps snap on in seconds for extra UV protection.
  • Sawyer 3 Way Water Filter: I’ve tried all types of water filtration & chemical purification in the backcountry. The Sawyer 3 Way Water Filter is the only one that I keep coming back to. Love that I can use it on the side of my pack inline while hiking and as a gravity filter in camp. And with a 1,000,000 gallon lifespan guarantee, it should be the last filter I ever buy.
  • A nondescript shelter: I’ve tried a lot of different shelters from tarps to tents to tarptents and have yet to find one shelter that I’m in love with. Some day I will...

What would be some of your ideal kit?

My ideal backpacking kit would include all of the above and that illusive shelter that would be perfect for my wife and I. Lately I’ve been eyeballing the Cuben Haven Tarp and Net Tent from Six Moon Designs. I think this may just be the shelter system I’ve been hoping would come along. I like the good rain protection of a tarp, but I don’t like having to crawl under a beak to get in and out. I also like to have the option of a mesh interior if the bugs are out. And having 2 doors on opposite sides is quite nice when 2 folks are using the shelter. Couple all that with the 24 oz combined weight and it seems almost perfect—except for the sticker shock that comes with any cuben gear.