Can’t You See? It’s My Gear for the AT!
Carry on Wayward Son
After years of preparation, here is the gear I’ve decided to carry with me along the Appalachian Trail. My approach to gear is simplicity, which often means that my gear is lightweight as well. If you want specifics, check out my Lighterpack, comment below, or DM me on Instagram. As far as the Lighterpack listing goes, I’m not a detail-oriented person and I’ve had enough obsessing over my gear, so there may be some slight errors!
The shelter I settled on is a ZPacks Plexamid trekking pole tent. I used a Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo for years, but after our trip to humid Florida, I was worried about how much moisture the tent held onto. The Plexamid runs about 10 oz less than my Lunar Solo and I got one used, which saved me some money. It does take up a lot more space in my pack, so I need to be more careful about packing, but the bulky DCF material will be easier to dry out than my previous tent’s silnylon.
For sleep, I have two setups: one for cold and another for warm weather. I’ll start with an Enlightened Equipment 10-degree quilt with a women’s NeoAir X-lite inflatable pad and Trekology pillow. As the summer temperatures creep in, I’ll swap to a 40-degree quilt with a possible swap to a Z-lite and Thinlite pad combination instead of the inflatable.
For water purification, I’m going with the Katadyn BeFree with a 2L CNOC bladder, 1L Smartwater bottle, and a .75L Smartwater bottle. I don’t love having to carry the bladder (compatible with the BeFree), but the flow is so much faster than the Sawyer Squeeze filter and I prefer to drink out of the bottle without the Sawyer attached.
I will be going stoveless and not cooking on trail, so I just have a food bag, hang kit, and a long spoon.
For going #1 and #2 in the woods, I have a Kula Cloth (highly recommend!), CuloClean bidet, and the Deuce of Spades trowel. I have the basic hygiene items most others have, such as nail clippers, toothbrush & toothpaste, a small first aid kit with various medication and bandaids, leukotape, tweezers, etc. Some extras I have to carry are contacts (dailies) and a prescription.
Long May You Run
Now what to wear on this long hike (run)? This has been the most difficult area for me to make decisions on. Women’s hiking clothes are poorly sized and most athletic clothes are made for fashion rather than function. I’ve tried more than 20 sports bras for my hike and have come to the conclusion that they’re all horrible. In truth, I haven’t decided which one I’ll be wearing when I start, as they all have their pros and cons. I’ll probably try a few different ones and make updated recommendations for my fellow large-chested/small-frame friends. For now, I rotate between a New Balance bra from TJ Maxx, a generic Target bra, and a Girlfriend Collective bra. I’ve tried Athleta and GymShark as well, which are my favorites for workouts, but they do not dry quickly. Any of the wool or synthetic bras made specifically for hiking/backpacking just don’t fit me.
For daily wear, I’ll be wearing leggings (Uniqlo) or shorts (depending on the forecast), a Patagonia cool daily t-shirt, Senchi fleece, Injinji or Darn Tough socks, and men’s Altra Lone Peak 4.5s. For packed clothes, I have Uniqlo heattech sleep leggings and long sleeve, 2 extra pairs of socks, 2 extra pairs of underwear, a Montbell UL Thermawrap synthetic jacket, gloves, Frogg Toggs rain jacket, and REI rain pants. I do not have wool baselayers because they make my skin feel like it’s on fire, so I went with all synthetic. The Uniqlo heattech line has worked well for me and I wear both the tops and bottoms during my daily life as well. The Senchi fleece is my newest add, and I’m shocked how warm it is for how light it is; it definitely beats my Patagonia R1 in both categories. My Thermawrap jacket is over 5 years old and I’m sure there’s a better jacket out there, but this one is lightweight and keeps me warm, so I don’t feel it’s justified to upgrade. For summer, I’ll send home the fleece, gloves, and rain pants, and I’ll swap the sleep clothes for a lighter weight. I’ll likely add a buff and baseball hat for hot weather as well.
Now for the electronics and everything else. I’ll be bringing my iPhone XR (until it likely dies on trail), a Garmin inReach Mini, wired headphones, headlamp, Nitecore portable charger, and all of the cords/chargers that come with those. I recently swapped my old Anker battery for a Nitecore and I was surprised how lightweight and slim it was for the same 10,000 mAh charging capability.
I also have a trekking pole, knife, cork massage ball, a small wallet, and the most versatile piece of gear – bread bags. They are my camp shoes, rain mitts, stuff sack, and more. They also come with free bread!
I Get By with a Little Help from My… Pack
They say to buy your pack last, so I’ll write about my pack last instead. I’ve been through a lot of packs the past few years, and have grown to love frameless packs… I just haven’t used them for any long-distance trips yet. The first pack I bought was a Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider, which has been my go-to for past overnights and trips, and features removable frame stays.
I also own a KS Ultralight KS40 which is the only pack that I really love, but my setup is just not light enough to use it for a thru-hike. It’s great as a daypack and for short trips, but with basically no features, I need a pack with a happy medium.
It took me a while to try out a pack with vest straps because I had never seen the actual fit on a woman with similar proportions to mine, but I took a chance and bought a used Nashville Cutaway. I like the Cutaway because it is super comfortable, especially with weight on the vest straps. Whereas the HMG pack makes it feel like I have weight on my shoulders, it feels more like I’m wearing a weighted vest with the Cutaway. The one issue I have is the dimensions, which I feel should fit my gear and food comfortably, but I am a horrendous packer and have struggled with fitting everything.
Famous Last Words
Anyways, this is just my approach to gear for the Appalachian Trail. I’ve enjoyed trying out new things and I look forward to seeing everyone else’s backpacking style on trail. I think what I have is just right for me, not too little, not too much, and I know that if I want to make changes, they’re just a post office or an outfitter away. Can’t wait to carry my life on my back in just a few days!
p.s. A Whole Lotta Love to those who made it through this long post, hope the song titles made it a little more bearable.
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