Just another AT Gear List!

Lets talk Gear

If the AT is any thing like any other long distance trail I’ve been on, then when two hikers meet for the first time they usually talk about 3 things.  Where they started their walk and how many miles they have done that day, how their feet are getting on (and swapping blister cures and remedy’s), and how their gear is working out.  Granted on the Camino this is all very closely entwined with the merits of drinking half a liter of wine with every meal (its practically the law!)

As I’m not currently on the trail, that leaves gear to talk about.

I’m no gear boff that’s for sure, and actually gear is quite difficult to get in the UK, especially if you want good quality or light weight Hiking Gear.  We just don’t seem to have the shops for it, so you end up having to buy things online, and I’m really bad at online shopping.

We also don’t really have the cottage industries in the UK like there are in the USA.  The closest thing we have to what I imagine REI to be like is Go Outdoors, and they supply every thing from supplies for camper vans to horse riding gear and on to fishing.  They have most the big brands, but its all very high street and dare I say basic.  It meets the needs of most people that “Go Outdoors” after all.

Having said that, over the last few years I’m managed to get a set up that seems to work for me.

Ultra Lite I am not!

I remember my first Camino in 2019.  I was able to take 7 weeks off work and I had to move out of my flat at the end of April, so it was the perfect time to hit a long distance trail.  It was Good Friday, and I walked into the above mentioned Go Outdoors and asked for a backpack.  I went home and booked a one way flight for the 1st May.

Thankfully the guy in the shop that day knew his stuff about backpacks and sold me my Osprey (it was probably to big for my needs, but it was exactly what I had asked for, after reading the guide book).  I went home and filled it with the stuff I thought I would need.  3 Tee-shirts, 2 Vest Tops, 6 boxers and 6 socks, jeans for the evening and 2 pairs of shorts for the day.  I had no idea about what I would need, so I practically packed the kitchen sink.  Quite literally, all the gear and no idea!

I chuck my backpack on the scales at the airport and its 16kg (35lb).  I’m like ok, what did I know after all?

The first day on the Camino Frances is up and over Napoleons pass.  Its 24 km (14.9 miles) up and through the Pyrenees, with an elevation gain of 1495 mtr!  At this point I should also probably mention this was my first long distance walk, well any kind of walk really.  By the time I made it to the monastery at Roncesvalles I can honestly say I was dead, and by the time I made it to the town of Estella some 112 km later I posted about 6 kg home!

What this experience did teach me is that I actually like some moderation of comfort when I go walking, and I don’t mind carrying the weight to make sure I get that, to a point.  I think my second Camino base weight still came in at 13 kg. (And that’s with out a tent or cook system don’t forget)

Do I have the right gear?

At the beginning of November I took on The Coast to Coast walk, a 182 mile (293 km) walk through 3 of England’s national parks, starting the the Lake District at St Bees and finishing on the opposite coast in the North Yorks Moors at Robin Hoods Bay.

This was my final opportunity to test out all my gear before I hit the AT in March.

The walk would be up and down mountains, through river valleys and across farm land.  It would take 14 days and it would be in British November weather, which I guess is as close to a match as I can get for Georgia in March.

I camped in pub beer gardens, in ruined manor houses on mountain sides and up the top of the moors.  I bunked down in campsite communal areas whilst storms did their thing outside.  And yes I stayed in a few hotels and hostels.

The good news is that on the whole my gear worked for me, I was relatively comfortable and mostly warm and able to get dry.  I survived.

I used most the stuff in my back pack, and it worked.  The only big thing I plan to leave out is the book that I never read.  The only things I want to add are better socks for the night time and camp shoes.

Ok Craigen, what’s actually in the pack!

Let’s face it, most of you are only interested in the gear, and not the back story.

Here is what I would say about the gear and why it worked or not for me.

I really like my pack.  Its an Ospery Atmos AG 50.  Yes its old, yes its got over 1000 miles on it already, but I love it and its coming with me.  I’ve tried a few other packs out over the years but I just like this one.  It carries weight well, and I’ll have a heavy-ish pack.  Its got some useful compartments and pockets.  Its an old friend, and if it dies on the AT, well I can replace it I suppose.

I use Black Dimond carbon poles, and I love them.  They have saved my life more than once!  I have the fixed ones as I feel they will take the wear and tear better than adjustable ones?  But who knows.  These also have a fair few miles on them, and I’ll probably replace the tips before I set off, or at least pack replacements.

My shoes are Merrell Mohab 3’s and I have the mid high ankle ones.  My old gym instructor got me on to Merrell’s.  I like them, they work for me, and I’ll be able to get replacements really easy on the AT.  They don’t give me blisters (touch wood).  I have Dr Scholl insoles to replace the ones they come with, and they seem to work well with them.

My tent is a Sea to Summit Alto TR2.  I had used the TR1 up till now when back packing, and to be honest I think I preferred the TR1.  I just think that over 6 months I’ll come to be happy about the extra space.  I don’t really know.  The TR 2 is 224g (7.9 oz) heavier.  Either way, on the plus side, they are semi free standing and double walled, and dare I say, comfortable!  The TR2 probably needs to have guy lines out in wet weather to keep the inside totally dry, which is the point of a double walled tent after all.

