Obligatory Gear List and Photo!
My Thru-Hike Gear
The obligatory gear gear layout! Here it is, a little over 30 days to start this grand adventure, and my gear assembly is complete. This is all the gear I am taking, minus the clothes I will wear (they are still in the laundry from my last training session). My base weight is 25.8 lbs. I will break down my gear by item and the reason I am taking what I am. While I know many Thru-Hikers, especially the ultra-light devotees will cringe at the weight, I do not find it remotely over taxing. My training has been with 25lbs and water, so I am confident with my selection of equipment.
The Big Three
I will start with the Big Three. My pack is an Osprey Atmos 65, my tent an MSR Huba Huba NX, with footprint, and my sleeping bag, an REI Flash. I chose the Osprey 65 because I plan on longer hikes in the future, such as the PCT. I went with the MSR 2 person tent for the extra room and for when I bring my better half on trips. The Flash was good enough for the AT and what I plan to hike in the future.
I am hiking in Kuhl Liberator pants, which have the zip away lower leg, and a Kuhl Airspeed shirt. I have decided, based on years of experience of living in the woods/mountains/deserts/swamps/jungles, that I will also have spare clothes. My second pair of pants are Kuhl liberators’s, but no lower legs, so just as shorts. My second top is a Kuhl technical T-shirt. I also have a Kuhl hat for when it rains (Hey Kuhl…lots of free advertising here, can I get a bone?). Belt is an ARC’TERYX Conveyor. Boots are Lowa Renegade GTX. Socks are Rocky S2V, with two spare pair. Camp shoes are Five Fingers, and camp top is my military silky (which also serves as a lightweight base layer). Rain jacket is Kuhl Jetstream, and the down Jacket is a Mountain Hardware Dynotherm. Gloves are Brooks lightweight running gloves. And my keffiyeh, which I received in Iraq.
My Choice of clothes was for ruggedness. and the spares are for damage replacement and for when one set is wet. Having a dry set of clothes is beneficial in preventing rashes, chaffing, and misery. The socks are a must. Anytime your socks get wet they should be changed out to prevent foot issues. I have walked, literally, thousands of miles with a pack, and dry socks have kept me going when others started to fall to blisters and other issues.
First Aid and Personal Hygiene
First aid is not negotiable. I have mentioned on a previous blog that trying to save weight by skimping on first aid is down right negligent. I am not bringing a surgical kit, but a few band-aids, neosporin, a few anti-diarrhea pills, my allergy meds, a few alcohol pads, a few motrin, bug spray, and a small roll of Ace wrap.
The personal hygiene kit will include a small bottle of Dr. Bronner’s no sent liquid soap for cleaning Everything. Nail clippers, tooth paste and brush, with a microfiber towel (Don’t Panic…HHGTG, you know what I am talking about)! Of course there will be baby-wipes and a Deuce of Spades trowel for the proper download of Class I!
The remainder of my items don’t fall in any particular category, so I will lump them all here!
I am bribing a flashlight and headlamp, with one set of spare batteries (nothing like needing light at night and your batteries go dead). Why two light sources? I plan to do some night hiking while I am on this trek. From experience two sources of light make a world of difference if you come to a difficult part of the trail. I can strap the handheld light to a shoulder strap and have double the light, not just where my head is pointing.
I will be using my Samsung phone for a GPS, with a copy of the AT Guide, for navigation. My phone will have a case strapped to my shoulder pad. It also has a glass shield. It will be on airplane mode with GPS only, and not on continuously. I will spot check every hour to verify. I will bring a battery charger that can charge my phone five times. That should be enough to get me between points where I can recharge my charger. It will also be my camera, and I have a Bluetooth selfie stick to document my journey.
For my cooking, I have an MSR Pocket Rocket 2, which is an excellent stove, and very light. A one liter titanium Toaks cooking cup for making my delicious feasts, and a Sea to Summit titanium knife and fork to eat said feast with. I am bringing two cans of fuel, it is better to have and need, than to need and not have. I might drop one before I go and just wing it if I run out. My food will be kept in an Ursack bear bag with a waterproof Sea to Summit bag. Water will be carried in a 3 liter Camel-back, with a Mini Sawyer filter. I have two spare one liter squeeze bags if case of a camel back failure and one bottle of water purification in case of a filter failure. I will not be stuck out there with no water.
For comfort I have a Synmat Hyperlite (M) w/stuff sack & repair kit for sleeping because I have slept on the hard ground too many times in the past. Earplugs to keep the mosquito buzzing and snoring away. A Benchmade Adamas 375 for my mental comfort since the hassle of a pistol is not worth it. A multi-tool is also in the kit because, what can’t it do?
Finally, I have an American Flag. This flag has been with me on five of the seven continents, flown or hung in numerous countries, has been carried on almost every parachute jump I did in the military, and on two ocean dives while doing Scuba operations in the military. It is not a negotiable item. USA FTW!
Resupply and Town Time
My plan is to spend only enough time in any town to buy resupplies, charge my phone and phone charger, and pick up any mail. There will be no Zeros in a town, I will only Zero, more likely, Nero on the trail. I am not hiking the AT to sleep in a hotel or hostel, I can do that anywhere.
Why Am I Confident About My Gear Selection?
I spent years in the Army, as a Ranger, Infantryman, and because of this, I know what I can carry. In over 25 years of walking with a rucksack (the Army term for a backpack) on my back, I never once carried anything remotely as light as 25 lbs. I have also trained for almost a year with a 30 lb pack, on trails, on the stair machine, and have no issues. The extra items that many will not carry, will be worth it to me. There have been more times than I can count where I was in need of something that I did not have, and as I said earlier, better to have and not need, than to need and not have. I can and will enjoy my hike. HYOH!
Sage Advice, Wit, and Witticism!
Remember, statistically speaking, the single biggest contributing factor for all successful Thru-Hikes is…Starting!
I look forward to seeing you on the Trail, or keeping you posted about this adventure!
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Looking forward to following your posts. I too am mil, Critical Care RN in the AF, and will retire in Jan 2021, and the plan is to hike the AT that March. Good luck and safe trails!
Look forward to seeing your posts Steve. GO ARMY!
Thank you for your service!
Yep! Always best to be prepared. Great travels to you.
You won’t need the extra fuel can. resupply is rarely more than 4 days away. The big knife probably won’t be carried for long either. Spending no zeros in town should be negotiable. Even a badass SF snake eater needs R/R occasionally. It takes time to do laundry and shopping, then hitching back and forth to the trail means you get no rest on your town days. Just saying, be open to the occasional bed and pillow.
But, being a Ranger, I hardly need to tell you how to pack or what you can hack. Happy Trails
HUA! Sounds like a plan there Scuba! 25 pounds is cake! I was an infantry officer for 8 years and hiked all of Virginia AT 3 times with 55 pounds! I have the same motto, better to have it than not! As you can tell by my trail name, my pistol is non-negotiable as well!
Wish you all the best out there brother! I will be retired as of next year so will be out there myself. Probably going to stick to around 30 pounds since I’m getting old! See ya out there one day!
Happy trails! RLTW