Appalachian Trail Gear Review for 2021 Thru-hike

2021 Gear

Most of my gear to be consolidated into the red pack.

Gear Review for 2021

With all the gear I have accumulated over the last nine months, it made sense to me to do an Appalachian Trail gear review for my 2021 thru-hike. I’m about to embark on my first ever thru-hike on March 13, 2021. It’s as exciting as it is terrifying. I’m sure I have way too much gear. It currently resides on the stairs in my house. Slowly, it is being organized. I made a post of my top ten gear items in this spot. Here is my Appalachain Trail gear review for my 2021 thru-hike.

My Big Three Appalachian Trail Gear Review for 2021

I have gotten most of my gear from REI, Amazon, and Cabela’s. I have a Lighter Pack link you can check out. Of course, I have added more since I made that list. Is gear addiction a thing? Because I feel like I have it. I have a lot of stuff I probably won’t be bringing on my thru-hike, but I will probably use it on a weekend or overnight hike. I am itching to have a nice little campfire going. From what I have read, that doesn’t happen much on a thru-hike – kind of a bummer. But I will have a good four to six months on the trail. I am sure I can squeeze one or two campfires in there.


I went with the REI Co-op Quarter Dome SL 1 Tent which is no longer available, so I feel like I lucked out. It was about $300 and it is easy to set up. There is a lot of room in it for me and my gear. I had some anxiety about where to put my gear when I am sleeping in my tent, but there is a decent size vestibule, and if I am not comfortable with that, plenty of room at the base of my feet inside the tent.


I chose the Osprey Aura AG 65 Pack – Women’s also from REI. I like REI because they have a no-hassle return policy and I love their garage sale. The salesperson helped me get fitted for my pack which I recommend. They weighted the bag down for me and I walked around the store for a while. My pack has great back support and enough room/pockets/slots for all my basics and extras. There are straps on the bottom of the pack for my tent. A lot of people strap their sleeping pad there, but my pad is inflatable. I am trying to utilize the pack space I have, as well as the pockets. Note: the hip pockets are not in a practical location for easy access. That is the one thing about this pack that is disappointing. I wanted to have a spot to hold my lip balm, my phone, and maybe a couple of snacks.

Sleeping Bag

There are two sleeping bags in my house, and they were both purchased with me in mind. However, the one coming with me is the Kelty Cosmic 40 DriDown Sleeping Bag. The other bag was a lot cheaper, but also a lot heavier. I tested it in the house, not yet outside. The Kelty is warm, long enough for me (I am 5’10”), and has a nifty little pocket for my phone.


My extras include but aren’t limited to: a cooking pot, Sawyer Squeeze, journal, water sanitizing pen, GoPro or Camera (haven’t decided yet – I recently purchased an iPhone. I am told that’s all I need), five pair of underwear (they weigh an ounce each, super light), Kulu cloth, thick fuzzy sleep socks). I also purchased a CotoPaxi fanny pack which solved my hip pockets dilemma. They are all one of a kind – check them out. Lots of storage and small inner pockets for optimal use. It holds all the extras that my hip pockets cannot.

We joked about me sleeping on the back deck in my tent and bag. It is still a possibility. As far as my gear, I have packed and unpacked my bag numerous times. Once I get it the way I want it for optimized hiking, I need to write it down (that’s a whole other post – short term memory loss). I am sure there are items I will put in some hiker boxes along the way!

By the way, don’t forget to follow my adventure on my YouTube Channel as well: Sober in Nature.


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Comments 15

  • JhonYermo : Jan 24th

    Enjoyed your article, so well put together and written. And your bio. Saw this and had to subscribe. A few of my favorite things: ” I love ruins, coffee, and will risk my life rescuing turtles from the road. Sober since May 2006.”

