The Standouts (Gear That Works For Me)
We are sitting in a hotel Helen, Georgia waiting for Carolina’s LCL sprain to heal up and I’ve had some time to reflect. Specifically on gear. More specifically, the gear that has stood out to me as most effective.
Starting from the bottom. I’m starting with socks because they go on your feet. Your feet are important because A) they get your ass from A to B and B) can be the most troublesome aspects of the hike.
My feet set up includes Injinji wool liner socks and Wigwam wool hikers. This combination of wool foot coverings equals foot heaven. I have no blisters, nor do I believe that I will get any.
The liners separate my toes and add just enough bulk with the socks to keep my feet from rubbing in my (properly fitting) shoes. In addition, the wool squared keeps my feet dry by regulating my foot temp.
Side note: I’m officially sold on Injinji socks and will be purchasing many more varieties.
For my choice of footwear, I’m currently wearing the Merrell All Out Peak. These things are COMFY.
They have a wide toe box so that my toes can spread out. The HyperWrap system and molded heel cup keep my foot stable. A generous amount of mesh means my feet stay cool and these things dry FAST. And the Vibram Megagrip rubber compound/lug shape combination ensure I have grip at all times. I have yet to slip in them.
I’ve also purchased some Superfeet green insoles for arch support, which means almost zero foot soreness. Sure, they may look like “dad shoes”, but with this set up, my feet feel bulletproof.
Camp shoes are a matter of preference. Some carry them. Some don’t. Some wear Crocs. Most wear Crocs. Some wear flops. I’m wearing these slides.
It is absolutely SILLY how comfortable these things are. I mean, sliding your foot into this sandle is like shoving your foot into a giant marshmallow. Shoes this comfortable are probably illegal in certain countries and alternate universes.
After a long day on your feet, these things are like a big comfy bed for your hooves.
Big climbs burn your calves and Georgia is full of them from the start. However, my calves have nary suffered so far. A big reason is because I’ve been using these compression sleeves for recovery.
Compression sleeves are amazing pieces of kit. I’m not going to get into the whole science behind them (Google compression sleeves for more info), but I will say that I have had ZERO soreness in my calves, which has me taking climbs like a GOTDAMN mountain goat.
I started off using a Klymit Pillow X. I’ll be blunt. That pillow can kiss my ass. Sleeping comfortably with that pillow is like trying to win at a carnival midway game; impossible.
Enter the Cocoon Travel Pillow. This thing should just be called Zzzzz because you will sleep. Hard. You will drool. A lot. This is the most comfortable camp pillow I’ve ever tried. And it weighs just 4 oz.
The second piece to my success in the outdoor sleeping arena is the Klymit KSB 20. This is the most comfortable sleeping bag I’ve ever used.
The lining feels like silk. It has stretch baffles in the leg area so you can sleep comfortably on your side bending your legs, or stretching out on your back. The hood is plush, has ample room for the pillow and has a collar that you can seal up to keep heat in the bag. It also has a pocket in the inside for your cell phone. Innovation and comfort combined.
Your pack is almost literally the backbone of your hike. It’s weight, comfort, and ability to haul all of your shit can make or break your hike.
There isn’t much else that can be said about the Granite Gear Crown VC 60 that hasn’t already been said. It’s ultralight, super comfortable, cavernous, and durable as all hell. I don’t even feel this thing on my back after a while. Perfect.
Last, but not least, is the edged tool of my kit. For some reason, knives are a controversial topic on the AT and I have no earthly idea why.
I decided on bringing my Mora Bushcraft Black on this hike. It’s lightweight, shaving sharp, easy to sharpen and the sheath hangs low off of my belt so it doesn’t get in the way of my pack’s waist straps.
So far, I’ve used it to process firewood, make feathers ticks and tinder for fire, to make fire, cut food, cut cordage, etc. It’s been an amazing tool so far and I’m glad I brought it.
I have to give an honorable mention to our Nemo Hornet 2P. We sleep VERY comfortably in this tent.
There is ample room for us with our sleeping pads and bags to move and shift during the night. It keeps us warm, yet has adequate ventilation. It has two zippered entry ways in both sides so we can get up and out without disturbing one another. It also has two vestibules for our gear. Awesome.
However, there is little room IN the tent for much else other than us, our pads and sleeping bags. We can’t fit our packs in the tent without them resting on our feet. So if it rains and we need to bring our gear in, it’s cramped as hell in there. We may end up getting a 3P tent in the near future.
There is always room for improvement with gear. We’ve learned what we like and don’t like. It’s part of life and its part of hiking. Thanks for reading.
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