The Gang’s All Gear: My Pre-Hike Big Four

Zzzzziiiip. My eyes blink open. I’m snug in my sleeping bag. The smell of corned beef hash cooking on the camp stove hangs in the air. Warm, morning light filters in through the sides of the tent.

Waking up to the sound of the tent zipper is one of my favorite childhood memories. It was such a warm and secure feeling. On top of that, knowing that my obligations for the day were playing in the woods, collecting sticks, and eating way too many burnt marshmallows felt pretty good.

Over the years, the feeling I get when camping hasn’t changed, but the tent I wake up in certainly has. Growing up, I’ve slowly accumulated my own camping gear. Then, as my boyfriend and I transitioned from car camping to backpacking, we swapped our gear to lighter options. Now, as I prepare for my upcoming thru-hike, I’ve changed out even more gear.

Tents throughout history: A pop-up tent borrowed from my parents (2013); a six-pound Target tent lugged into the Zion back country (2016); the REI Passage 2 in the Winds (2018); and my newish Six Moons Design Lunar Solo in the wilds of Milwaukee (2018).

While the process may seem tedious, examining and selecting gear for a thru-hike attempt has been a lot of fun. And I’m really excited to share some of my gear choices with you all. Today I’ll be focusing on the big four. This includes my backpack, shelter, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad. You might notice my list has six items. Don’t fret, I’ve just included some additional, related items.

Goods for the Woods

There it is. Everything I’ll be carrying during my AT adventure.

The backpack: Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60: I saw this pack posted for sale in a Facebook group. I really didn’t plan to buy a new pack anytime in the near future, but it proved too good of a deal for me to resist. The woman selling the pack was happy to see it go to a loving home, and I was happy that it weighed less than two pounds. So far, it’s been a great, comfortable pack.  Plus, it has a long, skinny pocket running down the side perfectly subtitle for carrying baguettes into the woods. What more could a girl ask for?

The waterproofing: trash compactor bag: Strangely enough, most backpacks are not waterproof. To keep my clothes, sleeping bag, and other items dry, I’ve opted to line my pack with a trash compactor bag. It’s a very budget friendly option that, up till this point, has done its job well. I’ve also been using this exact bag for two years, so it’s pretty durable, too.

The sleeping bag: REI Joule sleeping bag In a world where everyone and their mom is swapping sleeping bags for quilts, I’m happy to be an advocate for the mummy bag. I like to feel confined. At home, I roll myself up in blankets like a burrito. It keeps me feeling warm, cozy, and safe. The one con to this sleeping bag is that it is very bulky. Seriously, I could hardly fit it in the picture.

The sleeping pad: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite small: While this sleeping pad sounds like your sleeping on a bag of kettle chips (it’s really loud), it is extremely light and comfortable.

The second (!?!) sleeping pad: Gossamer Gear 1/8 inch foam pad: A second sleeping pad might seem crazy, but this is seriously the most versatile piece of gear. It can go under my sleeping pad for added warmth and protection. It works as a butt pad for lunch breaks. And it’s great for naps. If you know me, you know I love naps. Will I ditch it by day three? Maybe. Will everyone be carrying one on their 2020 thru-hikes? Also a definite possibility.

The tent: SMD Lunar Solo: This is possibly the biggest one-person tent ever. The setup takes a little getting used to (hence the picture of me practicing in a local park), but all it needs is one trekking pole and six stakes.

That’s All for This Haul

Before I sign off, I’d like to welcome and encourage any thoughts, suggestions, or questions on my big six. I’m always interested in hearing others’ thoughts and perspectives. Additionally, if you all are interested (and maybe even if you’re not), I’d be happy to write a post on the rest of my gear. Let me know your thoughts (or don’t).

P.S. My boyfriend, PJ, really wanted this post to be titled, “Shelter? I barley know her!” While I ultimately decided against it, I laughed for a solid five when he suggested it. Therefore, he deserves a little honorable mention. This one’s for you, Peej.

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Comments 6

  • LeoYermo : Mar 4th

    Liked the flow of your writing . Was interesting, So I subscribed!

    • Katy Amphlett : Mar 4th


  • Beverley : Mar 5th

    Where does the water go?

    • Katy Amphlett : Mar 6th

      I’ll do a post on the rest of my gear (water bottles, cook kit…) soon! Thanks for reading!!!

  • Liz in St. Paul : Nov 9th

    Katy- it looks like you finished your 2019 AT trek! Did you end up keeping or discarding your Gossamer Gear 1/8 inch foam pad?? Inquiring minds want to know!

  • Charlie strange : Aug 23rd

    What twaddle.


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