Stuff and Things…and Stuffing Things: Making the Gear Fit in the Pack

If you have never seen or read The Walking Dead, here is a little backstory that will shed light onto this post. I am an avid fan, and I have been watching the show since it aired. My husband reads the graphic novels. Essentially, it is a post-apocalyptic story centering on the trials and tribulations of the main character, Rick, and his group. Most of the time, Rick is the lead decision-maker and question-answerer. Sometimes, he makes really bad decisions and provides terrible answers.

Are there any The Walking Dead fans out there? Are any of you also planning a 2017 NOBO hike? If so, have you felt the dismay of knowing you will miss out on the second half of the seventh season? I am there, big time. Oh, the sacrifices I have to make in order to pursue my dreams!

Stuff and Things

Fans will recall Rick’s propensity for answering pointed questions with an ambiguous ‘stuff…things,’ much to the chagrin of his group. Though frustrating, it makes sense that a person gets burned out of coming up with the ‘right’ answer. In some regards, I am there (big time).

When I announced my intention to hike the Appalachian Trail, most people were perplexed. Questions came at me in true journalistic style – ‘Who? What? Where? When? Why?’ At first, it is thrilling to answer the questions:

Family/friend/acquaintance: ‘2,200 miles is a long way! What supplies are you taking with you to make sure you don’t freeze or starve?’

Heather: Tell my family a detailed list of all the gear I have along with extensive information regarding the research that went into deciding on the gear. The asker almost immediately regrets his decision as he becomes sucked into a vortex of reviews, comparisons, and prices.

As time wears on, it gets a little repetitive. Long, enthusiastic responses turn pleasantly short and concise. Then, the pleasantly short answers turn alarmingly short. Why? Sometimes, I can’t provide a satisfying answer quickly. Other times, I am still processing the answer in my brain. More often then not, I just don’t know the answer. So, I took a page out of Rick Grimes’ book:

Family/friend/acquaintance: ‘2,200 miles is a long way! What supplies are you taking with you to make sure you don’t freeze or starve?’

Heather: ‘Stuff and things.’

Stuffing Things20161211_105013

Thru-hikers, fear not; as it turns out, people accept the short answers. Mostly, people just want a gist of the hiking process, not the actual knowledge-dump that you could bless them with. However, if you are a thru-hiker (or an aspiring one), you aren’t really ‘most people.’ I am going to assume that if you have read this much of my blog, you are decently interested in the little knowledge-dump I have to share.

While watching the most recent episode of The Walking Dead, I had a tiny, punny, literary light bulb moment that inspired this whole blog post. I am definitely taking stuff and things with me on my trip. Some might say too much. I am going to accomplish this task by  (wait for it)  stuffing things in my pack. See what I did there? Alright, alright, enough playing around. Let’s get to the nitty gritty, my heart and soul…

My Gear List

The Big Three

Philip will carry the body of our non-free standing tent. I will carry the groundsheet, stakes, and poles. The tent is trekking-pole supported, which is great because we already planned on taking poles. The tent is large enough to fit all of our gear inside if needed.

My pack is an older-model REI Flash 52 that I found on the REI Outlet for a great price. In general, I like this pack though I wish the hip pockets were bigger and that the hip pads wrapped around my body a bit more. Initially, I purchased a Gregory Deva 60L, but returned it due to weight.

The only piece of equipment that I haven’t had any second thoughts on is my Enlightened Equipment Revelation 10 degree quilt. I ordered the short size, which is perfect for my 5’5″ frame. It compresses easily into an 8L stuff sack and it keeps me toasty on cold nights. Plus, that pink is everything!

  1. REI Flash 52 – 44 oz
  2. Six Moons Designs Lunar Duo – 40 oz (Philip will carry this)
    1. Six MSR titanium stakes – 4 oz
    2. Poles to increase headroom – 3.2 oz
    3. Tyvek Ground Sheet – 6.5 oz
  3. Enlightened Equipment Revelation, 10 degree – 23.09 oz

Total weight = 80.79 oz (5.04 lbs)

Sleep System

Though an air mattress might be risky, it is much more comfortable than a closed-cell foam pad! The women’s size Therm-a-Rest is just long enough for me. My luxury item is a real pillow, and it is worth every ounce.

  1. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir X-Light, Women’s – 12.6 oz
  2. Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow, Small – 7.5 oz

Total weight = 20.1 oz (1.25 lbs)

Camp Kitchen

I suspect that we will utilize our stove about once or twice per day. The MSR Titan Tea Kettle is one of my favorite pieces of gear due to its size and weight. I opted not to get a titanium cup because they are too hot to hold when they have warm liquid in them!