    • Darlene M : Jan 24th

      Thank you so much! Grateful for the support. 🙂

  • Pete Buak : Jan 25th

    With a mid March start, a 40 degree bag will most likely lead to many cold nights. At least get a good bag liner to go with it. Temperatures in the 30’s and 20’s are very likely.

    • Heather : May 28th

      Was gonna say the same thing. I’m guessing she’s already learned this as she’d be more than 2 months in now if she started on time.

      Also, the REI quarter dome is more like $200 (I got mine on sale for $150ish).

  • Jim Waller : Jan 25th

    I agree that a 40 degree bag won’t be warm enough for your start date. You will see overnight lows in the 30s a great deal and several lows in the 20s. I don’t agree that a liner with your bag will be warm enough. Liners usually only add 5 degrees or 10 at the most and they are heavy. If you are on a budget, The REI Magma 15 is a pretty warm bag. Save your 40 degree bag for the summer months. Adventure Alan has a nice sleeping bag comparison with modeled comfort ratings. Noting that most bag ratings are survival rating not comfort. Hope this helps you.

  • Sir Renity GA-ME 95 : Jan 27th

    Having started on March 15th for my 1995 thru hike I can confirm the comments above. A 40 degree bag is going to give you many a cold sleep. I hiked with a 20 and still had some sketchy nights where I put on everything I owned and slipped my pack over my lower body to get every degree I could get. I did drop to a forty after Roan Mt. but either way I wish you Happy trails my friend and good luck!

    Sir Renity Ga-Me 95, Lt 95 & 2017

  • Richard Saloom : Jan 29th

    I agree with all the above regarding a 40 degree bag. I have been there and done that–it is miserable. I would go with a warmer bag.

  • Howard Moss : Feb 1st


    One more vote for getting a cold-weather sleeping bag (somewhere in the 0-20 degree rating) for roughly your first 60-75 days on the trail. Remember that bag temperature ratings are ‘can survive at’ not ‘comfortable at’ temps. And as one other commenter noted, a bag liner won’t add more than 10 degrees to your warmth. One advantage of the bag liner, beyond the few degrees additional warmth, is that it will keep your sleeping bag cleaner and you can easily wash the liner when you do your laundry.

    Happy trails,


  • Rm : Feb 6th

    As much as I respect the prep you’ve done, I hope you’ll reconsider doing a thru hike in 2021. The Appalachian trail Conservancy is not recognizing thru hikes this year, and rightfully so. We are still in the middle of a pandemic, and attempting a thru hike puts you, anyone else on the trail, and anyone who lives in a trailside town in danger.

    • yogidozer : Apr 13th

      so, don’t go to the store, gas station, work, or anyplace else?
      Or keep distances, wear a mask around others, and continue living.

  • WAS : Mar 3rd

    Good for you and best wishes on your inaugural AT trek !

    One possible concern is your sleeping bag choice. Kelty Cosmic 40. Not sure of the significance of 40 in their branding, but not likely to be 40 oz. of down fill. If 40 is for nominal 40 def F rating, be careful. I bailed on the AT near Newfound Gap with consecutive nights at < 20 F in my REI 30 F rated bag. High winds and low temps were physically very draining. AT shelter wind breaks (tarps) are now being removed due to COVID concerns. A fellow treker at our shelter is thru-hiking with a 0 deg F down bag (that works well but is bulky). Double-check your sleeping bags temp. capability at a reliable outfitter.

    Hopefully by your start in a couple of weeks will provide 10-20 F warmer nights. Also get excellent rain gear as March – April are some of the rainiest months in Tenn./ N.C. / Maine trail sections. Still lots of ice at higher elevations. Good trekking piles are a must.

    Best wishes again !

  • Heather : May 28th

    You’ve probably figured this out already, but you don’t need both a Sawyer Squeeze and a ‘sterilization pen’ (I guess you mean a Steripen?).

  • d20 : Jun 26th

    I was surprised that The Trek had this as featured today.

    It was interesting but is from January and it is the end of June.


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