Gear for My Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike

I am a planner. I also love a good spreadsheet. As such, over the past few years, I’ve spent countless hours working on possibly the most elaborate gear spreadsheet ever. Everything is sorted into its own category, with numerous option and details like price, weight, and pros and cons for each item.

After doing far too much research and then some and buying my gear, I’ve managed to use almost all of these items on at least one backpacking trip in the Whites in the past year and am overall really happy with how everything works for me.

PackGossamer Gear Mariposa

I looove this pack. At 60L, it’s big enough to hold all my stuff plus lots of food, but when it’s not full, the straps tighten up nicely to keep everything compact. When talking about my gear to my mom for about the thousandth time a few weeks ago, I described my pack as “a warm hug,” and I have no better explanation for how comfortable it is.

TentBig Agnes Tiger Wall UL2

I decided to go with a semi-freestanding tent, meaning that it is supported by tent poles rather than trekking poles but still needs to be staked out in a few places to be fully functional. This tent is pretty light while still being quite roomy. I also have the associated tent footprint, which makes it possible to set up the rain fly of the tent first, therefore keeping the interior of the tent dry when I am inevitably setting it up in a downpour.

Sleep System

Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20-degree Quilt
I am opting for a quilt over a sleeping bag to save a little weight and because I like to be able to move around easily. This quilt is light but cozy. Plus, I customized it so it’s my favorite colors, which will make crawling into my tent after a long day of hiking that much better.

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad
This is one of my most recent purchases. After doing some cold-weather testing of a few sleeping pads I already had, I decided I needed something that would do a better job of providing insulation between my body and the ground.

Feathered Friends Down Booties
My feet tend to get super cold when I hike, and if my feet are cold, I can’t sleep. These booties will keep my feet extra warm when I’m in my tent. They come with an outer shell and inner down portion, but I’ll only be taking the inner part.

Rain Gear

REI Rainier Rain Jacket
Not the lightest on the market, but I know that this jacket is durable and also heavy enough to provide some additional warmth for before spring has fully sprung in the mountains. Also, it has pit zips and folds into its own pocket to be nice and compact.

REI Rainier Full Zip Rain Pants
I love these rain pants. While the full-length zippers add some weight, they also allow for ventilation. I will also be able to use these pants as extra hiking pants if needed.

Gossamer Gear Lite Trek Chrome Hiking Umbrella
I hiked with an umbrella for the first time this past July since the forecast called for a lot of rain. Even though the umbrella I had at the time was a heavy regular umbrella that was sort of broken and kept collapsing on my head, I was immediately sold on hiking with an umbrella. I get super hot when I hike, even if it’s well below freezing outside, so having an umbrella will allow me to stay mostly dry while also not getting hopelessly overheated in my rain jacket.

Clothing

Burgeon T-Shirt, Nike Running Shorts, Smartwool Merino 250 Long Sleeve Shirt, REI Merino 185 Pants

Stormtech Thermal ¼ Zip
I discovered last winter that this is one of the warmest items of clothing I have ever owned. The inside has fleece grid, and it has kept me toasty even on sub-zero winter hikes in the Whites.

Patagonia Nano Puff
This is an unsurprising choice of jacket, as it seems to be super popular among many outdoorsy folks.

Icebreaker Merino Beanie
I originally got this for running and quickly discovered that it is shockingly warm for how thin and light it is. One of my favorite pieces of gear.

Black Diamond Midweight Gloves
Pretty basic touchscreen-compatible gloves so I can take pictures without my fingers falling off when it’s cold.

Buff
Combination headband and pillowcase.

Footwear

Darn Tough Socks
Darn Tough socks have served me well for literally all of my hikes ever. I’ll be bringing two pairs for hiking plus one additional pair for sleeping and to use as an emergency extra pair in case the other two pairs are soaking wet.

Hoka Speedgoat Trail Runners
My road running shoes are also Hokas and have served me well, so it made sense to me to give the Speedgoats a try. So far, they have seemed awesome on the walks I’ve been doing around my neighborhood to break them in. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to do much actually hiking in them since there is snow everywhere and I need to wear my usual hiking boots.

