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.
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.
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
–1L Smart Water bottles (two)
—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)
–REI Active T-shirt
–Target running shorts
–Old Navy sports bra
–Patagonia duckbill cap
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
–Mountain Hardwear gloves
–Xero Z-Trail Sandals
–2 oz. Dr. Bronner’s
First Aid Kit
–Butterfly Band-Aids (four)
–Leukotape (on trekking pole)
–Duct tape (on trekking pole)
–iPhone (with Lifeproof case)
–iPhone charging cord
–Lumix charging cord
–Anker dual charge outlet plug
–Anker power bank (13500 mAh)
–Fanny pack (for carrying camera)
The Final Numbers
15.5 (cold weather)
14.6 (warm weather)
Total I paid:
Money I saved:
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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