Gears for Fears – My A.T. 2023 Gear List

Howdy, y’all! Similar to many other outdoors enthusiasts, I am a bit gear obsessed! I got my first set of backpacking equipment while in scouts (thank you Mom and Dad!), but none of that gear is still in use today. Over the more than a decade that has passed since then, I have gradually swapped out and axed equipment as I gained more experience and determined what I truly do and do not need while out on a trail.

Throughout this process, I’ve come up with a few key takeaways:

  1. I am a 6ft 2in tall dude with wide shoulders and my own unique proportions and preferences, so what works for me may not work for you! I recommend not only researching your equipment, but also actually using it before you set out on a long trip.
  2. It is perfectly fine to carry extra items (within reason) as you hammer out exactly what you do and do not use. It is always better to be prepared and a little heavy, than it is to be underprepared for potentially hazardous scenarios.
  3. For big items like tents and packs, I strongly recommend calculating the price per ounce to see how much you are paying for the weight savings of an item, and then making an informed decision. 
  4. Always take advantage of seasonal sales, discount codes, last season closeouts, second hand resale, and factory seconds! By taking my time and slowly swapping my gear out, I have been able to acquire all of it (except for my tent) for considerably less than sticker price.
  5. Actually use the gear you have before going out and buying something else! The online ultralight world (aka successful marketing) often sweats the small details over fairly marginal weight savings. The items that are already in your pack are probably more than sufficient for your needs. Remember, the point of backpacking is to backpack, not obsess over gear! Sometimes I even need to be reminded of this…

With all of that in mind, let’s dive into everything that I’m going to be carrying with me for 2,198.4 miles!

This is the last time this gear will ever be this clean.


I’ll be carrying around my trusty (and recently cleaned) Gossamer Gear Gorilla 50L internal frame pack. A few years ago, I decided to finally dump my old 5 and half pound, 80L pack from my scouting days. After trying out a large variety of different manufacturers and styles, I determined that the Gorilla was my Goldilocks bag. Not only is it incredibly comfortable, it is also lightweight and made by an Austin based company! When trying out packs, remember to always have them loaded with full operating weight so that you can see how the pack sits on your body. It is for this reason that the general advice is to always buy your pack last.

Gossamer Gear Gorilla 50L Pack

Shelter and Sleep System

My shelter is the one piece of gear that I bucked my own advice for by ponying up the cash for the full price. Likewise, I have not tested it out yet as it came out last week, but as a taller hiker, I absolutely think that this will be the perfect tent! I’m of course talking about the brand new Durston X-Mid Pro 1! I was able to try out a friend’s X-Mid Pro 2 (pictured), and I absolutely loved it. When I saw that they were coming out with a Dyneema version of it, I knew I had to have it.

The unique design of the ridgeline means that I’ll have more head and foot space inside the tent. This is important because in most trekking pole style tents, my head and feet inadvertently rub up against the ends of the tent, soaking me from the condensation. What’s also unique about this design is that it pitches simply, utilizing a minimum of 4 stakes in a basic rectangular pattern (although I’ll be bringing an extra 2 for added stormworthiness). Not having to fiddle with the pitch after a long day of hiking will be a game changer!

From top to bottom: Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow, Therm-a-rest XTherm, Durston X-Mid Pro 2, Enlightened Equipment Enigma 10 degree Quilt

A common phrase in backpacking is that you pack your fears, and as a native Texan, my main fear is freezing at night! To combat this, I will be starting the trail with the toasty Therm-a-Rest Xtherm as my sleeping pad, and a 10 degree Enlightened Equipment Enigma down quilt. Once I’ve deemed that the weather has warmed up enough, I’ll swap out the Xtherm for the lighter and less insulated Therm-a-Rest Xlite and a 30 degree Enlightened Equipment Enigma down quilt.

Overall, the swap will shave off nearly a pound from my pack weight alone, but I believe that starting with the warmer sleeping setup is more than worth it. I’ll also be bringing my trusty old Sea to Summit inflatable Aeros pillow; however, I’m slowly coming around to the idea of using my pump sack as a pillow…

Kitchen and Bear Kit

For my cooking setup, I’ll be going fairly barebones with just a BRS 3000T isobutane stove, a 550ml Toaks titanium pot, a Sea to Summit long handled spork, and the smallest/cheapest lighter and fuel I can find. My current setup, with a 3.9oz can of fuel, all fits neatly inside of my pot, and has worked flawlessly now for a few years. Because I generally only heat up my dinners, I’m able to get away with the smallest can of fuel in most scenarios.

