Efficient and Capable: My Gear List

My backpacking gear list for this hike was all about efficient upgrades and ditching worthless weight.

If you’ve been scouting the internet for gear advice, then you already know that I won’t be giving you THE definitive list as much as sharing what I’ve found to be the best system for me and informing your future gear choices.

Two years in the making
I’ve been honing my gear list for roughly 2 years now looking for budget gear deals and braving Craigslist and/or online forums. Not surprisingly, I’m on a budget and had to slowly build my system up to the point where I was confident tackling an A.T. hike. Despite budget restraints, I’m working towards ultralight weight as best I can. My gear list has a hodge-podge of things currently available in retail stores as well as some things are not currently manufactured, such as my Sprite 1 tent from Mountain Hardware.

I’ve broken down my A.T. gear updates into two categories below, so take a look and see if something interesting stands out!

Category One: Weight

I have a full gear list below, but let’s take a look at a few upgrades I made for the sake of weight before my A.T. trip:

Sleeping Pad: My “Big three” was a little heavy and the most economical way for me to shave weight was to upgrade my pad. My current pad was an Alps Mountaineering lightweight pad that weighed in at 47oz. – Since I have also do some hammock camping and haven’t bought an under-quilt yet, I needed a lighter pad that would still have a good R-value so that i could use it in the hammock system if needed. Enter the Klymit Insulated Static V Lite, boasting an R-value of 4.4, just under the Alps Mountaineering pad R-value of 5.
OLD: Alps Mountaineering lightweight air pad (Short MC) (47oz)
NEW: Klymit Insulated Static V Lite (19.6oz)
WEIGHT SAVINGS: 27.4oz or 1.7LBS!!!

Tent Stakes: It might seem trivial, but this was partially a necessity. I bent a stake or two on my last outing and had some thicker aluminum stakes that needed replacing.
OLD: Generic Aluminum stakes (3.25oz)
NEW: Vargo Titanium Stakes (1.8oz)

Upgraded Titanium Tent Stakes

Bug repellent: I’ve been taking the easy route here and grabbing what’s on hand or grabbing a small can of OFF “Explore”. The small can of OFF is “ok”, but it doesn’t’ last long and I still wanted bug repellent for my summer A.T. NOBO start. I opted for Ben’s 100 deet 1.25oz bottle. At this point I know some of you are cringing at my choice of deet and double cringing at 100deet… personal choice; I hope to use it sparingly as a trade-off for carrying 100 deet. That being said, feel free to comment your favorite lightweight bug repellent below!
OLD: OFF Explore 3oz can (over 100grams)
NEW: Ben’s 100deet (52.45grams or 1.85oz)
WEIGHT SAVINGS: At least 48grams or 1.7oz

Bathroom/Cat-hole Trowel: For sake of budget, I’ve been carrying a generic garden spade as a bathroom trowel for any forest bathroom trips. This thing was heavy. I know it’s over 100g and honestly it’s probably more like 1/2 a pound (8oz). I was ready to leave it at home. After much consideration, I felt like I really wanted something to serve this purpose and ended up with the Tent Lab Deuce of Spades. It weighs .6 ounces!
OLD: Generic garden spade (over 100grams)
NEW: Tent Lab Deuce of Spades .6oz
WEIGHT SAVINGS: At least 3.5oz (probably more like 7.4oz)

Cordage: This one’s straightforward. Swapped out my bear bag cordage from 550 Paracord to a reflective 1.8mm cord.
OLD: 50ft Paracord 3.5oz
NEW: 60ft Reflective 1.8mm cord .3oz

Again, these were the things in my system that needed adjusting for the sake of weight. With the upgrades above and a few small gear tweaks (like taking my ear plugs out of their case), I was able to save over 2lbs of weight.


Category Two: Capability Upgrades

As much as I want to cut pack weight, there are a few things I wanted to add to my loadout and lend myself a helping hand while I’m on the trail.

SPOT Messenger: I usually hike with a buddy, so i picked up this GPS device to give me an emergency option as well as give peace of mind to the wife and family.

