Suiting Up, Packing Down: A Gear List

The beginning of March is nearing.

Let the countdown begin.  I have just under two weeks before starting my thru-hike. Goddamn. This whole time thing seems to go by quicker every day.  I’m twenty three years old, and in the words of Matt and Kim, it’s days like these when I feel like there truly are no more long years.  I have just two more days of clocking in and clocking out of work, followed by a week of rest and scrambled preparation, followed by my partner and I beginning our venture by taking a Greyhound Bus to Chatanooga, TN where our friend will then drive us to the trail head. With the crazy wheather lately, we’ve decided to by-pass hitching from Chicago to Georgia.

Today it’s freaking freezing, with wind chills in the negative spectrum, Illinois has certainly taught my southern self what cold weather is really about. This cold has given me lots of time to think, and every day I find my craving to be on the trail grows with excitement.  Don’t get me wrong: I love my life here. I love that every day at work I’m surrounded by one of my greatest loves, dogs, but I still can’t help but get the words of Peter Supertramp out of my head:

As I’m walking down these same old streets, I feel myself melting into scenery. I don’t want to be here.  I just want to be free.

To occupy my day, today I’m making soup, doing laundry and doing other things in preparation for my departure.  In true spirit of my constant procrastination, I have been watching videos of cute animals pre-occupying myself with oggling my gear. I feel an almost weird kind of love for what’s in my pack.  I think I’ve made good descisions, and I did so for great prices.

How I saved cash on my gear:

I bought copious amounts of gear over the past six months.  I also returned thousands worth of dollars of gear.  You could say I wanted to get things right.  But, I mostly wanted to get the best values possible.  So here’s what my partner and I did: we researched an array of choices that we thought might suit our journey.  Then, we spent countless hours (I mean so many hours, we’re talking weeks worth of time), researching on the internet.  I checked Ebay, Amazon, Camp Saver, and Craigslist like nobody’s business.  I scowered sales shelves, frequented thrift shops as well as waiting patiently for the REI Garage Sale to stock up on necessary items. I always went to the sale section first at any store.  I signed up for email updates from stores so I could be reminded about sales and be sent coupons.  Saving a dollar here and there really adds up. If what I needed couldn’t be found at a better-than-retail price, I would buy it, save the reciept and continue searching.  If and when I found a better deal, I’d simply return the unused item and cash in my savings. Compiling your gear for the AT can be done much cheaper, this is true.  However, this was how I scored what I think is phenomenal gear for better than the average deal.

Note: I am hiking with my partner, and thus many items are for two people, and weight will be distributed evenly. Speaking of weight, I’ve labeled the weights for many of the items.  Most of these are our weights. The links I used are mostly just to give you an idea of each piece of gear.  As I’ve said, I bought most of my stuff through sales and Ebay, or I had it lying around.

My weight, with about a weeks worth of dehydrated vegetables, snacks and vegetables is about 17 lbs. There will be a little more added for the hike as this weight didn’t include my sandals or a few other items.  Still, I’m happy that my not-even-just-the-base weight it under 20 lbs.

Pack, Poles and Sacks and Such

Button's Pack

Behold two of these great packs side to side.  Mine is the smaller, orange one.

Pack: Granite Gear Blaze AC 60 43 oz-women’s short – This is a great pack.  It has a very home-esque and comfy feel to it.  My only real complaint is its lack of pockets, but that’s okay because I got two Ultimate Direction Pockets2.5 oz total- to latch on the belt.

Dry sack(s): Sea to Summit, other random ones such as these

Pack Cover: Sea to Summit Ultra Sil 3.7 oz-medium – 

Poles: Titanal Poles– not the greatest, but they work.

Shelter & Whatnot

Button's sleeping arrangement

We are saving a little weight by going with a tent that uses hiking poles as tent poles. I adore this tent. One of the main reasons is simply that it’s roomy.  The extra space is important for two people who will be spending up to six months sleeping in it.  You can get the Nemo Veda 1 if you’re just one person with one set of poles. We got our tent for a craz-cheap deal on Campsaver’s s Shed Section.  I highly recommend this website- I scored alot of great stuff for great prices on there.

Shelter: Nemo Veda 2  46 oz + Tyvec sheet for groundcloth 6 oz  

Winter Bag: Northface Blue Kazoo 15/Granite Gear Compression Sack 38.6 oz – awesome Christmas gift               

Summer Bag: Snugpak Traveller 35 degree 29 oz                                                

Bag liner: Rab Silk 6 oz                                                                                

Sleeping pad: Women’s NeoAir XLite 11oz  

Pillow: Cocoon Hyperlite AirCore I fucking love this thing.  2.7 oz

Foot Wear

Button's Footwear

 Boots: Ahnu Montara with Superfeet 20 oz I got my boots for a closeout- about $90.

Sandals/campshoes: Hi Tec Waimia Falls 7 oz Check Ebay.  I ended up paying around $20 for mine.  I’ve been in love with these sandals for about three years, and only now bought a new pair  for the AT.