I have a Therm-a-rest Hyperion 20f sleeping bag.  It’s down so needs to be kept dry.  Its a tight fitting mummy style bag, which takes a bit to get used to if I’m honest.  I just don’t think I’m quite brave enough to try a quilt, who knows.  What I do know is that I will have to swap this out at some point, and I’ve no idea how the logistics of that will work out.  I guess I can just post it to myself further up the trail or something.  I also have a Therm-a-rest neoair pad.  I’m terrified of getting a puncture hole, so I got a cheep yoga mat type thing from Tesco when they had their summer camping range in.  Yes I have an air pump, and no at this time I’m not leaving it at home.  Lazy, maybe, but like I said I like creature comforts, and blowing up an air pad at the end of the day is not my idea of fun.  I’m very aware that pack weight by day 8 might also change what my idea of fun is.

I have a sea to summit pillow and an eye mask.  Trust me, that eye mask helps keep my face warm, and I’ve found that  I only like a little bit of air in the pillow.

My cook system is also a little on the bulky side.  I have a cup and a bowl so I can make coffee and porridge in the morning at the same time (I actually took a long handled spoon and a short handled spork with me on the C2C, but you will be glad to know only the long spoon made it into my final gear list, see I can compromise!)

One thing I did discover is that Ursack bear bags are not water proof, and really hold the water when wet making them heavy.  Mine did not really seem to dry out either.  I hope this wont become a problem, but is worth making sure that any thing that I put in it over night is either ok to get wet or in a zip lock bag.  I’ve not had the fun of trying to hang it yet, I better get practicing my PCT hang.

I also have alot of water carrying equipment.   I’m bringing a 2 ltr bladder for camp and then a few bottles for the day.  All in all I could carry 5 ltrs of water out of camp on my C2C, and I don’t need any where near that much on the AT.  Maybe there will be scope for cutting some of this capacity out, but if it means only one trip to a water source then who knows and at 1.35 oz that’s not all that much.  It will also mean I can use my filter as a gravity feed rather than having to sit there and squeeze.  I’ve very possibly over thought this.

I have 2 sets of clothes, those for hiking and those for camp!  I figure that no matter what the weather is like during the day, its important to be able to be warm and dry in the evening.  I suppose one luxury in this department would be a full length towel, its micro fiber at least.  My hiking cloths are based on layers, and include my kilt.  It’s been a bit of a coin flip about the kilt, but it did me well on the C2C other than rubbing my calf a little when wet, so its coming.  I figure I can always post it home if its not working for me.  My clothes are mostly high street brands with the addition of injinji sock liners and darn tough socks.  I also have an Appalachian Gear alpaca hoodie, which I love.  My clothes are the one area of my pack that I think will get quite an over hall as I head north.

The final bits of the pack are toiletries, electronics first aid and the like.  This includes the very important nail clippers and tick removers!

I wonder some times how much of this gear will make it all the way, and what my pack will look like on my return flight.  It was 14.6kg (32.1lb) when I got home from the C2C.  For all the things you need to survive for 6 months, I don’t think that’s all that heavy.

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Comments 15

  • Stephen : Dec 2nd

    I don’t understand why you have 3 mid layers (Alpaca hoodie, mid layer, AND mid layer for camp)? Choose one. I’d take the Alpaca hoodie because it will dry quicker and smell less bad.

    • Craigen : Dec 3rd

      The logic right now is that I can add layers if it gets cold whilst I’m hiking and also I have a dry set of clothes for when I stop hiking. I don’t want to be sat around in the evening in wet gear and I don’t want wet gear on in my tent.

      • Stephen : Dec 3rd

        You probably won’t hike with your mid-layer on except for a bit in the mornings. Even if it does get a bit damp, you can dry it out at lunch (and put your puffy on to stay warm).

        • Craigen : Dec 3rd

          What can I say, I like my creature comforts!

  • thetentman : Dec 2nd

    Nice post. It will be interesting to compare this list with the final list.


    • Craigen : Dec 3rd

      It sure will!

  • Cassandra : Dec 2nd

    Your pack says 4.5 ounces, that can’t be right can it?

    • Craigen : Dec 3rd

      No, that can’t be right. Thanks I’ll take a look.

      • Craigen : Dec 3rd

        Turns out its 72oz

  • Mie : Dec 2nd

    You might want to look into a foam pad rather than doubling up on sleep mats. Also a small multi tool like a Leatherman micra or Gerber dime

    • Craigen : Dec 3rd

      I don’t think I can bring any kind of knife on a flight so I’ll pick one up when I get to the USA. I’ll also need a phone sim a plug for electronics and food!

      • Kirsten : Dec 4th

        Get Airalo and get an e-sim. It’s much easier than trying to hunt down a SIM card in the States

        • Craigen : Dec 4th

          Err ok? I’ll have to Google that as I’m a bit of a technophobe! Thanks though will do!

  • Garry Fay : Dec 2nd

    What kilt do you hike in or do you use several? I’m shopping.

    • Craigen : Dec 3rd

      I have a 100% wool kilt made in my family tartan, which is Henderson.


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