Creedence and Clearwater’s Before & After Gear
As aspiring thru hikers, it can be daunting, even intimidating, to think about the gear needed to walk 2,190 miles. We are here to say, stop stressing because you can laugh at our pain and make fun of our mistakes before you make them yourself! In our field of work, our chefs always tell us that mistakes are a good thing; just don’t make the same one twice. You can now venture out on the trails making your own mistakes after reading about the numerous mistakes we made.
To be fair to us, and the seven people that read our blog posts, we openly admit that we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. This idea was something so drastic and different than anything we had ever experienced in our entire life; but that’s what was so intriguing about it – the challenge.
We fully admit that we were newbies at this whole hiking thing. We had never backpacked before, had not camped in years, and no real knowledge on the Appalachian Trail. At the time, to our knowledge, REI was the only store in the entire universe that sold hiking gear. As you can see by the above picture, we made it a goal to spend as much free time at REI learning about hiking gear. Seriously, the employees at our local store were probably sick of seeing our faces every day. We took advantage of almost every class that REI offered pertaining to hiking in general. That is a seriously embarrassing picture of what I used to look like and am regretting tagging that picture with every letter I type.
Pro Tip: Go to these classes!
We had a lot of fun going to these classes and going on “mini adventures” in preparation for the “big adventure”. They are a huge help and taught by thru hikers, use this as a resource! If we could make any generalized recommendation to future thru hikers it would be get as much “small gear” at REI (stuff sacks, clothes, maps, books, shoes, poles, sleeping pad, etc) and leave the “big gear” (tents and packs) to the small companies who focus custom gear for thru hiking. ULA, Hyperlite, and Zpacks are a few good places to start.
Alex and Amanda’s Gear, Approach Trail, February 20
Base Weight: 22 lbs – Alex, 24 lbs – Amanda
Fully Packed Weight: 38 lbs – Alex, 40 lbs – Amanda
Pack: Zpacks Arc Haul Zip & Osprey Aura AG 65
Sleeping Bag: Enlightened Equipment down quilt, 20 degrees & 10 degrees
Pillow: Therm-a-rest Compressable
Water Filtration: Katadyn Gravity Filter
Water Reservoir: CamelBak Crux, 3 Liter
Additional gear we carried:
Alex and Amanda’s Gear, Mt. Katahdin, October 7
Base Weight: 16 lbs – Alex, 15 lbs – Amanda
Fully Packed Weight: 30 lbs – Alex, 28 lbs – Amanda
*Pro Tip: Save yourself a lot of weight by not carrying 3L of water at a time. There’s usually enough water on the trail to drink enough and take enough to be covered until the next source. Remember the mantra, kill one, fill one!
Tent: No Change
Pack: ULA Circuit
*Almost every single person that we met that started with a Zpacks pack switched to ULA. These packs were all over the place on the AT for a reason!
Sleeping Bag: No Change
Pillow: No Change
Sleeping Pad: No Change
Water Filtration: Sawyer Squeeze
*We each carried a Sawyer. With us both filtering water at the same time, it was about 384 times faster than the gravity filter.
Water Reservoir – Smart Water Bottles, I personally loved the large bottles only found at Walmart! I could carry 2 liters if I needed to or I could only fill it halfway and be good to go.
Hiking Poles: No Change
Additional gear we carried:
Gear that did not make it to Katahdin:
*We didn’t include Amanda’s clothes because we made virtually the same decision when it came to what clothes we kept/sent home. For those curious you can find another post on the gear we finished with here. Our official gear list that can be found on this site also has more detailed information! Shorts, t-shirts, and socks were all a priority so we made sure we carried enough to cover two outfits. Boxers and underwear became less important as chafing became less of an issue. We were still sweating a lot, but our legs had slimmed down thus reducing friction and it wasn’t as hot as it was down south when we literally had to air out and stop hiking because we were so soaked. I lost one of my camp shoes and decided not to get another pair. It was a tough adjustment for the first few days, but worth it once I got used to just loosening the laces in my trail runners.
If anyone has any questions regarding gear, please ask us! Use us as a tool to guide your own trip. There is a ton of information out there but we hope that this post can focus some questions or worries you may have regarding what to carry on your back for six months! Stay true to yourself and the reasons you are in the woods in the first place and you will make it! Happy Trails!
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