Gear List: The Top 15 Albums for My Thru-Hike

Music on the Appalachian Trail

I have twenty-two more days until I take a selfie on Springer Mountain. Twenty-two more days to test my gear, unpack and repack my backpack, Lou Bagga, like a Tetris puzzle, and decide which items will support my 700 hours of hiking and which will not. Not the easiest of tasks, but I’m doing alright. However, there is one crucial item I cannot leave behind: my music.

I sifted through my tunes collection yesterday and somewhat painfully decided which songs should stay or should they go, now. It’s not a huge collection because 1.) I delete songs I no longer like and 2.) My iPhone storage is minimal if I want to save room for taking pictures (priorities!!!).

I parted ways with my 7th grade pick-me-ups and my Flo Rida favorites (moment of nostalgia here), but all fun is not lost – I may have 99 thru-hiking problems but these 15 albums ain’t one (BONUS: Some of these artists debut their music for free, which makes me love them evermore. If you want, enjoy the world of free music and click on the albums with the asterisk (*) to be taken to their site):

Top 15 Albums

  1. *The Age of Reason, Gramatik The Age of Reason - Music on the Appalachian Trail
  2. Break in the Clouds, Elephant Revival Break in the Clouds
  3. Free Somehow, Widespread Panic Free Somehow
  4. Greatest Hits, Foo Fighters Greatest Hits
  5. *In Return, ODESZA

    In Return

    One of the most beautiful, captivating and energetic albums I’ve ever listened to.

  6. The Lumineers, The Lumineers The Lumineers
  7. *Mad Liberation, GRiZ 
  8. *The Night is Young, Big Gigantic The Night Is Young
  9. *Rebel Era, GRiZ

    Rebel Era

    Griz is my man. He GETS me.

  10. Shatter Me, Lindsey Stirling

    Shatter Me

    Violin and dubstep? What? That’s a thing? It’s perfect.

  11. Miracle, Blackmill
  12. Take You Down (EP), Bassnectar Take You Down
  13. *These Changing Skies, Elephant Revival

    These Changing Skies

    Do you love folk? I love folk. And I really love Elephant Revival.

  14. Vessel, Twenty One Pilots Vessel
  15. Wild Animals, Trampled by Turtles Wild Animals

Some fave bonus tracks (for shiz and gigz):

  • “Stardust,” Minnesota
  • “Centerfold,” The J. Geils band
  • “Up, Up, & Away,” KiD CuDi
  • “Come Sail Away,” Styx (probably my favorite song of all time)
  • “Free Bird,” Lynard Skynard (duh.)
  • “Second Skin,” Widespread Panic
  • “Sympathy for the Devil,” The Rolling Stones
  • “Heroes,” David Bowie
  • “I’d Love to Change the World,” Ten Years After
  • “Music for a Found Harmonium,” Penguin Café Orchestra
  • “Opposite of Adults,” Chiddy Bang
  • “Ramble On,”  & “Going to California,” Led Zeppelin
  • “Spirit in the Sky,” Norman Greenbaum
  • “Take Me Home” Phil Collins

And lest not forget…

  • “Shake it Off,” the legend T.Swift (h8erz gonna hate, hate hate…)

For a long time, I debated not bringing music on the Appalachian Trail because I feared it would deter my nature experience. Now, I know better. When I listen to music, I am conversing with a friend. I feel love, exhilaration and a personal connection to the artist who bravely shared their talent with the world. I feel an adrenaline rush when the right beats are layered atop each other like a creamy, moist cake. Most of all, music makes me feel alive. A 2,200-mile trek awaits me, and it won’t be easy. But whether it is in silence or good vibrations, I’ll never be alone on the Appalachian Trail.

The featured image above is the album art for ODESZA’s In Return album.

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Comments 5

  • Andrew Christian Repp : Feb 17th

    That Twenty-One Pilots album is legit. Thanks for the list, I’ve got 20 days to frantically put some playlists together.

    • Michelle Hand : Feb 17th

      Twenty-One Pilots is one of my absolute favorite duos. Thanks for reading and good luck with your playlists! I’m still messing with some of mine.

    • Michelle Hand : Feb 17th

      Twenty-One Pilots is one of my absolute favorite duos. Thanks for reading and good luck with your playlists! I’m still messing with some of mine and am looking forward to getting out there; music, nature sounds and all.

  • Kayla Wright : Feb 17th

    this is awesome! This week i am actually dedicating to my music and book library for the trail. Good luck on your hike – maybe i’ll see you on the trail!

  • Ellen Baldwin : Feb 17th

    “For a long time, I debated not bringing music on the Appalachian Trail because I feared it would deter my nature experience.” I’ve been feeling that same debate over my decision to listen to audiobooks. In the end though, I’m going to do what brings me bliss. (audiobooks AND nature) Great post.


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