All Packed Up: Mariposa’s Appalachian Trail Gear List

Although packing lists for thru-hikers tend to be pretty universal, most AT packing lists I’ve seen are tailored towards men. As a woman, I have some additional items I have or want to take, and also I am shooting for a lower weight limit. Additionally, because of my budget constraints, I got much of my gear discount (REI outlet, Black Friday sales, etc.), so most of it is not ultra-light, state-of-the-art gear. Still, with five days of food and 2.5 liters of water, my pack comes to 36 lbs. Of course, I’m hoping the shake-down at Neels Gap (and maybe some comments here), but this is my starting point.

Instead of bringing a rain cover (which everyone says will leak in a heavy storm anyway), I’m putting everything in a drybag or in two ziploc bags. Since I’m an organizer freak, I’d want everything compartmentalized anyway, so I think this works best for me.

Clothes (when packed, warmer layers weigh 2.8 lbs.)

Mariposa thru-hiking clothes
Although I’m doing a lot of layering while it’s cold, I’m only bringing one set of everything (with underwear and bras being the exception). Avoiding all things cotton, I’m bringing (from the outer layer in):

gear listOn the bottom, I’m similarly layering:

Of course, I can’t forget my feet and my face:

wool socks

  • Warm socks (Merino SmartWool from River Sports)
  • Regular socks (polyester socks from Wal-Mart)
  • Gloves/mittens (mine are the converting kind; Champion from Target)
  • Winter hat (Adidas)
  • Fleece balaclava (Sportty 6 in 1 Thermal Fleece from
  • Baseball cap (more swag from my swimming days)
  • Glasses — I normally wear contacts, but got these instead so I don’t have to lug around a bottle of saline solution and a mirror.

Sleeping (6.6 lbs)

sleeping system

I’m bringing a hammock system instead of a tent, since I find it more comfortable and easier to set up.

Food (five days of food weighs 10.8 lbs.)

For convenience, I tried to divide up my food based on the time of day. Each morning before setting out, I’ll pull out my lunch and snacks for that day and put them in an outside pocket of my pack. Here’s an example of five days worth of food for me:

DSC_0232For breakfast:

  • A Pop Tart
  • 1 packet of oatmeal
  • Tea

at snacks

For snacks and lunch:

  • Crackers
  • Trail mix (I just mix together chocolate chips, pretzels, and craisins)
  • 1 Power Bar
  • 1 Twix bar
  • Tortilla and tuna

For dinner:

  • Dehydrated noodles or soup
  • Dehydrated mashed potatoes
  • Cookies
  • Nutella with Wheat Thins (or fresh apples if I’m only a day or two in from a re-supply)

at dinner
Check out my previous post for how to make an esbit stove and to see what I’m carrying.

Water (up to 7.2 lbs.)


  • Plastic water bottle (empty Gatorade bottle)
  • 2 L water bladder (from Amazon, also available at Wal-Mart)
  • Purification tablets (Potable Aqua Water Treatment Tablets from Amazon and Wal-Mart)

Potty pocket (0.8 lbs.)

If the word “menstrual” makes you uncomfortable, you may want to skip this section.

menstruation appalachian trail

  • Toilet paper roll
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Pads, tampons, and pantiliners
  • Re-useable odor-blocking bag (from Mast General Store)

I put all my “bathroom” necessities in an outside pocket of my pack, for easy access. To save space, I took the cardboard tube out of a toilet paper roll, and I’ll pull the paper out from the center.

Many female thru-hikers use alternative methods for combating the menstrual cycle (such as extra birth control or the Diva Cup), but I’m just going the traditional route. It may take up a bit more space, but it’s still very light weight. As for the pantiliners, I highly recommend them for daily use in any situation where you’re not washing your underwear very often.

Health and Hygiene
first aid

In my first aid/medicine kit:

  • Loratidine (Claritin)
  • Ibuprofen (Advil)
  • Naproxen Sodium (Aleve)
  • Band-aids
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Antacid (Tums)
  • Emergency blanket
  • IcyHot (for sore muscles–I love this stuff!)

In my hygiene kit:

  • Deoderant with 10 ft. of duct tape wrapped around it
  • Razor
  • Lotion
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Half a bar of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap (works as body wash, shampoo, conditioner, and even detergent)
  • Strong insect repellant
  • Camp towel/shammy (from Wal-Mart)
  • Other miscellaneous items (2.0 lbs.)


In a drybag, I’m carrying:

  • Headlamp
  • SPOT device (GPS tracker that allows my mom will sleep at night during my thru-hike)
  • Lighter
  • Phone charger
  • Earbuds

In the waistband pockets of my pack, I’m carrying:

  • Pepper spray
  • Combination whistle/compass (it was cheaper than the other compasses at Wal-Mart)
  • Phone that will also serve as my camera
  • Chapstick
  • Swiss Army Knife
  • Chewing gum
  • Cash, credit cards, ID, and health insurance card (with a Post-It listing my medical allergies)
  • My version of Zach Davis’ famous lists – little laminated cards for when I’m discouraged, exhausted, lonely, etc. I also made a playlist of songs on my phone for each mood.

In double-bagged gallon ziplocs, I’m carrying:

  • My journal
  • A pen
  • 1 month of pages of AWOL’s Northbound AT Guide (the other pages are being sent in my monthly re-supply mail drops)
  • 1 month of sections I tore out of my Bible. You could do this with other books, too, if you don’t mind ripping them apart.

Last, but not least

boots, poles, jacket

Of course, I’m also bringing my pack itself (Gossamer Gear Mariposa–the origin of my trail name!), my hiking boots (I’ve had these for awhile and don’t remember the name), and trekking poles (Traverse PowerLock Cork Women’s from REI online).


And there you have it–all packed up.

See you on the trail!


EDIT:  Changes I Made After I Started Hiking

Thirteen days and 165 miles into my hike, I am currently taking my first day off (“zero day”) and making some changes to my gear.  The only thing I’m removing is food, for I originally packed about twice as much per day as I’ve actually been eating.  Here are some additions that now seem worth the additional weight:

  • A paperback novel (first, A Picture of Dorian Gray, and then I’m going to read the Divergent series).  I have no idea why I thought I could live without reading.  Clearly that was a bit delusional.
  • A deck of cards
  • A third pair of socks.  I still don’t think I need as many changes of clothing as other hikers seem to be bringing, but with a third pair of socks, I can have a pair for sleeping in and two pairs to hike in.  After unsuccessfully trying to dry my socks out on a rainy day, but ultimately putting wet socks right back on the next morning, I decided a third pair was a good investment.
  • A down vest.  I’ve stayed warm each night so far, but the temperature is about to drop 10 or more degrees in the Smokies.   My sleeping bag is only rated to 12 degrees, so I’m taking the vest to make sure my core stays warm.   Along with some other cold-weather layers, I’ll ditch it in Virginia.
  • Blister tape.  My dad hiked the first two weeks with me and brought some along.  I think it might be magical because it utterly eradicated my blister pain.
  • Camp shoes.  A pair of flip-flops that’s waterproof, cheap, and lightweight is worth the rest for your feet at the end of a long day!


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