Gaiters
I didn’t really think these were necessary until I realized how many small rocks and pine needles I got in my shoes when I hiked in sneakers rather than boots. My mom picked these out for me, and they even have some hot pink that will match the ATC hangtags (not that things like that actually matter, but it makes me happy).

Crocs
The ultimate camp shoe.

Electronics

iPhone 13 (& cord)
I’ll mainly be using this to take pictures. My phone also important for letting people know that I’m not dead yet. I also have the FarOut (formerly Guthook) app downloaded.

Garmin inReach Mini (& cord)
I got this about a year and a half ago when I started hiking solo a lot more. It has an SOS button that I can use to contact search and rescue if something goes terribly wrong. I can also use it to send text messages even if I don’t have cell service.

Mophie 5,000 mAh Battery Pack (& cord)
This battery pack is on the smaller side (most thru-hikers seem to have at least 10,000 mAh). I don’t plan using that much phone battery (I already always hike with my phone on airplane mode anyway), and I also don’t plan on doing much that will drain the battery of my inReach, so I think I can get away with having less juice in my battery pack. This also means that it’s lighter. If it ends up really not working for me, I can buy a larger one along the trail.

Black Diamond Spot 350 Headlamp
I love this headlamp. It has a bunch of different lighting settings, including a red light mode that I can use at shelters so I don’t blind everyone around me. I can also lock it so that it doesn’t turn on accidentally in my pack. This headlamp survived rain dumping on it for over three hours virtually unscathed.

Earbuds
I don’t listen to anything while I’m actually hiking, but I do sometimes like to listen to music or a podcast while falling asleep. And this way if I decide I want to listen to something while hiking after all, I have that option.

Wall Charger
This has two USB ports so I can charge my phone, inReach, and battery pack at the same time. Yes, I did in fact just list three items for two USB ports. However, I can charge my phone or inReach through the battery pack while also charging the battery pack. The prongs also fold in, so they won’t get broken or smashed in my pack.

Water

Sawyer Squeeze Filter
One of the most popular filters out there right now. I like how I can screw it onto a variety of water bottles and water bladders, so it’s quite versatile.

CNOC Vecto 2L Water Container
The large opening at one end of this water bladder makes it super easy to fill it with water from a stream. The other end has a small threaded opening that connects easily with the Sawyer filter, so I can filter water into my water bottles.

Smart Water Bottles
I’ll be taking two 1L bottles, both of which I’ll use for filtered water. Hydrate or diedrate and all that jazz.

Sawyer Coupling
This little piece of plastic makes it so I can set up a hanging filtration system where water goes from the water bladder, through my filter, through the coupling, and into one of my water bottles. This way, I can filter water while also setting up my tent to save time and energy. This coupling will also enable me to easily backflush my filter with clean water. It’s important to periodically flush out small pieces of “stuff” from the filter so that the flow rate doesn’t become extremely slow. I’ve also figured out a fun party trick using this thing – to be revealed in a few weeks.

Kitchen/Food

MSR PocketRocket Stove
This stove is super compact, light, and easy to use – like, it’s seriously tiny. It doesn’t boil water quite as fast as a JetBoil, but it’s lighter and cheaper.

Fuel Canister
Stove is useless without something to burn, so this is pretty necessary. Since you can’t fly with this, I have ordered one to pick up at REI once I get to Georgia.

Toaks 750mL pot
The best part about this pot is that it fits a whole box of Annie’s mac and cheese.

Sea to Summit Alpha Light Spork
Think middle school cafeteria spork, only longer, made of metal, and more expensive.

Reflectix Cozies
I made these out of Reflectix insulation (basically shiny bubble wrap) that my friend gave me to keep the food in my pot or whatever freeze-dried backpacking meal I may be eating hot.

Sea to Summit 13L Dry Bag
I will use this to store 3-5 days of food to get me from one town to the next.

Lawson Equipment Ultraglide Bear Line
Basically glorified rope, but it’s light and will hopefully be strong and work well for hanging my food bag from branches out of reach of bears.

Cloud Gear Rock Sack
I will fill this with small rocks or dirt and use it to get the end of my bear line over a branch. I originally tried just tying the bear line to a stick or slightly larger rock, but that wasn’t going great, so I decided to drop a few extra dollars on a silly little bag.

