5 Essential Gear Articles for Long-Distance Backpackers

Gear. It’s is one of the favorite topics of thru-hikers, backpackers, and general trail enthusiasts. Appalachian Trials is no different, and over the past several years, we have published a rather astounding number of posts with gear reviews, tips and tricks, and general info.

Here are five posts for questions we receive on a regular basis: Hiking on a budget, footwear, winter hiking, newbie mistakes, and lightening your setup. There’s more where these came from, so feel free to shoot us a question in the comments. We guarantee there’s an answer buried somewhere on the site.

Without further ado- if you are:

1) Thru-hiking on a budget? Click here.


Not all of your gear has to be shot out of the Brand-New-Expensive-Gear Cannon. (Though if there was one of those, we’d love to see it.) Saving $$$ can be as easy as perusing second-hand gear shops, Craigslist, and last year’s sale items. Chances are you’re getting the same item with a slightly different font on the hang tag. As for that $40 hiking shirt? A $5 synthetic tank top from a discount store will work just as well. Read more.

2) Trying to decide what to put on your feet? Click here.


The Boots-or-Trail-Runners conversation is only the beginning. In this survey of over 100 AT hikers, we found out the most popular styles of footwear, as well as the top models. Salomon and Brooks reign supreme, but there are other key players as well. Read more.

3) Gearing up for a winter backpacking trip? Click here.

12 En route to South Twin (1)

You don’t have to tackle a mid-winter thru-hike, but if you’re heading out into the snowy outdoors for any length of time, you need the right gear. It’s not just about comfort: the wrong setup can be fatal in winter conditions. Here’s the breakdown of what the Real Hiking Viking’s gear for his SOBO AT winter thru-hike. Read more.

4) Just starting to assemble a gear list? Click here.

gear left behind

There are a lot of ways to do it right, and a lot of ways to screw it up. And while even the silliest gear mistakes can probably be solved in the next trail town, but you might be in for a miserable few days. Here are six (gear) mistakes to avoid while prepping for a long-distance hike, including food planning, shoe choice, shelters, and more. Read more.

5) Looking to lighten your load? Click here.


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Your Big Three (tent, pack, sleep system) will make or break your pack weight. Looking past the giant companies and researching other options will reward you with high-quality, lighter gear, will support small companies, and (almost always) includes top-notch, personalized customer service. Here are some of our favorite items/brands that will shave ounces (or pounds!) from your pack weight. Read more.

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