Gear Talk

It’s Dreaming Season

I have long since left the mindset of a normal human being and now only think of things in terms of weight, necessity, and functionality. As the thru-hiking season draws near, my excitement grows. The need to indulge in ramen noodle bombs, mud-soaked socks, and pop tart challenges takes my focus from my daily life and I doze through “normal” conversations in a gear induced coma. I find myself at a crossroads between saving money to have a comfortable cushion to come home to or splurging, again, and buying that shiny new Hyperlite Mountain Gear pack. The pack wins.

Working in the outdoor gear industry, the language of backpacking is pretty much the only one I’m fluent in. The words “hiking” and “The Appalachian Trail” slip off my lips a dozen times a day. Rest assured that if you are in my general vicinity I will bore you to death with degrees of merino warmth and unsolicited hiking trivia that will leave you wondering how I worked it into conversation.

Packing for this trip, I find myself wanting to pass up the comfort of an inflatable sleeping pad for the ease of a roll-out Switchback. All the better for more accessible midday napping! What we bring on our trips is ever-changing and growing with our experiences. Here is where I am at so far…

The Big Three

 Worn While Hiking

When The Weather Takes a Turn for the Worst

                                                                        (So essentially the entire trip)

For the Flurries:

Rain Gear:

Food Stuffs

Power

Miscellaneous

  • Gallon Ziploc Baggies for storage
  • Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, hair brush, toilet paper)
  • Teva Voya Infinity Sandals for camp

                                               February 27th can’t come soon enough…

 

** If you are looking for prices and more specific purchase info, check out my gear list on my Author Page!

 

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Comments 22

  • Avatar
    Leslie Agius : Dec 15th

    Well written and informative. Looking forward to seeing pictures from your Hike.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Stephen : Dec 16th

      You need to take the inflatable sleeping pad. The Nemo has an R value of only 2. It will be cold – really cold – that early in the season. I was once doing a section of the AT in early May and it snowed. In North Carolina. I was just in the Smokies over Thanksgiving and one night it got below freezing. Do you have sleep clothes? Didn’t see any on the list, unless you plan to sleep in your “in case the weather gets bad” clothes. In which case, you should still have sleep clothes, as you won’t want to sleep in those if you’ve hiked in them all day. And yes to rain pants. Cuts wind, helps keep you warm.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Barbara : Dec 15th

    I I wish. I had your spirit when I was younger. But I get to do the things I would have loved thru you. You make my heart sing.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    pearwood : Dec 15th

    I picked up a stout set of rain pants from REI. I learned decades ago while flying for the Army in Alaska what a hug difference a wind-block layer makes. Our Nomex flight suits had roughly zero insulating ability, but with a pair of heavy cotton longies underneath they were amazingly warm. (We did _not_wear synthetics for flying. Normal synthetics would simply melt into the skin in a flash fire. Nasty.)

    Steve / pearwood / PearwoodPhoto @ IG

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Emma Slaughter : Dec 16th

      Thanks for your info! I didn’t use them on past backpacking trips but figured it would be more windy and chilly starting in late February. Ill check it out

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Helen : Dec 15th

    Gonna have to check out those kornati pants!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Wes Laudeman : Dec 15th

    Great post! On the rain pants question, I went with a rain skirt because I felt it was a happy medium between rain pants (which I don’t like) and no lower body rain gear (which just won’t work for the AT!) The rain skirt has worked pretty well so far but we’ll see how it works on a thru!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Emma Slaughter : Dec 16th

      Thats what I was thinking! I have brought them but never used them in past hiking trips on the East coast and thought that maybe just a rain jacket would be sufficient. Ill look into alternatives like a rain skirt! Thanks!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Bella : Dec 16th

    yes to the rain pants. It’s so nice not having to sit in wet pants

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Armadillo : Dec 16th

    Skip the rain pants, ditch the roll up pants. All you’ll need is a pair of shorts and a pair of tights. Ditch the paracord, bear hangs are BS (Skurka has a good article on this if you’re feeling initiated). A 20,000mah power bank is worth the extra weight; Silicon Power has a great one for around $40 and 11oz. A 10,000 you’ll be compromising phone usage a lot on regular 3 day stretches, which sucks when you want to take pictures, listen to podcasts, and check Guthook’s. Nemo Hornet Two and footprint definitely don’t weigh 16.5oz, I’d guess closer to 40oz. Ditch the Nemo footprint and pick up some polycro from Gossamer Gear, you’ll shave 6oz. Also ditch the 6oz headlamp and buy a 1oz Nitecore NU25 from Litesmith. Test out those Lone Peak 4.5’s plenty, they tend to fall apart in 250 miles. Topo Athletic makes some good zero drops and my last pair made it a hefty 809 miles from Glasgow, VA to Springer. You won’t really need sandals until you start fording rivers in Maine, just get them shipped to you in Gorham. Otherwise, you’re in good shape! If you’re in NYC, take the train to Pawling sometime and get on trail for a quick shakedown on the NY/CT section. I know it’s cold, but it’s probably warmer up here now than what you’ll be seeing in the Smokies.

