CYTC Gear Requirements

Every hiker seems to love a good gear list – and I don’t plan on disappointing everyone.  But I did want to preface my gear list with a foundational article on my thoughts on gear and the weather I will face.


Let’s start with weather – because, unlike “normal thru-hikes,” I will be purposefully hiking in frigid weather.  I will start on the AT in mid-February – meaning I will be in GA/NC in February, TN through PA in March, and PA through VT in April.  These are rough guesses, but you get the point – most AT hikers aren’t hanging out in Massachusetts and Vermont in April.  I will then do either the desert of the CDT or PCT – depending on when I ditch the AT because of snow.  My PCT hike will be a ‘normal’-ish thru-hike.  I will start in early May, be in the Sierra in early June, and finish the trail in mid-to-late July.  Then I will jump over the Glacier National Park and do a late-start CDT SOBO – rushing to get through Colorado as soon as possible – which will be late August or September.   Then a late-year finish on the AT.  (All itineraries are subject to change depending on mother nature.)

And let’s focus on that first part – the average LOW along most of the trail during these times is in the mid-20s.  Add in a little elevation, and you can see that I will often see temperatures in the teens and even lower.   These temperatures were determined using multiple weather stations and their monthly climate normal along the trail. So for an overall idea of the weather that the gear needs to survive: cold/wet, then dry/cold, then Sierra, then normalish PCT, then late season CDT, and into potential snow hazards in CO. 

My new pack on its first long shakedown hike!

My Goals on Gear

My goals are normal, but with more redundancy and built-in options:

  1. Stay as light as possible
  2. Stay warm during the cold months (I’m from the South and you pack your fears)
  3. Have sturdy gear to withstand 7,500+ miles
  4. Have back-ups for critical gear
  5. Have a ‘warm weather’ set-up to replace the cold weather set-up
  6. Have the financial flexibility to purchase needed gear on trail  (if necessary)

Changing Gear during the Hike

I would love to be super-ultralight from the get-go.  But my winter hiking experience is lacking.  My high-altitude hiking experience is limited.  There is going to be a lot of learning on the job – which is incredibly exciting but also means I will make some mistakes.  Knowing my limitations, I plan on assessing my gear frequently through the hike.  This will allow me to drop items that aren’t being used and potentially add items.   I also plan to change my gear set-ups as the season changes.  I am not tied to any of my gear and will get my other gear sent to me when needed or purchase new items if necessary.

Changing gear and analyzing my current set-up is probably one of my strengths.  My engineering brain doesn’t like turning off, loves assessing gear, and I will have plenty of time to think while I’m walking.

My first backpacking pack! This is my first overnight hike – back in 2017 in the Whites  

Next Steps 

I will post two articles in the next twenty-four hours.  The first will discuss my big three – shelter, pack, and sleep system.  The second will discuss all other items in my pack.  Each article will also discuss backup options and plans.  

A Final Note on Weather Research

Are you looking to find temperature and precipitation averages for different locations?  Andrew Skurka has a great video on Youtube titled “Tutorial: Find Temperature & Precipitation Data for Backcountry Areas.”  This video will help you use the link above to find average temperature for whatever month(s) you are interested in.  Just an awesome tool, so use it!

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