Trailbrush: An Ultralight Toothbrush that Connects to Camp Spoons & Sporks

Maria Weidich
If it’s not “silly, safety, or snacks,” Appalachian Trail thru-hiker and Trailbrush creator Andrew Vargo isn’t carrying it. A proud gram-weenie and self-described gear goblin, Andrew enjoyed whittling down his and his wife Emma’s base weight down to 14.8 and 12.9 pounds before they set foot on Springer Mountain in 2022.

His patent-pending, unquestionably quirky, ultralight toothbrush actually came to fruition months after the couple made it to Mount Katahdin. “This might be the silliest trail thing of all time,” Andrew joked. “It’s 1% more serious than googly eyes.”



Silly or some-what essential, most backpackers would admit that if they haven’t already cut off half of their toothbrush handle to shed pack weight, they’ve thought of cutting off half their toothbrush handle to shed pack weight.  

But Andrew's startup company Trail Stuff does one better: why not cut off the entire handle and attach the brush head to the clip slot found on most long handled camp spoons and sporks? An architect by trade with an arsenal of modeling software, Andrew knew the mechanics of it could work.

Once off trail, and unwilling to move into his mom’s basement, Andrew followed his wife as she studied abroad in Italy where they spent the next several months. Being without his workshop, tools, and even a camp spoon for a while didn’t stop him from getting to work. 


He started by buying and tearing apart copious amounts of toothbrushes and creating hand iterations. “I now know way too much about how toothbrushes are made,” he laughed.

Once back home in Virginia, and needing more backing to support his silly idea, Andrew launched a Kickstarter campaign in the summer of 2023. While the results didn’t blow his socks off, it did provide some validation and encouraged him to take the next steps. “This might be fun. Or this might be stupid,” Andrew told himself, “but I’m gonna get a loan to cover the rest, and that’s what we did!”

After an entire year of prototyping, 30,000 units of toothbrush heads and cap covers arrived at Andrew’s home. “It took a minute to sink in, and I had to lay on the floor for a bit,” he laughed. “I was full of emotions.”


Compatible with most popular long-handled “food shovels” like the titanium ones made by Vargo, Toaks, and Sea to Summit, the two-gram brush head fits securely to the carabiner hole with a silicone gasket making it the lightest, most practical solution to brushing your teeth on the trail. Not only do the silicone cap covers keep the brush clean when not in use, it makes for a better grip on the multi-purpose tool when used as a spoon.

Utilizing a long handle compared to the broken-in-half-toothbrush model eliminates getting dirty hiker hands near your mouth when brushing, and allows for adequate leverage to remove plaque and germs, making any dentist proud. 

Trailbrush won’t just save weight, it’ll save plastic too.  “By not including a handle from the beginning, you are saving that amount of plastic from being produced, filed or snapped off, and thrown away every time you need to gear up and hike out.”


The thrill of having a finished product is never lost on Andrew. “Being able to hold the thing that I made and say Damn, I made this! I’ve been inside buildings that I made, and this felt better,” he laughed. “I’ve been through dorm rooms that I built, where people are spending their formative years - why does this feel better?!”

As Andrew settles into life off trail with Emma in their Arlington home, launching Trail Stuff's Trailbrush certainly scratches that chronic, thru-hiking itch. “In a weird way, I feel more attached and connected to the hiking community now. I’m blown away that anyone wants one besides me,” he laughed. “I don’t know if that speaks to other people being crazy or this being cool, but it’s very validating that someone is willing to go out of their way to support this.”


Trailbrush creator Andrew Vargo and his wife Emma approaching the Appalachian Trail. 



Originally from Alaska, Maria currently resides in Montana with her husband, two young daughters and chocolate lab named Echo.  When she’s not chasing her kids or that next running goal, you can find her weekend-warrioring in the mountains or thinking about her next cup of coffee.




Trailbrush by Trail Stuff
Trailbrush by Trail Stuff


Brand bios

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published