Gear Galore

img_0690If at first you buy the wrong gear, research and research some more.

The first thing I wanted to do when I decided I was going to hike the AT was get my gear together. I was sure that if I could get my big three it would feel more real. Being a year out from actually beginning the trek, I figured gathering my gear could be something to do in the mean time. For those of you in that position now, don’t. do. it.

After shipping back my last impulse buy, I have finally nailed down my working gear list.

Below is a list and video of the items I will take to begin my trek on March 27th. I can honestly say that I have changed this list more times than I can count and even still, some things can be improved. After research, research, trial and error and some more research, I have seemed to have found what works for me, for now.  It is inevitable that I will send some things home and things will be replaced along the way, but for the most part I’ve been lucky enough to have made a near full recovery from impulse buying.


Originally I was going to stick with my trusty Gregory Savant 58 L that I have had for years. I love sweet Hazelnut but the poor girl has nothing on the suspension of the Exos. After suffering a major back injury in the past, it was a risky move to go with something other than what I was use to BUT the change has proved to be in my best interest so far.

  • Trash compactor bag

Extra protection that lines the inside of my pack. Good alternative for a pack cover while still allowing easy access to pockets.


I fell in love with the NEMO Hornet 1p shortly after my research began. Being 5’4″, I knew that if anyone could fit in a 1p, it would be me. I worked pretty hard to save up and find this item on sale. It took one night of a sleep shake-down for me to realize that I was going to have to upgrade to a 2p. The deciding factor for me was the distance of the walls to my sleeping bag. Knowing that down cannot work efficiently being wet, I was upset to realize the walls produced just enough humidity to soak the bag.

Forever I was dead set on sticking with my REI Flash 30 degree Down bag. I thought it was all I needed in life to keep me warm and comfortable. If you are having this thought about your bag, test it’s limits…… or rather, yours. One night in the teens and I was just about ready to call it quits on my dream of the AT. I reevaluated and decided that with the right gear, things would look differently. So far, so good. The quilt life is the life for me.

As mentioned before, having back problems plays drastically into my decisions for all things comfort. I had the Thermorest Prolite plus for almost a year before deciding the weight and bulkiness was just too much for a pad. I knew I wanted something with a high R value so I spent a little more and got the XTherm instead of the regular Neo Air.

This little bud is the perfect addition to the quilt life. It provides just enough material to keep me cool and comfortable no matter the temperature. This is also a nice option, alone, as a sleeping bag during the warmer nights. I also like the idea of having a way to keep my quilt a little cleaner.

If you haven’t caved yet, this item will change your world. Pair it with a Buff as a pillow case and you’ll never go back.


I drink way more water than the average person/hiker. Dealing with filtering and exchanging of water really takes time away from my hiking. Having two filters may seem excessive but it slims the chance of being without a way to filter water if one breaks/freezes/or clogs.

  • 1.5L Evernew bladder*

This was a suggestion to me by a wise hiker. This bladder fits perfectly with the sawyer squeeze as a better alternative for the bags. Although I did not read much about these during my research, I found that purchasing these was quite difficult due to their popularity.


  • Base Layer (Top): Longsleeve Under-Armor

This is one of those rescue layers that changes a cold uncomfortable/unbearable day or night into a pleasant stroll in the park. This is not an item I will wear every day but it is necessary to keep around in the winter.

  • Fleece Jacket: Icebreaker Merino Atom

This is my go-to jacket for hiking in the cold. The down jacket gets way too hot and other layering is not easily removable. This layer fits nicely inside my wind/rain shell, as well, to keep me warm during potential snow/cold rain.

There is no arguing (with me): Hood. This jacket is a life saver. It’s all kinds of perfect: weight, comfort and reliability.

What I’ll be wearing in the rain (duh) and while doing laundry.

  • Shirt: Quick dry tank top + Long-sleeve Fishing shirt

Everyone hikes different. For me, I always always wear a tank-top paired with a long-sleeve of some type to easily be able to accommodate being hot and cold. The light weight long sleeve will be nice on the sunny cool days to have a little sun protection.

These suckers are breathable, lightweight and WARM.

  • Bottoms: light weight/ breathable leggings

I never hike in shorts so more often than not I will be wearing leggings.

