What I’m Carrying: My AT Gear List

Around this time a few years ago, I bought my first pack. I remember going to the local trail store with my tax return sittin’ pretty in my bank account, getting fitted for a pack, and proceeding to try on every possible option the sales guy handed to me. After an hour or so or mulling over options and asking again and again: “are you sure 50 liters is big enough?” (bless his heart, he refused to let me buy anything bigger), I walked out of there with my first piece of backpacking gear – an Osprey Aura 50L. In the years since then, I accumulated gear pretty willy-nilly. If it was cheap or on sale, not too big and worked fine, then I bought it. I didn’t pay much attention to weight, but I never bought anything that seemed outrageously bulky and was sure to keep things minimal.

When I decided to hike the AT I knew that weight would matter more. I couldn’t just beat up my body with a heavy pack and go sit back at a desk job the next week to recover. With 2,200 miles ahead of me, I committed to trying to get my base weight under 20 pounds. Since then, that’s snowballed a bit (buying gear can be a slippery slope) and I’ve landed at about a 15-pound base weight to start my hike. I know how helpful other hikers’ gear lists were to me in this process of lightening my load, so I want this to be a break from my regularly scheduled, flowery prose for something a little more practical.

The Strategy

My strategy for lightening up my pack was pretty simple: how can I exchange my heavy items for lighter items, while not breaking the bank? This strategy ended up working out really well for me for a couple reasons: I’m not that picky and I had the time to wait for a good deal. For me, there was no piece of gear that I was really set on and just had to have. Instead, I’d have my eye on a few different sleeping pads (or packs, sleeping bags, base layers, etc.) that I knew would do the trick, and whichever one I found cheapest I’d buy it. Of course, this all relied on the fact that I had the time to wait for any sales or deals, and that I already had a heavier alternative as a fallback, just in case I couldn’t find something affordable. My advice for new backpackers: pay attention to weight from the get-go. This is something I wish I would have done. You don’t have to see the weight as a strict limitation, but an awareness of it will help you make good decisions in the beginning and save a lot of gear swapping in the future.

The Gear List

So without further ado, here’s everything I’m bringing for 2,200 miles.

Expertly tiled for your aesthetic convenience. Not pictured: my food bag and worn clothes.

Pack

Gossamer Gear Gorilla 40L. I waited until this went on sale and saved $70.
Gossamer Gear pack liner

Shelter

I got the tent and footprint for about 40 percent off thanks to some friends’ discounts.
Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL1
Big Agnes tent footprint

Sleep System

My entire sleep system was a total REI garage sale jackpot: I found all of these items at a couple different garage sales and saved a total of $749.
Marmot Plasma 15
-Nemo Tensor 25
Cocoon Hyperlight Pillow

Water

Sawyer Squeeze
–1L Smart Water bottles (two)

Kitchen

Toaks Titanium 750ml pot.  I used to have a Jetboil, and was able to cut that weight in half for less than $50 with this setup instead.
BRS Outdoor Ultralight Stove
GSI long-handle spoon
–Food bag (13L Sea to Summit Sil Bag, paracord, carabiner)

Clothes (Worn)

–REI Active T-shirt
–Target running shorts
–Old Navy sports bra
–Drymax socks
–Patagonia duckbill cap
–Brooks Cascadias

Clothes (Extra)

I know that all the Patagucci might look a little expensive, but I never paid more than 50 percent of the regular price thanks to end-of-season sales over the years.
Patagonia Capilene Midweight Half Zip Shirt
Patagonia Capilene Midweight Pants
Patagonia Ultralight Down Jacket
Patagonia R1 Hoody
Frogg Toggs Ultralite Raincoat and Pants
–Merino Wool Underwear (two)
Darn Tough socks
–Beanie
–Mountain Hardwear gloves
Buff, pillowcase
–Xero Z-Trail Sandals

Toiletries

–Toothbrush
–Toothpaste
–Hairbrush
–2 oz. Dr. Bronner’s

First Aid Kit

–Gauze (two)
–Butterfly Band-Aids (four)
–Antibiotic
–Benadryl
–Ibuprofen
–Leukotape (on trekking pole)
–Duct tape (on trekking pole)
–Tweezers
–Meds

