A New(bie) Thru-Hiker Take on the Pre-Thru-Hike Gear List

I know what you’re thinking. “Oh God, another gear list.” Well, I can promise you that this one is short, sweet, and relatively painless to get through. It also doesn’t cost a million dollars or include everything Zpacks has ever made (no shade). Also, I don’t brag about being ultralight because, drum roll, I’m not. My base weight is currently over 10 pounds.

I’ve done my best to include links to the gear, with a few exceptions made for the items I’ve owned for years. Some of the most important considerations for me when choosing new gear was weight, cost, and material (vegan friendly). I listed the gear in sections with weight, price, and a quick blurb as to why I chose that piece of gear. I purchased most of my new gear from REI and I did so for two main reasons: 1) shipping to the store is free and 2) those sweet, sweet co-op member dividends. Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty.

The Gear List


Zpacks Arc Blast 55 L

  • 20.1 oz
  • 325 USD
  • durable
  • highly recommended by experienced thru-hikers
The Big Three

Tent: Gossamer Gear’s The One 

  • 23.81 oz /out Stake Bag and Line
  • 299.25 USD
  • I was looking for a lightweight and affordable single-walled tent and this fit the bill. Also, The Trek and Backpacker Radio had a sweet promo code going on when I purchased this tent.

Quilt: Enlightened Equipment Revelation Custom (20F)

  • 30.14oz (synthetics are usually heavier)
  • 210 USD
  • I chose a synthetic bag because of the whole me being a vegan thing.
  • It’s a 20-degree quilt because I’ll be starting my hike in the winter.

Sleeping Pad: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Regular

  • 12oz
  • r-value 3.2
  • 169.95 USD
  • Trifecta
Cook Kit and Water Filtration


  • 7.6oz
  • 84.95 USD
  • I  have two reasons for choosing the Ursack – firstly, I don’t want to carry a bear canister unless I absolutely have to; secondly,  I don’t believe that a normal bear bag would be sufficient to keep out the cute, food stealing rodents.

BLS UL Stove

  • .88oz w/out stuff sack
  • 14.99 USD
  • Darwin on the trail recommended this in one of his videos on going ultra-light on a budget. Also, if I’m going to skimp on anything, it’s going to be a stove that I’ll probably be too tired to use most of the time.

TOAKS Light Titanium 550ml Pot

  • 1.9oz w/out stuff sack
  • 29.95USD

TOAKS Titanium Spork

  • .6oz
  • 8.95 USD

Sawyer Squeeze 

  • 1.5oz w/ only one bag and the filter
  • 34.95US
  • I don’t want diarrhea
Hiking Clothes, Head to Toe


  • 1.2oz
  • price varies based on type and design
  • I got a cool blue one

Headlamp: Cree Headlamp

  • 3.2oz
  • 10.00 USD
  • has a lot of the same features as BD Spot, but is brighter and lighter

Shirt: Patagonia Capilene Cool Lightweight Shirt Men’s

  • 2.6oz
  • 32-45 USD
  • already had this as a running shirt

Shorts: Patagonia Men’s Strider Pro Running Shorts 5″

  • 3.7oz
  • 50-65 USD
  • already had these for running in

Socks: Darn Tough Coolmax Micro Crew Cushion Socks – Men’s

  • 2.08oz
  • 16.95USD
  • the trade-in program and hiker reviews sold me on these

Shoes: Altra King MT 1.5 Trail Running Shoe – Women’s Size 9.5

  • 9.6oz
  • 89.98 USD
  • I got the ugly pink and gray ones because they were on sale

Trekking Poles: Cascade Mountain Tech Aluminum Adjustable Trekking Poles  w/ Cork Grip

  • 10.4oz
  • 22.95 USD
  • another piece of budget UL gear in one of Darwin on the trail’s videos
Camp Clothes and Layers

Dry Bag: Zpacks Medium

  • .71oz
  • 28 USD
  • dry clothes = important

Beanie: a Patagonia beanie I got for X-mas years ago

Gloves: a pair of Burton brand gloves that are touch screen compatible. I bought them at a sporting goods store years ago.

Camp shoes: Xero Cloud

  • 8oz
  • 49.99 USD
  • I was in need of durable sandals to wear  on and off-trail

Socks: REI Co-op COOLMAX

  • 3.4oz
  • 9.93 USD

Mid-layer: Patagonia Capilene baselayer that I’ve been running in for years

Cold Weather Jacket: Patagonia Men’s Nano Puff 

  • 11.9oz
  • 199 USD
  • Patagonia can have all my money

Rain Jacket: Montbell Versalite

  • 6.4oz
  • 199 USD
  • replaced my Outdoor Research Helium jacket; has pit zips and better adjustment straps

Leggings: just a random pair of Reebok yoga pants that I have for running

Ditty Bag

Dry Bag: Zpacks Small

  • .49oz
  • 19.00 USD
  • will probably replace w/ a Ziploc bag


Hygiene: Vaseline, Hand Sanitizer, Sunscreen

First Aid: antibiotic ointment, duct tape, needle and thread (for blisters)

Repair: Sawyer O-ring replacement, other included repair kits


Luxury Items

Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Regular

  • 2.7oz
  • 42.95 USD
  • gotta get good z’s

Sea to Summit X-Cup

  • 2.4oz
  • 12.95 USD
  • coffee is life and it deserves its own cup

Pride Button

  • just a little representative flare on my pack


See, I told you that would be relatively painless. As Porky Pig says: “That’s all folks.”


