Planning Gear for the 2015 Appalachian Trail
I carefully crafted a spreadsheet to track all my purchases that I will need for hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2015. I included columns for 1) Item description, 2) Status (need to buy, need to find, have), 3) Weight in ounces, 4) Cost. This allows me to determine what I need to do before being ready. It also lets me easily determine my total weight and making any necessary adjustments. Since I will be hiking with my wife, I can easily move items back and forth to somewhat balance the weight between us.
I scoured the internet to get ideas about how to develop my initial gear list. There are so many references. Generally you will find that there are trade-offs between cost and weight. I believe we have come up with a good initial list and are almost finished. Most of the purchases were made using Amazon but I also made purchases from Backcountry.com and Dicks Sporting Goods. I liked purchasing online because I was able to research the item and read countless reviews before making my final decision. Flexibility is also key to getting a good price. Not being concerned about color or only purchasing an item on sale makes a difference.
Some general comments about my gear purchases:
Underwear. Decided to get ExOfficio Give-N-Go briefs. They are much more comfortable than cotton. I hear boxerjock 6″ briefs are also worthwhile so I’ll probably test those before I go.
Socks. Darn Tough Vermont socks is what we purchased. Have to love merino wool and the guarantee. They do come in different weights so will have to figure out the best weight to get. Right now I have two different weights. I also got a free pair (shipping cost only) of Thorlos KX Hiking Socks which are very comfortable but a bit bulky. I plan to use these for my sleeping socks.
Pants. We purchased Columbia convertible pants so we could have pants and shorts all in one. They are quick drying.
Footwear. Trail running shoes. Bought these from Backcountry at 50% discount with good reviews. I expect we will be replacing these eventually based on AT blogs.
Trekking poles. Got some very inexpensive AGPtek Adjustable Telescoping Anti Shock 7075 aluminum trail poles for $20/pair. I never used poles before so if I decide not to use them, no worries.
Base layer. I bought some inexpensive Dri-Duke Moisture Control Thermaform pants and the wife already had some Polartec pants and shirt made from 100% polyester.
Rain gear. Marmot PreCip jacket and pants. These are so light. If I don’t use them when it rains, I can use them while washing my clothes. My wife already has a North Face Venture rain jacket.
Jackets. Patagonia Nano Puff jacket. I saved $100 by buying the one in purple. My wife got the Nitrous Jacket – Women’s 800 Down and Nylon Shell/Lining. They pack up really small.
Tent. Kelty Salida 2 Person Tent. It is fairly light and sleeps two. Quick set-up. I bought different stakes – MSR – groundHog stakes. Also bought a tent footprint with 70D nylon 1800mm coating. Paid more than I wanted to and could have easily made one.
Sleeping bag. Had a difficult time deciding between down and synthetic. Finally decided on the Kelty Ignite DriDown 20-Degree sleeping bag. It has treated down and compresses well.
Sleeping pad. Fox Outfitters Lightweight Series self inflating mattress. They actually self inflate. Will have to purchase some straps to put the pad on the outside of the pack.
Cooking system. Was also going back and forth about what type of cooking system to purchase and finally decided on the MSR Pocket Rocket Stove. It is compact and will allow us to prepare a hot meal quickly. Also spent too much money on the Pinnacle Dualist Cooking System. Also overspent on the Light My Fire Titanium Spork but we’ll see how it works out.
Water purification. Sawyer Products SP128 Mini Water Filtration System. I like that this system was flexible and would last a long time. Also got the Platypus 2 liter platy bottle and Aquamira 1oz water treatment drops for emergencies/backup. Normally I don’t have the room/weight tolerance for backups but given my previous experience, want some insurance.
Pack. Kept reading that several people would take too much stuff so decided to keep my pack small to avoid that issue. Decided on the Bear Grylls Patrol 45 Extended-Day Pack. Initial assessments indicate that this may be a bit too small given our gear but we’ll see after all the dust settles.
There are a bunch of other items in my gear list but I will cover those during a different post.
Even though I have most of the items I will need, my list is still not complete. I decided to go for a test run and stuffed everything into my pack. First I noticed that I had to place the tent poles on the outside of the pack. I put the tent in the pack which took up too much space. With everything in my pack I didn’t have room for food or water. So I will need to determine how to better pack the tent and also get straps for the sleeping pad.
For my initial walk. Notice I didn’t write “hike” as I was going over flat, even terrain. I weighed the pack at 19.2 pounds. I walked a little over 10 miles in 2 hours and 45 minutes. The experience reinforced in my mind how different walking with a pack is to walking without a pack or running. Much different. It was about 80 degrees out and I was glad I had my special underwear and pants for quick drying. I used an old pair of sneakers which was a mistake (my hiking shoes haven’t arrived yet) as I felt hot spots on the soles of my feet quickly. Almost got a blister but not quite. I definitely felt the straps of the pack but overall it was fairly comfortable. I had a general soreness and I started to feel my shins at the end. Of course I knew that when I finished I would be taking a nice shower and changing into comfortable clean clothes. So I plan to do this for six months over uneven terrain, with elevation, with no shower/clean clothes at the end? Sounds a bit crazy to me.
Here is a copy of my spreadsheet: Hiking Packing List
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