My longtime friend Colin MacDonald, co-owner of Kit Fox Outfitters, and I have disagreed on whether hiking should be comfortable and fun, or balanced somewhere on the edge of survival and misery. Colin is a huge fan of the latter, while I am a believer in packing a couple extra pounds of comfort while on the trail. While we may disagree on comfort levels, we both still believe that it's important to get outside and reset the mind! Another thing we can agree on is cigars and whiskey on the trail.
Colin and I have been friends for more than a decade, and we've deployed together to Iraq in support and defense of our great nation. It was in that desolate desert that we both found an appreciation for fine cigars. We spent many a night under the Iraqi sky smoking and talking about out lives that remained paused until our return stateside. Those sticks of tobacco were a reminder of the home we had left.
After returning stateside and starting the next phase of our lives, we began hiking and camping in the local San Diego area. It surprised me to find a whole world to explore just east of where I was living. Some of it desert, some of it forests of Oak trees, but all of it within a short drive from my home. Hiking and camping helped keep me physically and mentally in shape, and provided me an escape from the hectic bustle of the city and work.
So to get back on task, Cigars on the trail! There are many items a person may carry when venturing out into the great outdoor. Some of them for survival and others for enjoyment, but all of them add up to weight on your back. One of the things you will always find in my pack will be my cigar kit! A couple sticks of my favorite smokes, a trusty lighter topped off with premium fuel, a cutter of some type, and a waterproof/crushproof case.
There are many different cigars out there. But all cigar smokers have their own favorite go to stick and size. When backpacking it is important to remember you may not want to spend two plus hours smoking a stick, so I like to carry smaller sizes. A robusto size cigar is normally around five inches long and a ring gage of 50. This smoke can normally be smoked from start to finish in about an hour. Smaller than the robusto, the cigarillo and corona sizes are perfect for a 15-30 minute smoke session. These are three sizes that are perfect for the trail and sitting around the small trail side fire.
Lighters, like everything else related to cigars, come in many varieties. The most important thing about a good cigar lighter is the type of fuel they use. Zippos or Bic lighters are nice lighters, but when it comes to lighting a cigar, the fuel they use is not clean enough and will alter the taste of your cigar. I recommend using a lighter that uses triple filtered butane fuel. Some of these lighters can be on the expensive side, but they will pay for themselves in a short amount of time. They can also be used as a back up fire starting source, which is a nice thing to have on the trail.
Cutters are important, but the type of cutter you use is really up to you. You will never go wrong with having a guillotine type cutter with you as they can cut all cigar types. Other types of cutters may only be good at cutting certain types of cigars (for example, trying to use a punch cutter on a torpedo is not ideal). This is really up to you and what you like using.
As for carrying your sticks and accessories in your pack, a crushproof container is important as your cigars may shift around in your pack. I use a Xikar five-cigar case that is crushproof and airtight. This keeps my sticks perfectly humidified and safe from being crushed. There are many of these Pelican-type cases available for purchase. They come in different sizes from two to 15 cigar capacities. They are reasonably priced and like the lighter, will pay for themselves after a couple uses.
In closing, I want to say I am very excited to be writing for Colin and Kit Fox Outfitters. I look forward to writing more in the near future about the finer side of the trail and all the things I can recommend taking up that extra space you may find in the bottom or top of your pack! Until then, enjoy your time outdoors and may the trail always rise to meet the bottom of your feet!
This article was written by our long time friend Gary Patterson.