The stories and tales are true. These bad boys hold up to their name. I will be taking a low rise pair and a thicker, high pair.

  • FITS socks (1)

Used as sleep socks… only

  • Underwear: Exofficio (3)

For girls, this is more of a comfort topic. If you haven’t heard of the genius idea yet: liners. That is all.

  • Bra: Under-Armor
  • Bandanna*
  • Hat: Northface cap – Zpacks Toboggan

Some people are hat people. I am one of those people.

  • Balaklava – Not a greek dessert (Baklava) like I said in the vid… *eye roll*
  • Buff (2)

The amount of uses I have found for these things is insane. I will always have one as a pillowcase and another close by for neck, nose/mouth guard. I also use them as a headband, towel, hat, and to hold things together.

  • Gloves: Possum down Gloves from Zpacks
  • Down Booties #amazing (from Zpacks) – for sleeping only

Since I have extremely cold hands and feet, I had to search for the best. I think I found them.


After switching from the ankle-killers of all things Vasque boots, I found myself in love with Brooks’ trail runners. I have a very small and wide foot and this style seemed to work out well. I purchased 3 pairs to break in before the trek. This will be one of the only things that will be sent to me along the way.

  • Camp Shoes: Xero Shoes (Umara Z-Trail)


  • Trekking Poles: Cascade – Mountain Tech

I’ve never been much of a trekking pole person. I’ve only used the poles when I dabbled in some mountaineering but I decided to suck up my pride and listen to the past thru-hikers who suggested getting them. I honestly don’t know that these are the best pair I could find but they were relatively cheap and light so I’m giving them a go.

No question this brand knows what’s up. The weight vs lumens proves to be an even trade off.

Long enough to reach the deepest of containers/bags. Lightweight and durable enough to withstand heat if encountered

  • MSR titanium Pot
  • PB2 Container*
  • Stuff sacks: Sea to Summit  for clothes / Sea to Summit eVent Waterproof (M) for quilt ~~~ 1-2 means 12 in the video *eye roll again*
  • Battery pack: Honeycomb (2)

A suggestion to me by one of my coworkers who found a sweet deal at Sam’s Club for 2 for $24. Each is good for 5 chargers and they weight a lot less than the brick I received when trying to go the Anker route. Due to my high level of blogging and documenting, I will start the trek with both and send one home if I find it unnecessary.

  • Apple headphones* + phone cable
  • Anker Wall Charger

No question this puppy can charge dang fast. I find the weight to be a little justified if I only have a couple of hours in town.

  • GoPro + charger

As most GoPro users, I love having my GoPro SOMETIMES. More often than not, I either forget about it or I just opt for a cell phone picture. Every now and then I find it to be worth having so since its highly likely I’ll never get this opportunity again, I’m bringing it.

  • Watch: Womans Timex Ironman
  • Hairbrush
  • Zpacks Bear bag*
  • AWOL Guidebook – first half
  • Light My Fire Knife
  • Butt Pad
  • Animal Flex Joint Supplements


  • KT tape
  • Medication (Ibuprofen, Antihistamines etc.)
  • Tweezers
  • Small scissors
  • Alcohol Wipes
  • Various band-aids
  • Medical tape
  • Gauze
  • Deva Cup(PTL)
  • Superglue
  • Duct Tape
  • Hand-sanitizer
  • Wipes
  • Aquaphor (moisturizer/chapstick)
  •  Stye cream
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Mole Skin

* = not included in the video

Check out the VIDEO to see some explanations!

As always, check out my site to check out other ways I’ve been preparing

xoxo Jen

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 1

  • Cathy Sackett : Mar 3rd

    Sounds to me like you’re ready. I’m trying to figure out what’s right for me as well I hate to pay good money for something and then it’s wrong just trying to read as much as I can and do as much as I can and try to figure it out in the meantime I’m doing small hikes 10 miles couple overnighters would love to do the PCT a piece at a time until I finish it I’m 57 years old in okay shape but I will be in better shape I’m in Southern California and we’re going to do the six pack of Peaks next year. I hope you keep posting so we can ride along with you good luck God bless and you’re about to change your life woohoo happy trails


What Do You Think?