REI Silk One Liner socks: I did two 3-day, 2-night backpacking trips as preparation trips for my A.T. hike. One was in Florida and the other was in Alabama where i would get some elevation change (only about 200-300ft). The difference on my feet was quite noticeable. No hot spots on the Florida trip; hot spots on day one of the Alabama trip. I managed these with Body Glide and was able to avoid blisters, but I picked up the Silk One Liner socks to delay the hot spot formation. We’ll see how this goes.

Camp Shoes: After the two trips mentioned above, I also decided my feet needed more time out of my boots to air out. Enter my purchase of some DIY Huarache (running) Sandals. Apparently some people actually practice outdoor running with these, but for my purposes, I now have a pair of 4.6oz sandals that can fold or roll up and utilize a small amount of paracord for the straps. Can’t wait to try these on the trail!

Huaraches Running Sandals

Medical kit: I had a small medical kit that was the sort to be thrown into a glove box. I had added a few things and made some modifications to the contents, but wanted to upgrade a little in this area since my hiking duration would be longer. I purchased the Adventure Medical kit .5 and feel like it’s a good balance of weight and capabilities.

Folts Minimalist on the scale

Knife: I’m a total knife nerd. That’s an advance apology for amount of detail below about my knife selection. I may do a separate knife post soon.

Here’s the summary: I was carrying a CRKT Minimalist (Bowie) which weighs in at 1.6oz – a great backpacking knife. Why did I change? CRKT licensed this design from knife maker Alan Folts. Since I have a custom Minimalist with a drop point blade in CPM154 blade steel with Kirinite scales, it’s an even better backpacking knife! The steel is better than the CRKT manufactured version and you can’t beat the reliability of a hand-crafted blade on the trail. Plus, the knife weights less at 1.35oz. If you don’t like the look of this knife, hold one; you will change your mind. Plus, at roughly $20, the CRKT version is worth trying.

Folts custom minimalist

Here’s hoping these gear adjustments make me ready as possible for the wiles of the Georgia Appalachian Trail!

You can take a look at my entire Appalachian Trail gear list here: https://lighterpack.com/r/7re9en



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Comments 8

  • Ian Hartman : May 26th

    I’m sorry but if this was about saving weight you listed a bunch of unnecessary stuff. I’ve been on the trail now for almost two months so take it from me. Leave the spot at home, unnecessary, trowel just use your heel and your trecking pole. Don’t bring camp shoes just get good shoes and loosen them in camp get some hoka one one or altras. Camp shoes seem like a good idea till you kick a rock in the dark or fall trying to get water. Dont bring a knife, I carry a razor blade in the cardboard sleeve with some electrical tape, it is more than enough. Leave the extra stuff at home your knees will thank you. Your base weight should be close to 10 lbs this is not camping.

    • Joshua Johnson : May 27th

      Thanks for the feedback! The camp shoes are definitely a test item. As far as leaving the knife at home, I just can’t bring myself to do it. Besides, the next iteration of that knife will probably be about .4 to .6 ounces. Consider it a luxury if you want

    • Bullshit : Oct 16th

      A razor blade can’t do what a 3 inch fix blade can, and I use my fixed blade (ranier knives fastpak) every trip. Camp shoes are a blessing and worth the weight if under 6 oz. . . Spot isn’t necessary on well trodden trails like the AT but well worth it on less traveled trails or areas and situations where you *could* get lost.

      Lighter isn’t always smarter.

  • Byron White : May 27th

    Awesomely done Sir.

    • Joshua Johnson : Jun 2nd


  • http://tumblr.com : May 28th

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    when Ⲏe was six. Larrу puzzled, ?I bet hе favgored the same sort of toүs
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  • Monk : Jun 1st

    Agree with a prior commenter, SPOT is completely unnecessary. Camp shoes a MUST though. However, you’re aware your 100deet bug repellent will melt every single nylon item in your pack, right? Much safer to go with a DEET-free alternative. I used a mix of cintronella, cedar, mint and corn oils on my AT hike and never got bitten. Good luck

    • Joshua Johnson : Jun 2nd

      I hear you guys about the Spot. It’s a family thing. And I appreciate the warning about the deet. I am being super conservative with it and may switch it out later. Just need to find a good lightweight alternative.


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