Gear Layout

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Comments 19

  • Kristen : Jan 6th

    I like your tent choice, and reason for including a Sawyer water filtration system, “I don’t want diarrhea.” Humor in seriousness. Seeing the selected gear has me excited for you to begin your trek!

    • Andrea Johnson : Jan 6th

      Thank you! I wanted to write a piece that was seriously thought out but also funny and not intimidating. When I was doing gear research I just kept seeing things like “my 6lb gear list” and “the best tent is this 700 dollar one that’s half a pound.” It was intimidating and unrealistic for a new thru-hiker.

  • Pat Pedersen : Jan 6th

    Andrea, looking forward to your adventure. Living vicariously through you until I can convince get my self motivated to put this at the top of my bucket list! Thank you.

    • Andrea Johnson : Jan 6th

      Thank you, Pat. I wish you the best and I hope your life path leads you to this adventure, too.

  • Gene : Jan 7th

    You have a stove but no fuel or a way to light the stove ?

    • Andrea Johnson : Jan 7th

      Fuel doesn’t count towards the base-weight, which is why it isn’t on this list. As far as lighting the stove, well there is a lighter included in the list.

  • Stephen M : Jan 8th

    The headlamp came up unavailable on the affiliate marketing link but I liked the idea of brighter and lighter.

    Wish you luck on your through hike.

  • Russell : Jan 8th

    Andrea, I like the list and the thought you have put into it. With your Feb. start you will be pushing snow (gaiters?). Our coldest night last year was March 1 at -6 F. The sleep/camp socks I would go with a mountaineering pair from Darn Tough. Do yo have leggings or pants for hiking on the days that it is below freezing and blowing like crazy? I see you have them in the sleep system but you don’t want to rob the sleep system for hiking. We started January 22 from Springer last year and didn’t go above freezing (day or night) for the first three weeks. 20 degree bag is fine if you have layers to wear while in your bag and for the midnight runs to the privy. Good luck and just keep plowing north! Wagon Hammer – Class 2019

    • Andrea Johnson : Jan 8th

      I’ll most likely be adding a pair of snow pants to my gear list. I plan on doing some gear reevaluation around Neal Gap.

      Did you wear trail shoes or boots?

      • Russell : Jan 8th

        Son and I wore Oboz Bridgers (got 1,000 miles on the first pair) and finished on the second.

        • Andrea Johnson : Jan 9th

          Thank you!

  • James Lindquist : Jan 9th

    Class of 2011 MEGA – isn’t so much fun going through all the gear and reasoning with yourself of why you need it and the benefit you’ll get out of each item?

    Your list looks solid for sure, but once you start I feel confident you’ll tweak your list and likely continue to do so at every post office you pass by.

    Enjoy every step. Hike your hike.

    • James Lindquist : Jan 9th

      Isn’t it *

    • Andrea Johnson : Jan 9th

      It was! I was looking into going ultralight but then decided that it wasn’t for me. I wanted to find a happy medium between going ul and also having some items that would make the trip a little more comfortable. Hence the pillow and collapsible coffee cup. Another thing I considered was, especially when buying clothing items, is how I would use it off the trail. It would be hard to justify spending large sums of money on something that I’m only going to use for three to five months.

  • Alex D : Jan 9th

    I’ve been plant based for some time now too which caused me to seek out a synthetic bag. I have a trailpod 15 for colder 2-3 night trips but may be grabbing up the revelation to lighten up for longer trips. It’s hard taking a weight penalty for your belief system so cheers to you!

  • Eme Kennede : Mar 7th

    So you are okay with wool as a vegan? I am on the fence with wool (as a vegan morale for myself) and know it has many benefits for thru hiking, but just can not divide it out myself. I know capilene air is one of the beat night/base at the moment for most.

    • Lisa Pulsifer : Mar 7th

      As a vegan you should definitely be on the wool side of the fence. Wool is one of the best fibers in the world and the athletic alternatives are nearly all petroleum (evil oil!) based. Sheep actually benefit from being shorn. They are fed a healthy diet to keep their wool in good condition. The actually shearing process takes about 30-60 seconds and the sheep gets up, shakes it off, and walks away (or prances in some cases!) Plus sheep need wide open fields, grass, wildflowers, and trees in their environment. The more sheep we keep, the fewer refineries and oilsands we support.

    • Andrea Johnson : Mar 7th

      I forgot my login, but here’s the answer to your question.

      Personally, no, I do not wear wool. I wore Darn Tough synthetic socks during my time on the trail. They have a lifetime warranty and you can trade them in when they fall apart for a free pair regardless of whether they’re wool or synthetic. I don’t use down or any other animal based product either. Most outdoor companies have “responsibly sourced” down, wool, etc, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t make a difference to me. However, each person, vegan or not, is different.

      Both synthetic and non-synthetic gear has it’s list of pros and cons. For example, my synthetic bag weighs more and packs down bigger than a down bag, but it will retain its warmth when wet, unlike down. With all that being said, it all is personal preference. I am willing to take the “weight penalty” because of my personal beliefs.

      I hope this helps answer your questions 🙂

      Also, yes, the capilene air base was wonderful. They are sized a bit odd, though.

      Best of luck on your adventures,



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