I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Backpacking Gear

Out of everything I own, backpacking gear seems to be accumulated always without me being fully aware of if all. There is no collection I have greater (except a backlog of PC games I will 100% admit I have and I will never play all of them – calling it like I see it). On a lot of the site for gear, there always is a new item I suddenly am convinced will improve my chances of everything. (Yes, I’m talking to you titanium spork! You, clearly, will improve the entire trail by such a margin I will be able to conquer any challenge!)

I will tell myself ‘What the heck do you need that for? You already have X.‘ Then the internal debate we all have will start about purchases for even more gear. I never ultimately need it, but it’s fun to pretend, right? The bear canister arrived a few days ago so I am set and ready to go! We are one month out from this adventure. No more carrying around bags of rocks in my pack, I’ve graduated to real gear! FINALLY!

Let’s trade this bag of rocks for gear, kthxbye.

To understand the bag of rocks reference, I did train for the AT with a backpack full of rocks. Yes, you read that correctly – a pack full of stones. I needed weight in the pack since walking around with an empty pack is not very helpful yet I did not have the resources to get weights nor did I trust gallon jugs of water to actually stay intact from my many tumbles. So, I made a special trip to the home department store to buy myself some ‘weights’. You may ask ‘Why would you go to the Lowes or Home Depot for weights?‘ Great question!

I have learned a long time ago I cannot be trusted with things I want to last – the yearly “Broken List” is proof of this. A 50 pound bag of pebbles or pea gravel is $5. Garbage bags and duct tape are already readily accessible to most if not all backpackers – bag liner & gear repair anyone? All I did was split the original hefty 50 pounder into two 25 pound bags. I decided I did not want to ultimately end up with a dirty and gravel filled pack before even leaving. I decided to taped the whole thing into a giant square weighted bag. Now I have a 25 pound weight to toss in my pack for training for under $10. Huzzah, I give you MacGyver Magic!

Ring, ring, your mountain friends are calling.

I was able to train with a weighted pack with no real thought about ‘getting ready’ for a hike. I was able to tell people who inquired  about the ‘very big day pack’…’Oh, it’s actually just a bag of rocks. Nothing but the best for me.‘ No better way than to brighten someone’s day with a smile and a laugh for those who realized it was a joke (even at my expense).

My gear list is pretty much dialed into the final showdown of items! Such a rewarding day! Being able to train in a variety of conditions from nighttime hiking, cold weather, warm weather, just a day that ends in Y ‘weather’ allows me to dial the list in further. By living in PA, I get to experience all four seasons in one day allowing for ample variety of things to practice with – it’s great and very grey skies a lot. Recently, setting up my tent in the windiest spot I can find is added to the ‘to-do’s so I may attempt to master the art of having up and ready in storms without too much trouble or things randomly ‘disappearing’ in the wind. I have been backpacking in the past, none of these trips have been during difficult or what I found as challenging weather. I’m ready to buckle up!

But wait, there’s more called the flu.

So generally training was going well, please note the WAS I just stated. Then I caught the flu. Trying to come back from the flu is just not happening fast enough for me. It’s also pretty darn cold in PA these days. So that is not doing any help for my throat and cough. Yet the show must go on, or the hike must go on…something like that. I have been prepping like nobody’s business from cooking meals, dehydrating meals and assorted foods, and playing assembly line to pack everything up! It’s never ending, and I love it.

We’re off to see a gear list, a wonderful gear list we go!

  • Shelter: LightHeart Gear SoLong with Vargo Titanium Shepherds Hook Stake with bonus paint job from yours truly
  • Sleeping bag: Zen Bivy Bed 10F in a Sea to Summit eVent Compression Sack
  • Sleeping pad: Big Agnes Rapide SL Insulated
  • Pack: Gregory Zulu 55
  • Stove: MSR Pocket Rocket 2 w/ Soto Pocket Torch with Refillable Lighter
  • Pot: MSR Ceramic Solo Pot
  • Utensil(s): Sea to Summit Alpha Light Set
  • Filter: Sawyer Squeeze
  • Water bottles: Platypus 1L – two
  • Puffy: Black Diamond Access Down Hoody
  • Base Layer Top: Patagonia Capilene Midweight Crew
  • Shirt: Smartwool Active Ultralite Tech Tee
  • Base Layer Bottom: Smartwool Active Fleece Wind Tights
  • Fleece: Smartwool Classic Thermal Merino Quarter Zip
  • Pants: REI Co-op Trailmade Pants (No thank you, Deer ticks. I’ve had enough close calls from you already.)
  • Socks: Smartwool Men Classic Hike Full Cushion Crew
  • Sock Liners: REI Co-op Silk Liner Crew Socks
  • Boots: Salomon Predict Hike Mid GTX Hiking Boots

I think that covers the main items. I’ll be creating a complete list with weights for yinz too. It’s been a wild ride to even obtain all of these items, and make sure they functionally work for me on this grand adventure. Hopefully they do, and I can’t wait to see what oddities end up in my collection as well!

Until next time, my friends, I bid you a fond farewell and happy trails!

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Comments 4

  • Robert Jubin : Jan 20th

    Yinz? Are you leaving for this adventure from da ‘Burgh?

    • Ranch : Feb 8th

      About an hour and a half north of there, yes! Nice catch! Yinz is just one of those real fun words to say because it seems to ridiculous to be real. Similar to the word persnickety – just as fun.

  • Dana : Jan 20th

    Rain gear?

    • Ranch : Jan 21st

      Oh, I can’t believe I forgot to list such an item. What is the AT without rain!? I have Marmot PreCip Jacket I’ve had huge success with against windy/rainy conditions. Excellent question again, Dana!


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