the gear post
Like nearly everyone here, I’ve evolved into a bit of a gear nerd. I’ve carefully curated my gear list over the past 10 months, reading every article, every review, every comparison, every opinion. I bought and returned three sleeping bags, two tents, four trail runners, and went back and forth between items over a difference of less than an ounce. I meticulously tracked every pound, ounce and gram, noting quantity, whether it’s carried or worn, warm weather or cold weather.
Gear is the one part of the thru-hike planning process that I can completely manage and organize prior to the hike, and I am taking full advantage of that.
With gear, knowing where to start is likely the hardest part. This is where my previous backpacking experience came in handy. I knew the basics, it was only a matter of finding the best possible version of those things to better equip me for the longest backpacking trip of my life.
I started by making a list of all the things I generally bring on trips:
- Sleeping bag
- Sleeping pad
- Cooking stove
- Etc, etc, etc…
No need to dive into brand and model right away!
That quickly becomes overwhelming because there are literally THOUSANDS of opinions on each brand, each model. Start general first, then break it down.
Once I had a general list, I simply went item-by-item. I would comb through AT forums, gear lists, blogs, threads, and look for anything relevant to whatever piece of gear I was focusing on (backpack, tent, sleeping bag, etc.). This can take weeks of diligent research and thankfully, I enjoyed every second of it.
When I was researching, it quickly became obvious that I needed criteria to help narrow down all of the options because OHMYWORD THERE ARE SO MANY OPTIONS.
I broke it down into two categories: ‘important’ and ‘not important.’
- Lightweight-ness. A big proponent of my success will be a light pack. My goal is to have a maximum pack weight of 25 pounds when filled with food and water. So, my base weight will have to be about 12-13 pounds, aka every ounce matters.
- Comfortable and warm sleep. My sleep gear is where I’m willing to sacrifice the ounces. I don’t mind being a bit uncomfortable when hiking, but I do expect to make up for that discomfort when I’m sleeping.
- Price. While I don’t want to spend all of my money, I don’t mind paying extra for good quality. Plus, the more lightweight you get, the more it tends to cost – go figure! But I’ve resolved to let that go and just pay up.
- Brand. I grew up with REI gear my whole life, but there are so many manufacturers that are developing lightweight gear with impeccable quality. As long as the gear works for me, I don’t really care what brand it is.
Without wasting anymore time, here you go:
I’ll be using the Osprey Aura 50L AG pack (58 oz). It’s quite a bit heavier than the ultralight packs out there, but the hip belts are to die for and the anti-gravity mesh on the back is amazing. I tried on a variety of packs and, having a short torso made it was difficult to find a good one. Once I tried on the Osprey Aura, I was in heaven. We fitted it, packed it with weight, and it was perfect.
EDIT: I ended up switching to the Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60L (32.7 oz) because I realized that I wanted a more pliable pack with better pockets. The Osprey is certainly a good choice and seems to be a popular pack on the trail. However, ~33 oz vs 58 oz is a considerable difference. Coupling that with the pocket system, and the plaibility, I ended up going with the GG Mariposa.
I originally bought the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 tent for my upcoming NOBO. I used it throughout the summer during my shakedown hikes, but it always felt weird having the entry at my head. It simply wasn’t comfortable for me to get in and out of it.
I recently switched to the much more expensive (but much more effective) ZPacks Solplex. The raincover is attached which, when raining, will be key, and it doesn’t require tent poles! You can set it up with trekking poles, which I intend to carry anyway, so I save weight there.
Total shelter weight (without trekking poles): 18 ounces (~1.1 lbs)
I’ll be using the Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20 degree quilt (23.64 ounces), a Sea to Summit Reactor Liner (adds up to 15 degrees of warmth for only 8.1 ounces), as well as a Thermarest NeoAir XLite (12 ounces). I’m still deciding what to do for a pillow, but I’m thinking I’ll just use a stuff sack filled with my extra clothing/puffy jacket.
EDIT: I switched my ThermaRest NeoAir XLite pad with the ThermaRest Z Lite Sol pad (14 ounces). After multiple shakedowns, I came to the conclusion that I just can’t get used to how narrow the XLite pad is. I’m switching to the Z Lite which I still think is pretty comfortable and gives me enough width to spread out a bit.
Total sleep weight: 45.7 ounces (~2.86 lbs)
For my cook set, I’ll be using the JetBoil Minimo (14 ounces) stove along with a Snow Peak Titanium Spork (0.28 ounces). I know Jetboils are less popular due to the weight – but I love my Jetboil.
