I have been slowly acquiring some new gear these past few weeks and have already found a couple of pieces that I can’t live without. My top three gear items of choice are as follows:
I was really torn buying a new tent. I previously had a 2 person North Face Phoenix
that I have used for the past couple of years and can put it together from a pile of pieces to a decent sized home in four minutes flat. It has become an old friend to me and I really wanted to take it with me on the AT, despite it being a little larger than needed. However, I knew that the single walled tent had condensation issues and I wanted something that would be easier to keep dry. Plus, I heard that a one person tent would be warmer since there was less air to heat within the tent. So, I tried out the Big Agnes Platinum tent and really loved it. It was extremely easy to put together and is extremely light weight. I noticed a huge difference in the size that they can pack down to and also in weight. I think the double walled feature of the Big Agnes tent will make it more versatile while in the trail. I already slept one night in it and already feel confident leaving my old Phoenix friend behind for this new catch!
Tenting outside in my backyard
2. Big Agnes Lithia 15 sleeping bag (down)
One of the biggest challenges in my gear list was weather to buy a down or synthetic sleeping bag. For most bags, the weight difference seemed pretty negligible when compared to the price difference. However, since I was freezing cold on my last two backpacking trips, I new that my sleeping bag could make a huge difference in my comfort while on the trail and that a new sleeping bag was in order. Depending on which bag I took, I knew I would either see night as a place of rest and rejuvenation, or a place that I would grudgingly endure and not be able to sleep well through the night. Hoping for the former option, I tried out both the Big Agnes Pristine
(synthetic) and the Big Agnes Lithia Spring
(down) sleeping bags. Although both have similar weight and temperature ratings, the Lithia Spring bag ranked way better. Just laying the bags out together side-by-side you can see a big difference in volume. The down bag was puffer and looked more plush while the synthetic bag looked flat and less inviting. Once inside the bag, the down bag felt smoother and more cozy than the lining on the synthetic. Even better, the down sleeping bag had more room to turn around if you slept on your side or wanted to turn to your stomach from your back. (The synthetic bag felt tight on my side while the down bag did not.) The hood of the Lithia also constricted to a smaller space so that I could hide my whole head within the sleeping bag if it was a really chilly night. So, far all these reasons, I felt that the price was justified in the down sleeping bag since it had all these added features that will lead to more comfort and more restful nights on the trail.
This jacket is phenomenal. Not only is it lightweight, but it is incredibly warm. I just wore it this past weekend on a 30 degree hike and only had an Under Armor shirt underneath and was warm and cozy the whole hike. I am happy that I opted for the hooded option since the hood kept the cool draft off my neck and the perfectly cinched down on my head without constricting my range of motion. Although I would have liked it a tad longer, I am completely satisfied with this purchase and think that it will be my most prized position while on the AT. (My greatest fear is being cold…)
Testing out my new Mountain Hardware jacket at Caesar Creek State Park
So far I am excited for my growing gear pile and look forward to some more additions these next few months! What are some of your favorite gear pieces that you will be bringing with you on the AT? Any recommendations?
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