    Armadillo, AT SOBO ’20

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Emma Slaughter : Dec 16th

      I have been debating the roll up pants too because I have never used them and always just do baselayers and shorts, thanks! According to the Trek link on my gear page thats what they weigh, but what the hell do I know! Lol. Love the Altras and I have already hiked 1200 miles in them but I do agree, they fall apart quickly! Will definitely check out the power bank and headlamp info. Thanks!

      Reply
      • Avatar
        Emma Slaughter : Dec 16th

        Also good point with the sandals, took em lit just now!

        Reply
      • Avatar
        Alexander Dyson : Dec 16th

        There are tents in the 16oz range though! Started off with a Plexamid at 16oz, ended with a HMG 8.6ft square flat tarp at 8.8oz, but I won’t really try to talk anyone into flat tarping. Gossamer just released DCF versions of the One and Two; The DCF One is around 17oz and has a lot more room than the Plexamid and an extra vestibule for a super marginal weight penalty. Also my friend got through 900 miles on her last pair of Altra Superiors with uppers fully intact, might be worth a look if you’re committed to the brand.

        Reply
        • Avatar
          Alexander Dyson : Dec 16th

          Also ignore all the rambling I just did about shelter weight, the Hornet is a perfectly good tent. I tend to go on gram-weenie tangents.

          Reply
          • Avatar
            Emma Slaughter : Dec 16th

            Awesome thanks so much for the info! Probably on next years budget, but I for sure am interested in the Plexamid and The One. All in good time when the finances are there! I dont see myself becoming interesting in being a tarp camper though. What are benefits?

            Reply
          • Avatar
            Joseph : Dec 18th

            You’re trail name should be gram-weenie.

            Reply
      • Avatar
        Bob Churcher : Feb 18th

        Get some scales! The you will know. As people have said, take an air mattress, ditch the paracord, (throw rocks and shout if a bear comes along)! Make a rain skirt from a trash bag with a draw string…………unless you plan on lots of night hiking take a much lighter head torch. In the end weight is everything! Consider a Z packs shelter if you really are a gram weanie (I am)! And I took a stove, It can be cold and wet……

        BobC – AT 2016 (and a warm in the snow on part of the B Mckaye in Feb – year of the Atlanta ice storm!)

        Reply
  • Avatar
    Russell Wicklund : Dec 17th

    Good luck Emma. My son (Orange Blaze) and I (Wagon Hammer) did the AT NOBO in 2020 (Jan 22-July 13). We looked over your gear list (you have made many good choices) and noted a couple things. How comfortable are you in the cold (sleeping below/at zero and hiking in teens)? These are the conditions you could encounter pushing north from Springer in Feb/March. The Smokies could be difficult (we used Kahtoola Microspikes to get up and over Clingman’s Dome and then again after Newfound Gap). Go with rain pants as wind pants for the start and then ditch in a hiker box or ship home as it warms. Are you set on the shorter socks? Your ankles may be rather cold if post holing it thru snow. I would put together a basic first aid kit (we liked KT blister tape over duct tape). Make sure the pack liner is a contractor grade one as it’s protecting your gear from being a soggy/frozen mess. You may want a different headlamp as that one looked rather…..heavy. Again, it just comes down to how you handle the cold and gear that works for you and that you are comfortable/familiar with. If you start the trail and realize that you need something the owners of Mountain Crossing at Neel Gap have everything. Hike on!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Russell Wicklund : Dec 17th

      Sorry…we hiked NOBO 2019

      Reply
      • Avatar
        Emma Slaughter : Dec 18th

        It might be the wrong weight on the headlamp, I couldnt find the weight online and just estimated that one there! But tbh the rest of my pack weight is 10 lbs so Im not too worried about if its heavy. Good point on the cold weather stuff ideas, Im going to do some hikes in cold weather and see how I do! I think Ill throw in a pair of Smartwool Mountaineering socks for those colder temp days/ sleep socks. Thanks for the help!

        Reply
  • Avatar
    HikerJohn316 : Dec 18th

    A great list and I love the layout picture! Suitable for framing. Keep the Nemo pad. I use a Ridgerest and it works fine in cold weather. Love your BIG THREE at 5.5 pounds! I’d guess your base weight is 15 pounds. What is it? My only addition would be an alcohol stove like a Vargo Triad and a titanium pot. You might be wishing for a hot meal or a hot drink.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Emma Slaughter : Dec 18th

      My Trek gear list weight calculator says around 11 but I left a few weights off of it with some products I couldnt find the weight to online. So id say 15 is about right! I have debated with the stove before and am going to do a few chilly NY hikes to see what its like in cold weather cold soaking (Ive only done it in warm weather). I have a snowpeak pot at home if I decide to take it and Ill look at that stove as well!

      Reply

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