As far as my bear prevention/protection strategy, I will be bear hanging my food using a 20L Sea to Summit dry bag, a carabiner from Gossamer Gear, and 50ft of lightweight high-tensile strength cordage, which is also from Gossamer Gear.

I’ve weighed the pros and cons of different bear prevention strategies, and concluded that the PCT hang method is the best for me. I have experience hanging my food properly, and a halfway decent arm for throwing, so I’m not too concerned about being able to hit the right branch. To aid in throwing the lightweight rope, I fill my empty stake bag with rocks, and use it as a weight. This all goes without saying that if bear prevention infrastructure is in place, I will utilize it. Likewise, I will abide by and comply with all rules and regulations regarding bear prevention/protection.

In order to treat my water, I will be using the tried and true Sawyer Squeeze. This is an awesome filter from a fantastic company. Their filters just work, plain and simple. The company behind the filter also does incredible work bringing clean water to communities around the world!

As a backup, incase my filter freezes, I’m bringing along a few Katadyn Micropur tablets. They don’t weight very much, and they have helped me in the past when a previous filter froze.

Cookware, bear kit, and water treatment, ready to go!

Luxury Items and Tech

Onto my personal things! For starters, I will be carrying my iPhone 14 Pro for photography, navigation, and communication. I recently switched to the pro (it’s actually my first iPhone) specifically for its incredible camera, fairly massive internal battery, and because it is dust and water resistant. Photography is one of my favorite hobbies, but I did not feel like lugging around or taking the risk with one of my expensive (and heavy!) cameras. Hopefully I do not regret this, but so far, the iPhone’s camera has blown me away.

Next up is my trusty Kindle Paperwhite. I recently swapped out my first gen Paperwhite for the newest model in order to have a brand new battery, USB-C, the ability to listen to audiobooks off of it, and because it’s waterproof. I’m a bit of a voracious reader, having read over 40 novels last year alone, so I could not bring myself to leave this at home. 

For headphones, I will be bringing along my beloved Powerbeats 3. These things have been with me through countless runs in all types of weather, and have survived getting absolutely soaked and abused. They’re fairly lightweight, they sound amazing, and they allow me to take calls without having to hold my phone up to my ear. They also fit perfectly under a beanie so that I don’t have to freeze my ears in the winter!

To light my way, I have the Nitecore NU25 UL headlamp. It doesn’t weigh much, is fairly bright, and I’ve drenched it a few times already with no issues. I prefer using a rechargeable headlamp because I find that they are generally lighter and more waterproof than their replaceable battery counterparts.

As a battery backup, I’ll be bringing along a Nitecore NB10000 Gen II battery pack. I love this pack because it feels fairly well made, it’s light, and it charges on USB-C. I’m only bringing USB-C and Lightning cables, so it’s important that everything utilizes the same plugs.

All the tech I’ll be bringing with me, minus my phone.

Everything Else

The rest of my gear and supplies are detailed in my linked gear list. It’s all fairly mundane, so I won’t dive into it too much except to highlight a few personal favorites:

  • Black Diamond Carbon Cork Trekking Poles – I’ve had these for a few years now, and at one point I managed to break part of a pole. I emailed BD, and they happily helped me remedy the issue, so these will always be with me.
  • Swiss Army NailClip 580 – Pretty much the only multitool you’ll need while hiking. I prefer having nail clippers over mini-scissors because they are stronger and can cut through more difficult material. It’s also incredibly lightweight and fairly cheap!
  • Hoka Speedgoat 5 trail runners – As a runner with bad feet, I take footwear very seriously. And while I’ve had my preferred running shoes for years, I’ve struggled to find a comfortable hiking boot or trail runner that worked for me. I love the Speedgoats because they fit and feel exactly like running shoes, but with more aggressive traction for trail usage. They also have a stretchy mesh exterior so they dry easily, which helps with blister prevention!
  • Mountain Hardwear Airmesh Fleece – I’m still not sure if this thing is a base layer, a fleece, or what, but it is awesome! My size Large weighs in at 5.3oz, and it is the perfect active midlayer! It is fairly insulative for what it is, but the wind goes right through it to keep you cool and dry during a tough hike.

Well that about does it, folks! If you want a more detailed breakdown, check out my gear list linked at the top of the page. If you have any questions or remarks on what I’m carrying, feel free to leave them down below in the comment section!

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