Other Things

REI Shocklight Trekking Poles
Princeton Tec Remix Headlamp
–Small knife
–AT guide
–Tiny pack towel
–Wallet (Zpacks Phone Zip)

Electronics

–iPhone (with Lifeproof case)
–iPhone charging cord
–Lumix GX85
–Lumix charging cord
–Anker dual charge outlet plug
–Anker power bank (13500 mAh)
–Fanny pack (for carrying camera)
–Earbuds

The Final Numbers

Base weight:
15.5 (cold weather)
14.6 (warm weather)

Total I paid:
$1,365

Money I saved:
$1,533

There are some items I’ll be sending home when it gets warmer out, and I’ll probably switch other things out as I’m hiking (I’m especially interested to see how this list changes over the next six months) but this is everything that I’m setting foot on Springer with and I’m feeling good about it. Now get. me. on. that. trail.

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Comments 17

  • Brandon Chase : Feb 28th

    Great looking list! And nice job scoring all the great sales – you really cleaned up. When do you start?

    Reply
    • Amanda Johnson : Feb 28th

      Thanks Brandon! I start late March – less than a month!!

      Reply
  • John : Feb 28th

    I’d bring a tourniquet. It will save your life should you fall, get a nasty fracture and severe an artery. Light weight and has other uses.

    Have fun.

    Reply
  • BJ : Feb 28th

    Good list. Suggestions, add some imodium tabs to med kit, frogg togg pants are pretty worthless, jacket is ok. Swap out paracord for something like kelty triptease, less stretchy, easier to untie, less water absorbant.

    Reply
  • Tom : Feb 28th

    What a trash article.. who gives a shit about it other than you?! It’s neither light nor special, all the usual gear choices. Yawn.

    Reply
    • The Editors : Feb 28th

      Fun fact: Gear posts like this are among our most popular and helpful content for aspiring hikers, and our bloggers are encouraged to write them. Glad you took the time to both read it AND comment

      Reply
      • Linda smith : Mar 1st

        What trek poles do you like..and where to purchase

        Reply
      • Lester Armstead : Mar 3rd

        Thanks for posting your gear list. Although I’ve been backpacking for fifty years, and planning this year’s hike for almost thirty years, I still learn from the choices of others. I’ll be upgrading gear right up til time to leave for my flip-flop in April!

        Reply
    • Meagan : Feb 28th

      I thought it was very helpful. I am thinking about getting the same trekking poles as her.

      Reply
    • Kim : Feb 28th

      What a trash comment. Who gives a shit about it other than you?! It’s neither constructive nor interesting, all the usual comment section choices. Yawn.

      Reply
    • tj : Mar 1st

      Wow… idiots everywhere. If it were full of politics, I would probably agree… but its gear, you wingnut!!

      Reply
    • tj : Mar 1st

      Wow… wingnuts everywhere… yawn… Its gear.

      Reply
  • Wayne : Feb 28th

    Nice list. I never take sandals but some folks prefer them while their shoes dry. I wouldn’t ship your warmer clothes home too soon since it can turn cold on the trail even in July. I love my Darn Tough socks and always take three pairs.

    Reply
  • Luca : Feb 28th

    Hi, nice list. I can see you are carrying a Lumix GX85 with you. How do you carry it? I mean do you have an special big pocket or just hanging with the strap or on your pack?
    I have the same camera and i find it too bulky to carry on my trips, it always ends in my backpack and that way I never use it.

    Reply
    • Amanda Johnson : Feb 28th

      Hi Luca – I have a fanny pack + ziploc bag that I’m planning on carrying it in. It’s just big enough to carry my camera + snacks 😉 I looked into other options (you can find options for front-packs or camera mounts that clip to your shoulder strap) but honestly the $3 fanny pack was just cheaper. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  • Dan : Feb 28th

    Good and useful post……I’ll see you on the trail sister!

    Reply
  • Todd Piket : Mar 5th

    I second the tourniquet if you can afford the weight and maybe go with a lightweight version of a multitool/knife combo. The pliers on a multitool have so many uses, but you probably already considered the multitool. If so, I’d be interested in hearing why you decided on just a knife. Also, bug bite relief cream or gel of some kind. Have a great trip Amanda! It’s going to be fantastic!

    Reply

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