My Appalachian Trail Winter Thru-Hike Gear List

hiking viking backpack

Oh hi, it’s me, The Real Hiking Viking.  As we learned in my previous post, I’m currently en route, SOBO thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail.  Yes, in Winter.  Tomorrow, I’m taking on the Mahoosuc Notch.  Wish me luck.

But it’s gotta be incredibly cold and snowy,” you say.  You bet your ass it is.  That’s why I have to ensure I’m properly equipped for the harshest of conditions, as the alternative could result in death.  For those who are curious, here’s what I’m carrying.


Granite Gear Nimbus Trace 60 Liter (no lid)


Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1 Platinum (although I will use shelters as often as possible)

Tent Stakes

Vargo Titanium Tent Stake (shepherds hook with orange fluorescent head)

Sleep system

hiking viking sleep system

I utilize this entire sleep system every night. The synthetic overquilt is to provide a moisture/condensation barrier for my down bag. The synthetic insulation can get wet and still retain its insulating properties, much better than hydrophobic down. It is a very warm and effective system. I thank Trauma for his suggestions to use this method as this is what he and Pepper used on their PCT winter hike last year.

Down bag

Big Agnes Bellyache 17 degree

Over quilt

Enlightened Equipment Prodigy 30 degree synthetic quilt (Climashield)


Thermarest NeoAir X-Lite

Foam pad

Thermarest Z-Lite


hiking viking clothes

I will typically only wear the Woolies 1 & 2 with the MontBell Tachyon Anorak as a vapor barrier between the two underneath my rain jacket. If the day is colder I can add the Woolies 3 Hoodie or my OR Cathode Jacket and/or the Rab Down Hoody depending on conditions. I like to keep a pair of socks and top and bottom dry for sleeping if at all possible. But in emergency situations will wear what I need to in order to be warm. Layering needs to be pretty fluid depending on weather, temperatures, and if I am ascending or descending.

Ibex merino baselayers:

Woolies 1 Zip T-NeckWoolies 1 BottomWoolies 2 Zip T-NeckWoolies 2 BottomWoolies 3 Hoody
Energy Free Tight (winter-weight will stretch tight), Woolies 1 Boxer Brief

Vapor Barrier:

MontBell Tachyon Anorak


I use the synthetic insulation overtop of my down jacket in the same way the synthetic overquilt is used.

Outdoor Research Cathode Hooded JacketRab Microlight Alpine Down Hoody

Rain Gear:

hiking viking rain gear

I wear both of these all day long.

Outdoor Research Foray JacketOutdoor Research Foray Pants


I will wear the liner sock followed by the neoprene sock and then depending on how cold it’s going to be that day I will either wear the medium cushion or the the extra heavy cushion over top of the neoprene sock. Having the neoprene sock as a vapor barrier traps all the sweat and keeps it from reaching my boot so it doesn’t freeze from the inside due to exterior temperatures.

(2) Point 6 expedition tech xheavy mid- calf, (3) Point 6 nordic haymaker medium crew, (3) Point 6 nordic bruce’s no cushion crewNeoSock Neoprene sock


Asolo TPS 520 GTX (a full size bigger to accommodate the sock layering system).


I wear all three combined in the coldest and wettest conditions.

Ibex Stretch Merino Glove linerZ-Packs Fleece MittsZ-Packs Cuben Fiber Rain Mitt


Mountainsmith Trucker Hat (typical hiking hat), Ibex Meru Beanie (for use during extreme cold days hiking), Z-Packs Fleece Beenie (for sleep), Outdoor Research Ninjaclava (for protecting skin from frostbite in the exposed alpine)


Native Eyewear Sidecar

Trekking Poles:

Leki Summit AS w/ snow baskets

Camera pack:

Mountainsmith Swift FX Lumbar Pack (modified to be a chest pack that clips into the shoulder straps)


Fujifilm X-T1 with FUJINON LENS XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR


Gossamer Gear Chrome Dome

Water bottles:

(2) 32oz Nalgene w/ neoprene sleeves

Water Treatment:

Aqua Mira


Snowpeak LiteMax Titanium Stove with Mini Bic Lighter


Vargo Bot 1 liter Titanium pot with neoprene sleeve


Vargo Titanium Long Handle Spoon


Vargo titanium folding knife

hiking viking snow gear


MSR Lightning Ascent 25″

Ice Axe:

Petzl Snowalker 60


Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro


Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra


Hillsound Armadillo LT Gaiter



iPhone 6s Plus w/ waterproof case and headphones

Emergency beacon/Satellite communicator:

Delorme inReach Explorer

Battery Pack:

Anker PowerCore 16,000 mAh


Black Diamond Storm

Trail guides:

AWOL’s AT GuideGuthook’s Guide: AT Hiker

If you’d like to follow my journey, let’s hangout on Facebook and Instagram.


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Comments 14

  • Robert : Jan 2nd

    Semper Fi

  • Co-Ed : Jan 3rd

    Why are you caring crampons and micro spikes? What do you do with your snow shoes when there is no snow on the trail?

    • The Real Hiking Viking : Jan 3rd

      I ship any gear forward that I am not using. I haven’t had to carry my snow shoes yet. And I have the crampons for more aggressive icy terrain. I lost a crampon the other day when I lost the trail in some real thick stuff and I was glad I had my micro spikes with me as well.

  • Adam Raven : Jan 3rd

    Heard rumor the other day that you were sponsored? Any truth to this?

    • The Real Hiking Viking : Jan 10th

      Yeah man there is truth to that. I personally wouldn’t be able to do what I do without those sponsors providing the latest and greatest for me to get on the trails and live the life I love. I have a great relationship with several brands and I am very thankful for the opportunities to work with all of them.

  • John Heneghan : Jan 3rd

    Don’t hear of many using a vapor barrier. Used in drier cold climates. How do you like it?

  • Rob : Jan 4th

    What kind of pack weight are you carrying on average?

  • Bruce Leadbetter : Jan 4th

    My understanding is that Aquamira isn’t a purifier/sanitizer . . . am I wrong?

  • Aqualiz : Jan 5th

    Safe travels and have a great time!

  • Miko : Jan 7th

    I’m sorry that winter is just not performing this year! It’s a damn shame for all of us hoping to enjoy a winter wonderland. Watch out for that rain in the whites sunday, darn nino. I can believe that you haven’t had to use snowshoes, there is hardly any good snow anywhere in the east except northern maine. Unfortunately that rain and mid 40s sunday could take that away too. But hey, safe travels through the whites and the rest of new england, should be smooth sailing from there. Keep Truckin!

  • E : May 21st

    So is the umbrella for your sponsors sake cuz that caught me as fairly odd.

  • Raymond : Jan 1st

    Hey! How did you make out on your winter thru hike? I just found this blog and read it with great interest. It is now 1-1-2017, and I’m curious to know how your hike turned out.

    I thru hiked the AT in 2008, the Virginia/West Virginia portion in 2014, and will be doing another thru hike this year.

    I highly doubt I would do a winter hike, mainly because I hate the cold!

    But you have earned my greatest respect for doing the near impossible.

  • Ben : Jan 5th

    Question about your sleep system: A vapor barrier in the construction industry is always on the warm side of insulation system so if I understand your system correctly the synthetic quilt would be in direct contact with you and the down sleeping bag on the outside. Is this correct?
    Same thing with the dress layer? Usually with dress layer the insulation is on the inside and the outside would be wind and rain protection and breathable or not the outside shell would act as a vapor barrier on which your sweat would condensate and eventually you’d get wet from the inside.
    Still correct?


  • Bart : Oct 30th

    Thanks for your list
    you might want to recheck all your links


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