Appalachian Trail Gear Shakedown for 2021 Thru-hike

Appalachian Trail - Delaware Water GapI am counting the days to my departure date, which is now March 26. Therefore, I did a final gear shakedown for my 2021 Appalachian Trail thru-hike. I have all the gear I need and then some, so I am lightening the pack load before my 2021 thru-hike.
After the shakedown hike today, I came home and pulled everything out of my bag (again). One pillow, extra OpSak bags, some soap, a hand sanitizer, a pair of underwear, a journal, and two pounds of food, are now in the ‘not going’ box. That takes me down to five pounds of food.

I was comfortable on my shakedown hike today, but I also only went about five miles. It is my first day back on the trail since the beginning of February.

Method to My Shakedown Madness

What I am really trying to do with the Appalachian Trail gear shakedown is unpack and repack my pack several times to get a feel of where the best place for all my gear is. I am keeping my sleeping bag on the bottom. I put the clothes bag in and then my food. Toiletries, lavatory sack, chargers, and first aid pack are all in the outer pockets of my pack. After getting rid of unnecessary items, my pack doesn’t feel much lighter, but it feels more organized for sure.

Today was a beautiful day for a hike. The sun was shining, and the temperature was somewhere in the high 50s to the low 60s. The snow was melting everywhere, making way for increased waterfall activity and heavier mud. I could scoot around some thick, muddy parts, but for the most part, the trail was friendly today.Snowy Trail

I posted about an Appalachian Trail Gear Review in a previous post. But, this was my first real deal, no holds barred out in the elements solo gear shakedown. Usually, my husband comes with me, but this time I went by myself. I have got to get used to hiking alone. I passed many people for a Thursday afternoon, but I guess they figured it was a great day for a hike, too. Most of them were friendly, but there was one guy by himself that kind of wigged me out.

Last-Minute Gear Things

I practiced with my tent in the living room and then in the woods, so I am good at setting it up. I practiced packing and unpacking my pack – still a bit of a struggle. The last thing on my list is my stove. I bought a can of fuel to practice with my stove outside. I figured I might cook a meal or two for myself and get the vibe of the whole thing. Using a camp stove is something I have never done. It doesn’t seem too complicated, I just have to remember to turn the stove off after the water boils so I don’t waste all my fuel. That’s how I boil eggs, so I don’t think it will be too hard to remember.

I also decided after watching a couple of YouTubers, that there was no need for me to pack certain foods as I find them nauseating and I would never eat them – probably not even if I was starving. So, I pulled those foods out and put them back in the pantry (hubs eats them). I have lots of tuna creations, Knorr sides, oatmeal, carnation instant breakfasts, peanut butter packs, and then some snacks. My snacks are Rice Krispies Treats, some granola bars, M&Ms, and some beef jerky!

14 days to go! 

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Comments 5

  • Tricia : Mar 12th

    That’s great, the hikes and practice sounds like such a good idea. I keep repacking my stuff and still haven’t figured it out. Having my last cup of coffee in the warmth of a home. Heading out today, Good luck!

    • Darlene M : Mar 12th

      Wahoo! Good luck! <3

  • Howard Moss (Tortoise) : Mar 12th

    Sounds like good paring down. A camp pillow is one thing I still struggle with after sectioning over 35% of the AT since 2014. I started with a small Alps Mountaineering filled pillow and then after buying in to the ounce-trimming movement I’ve tried a few different inflatable pillows without finding one I am comfortable with. I’ve tried using my jacket or clothes sack. The jury is still out, but one thing I know is getting a good night sleep is worth a few ounces. As far as food, your list sounds very similar to mine. You just need some tortillas or something to spread the peanut butter on – unless you are planning one just eating it straight from the pack. Also I like dried cherries and dried mango as snacks. (I find them for good price at Aldi’s.)

    • Darlene M : Mar 14th

      Hey Howard,

      Thank you so much for the feedback. I tested my pillows before I decided on one to take with me. And thanks for the reminder about the tortillas. I always seem to forget those.

  • Shannon : Mar 31st

    Good luck Darlene! It sounds like you’ve got a solid system in place, I look forward to following your journey. Enjoy the journey! 🙂


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