EDIT: After deliberating over what stove I should bring for nearly 10 months, I finally decided to choose weight over perceived convenience. I found the SnowPeak GigaPower Auto Stove (3.75 ounces) to boil water at a comparable rate to the Jetboil – at least not slow enough to continue to justify the weight of the Jetboil. So, I’m choosing the SnowPeak GigaPower! And to go with the new stove, I’ll also be bringing Ultralight Evernew 0.9L Titanium Pot (3.86 ounces).
For food storage, I’ll be bringing the ZPacks Bear Bagging Kit which includes a roll top food bag, 50 ft paracord, rock sack, and a carabiner (3 ounces). Just for extra caution, I’m also going to be storing my food in LOKSAK OPSAK odor-proof barrier bags (0.4 ounces for 1 bag) – this is mostly to deter some of the rodents.
For water, I’ll have a Sawyer Squeeze filtration system (1.3 ounces) and 2 Smart Water bottles.
Total kitchen weight (without food and water): 12.59 ounces (~0.77 lbs)
This part of the gear selection was a bit tough for me. Opinions vary dramatically on clothing due to varying preferences, shapes, sizes. I want to be really warm at night but I don’t want to carry too much – so it is likely I’ll be sending stuff home once I am on the trail and have figured out what works best for me.
The easiest way for me to dive into this is by activity and then by season.
I’ll be wearing these every day while I hike.
- REI Co-op polypro shirt
- LuluLemon Yoga Pants
- Sports bra
- Injinji socks
To be added once the rain starts pouring which it inevitably will.
- Marmot PreCip Rain Jacket (not pictured), with pit zips! (9.6 ounces)
- Marmot PreCip Rain Pants (8.9 ounces)
Camp (will remain dry the entire trail – only used at camp)
- Smart Wool Micro 200 Long Sleeved Shirt
- Smart Wool Micro 200 pants
- Darn Tough Merino Wool socks
- REI Fleece (mid layer)
- Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Puffy (insulating layer)
- REI Power Wool Beanie
- Smart Wool Glove Liners
Total clothing weight: TBD closer to the start date
I’ll be starting off with Salomon XA Pro trail runners (24 ounces). My camp shoes will be plain crocs.
Electronics and Miscellaneous
I’ll be bringing my iphone 7, its charger, and my earbuds, as well as a kindle paperwhite and charger (21.5 ounces) . When I’m not charging these items up in town, I’ll be using my Anker PowerCore 10,000 external battery pack (4.3 ounces).
Also on my list is a Petzl Tikka headlamp plus extra batteries (~5 ounces), and my SPOT Gen3 tracking device (4 ounces).
Slightly off the electronics path, I’m considering bringing a Sea to Summit Head Net for the warmer months when mosquitoes are rampant (1.2 ounces).
I’m also bringing a journal and pen (2 ounces) and, of course, trekking poles (20 ounces)
Total electronics and misc. weight: 58 ounces (~3.6 lbs)
To maintain a minimum level of hygiene out in the wilderness, I’m bringing toothpaste, toothbrush, floss, comb, nail clippers, tweezers, glasses, contacts case, lens solution (small bottle), spare contacts, chapstick, sunscreen, trowel, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, hand salve (for the colder days when my hands are too dry), and a pack towel (considering Shamwow cut into a medium-sized square).
Toiletries weight: TBD
First Aid and Fix-It Kit
I’m bringing the ultralight Adventure Medical Kit (8 ounces) which includes wound care items (closure strips, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic wipes, and gloves), bandages, adhesive tape, moleskin, alcohol swabs. It also includes some medications like ibuprofen, aspirin, antihistamine, and sting-relief wipes, but I think I’ll need much more than what they provide. So, I’ll be adding an entire bottle-amount of ibuprofen and will also be adding significantly more moleskin for blisters.
My fix-it kit will include duct-tape, zip ties, sewing kit, safety pins (5.4 ounces).
I’m also bringing a swiss army knife (1 ounce).
Total First Aid/Fix-it Kit weight: 14.4 ounces (~0.9 lb)
My baseweight (excluding food, water, fuel, and worn items of clothing) with some other odds and ends is ~17.5 lbs. With food and water, it’ll be up to ~28-30 lbs right after each resupply of food.
That’s it! That’s my gear!
This will change slightly as I figure out what works best for me on the trail; what I really need versus what I thought I would need. But it’s a great place to start.
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So glad for this blog and your great sense of adventure. I’ve already geeked out and looked up the AT abbreviations. Very cool, Ms. NOBO.
Good Luck!! We all will be watching your progress!