2024 AT Gear List: The Big 3

As a thru-hiking obsessed person, I love talking about, thinking about, and learning about gear. When I was preparing for my thru-hike of the Continental Divide Trail, I spent a lot of time pouring over gear reviews, browsing through REI to find deals, and perfecting the balance between comfort and weight.

For my 2024 Appalachian Trail thru-hike, I’m not upgrading a lot of my gear. For the most part, I’m keeping things the same: I have the same pack, same quilt, and even the same sleeping pad. However, because I won’t be hiking solo this year, my tent has changed.

Here, I’ll talk about my AT ‘24 Big 3 setup: my tent, pack, and sleep system. I’ll make another post about the other items I’m bringing with me. If you can’t wait for that one, feel free to check out my gear list, which you should be able to find linked at the top of the article.

Without further ado, let’s jump into it!


Pack: Osprey Eja 58

My pack has treated me well throughout my backpacking career, so there’s no need for me to replace it. My Osprey Eja 58, while not the lightest or “coolest” pack, is reliable, sturdy, light enough, and convenient. It comes with a detachable top compartment (I call it the “brain”) that I leave at home to save weight, making my used volume slightly smaller.

I enjoy my Osprey for a few reasons. For one, it’s durable. At under 2.5 pounds, it hasn’t experienced any catastrophic rips or tears over the roughly 3,000 miles I’ve carried it. The mesh side pockets are still intact and my shoulder straps haven’t broken. I chose this pack in part because Osprey had a reputation for creating long-lasting, quality products. I try to minimize my consumption and part of that means choosing items that will stand the test of time. In addition, Osprey has great customer service and are willing to stand by their products and send replacement or repair gear when needed.

Another aspect of the pack that I appreciate is that it is framed and is designed to allow airflow between your back and the pack. The frame distributed weight well on my hips and across my shoulders. The hip belt is also slightly padded for more comfort.

At roughly 55L, this pack (minus the brain) is the perfect size for me. I don’t run out of space and there are plenty of compartments to hold things on the outside. I won’t replace this pack unless something catastrophic happens to it. It is ole’ reliable. And while I do sometimes wish I could look like the “cool kids” with their roll top, ultralight packs, I don’t want to sacrifice comfort for aesthetics.


Tent: Zpacks Triplex

The Zpacks Triplex is a three-person tent that requires two trekking poles for support. Including the stakes and groundsheet that I’m bringing, the whole setup will be around two pounds. I previously hiked with a Nemo Hornet two-person freestanding tent. This time, however, I will be hiking with a partner, so we’ll need a little bit more room.

We tested out this tent last fall and it was really nice! I think the thing I will most appreciate is the low weight. It was definitely roomy enough for the both of us and our packs. The two vestibules were adequately spacious, and I appreciated the netting on either side of the tent. Setup was relatively easy, but I will definitely have to practice my speedy setup. I like to make sure I can get the tent up as fast as possible in the event of an impending rainstorm. Seconds matter when rain is falling on you!

One thing that I will miss from my previous tent is the ability to remove the rainfly and peer at the night sky. The Triplex is a single-walled tent, so I will have to poke my head out of the vestibule if I want to see what’s going on out there. In addition, condensation will be a new issue that I’ll have to learn to deal with. Wiping down the inside of the tent might become a part of my morning routine.

Either way, I think this tent will suit our needs perfectly. It’s pretty big, so we might not be able to squeeze into the stealth spots that I would typically stay in, but with the abundance of shelters and tent sites, this won’t be a problem.


Sleep System: Enlightened Equipment 10F Quilt & Thermarest Zlite Sleeping Pad

I used both my Enlightened Equipment quilt and Thermarest sleeping pad on the CDT and JMT and I can’t complain. Although the sleeping pad looks a bit beat up, I can still get a great night’s sleep on it. I might have to replace it sometime along the trail, but I’ll do that when I get there.

I love my foam pad. I wouldn’t switch to an inflatable for anything. As someone who tosses and turns a lot during the night, it’s jarring to roll around on an air pad that makes noise and shifts my weight abruptly. A foam pad is much closer to a regular mattress in that it stays put while I move. Plus, I’m a stomach sleeper; I don’t need to worry about uncomfortable hips and shoulders.

As a cold sleeper, I love having a super warm quilt. I had previously planned to start the trail in early-to-mid March, so I was going to bring a Cocoon Mummy liner along with me to combat the cold temperatures. I’ll still start with the liner, but I doubt I’ll need it. My quilt should be plenty warm enough.

When the nighttime temperatures start to warm up, I will look into getting a lighter quilt. During my time in Glacier at the end of June, this quilt was a little too warm to be comfortable. But that only lasted a couple of weeks. On the other hand, the elevation on the AT is lower than the CDT, so nighttime temperatures might run high for longer. If you didn’t switch out your quilt or sleeping bag on the AT, let me know your experience.

So, that’s my Big 3! I’d love to hear some advice in the comments. Until next time!


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Comments 5

  • jhonY : Mar 9th

    Sorry no advice. 🙂 Just wanted to let you know I am enjoying your write-ups and look forward to following along vicariously. Happy walking to you.

    • Jen Brown : Mar 9th



    You can have a very warm quilt, but unless you have a warm sleeping pad (especially with a quilt and not a sleeping bag) you will feel the cold through the ground. I highly recommend a warmer sleeping pad if you are sleeping below 45*F.

  • Charles Hudson : Mar 19th

    I believe your gonna love the Zpacks tent,I’ve had my Duplex for years with no issues. The EE is a good choice for a quilt. I did the AT, a flip flop 2022,most of which was SOBO. I used a 15 deg Katabolic gear quilt when it was colder and 40 deg EE during my NOBO part June-August from MA-ME which was perfect. Best to you, looking forward to your posts..From SW.VA(Pearisburg) , if you need help/advise while in this area give me a shout..


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