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)
WEIGHT SAVINGS: 1.45oz
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
WEIGHT SAVINGS: 3.2oz
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!
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.
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.
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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