Miscellaneous

Leki Legacy Lite Trekking Poles
My trusty trekking poles have been on many, many, many hikes with me (except for the one time I forgot to put them in the car and had to hike with a stick instead). They are sturdy, and I trust them to hold up well considering that I’ve fallen directly onto them multiple times and they haven’t so much as bent even a little bit (though I did end up with some gnarly bruises).

Sunglasses
Necessary because, you know, the sun exists.

AWOL Appalachian Trail Guide
I have the paper version of this guidebook. I’d rather not have to rely on my phone all the time, so the extra weight is worth it to me. We’ll see if I eat my words in a few weeks, though, and end up switching to the electronic version.

Dandee Packs Wallet
This is basically a tiny zippered pouch. I like it because the zipper keeps things from accidentally falling out.

Pepper spray, swiss army knife
The AT is usually pretty safe, but sometimes it’s not.

Hygiene

Toothbrush, travel-sized toothpaste, floss
For the floss, I hate having stuff stuck in my teeth, and it also doubles as thread for repairs in a pinch.

Hairbrush
I’m considering this as one of my “luxury items.” It isn’t strictly necessary, but my hair is not happy if I don’t brush it, so I’ll be bringing a small hairbrush in an attempt to feel a little more like a civilized human while I’m spending 5 months living in the woods. I may or may not have sawed off the handle so I wouldn’t have to carry that weight.

First Aid/Repair

Band aids, ibuprofen, Leukotape, chap stick, imodium
Advil, lots of advil.

Duct tape, tenacious tape, spare o-rings for my water filter, safety pins
First aid but for my gear.

Here’s to hoping that all this stuff is able to keep me alive for the next several months!

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Comments 10

  • Ralph B. Mahon : Mar 10th

    Looks like you made some great choices. Your pack will always have your back 😁
    Those Crocks can be very slippery even around camp.
    I would choose a Leatherman Wave, or something similar over the Swiss Army.
    So many useful tools, I never leave home w/o it.
    Wishing you a fun filled adventure, enjoy!

    Reply
  • Tom B : Mar 10th

    Enjoyed reading thru your thru hike prep posts and wishing you success and a good adventure over these next months as you head North.

    Ever since my nephew ‘Piper’ hiked the AT some years ago (and since the PCT and CDT), I’ve enjoyed following a hiker or two NB each year on the AT.

    We live about 45 minutes from Amicalola and are regular day hikers, and I have done some short section hikes over the years from GA to Maine, including a few hikes in the Whites many years ago, but never have attempted a long thru hike.

    Good luck on your adventure

    Reply
  • Sheila Henry : Mar 10th

    Just had to comment on your gear lay out. Very neat & precise. I also have lueko or whatever tape but the roll is so large. I read it doesn’t restick well if unrolled. Hope to cut in a section? How did you handle that.
    Also. Love that you terrified shirt & sunglasses make a smile!!!! I want a new photo of layout with eat buds next to the glasses. Lol

    Reply
  • Robert Ormiston : Mar 11th

    Suggest consider toilet paper and a small trowel for burying waste. Suggest rethinking a sleeping bag if leaving early. Happy Trails! I’ve spent around 10 months on the AT and have done it all. March in Georgia can get really cold and wet.

    Reply
  • Mary Jo : Mar 12th

    Good luck!!!

    Reply
    • Vince DeWitt : Apr 13th

      Hi,
      I’m a soon-to-be ridge runner on the CT section of the AT, and MA-10-most southern miles. See you this summer, around when you hit the 1,500 mi mark just south of Salisbury, CT.
      Good luck and you’ll love CT.
      Vince DeWitt

      Reply
  • Draggin’ Tail : Mar 15th

    Noticed no toilet paper OR backpacker’s bidet. So I will ask you forgo the T.P. and embrace a bidet (Recommend Culo Clean). Not only will you enhance your LNT impact on your entrance to the wild, but……. Way better for personal long term hygiene. Really….. you’ll love it.

    Reply
  • WNM : Mar 15th

    Godspeed and good luck….. You can do it!

    Reply
  • Teflon : Apr 10th

    Great gear list! What is your base weight?
    Wishing lots of luck and great memories.

    Reply

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