A Girly Gear List: Lightweight, Practical and Cute AF
Is a woman’s gear list exactly like a man’s?
Not exactly. Most of my gear will be pretty similar to any other lightweight hiker on the Appalachian Trail. But I do have some specific pieces of gear in my woman’s gear list that are especially functional being a solo girl on a thru hike.
My base weight: 16.5lbs
When I first jump onto the trail in mid-March, my spring gear will top out my base weight at 17.5 lbs. Once the summer heat hits, about 500 miles in, my base weight will fall to 16.5 lbs.
The big 3: tent, sleeping bag, and backpack – 8.75lbs
My emotional support backpack: Osprey Exos 48
This has been the hardest piece of gear for me to nail down. I’ve tried Hyperlite and Zpacks, hoping to make it into the ultralight bag club. So far I’ve found them too uncomfortable to imagine spending half the year with one of them on my back. So I’ll be going with a trusty Osprey again!
During my first attempt on the Appalachian Trail, I had an Osprey Atmos 42. Yes, I’m a girl who wears a boy’s backpack. By the end of my first attempted thru hike – 1400 miles, I found the Atmos had a larger capacity than I could even fill. But I adored the way it carried. This year I’m surprisingly going even bigger, since I also plan to bring this pack on the PCT next year (hopefully one day I’ll be wearing that triple-crown). Thus, fitting a bear can inside is a worthy concern. Otherwise, I would have gone with the Exos 38 version.
Once I send home my bulky winter gear (sleeping thermals, gloves, pants, etc), I do plan on detaching my backpack’s brain to send home too. This will make my pack have a 42-liter capacity instead of the original 48-liter. It will also be 4.5 ounces lighter! For extra protection, I’ll have a rain cover and a pack liner to keep out all the rain and water the trail will so lovingly keep providing.
Tent: Gossamer Gear – The Two
I can’t wait to have a two-person tent all to myself. Truly luxury living in the woods! And this is after me downsizing from my normal three-person size. Every ounce counts for this trip.
On my first thru hike, I was in a one-person tent. I did not like the itty bitty size one bit. This time around, I want to adore my gear. In a two-person tent, I’ll have more room for activities, gear, and fewer issues with condensation – since I hopefully just won’t be touching the inside of the tent unintentionally due to restricted space. I’m excited this tent will be my home for the next 5-6 months! I’ll also be carrying Gossamer Gear’s polycryo ground sheet for protecting the bottom of the tent.
There are a couple of teeny tiny potential downsides to this tent. It could be colder in the spring, due to there being more open-air space to heat in a two-person tent than a one-person. A two-person tent will also take up slightly more room in my backpack. On the other hand, it’s a hiking pole tent, thus eliminating the need for bulky tent poles. Lastly, it is still a single-wall tent, making me somewhat worried about the condensation building up on the rainy east coast.
My bed: The Sierra Designs 20
My heavenly sleeping bag. Yes, I’m a girl who uses a boy’s sleeping bag. Women’s bags tend to be a tad bit short for me, as I am 5′8″ tall. And with this bag, I can stick my feet out of the foot box whenever I want, and the top zips down on BOTH sides to give a blanket/quilt-like feel. These features make it an exceptional sleeping bag for converting to summer temps, even with it being rated for a toasty 20 degrees. And it’s synthetic, thus will keep me warm even if it happens to get wet.
To slip inside my sleeping bag, is a sleeping bag liner. I feel these are essential for keeping clean on a thru hike. Getting into my sleeping bag every night all grimy from a day of hiking, I’m only really touching my sleeping bag liner! I can then wash the liner every time I do laundry in town. My “pillow” for the hike, will be a fleece buff that I can wrap on the outside of my sleeping bag stuff sack. I’ll stuff any extra clothes inside the sack to fluff it up at night.
To sleep on top of, I have a closed-cell foam sleeping pad. It only has an R-value of 2, which truly isn’t as high as I’d prefer as a cold sleeper on a three-season thru hike. But foam pads don’t come much more insulated than that, and I personally just can’t stand blow-up pads. I know I’m not the norm here whatsoever!
