Trekking Poles, Jetboil, Bear Spray… Oh My!

If you’re anything like me, you love a good gear list. I love reading up on what other people plan to bring on the trail and hearing others debate the weight of their items. In fact, aside from getting on the trail, the thing I was most excited to do was to lay out all my gear for the quintessential thru-hiker gear picture. Here I am, gear ready, the night before my first thru-hike.

There’s no right way to prepare for your first backpacking trip, but hours of extensive research on each piece of gear seemed like a good place to start. In preparation for our thru-hike of the Foothills in South Carolina, my fiancé, Keanan, and I did a full nose-dive into gear research. In some ways, this probably did us more harm than good, as we would research, and research, and research… and research. Everything from our tent to our spork was researched. After we’d buy a piece of gear, we would find ourselves stressing over if it was the best option or not.

Aside from the quality of a product, there are other factors that go into buying gear, namely, budget.  We had to talk about what items we were willing to drop money on, and what items we could be a little more frugal with. All that being said, here is what we packed for our 77-mile hike of the Foothills.

The Big Three

From the get-go we knew the majority of our money would be spent on the Big Three. We were able to save some money by sharing a tent, but we more than made up that by getting sleeping bags that should last us into the next decade (more or less).

  • Tent: Gossamer Gear’s The Two. The Two may not feel like a palace when two people are stuffed inside, but there is more than enough room to sleep shoulder to shoulder. The lightweight nature allows for condensation to creep in, but since I’m not the one carrying it, I can’t really complain.
  • Pack: Gossamer Gear’s Mariposa.
  • Sleep System: Feathered Friends’ Flicker UL Quilt Sleeping Bag and Therm-a-Rest’s NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad.

While we are by no means ultra-lighters, we wanted our big three to be equal parts functional, light, and durable, so spending a little extra money on something UL was worth it for us.

Safety/ First Aid

Aside from the Big Three, there is a ton of important gear that goes into a successful backpacking trip. Arguably, the most important is safety and First Aid gear. Aside from our satellite communicator, the goal is to pack just enough to take care of basic medical needs.

  • Satellite communicator: Garmin inReach Mini
  • Knee Brace
  • KT Tape for shin splints
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Advil
  • Band aids
  • Gauze
  • Medical tape
  • Neosporin
  • Sting Relief
  • Benadryl


If you have ever been to South Carolina in June, you’d know that we won’t need to account for much variation in weather. The two types of weather we are accounting for are hot and hotter. Aside from some rain, that is all we will be facing.

  • Hiking Boots
  • Crocs
  • Trekking Poles
  • 2 hiking shirts
  • 2 hiking shorts
  • Camp short sleeve shirt
  • Camp shorts
  • Sports bra
  • 2 pairs of Darn Tough Socks
  • 1 Frog Toggs’ UL Rain jacket
  • Rain Poncho
  • Buff
  • Sunglasses


  • Bear bag and rope
  • Water filter: Sawyer Squeeze
  • Water bottles
  • Stove: Jet boil stash
  • Fuel canister
  • Lighter
  • Mug
  • Coffee Filter
  • Spork
  • Sponge
  • Breakfast:
    • Coffee
    • Go-Go Squeeze Apple Sauce
    • Cliff Protein Bar
  • Lunch: Tuna Wraps
  • Dinner: Pre-prepared hiking meals
  • Snacks: Banana Chips, Oreos, Cool Ranch Doritos
  • Drinks:
    • Gatorade powder
    • Green juice pouches


  • Portable charger: Goal Zero Venture 75 Power Bank
  • Headlamp: Black Diamond Cosmo 350 Headlamp
  • Headphones
  • Phone


  • Toilet Paper
  • Cathole Shovel
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste

Luxury Items

  • Pillow: Sea to Summit Aeros Down Pillow
  • Bracelet String
  • Hairbrush
  • Tinkle-Bell (if you know, you know)
  • Wipes

Somehow after packing everything up, it feels like I’ve packed everything and nothing at the same time. Feeling the weight of my pack lets me know I am going to curse every item I’ve brought along, but at the same time I know I’ll likely always wish I packed “just one more thing…”

If you’ve been on a thru-hike, what’s the best item you brought along? Something you regret carrying? Hopefully this trip will be the perfect way to prep our gear list for some longer hikes in the future… maybe even the AT.

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Comments 1

  • Leslie : Jun 25th

    Terrific blog, Julia!
    It’s so personable and warm, yet still informative!
    Keep up the good work!!


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