Socks: Injinji liners underneath ultra light Darn Tough Socks – I may  trade this combo out for NuWool Mid Weight Injinjis which I am more  used to wearing.  I have disgusting and unbelievably sweaty feet. Injinji  socks have been a god send for someone like me.

Camp socks: Random heavy weight wool socks.

Cold Weather Gear

Button winter gear

Jacket: Patagonia Down 10 oz- Boy’s medium –REI Garage Sale Score

Base Layers: Columbia shirt, Smartwool sweater – REI Garage Sale Score

Pants: REI Endeavor -2 petite – Super-comfy and awesome pants.

Other: Wool hat, warm headband (or) earmuffs- because my ears get cold like nobody’s business, glove liners

Rain Gear (cold & warm weather): REI Rainwall Jacket 14.5 oz, Marmot Precip Full Zip Pants – I plan to use my rain gear as extra warmth for the days that the weather on the trail may get crazy cold. I tested out my jacket on a hike last week.  It was well under 20 degrees- the jacket really helped me stay warm. Haven’t tested the water-proofness, but I have faith that I won’t be let down too hard.

Other: I’m getting a Balaclava.  With the way the weather has been, I think it’s a good call.

Warm weather gear

Butons summer gear

Top: Khul Java Tank Top – Very comfortable.

Bottoms: Cheap running shorts I’ve had for years, plus I’ll be keeping my Endeavor pants with me.

Sun protection: Sunglasses and sun hat 4 oz


Buttons undies


Bra: Kenneth Cole Reaction Activewear Bra – I found this gem at Ross and haven’t found the same one elsewhere.  Finding the right bra has been a stupidly hard decision for me. This baby fits just right, doesn’t smash my boobs, and gives a great, but not overwhelming, amount of support.

Panties: ExOfficio Give ‘n Go – I got these for ten bucks, and that’s really the only reason I decided to try them out. I think paying any more for panties would be absurd. I may even just return these and go with some REI Seamless Briefs as they are cheaper and I have some.

Cook Wear & H2O

Buttons Cookwear

Cooking is important to me.  I am well aware that there are lighter cook systems out there, but I am also aware that I can’t wait to dig into the food I’ll be making.  I believe that the extra weight is worth an awesome meal. I have alot of dehydrated vegetables that I can’t wait to cook up.

Stove: JetBoil Zip 13.4 oz, Primus Fuel 7 oz

Pots n’ Pans: MSR Flex Skillet 7 oz, Jet Boil Summo Companion 11.6 oz 

Utensils and Such: Foldable bowls 1.3 oz, plastic spoons, GSR cup

H2O: MSR Sweetwater with a pre-filter silt-stopper. I plan to use gator aid bottles, and I will probably bring a reservoir.

Vagina Specific

vagina specific

I’ve seen a small share of other girls talking about what to do about their period on the trail.  Diva Cups are awesome, on and off the trail- I highly suggest every woman give them a try.  I’ll be washing mine out with boiling water

Menstrual System: Diva Cuppersonal wipes, pot (god, I hope so), patience, chocolate.

Other: GoGirl, because hell yeah to standing while peeing.

Other Essentials

button fun stuff

Musical weapons of Choice: Ukelele, kazoo

Writing & Communication:Paperback notebook and pencil, Smartphone, Dell Executive Keyboard 6.6 oz -look on Ebay

Guidebook: A Thru Hiker’s Companion

Other: Stamps for letters to close friends, some note-to-self-inspirational-shit, a picture of Parsnip the cat.

The rest

Emergency: Gorilla tape wrapped around popsicle sticks, floss & two needles for sewing, first aid kit to be compiled, tweezers, pocket knife, two lighters, matches

Containers: Sandwhich bags reinforced with tape, small Nalagene bottles for spices and whatnot

Headlamp: Black Diamond Gizmo 2.2 oz w/batteries

Body care: Chapstick with sunscreen, maybe some Dr. Bronner’s , half toothbrush/tooth paste, sunscreen, deet for when it get’s warm and the mosquitos start to eat me, first aid kit (to be compiled). Oh, and a comb and hair ties- I will be dreading my hair along the way. Trowel! Let’s not forget about shitting in the woods.

Vitamins  & Meds: Deva Multivitamins, iron, ibuprofen

Towel: Three bandannas that I have had forever, and a small quick dry towel.  Hell, I’ll be wearing the bananas as well.


That about sums it up.  I’m certain there are several items I have forgotten, as it is certain that there are things buried in the mess that is my room. I’m also aware that I will get to the trail and think some of my choices were stupid, but that’s just part of the process.  Anybody have any advice, critiques, suggestions or comments?

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Comments 2

  • Bushy : Feb 23rd

    Hi, Great list! Probably just an over sight but TP is needed.

    • SoniaButton : Feb 26th

      Yes, I will definitely be using toilet paper. Thanks!


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