First aid/repair, hygiene/toiletries – 1.65 lbs:
A girly first aid kit: a woman’s gear list should include a solid first aid kit. I’ll have the typical bandaids, triple antibiotic cream, and Advil of course. I’m also taking a couple of oral yeast infection pills and a few BV suppositories. Friends of mine also consider bringing UTI medication if that’s a common occurrence for them. And I’ll be bringing birth control to use continuously. I’ve been doing this for years, so I won’t be getting a period at all on the trail. Aunt Flo is not invited to join my tramily this year.
Face towel. I’ll have the Packtowl in the small size. It’s the perfect size for just washing my face every day and dries fast. I do wash my face with Dr. Bronner’s baby soap, which is what I carry not only as my facewash, but to wash clothes in the backcountry (like undies and socks) and as hand soap. I’m also toting a facial moisturizer and eye cream to apply after washing each day.
Hairbrush. I was so happy to find this lil thing! This compact, dual brush and mirror weighs under 40 grams. It stands up to my camping snarls and folds to keep the mirror from getting scratched.
Nail file and hair elastics. I’ll have 2 different types of elastics, the traditional kind for my regular high ponytails and the small “barely there” kind for braids. I’ll also have a nail file and clippers to keep my nails short but not too choppy.
Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss
Blister chafe balm
Safety pins (2)
Bug spray (summer)
3.5 lbs packed in winter and 1.5 lbs worn. 2.65 lbs packed in summer and 12.5oz worn.
My dresses. I’ll be starting in the spring with a fleece dress. Then switch to a lightweight synthetic dress in the summer. Every woman’s gear list could use some cute clothing pieces and I much prefer hiking in dresses for so many reasons – take a peak over here to learn why.
Socks: Darn Tough CoolMax (2)
These are the only socks I’ll ever hike in anymore. I use the mid-weight cushion and they never get holes or wear out. They keep my feet cooler on hot days, dry fast, and aren’t made of wool or other animal products.
Long sleeve shirt
Undies – bra (1) and thongs (4)
Buff and headband
Town clothes (summer)
Heavyweight base layer top (spring)
Heavyweight base layer bottoms (spring)
Fleece pants (spring)
Sleeping socks (spring)
Light leggings (summer)
Cotton t-shirt (summer)
Footies and poles:
Boots: Xero Xcursion Fusion
I’ve been falling in love with these boots over the past few months. They are made to feel more like barefoot shoes, being zero-drop. Other boots I’ve had in the past have made my plantar fasciitis unbearable (not to name names but… The North Face). Coming in at a weight of 10 ounces each, these Xero boots are also some of the lightest full-ankle boots on the market. I’ll admit it, I’m clumsy. While I wish I could wear trail runners for the weight savings, I’d roll my ankles all the damn time. Definitely size up when buying these. I’m normally a size 9, but ended up going up a size for these.
Plantar fasciitis brace
Electronics – 1.5 lbs:
Vibe. Yes, I’ll be bringing her along for the ride. Weighing in at under 3.5 ounces, this stress reliever is waterproof, quiet, and compact.
Kitchen – 1.9lbs
Nalgene. This is only a part of my winter gear! For the cold spring nights, I’ll be heating up water to fill a small Nalgene. That way I can slip it into my sleeping bag and have extra warmth all night long. I remember on my last attempt being so cold some nights in the Smokies that I barely slept, and a hot water bottle has been a game-changer ever since.
Toaks cook pot – 750ml
Pocket rocket 2 stove
Sawyer water filter
Water bag – 900ml
Food bag – 20L
Fuel and canister
Interested in seeing what my entire woman’s gear list looks like? Click here for my complete girly gear list with prices and links.
As always, if you have any questions about my gear or want to hear more, let me know in the comments! For more raw photos, trail highlights and to see my gear in action along the way, follow me on Insta @nala_terra
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