Thru’s-Eve: A Final Gear Check Before Hitting the AT

For aspiring and committed thru-hikers, the first day on trail always seems like the carrot-on-a-stick that remains just out of reach. Not a day goes by without daydreaming of life on-trail, brainstorming trail names, or imagining the vistas of the mountaintops we’ll soon call home.

At least, that’s how it’s felt for me.

My turnover from Peace Corps to AT thru-hike has been a little over two weeks; since returning from Ecuador, I’ve been feverishly piecing together the gear list I had researched and daydreamed of for nearly a year. With less than 24 hours until my official start date, I believe I’ve compiled a solid setup that’ll carry me to Katahdin (or at least to the nearest outfitter for a shakedown/redo).

The Big Three

  • Osprey Exos 48 (without brain)

  • L.L. Bean Microlight FS1 (with footprint): an older tent but it’s been reliable for nearly six years)

  • REI Co-Op Lumen 20: probably my riskiest choice, but I tested it on a 30 degree night and it was plenty toasty.

  • Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol: Foam >>> Inflatable for this guy.


  • Frogg Toggs rain jacket

  • Underwear (x2)

  • Synthetic soccer jersey (Guayaquil blue baby)

  • Compression leggings (for cold weather)

  • Hiking shorts: Thought about convertible pants, but I’ve always preferred the legging/short combo.

  • Sleeping soccer jersey

  • Acrylic beanie

  • Down jacket

  • Fleece quarter zip

  • Two pairs of Darn Tough: Hikers don’t mess around with their socks.

  • Injinji toe liner socks

  • One pair wool sleeping socks

  • Gaiters

  • Salomon trail runners

Cooking/Food Storage

Med Kit/Hygiene

  • Super Glue

  • Moleskin

  • Needle/thread

  • Diotame

  • Vitamins

  • Vitamin I (ibuprofen)
  • Antibiotic ointment

  • Hand sanitizer

  • Toothpaste

  • Travel toothbrush

  • Floss

  • TP

Water Treatment

  • Sawyer Squeeze water filter

  • Cnoc bladder (2l)

  • Two Smartwater bottles


  • 2019 Awol AT Guide

  • One pen

  • Portable battery pack

  • Charger cable for phone

  • Two outlet connectors

  • iPhone 6s

  • Whistle

  • Compass

  • L.L Bean headlamp

  • Trekking poles

  • Duct tape

  • Paracord (50 feet)

While I’ve left a couple of personal/luxury items off the list, they add little to no weight to my setup, and are therefore welcome additions that’ll hopefully make a difference when the going gets tough. Above all, however, is my focus on flexibility. As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m by no means an expert backpacker. I’ll be making changes as I go depending on what works and what doesn’t. If I learned anything as a Peace Corps volunteer, it’s to be open and prepared for anything while also accepting that you can never be 100% ready.

So here I go; not 100% ready, but prepared for anything.

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Comments 2

  • Bruce Hall : Apr 3rd

    I hated the Frogg Toggs. Sweated so bad, I would have rather walked naked in the rain. Have you tried squeezing water from the Cnoc thru the Sawyer. I cannot get the thread connection right. Spews water everywhere. I also have a HydroBlu and the Cnoc bag works great with that.

  • Hot Tamale : Apr 10th

    I had the pleasure of meeting you on trail. My hiking friend & I were more than happy to share that perfect little lunch spot by the stream (it provided the opportunity to offer you a little trail magic in the form of tortillas & honey/candy).
    So glad you are sharing your journey with others and looking forward to following you all the way!


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