  1. MSR PocketRocket Stove – 3.9 oz 20161211_140523
  2. MSR Titan Tea Kettle – 4.5 oz
  3. GSI Backpacker Mug – 3.5 oz
  4. Light My Fire Spork – 0.6 oz
  5. Pocket knife – 3.9 oz
  6. Platypus GravityWorks 4L Water Filtration (using clean bag as reservoir) – 11.5 oz

Total weight = 27.9 oz (1.74 lbs)


As in real life, I seem to have a lot of clothes for this hike. I won’t carry them all at the same time. I intend to start hiking with my Prana pants. They are comfortable, give me great range of motion, and look very stylish. Once the weather warms up, I will switch to shorts.

My baselayers, t-shirts, socks, and underwear are made of merino wool in order to keep the stink away.  The star of my clothing show is the Arc’teryx Cerium Jacket! It is warm for it’s weight, fits nicely, and packs down into it’s own little stuff sack. My first jacket was an Outdoor Research Filament; in the end, it just wasn’t lofty or warm enough for me.

  1. Prana Halle Pants – 12.2 oz
  2. Marmot Circuit shorts – 3.3 oz
  3. Icebreaker TechLite T-shirt x2 – 6.6 oz
  4. Darn Tough Cushion Crew socks (x2), Smartwool socks – 6.8 oz20161211_104827
  5. Smartwool Midweight Baselayer 1/4-Zip Pullover Top – 8 oz
  6. Smartwool Midweight Baselayer Bottoms – 5.8 oz
  7. North Face Glacier 1/4-Zip Fleece Pullover – 6 oz
  8. Arc’teryx Cerium Jacket – 8 oz
  9. North Face Venture Rain Jacket – 9.4 oz
  10. Stoic Boyshort Underwear (x2) – 4.2 oz
  11. Head gloves – 1.7 oz
  12. Icebreaker beanie – 0.9 oz
  13. Chaos ball cap – 1.8 oz
  14. Buff – 1.5 oz
  15. Brooks Moving Comfort HotShot Bra – 2.6 oz
  16. Salomon XA-Pro 3D shoes – 25.2 oz

Total weight = 104 oz (6.5 lbs)

Weight of clothes in pack while hiking = ~44.5 oz (2.78 lbs)

Miscellaneous 20161211_140623

  1. REI trekking poles – 17.1 oz
  2. REI small camp towel – 1.3 oz
  3. Cellphone with LifeProof Case and charger – ~7.5 oz
  4. Trowel – 3.1 oz
  5. Dr. Bronner’s soap, sunscreen, bug spray
  6. DivaCup – .5 oz
  7. Cards
  8. Head net – 1 oz
  9. Sea to Summit Stuff Sacks: 2 8L, 1 20 L – 4.2 oz
  10. Osprey rain cover – 3.3 oz
  11. Black Diamond Head Lamp – 3.2 oz

Total = 41.2 oz (2.57 lbs)

Things I Need/Things I Unsure About (?)

  1. First-aid kit
  2. Compass
  3. Pot scrubbie
  4. Thicker/warmer Icebreaker hat?
  5. Rain pants?
  6. Running tights?
  7. Sit pad?

Total Weight (so far)

  1. Skin out weight: ~273.99 oz (17.12 lbs)
  2. Base weight:~217.09 oz (13.56 lbs)

Wrapping Up

Can I just say how amazing online shopping is? Almost all of my gear came from a discount site! Seriously, if you have the time and technical know-how, check out the online sales before you pay full retail price for anything.

There is so much to consider when purchasing gear: weight, quality, price, durability, and style. I think my gear reflects a balance of all these aspects. I feel confident that I have enough of the ‘right’ stuff to safely start a NOBO thru-hike; but I don’t feel confident enough to say that my list won’t change as time goes on. After all, I am going to get very acquainted with the ins and outs of my equipment.

If you have questions about my gear, feel free to comment! And please, if you see something that is missing or have suggestions for me, let me know!

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Comments 2

  • Brandon Stahl : Jan 14th

    Seams you have everything planned well, have you been backpacking long distance before? Every time I go I plan and plan but once I get out there I realize how heavy my gear actually is and have to pair down… also your bag can create hot spots on your shoulders, you might want to test how it feels on a short walk…

    • Heather P : Jan 14th

      Thanks for reading the blog! I haven’t ever done long backpacking trips before. I am definitely still paring my gear list down (do I REALLY need two t-shirts?) >in order to be as light as possible. Just switched to an Osprey Exos due to fit issues…I am nervous to hit the trail with a brand new pack, but I am hoping for the best. My hipbones are very prominent so I am trying to avoid rubbing as much as possible!


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